It’s the same ol West Side Story, just more authentically realized on film and lavish than ever before. With Spielberg’s command of the camera, dynamic choreography, and a hefty budget to craft a 1950s NYC, the show is injected with a mix of vibrancy and a classic Hollywood mobility that keeps it thriving and alive.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “It’s been a while since I’ve seen a version of West Side Story, but the Jets are so totally the obvious villains by the end of the show and no amount of slick attitude or jazzy snaps can change that. A pox on both these street gangs? Nah, a pox on the Jets and the Jets alone.”
Despite some clumsiness and a very basic story about disconnecting to reconnect with what really matters (also, rebellion), nostalgia is a powerful force and I grinned my way through most of this spectacle. Seeing Battletoads, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chucky, Gundam and the Overlook Hotel all existing and interacting together in one movie worked, perhaps, far too well on me. Plus it fixes quite a few problems from the book and eventually finds it’s way to a beating Spielbergian heart that I haven’t felt since, well, Goonies.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “The set piece in The Overlook Hotel alone makes this whole dang thing worth it. Here’s Spielberg directing characters through his old mentor Kubrick’s masterpiece of horror as a haunted house of sorts. It’s a love letter to the man who helped make him into the director he is today, faults and all. Watching it felt like watching the whole thesis of the film, which stands as a love letter to the rampant artistic and childlike imagination that sits cozily beside the capitalism inherent in pop culture.”
One of Spielberg’s stirring serious swells of strings pictures, but still an important story to be told, especially right now. It often plays like an episode of The Newsroom, wearing its message on its really long sleeve that it keeps slapping you with the way kids used to do because they had small arms and their shirt used to be their big brother’s, but the film still hits the right spots at the right moments.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Halfway through the movie, Meryl Streep broke character and addressed me personally, saying ‘Nick, literally everyone else at this theater is seeing Black Panther tonight. What are you doing here seeing this milquetoast country club shit?’ Only when I assured her and, later, Bob Odenkirk that I’d be seeing Black Panther this weekend did the picture continue. I’ve contacted Mr. Spielberg about this event during the 10:15pm showing of The Post at the United Artists’ King of Prussia, but received only a recorded message from him about how incredible Kendrick Lamar’s work on the Black Panther soundtrack is. Needless to say, I’m excited to see Black Panther in a couple days.”