Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HAMILTON (Disney+)

So a little disclaimer about this review, I’ve technically seen and reviewed the stage play musical, HAMILTON, when it came to Dallas a little bit ago. Posted it right here on this blog in fact. So this first paragraph is just going to be me saying how the experience was while watching it on Disney+ and then I’m copying and pasting my old review of the content of the stage play. So if you already read that part of it way back when, other than this intro, you aren’t getting anything new. HOWEVER, if you’ve seen Hamilton on stage, and were on the fence about watching it again on your screen at home, mainly because you didn’t think it could re create the same magic, think again. This is the first required viewing, in my opinion, of something on Disney+ since The Mandalorian debuted last year. You get the original Broadway cast here, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, the works. Their acting and showmanship are different than the off Broadway cast (not better or worse), and it feels fresh seeing different faces for sure. It’s still the same amazing play, but up close and personal. They didn’t just set a camera in front of the stage and film a live original performance. There’s different camera angles, close ups, fade in and outs, dissolves, putting you right smack dab in the middle of their performance as if you were standing with them on stage. So even if you’ve seen THE ORIGINAL MUSICAL WITH THE ORIGINAL CAST, this is still worth checking out. It’s a completely different experience, fresh even if you’ve listened to everything so much you can rap out lyric by lyric, word by word. This is one of the best musicals of all time. So you know Hollywood will one day, when it’s back up and running, try to make an epic of it on decorated sound stages and location shootings, and they could either knock it out of the park, or it could end up being another…Cats **shiver**. Let’s not think about that right now. The only really complaint I have is I wished they had filmed it without an audience…but then again maybe it wouldn’t have been as good of a performance? To be fair, it wasn’t as distracting as actually being there with a live audience, they never show the audience and the cheering was really short and cut off between small breaks into the next scene. Without further ado, my older review of Hamilton when I saw it with the off Broadway cast in Dallas not too long ago:

So the Broadway touring of HAMILTON is in Texas, and since it is the most buzzed about play since The Book of Mormon, obviously it peaked my interest (the next one to do that might be Harry Potter and The Cursed Child). And since I’m seeing less movies in the theaters nowadays, I thought I could write a short review on my thoughts. Is it worth the hype and all the awards it has won? Absolutely. And now other than The Book of Mormon, it would definitely be a play I could see multiple times and neither feel bored and I’d also feel like I got my money’s worth. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a masterpiece. Nothing short of greatness.

Hamilton is about the life of Alexander Hamilton. But everything is either sung or rapped, incorporates R&B, pop, soul, hip hop, show tunes, and also casts color-consciously of non-white actors as historical figures. The play starts out with his early life as an orphan throughout just the intro song and then we go into straight into adulthood to his tragic death. The play is in two acts, and I don’t think there is a word spoken that isn’t sung. But everything works so perfectly well. Apparently it took Miranda years to write it and do perfect the songs, perfect every single note, and it shows. It is one of the most intricate things I’ve ever heard, so much so that, like Book of Mormon, might be finding and buying the CD to it. Every song is great and catchy, and there are absolutely no lag moments in the play. My favorite part? Probably like a lot of people, I do enjoy when King George III takes the stage.

The stage itself is pretty standard. It consists of a lot of wood and stairs and rope, and then some fake brick to look like old buildings. And it doesn’t change. Not that its a bad thing at all, in fact, I would’ve be shocked if it had been any more intricate because it would’ve taken even longer to get the product out to audiences around the world. One thing that is a little unique about the stage is that it rotates in the middle constantly to convey movement, and is very impressive when mixed in with the choreography to song and dance numbers. As for the acting? It is all impressive. I didn’t take a Playbill from the April 28th, 2019 showing, but if you were one of the actors/dancers in the play, you did a tremendous job. Especially the leads like Hamilton and Burr, the way they could memorize all those songs, movements, and words and make it look like another walk in the part is nothing short of masterful.

So if you are on the fence about seeing this, why? Don’t be. It’s amazing and truly a thing that should be on your bucket list. Whether you are a history buff or even scoff at history, there is something in this play for everyone to enjoy. The play is 2 hours and 55 minutes (including a 15 minute intermission) but you could’ve fooled me, the time just whizzes by extremely fast. If this is the one thing that Lin Manuel-Miranda is remembered by, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. If there is real magic on the planet, this Broadway play is the closest that it gets to seeing is believing.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MARRIAGE STORY (Netflix, no spoilers)

MARRIAGE STORY is Noah Baumbach’s best film. If you’ve been a long time reader of my reviews, or know me in person, I probably haven’t said too kind a word about most of Baumbach’s filmography including (but not limited to) Greenberg, Frances Ha, The Meyerowitz Stories or even the critically acclaimed The Squid And The Whale. I just thought his films were a little bit too quirky and they were trying to be quirky without being subtle with any of it, trying to shove it in your face and scream in your ear, “Hey, I’m a really quirky independent film, look how fucking quirky I am, you must love me because I’m different and quirky.” No, that shit doesn’t work for me. Marriage Story is his most real and down to Earth film, some parts being quirky, but they earn their quirkiness for being real and not shoving spoonfuls of it into your face. The dialogue is crisp, the acting is fucking phenomenal, both Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deserve to be nominated, and I would not raise one concern if they ended up winning. Marriage Story is actually a pretty great film. But I will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever watch it again. Ever. Have I said ever?

Not to rip on the film, it’s trying to be as real as possible, and I appreciate that in the best way possible, but this film is so fucking hard to watch. And I can’t imagine how hard it is to watch for couples/individuals going through a divorce, already been divorced, thinking about divorce, right at the end of a divorce, fuck, even for people going through a small rough patch in their relationship/marriage. It really fucking feels real. Oh shit….did I forget to mention what the film is about? Well, the title is a little misleading isn’t it? The movie is called Marriage Story, but it’s really the story of a couple going through a divorce with a kid. And no, it doesn’t go through flashbacks with them to show their marriage through the years (that is done tastefully and authentically well represented through fantastic dialogue), it is just saying that divorce could be part of a story about marriage. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson’s characters are medium profile successful people. Driver’s a director who’s play that he co-developed with Johansson is about to launch on Broadway without her (because of the divorce) and she is a small time actress whose TV pilot got picked up to series, and she had a huge teen movie hit in her past. She moves to L.A. for the show and wants Henry to be with her. Driver wants to stay with his career in New York. They both want to do the divorce without lawyers, but suddenly she’s getting one, which forces him to get one…as you can see, it turns into a giant messy mess, which I’m guessing is what a lot of divorces are and what they do to people.

That’s all I’ll tell you about the story film. The film is a hefty 2 hrs and 15 minutes of just depressing sadness. But there isn’t a slow minute to be found. The dialogue is crisp, clean, interesting to hear, real and comes at you at rapid pace. There are some genuinely funny scenes that try and relieve you somewhat of the trauma these two are going into but don’t be fooled, this movie is a straight one way ticket to Depressed Town. The ending? Hopeful yet real yet still made me sad. It’s just a sad sad sad sad movie. And I think the reason it is so sad is because of the acting and that these characters seem like people you might know in your own lives. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deserve all the acting nods and possible awards they are going to get in this. They are absolutely fucking incredible, the best performances I’ve seen from either of them, and Scarlett was fantastic in JoJo Rabbit just a month ago as well, Driver great in The Report on Amazon Prime. I love how the film paints neither as a bad guy, they are just wanting something different out of their lives, and think that this divorce will finally un-tether a cord that has long been frayed. The movie doesn’t choose sides at all. It chooses a side on certain situations, but these two characters aren’t despicable or ugly or mean, or unforgivable. They are just normal people.

Other fantastic performances include the always amazing Laura Dern and the fiesty Ray Liotta, who play their lawyers. Very good bit parts for them. Marriage Story is an excellent film. I can’t even deny it. There was hard work in writing it I’m sure, and hard work in directing it as Noah Baumbach has stated he took some of what happened with his divorce with Jennifer Jason Leigh into account with this story. It’s very well made and Netflix was very smart into picking this up for their platform. This did not need to be a theatrical release as I think the subject matter wouldn’t have people flocking to the theaters. It’s a perfect little awards film. But I don’t think I could get through it again with how fucking sad and depressing it is. Am I recommending it? If the subject matter doesn’t bother you at all, then I say you absolutely give it a watch. People that cry during movies a lot? No. Depressed individuals? Are…are you kidding? Happy couples or people in a happy marriage? Well, I mean, sure as long as you don’t think it is going to start exposing the little shit layer by layer and then you end up pausing the movie and fighting yourselves. People going through or have been through a divorce? As Leo said in The Wolf Of Wall Street, “Absolutely fucking not.”

Zach’s Zany…Broadway? Reviews: HAMILTON (yes, that one, no spoilers)

So the Broadway touring of HAMILTON is in Texas, and since is the most buzz I’ve heard about a play since The Book of Mormon, obviously it peaked my interest (the next one to do that might be Harry Potter and The Cursed Child). And since I’m seeing less movies in the theaters nowadays, I thought I could write a short review on my thoughts. Is it worth the hype and all the awards it has won? Absolutely. And now other than The Book of Mormon, it would definitely be a play I could see multiple times and neither feel bored and also like I got my money’s worth. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a masterpiece. Nothing short.

Hamilton is about the life of Alexander Hamilton. But everything is either sung or rapped, incorporates R&B, pop, soul, hip hop, show tunes, and also casts color-consciously of non-white actors as historical figures. The play songs through his early life as an orphan through the intro song and then we start out with him as an adult through his death. The play is in two acts, and I don’t think there is a word spoken that isn’t sung. But everything works so perfectly well. Apparently it took Miranda years to write it and do all the songs, and perfect every single note, and it shows. It is one of the most intricate things I’ve ever heard, so much so that, like Book of Mormon, might be finding and buying the CD to it. Every song is great and catchy, and there are absolutely no lag moments in the play. My favorite part? Probably like a lot of people, I do enjoy when King George III takes the stage.

The stage itself is pretty standard. It consists of a lot of wood and stairs and rope, and then some fake brick to look like old buildings. And it doesn’t change. Not that its a bad thing at all, in fact, I would be shocked if it was intricate as how long it took Miranda to write and perfect the whole damn thing. However, what is pretty cool about it is that the stage rotates in the middle constantly to convey movement, and is very impressive when mixed in with the choreography to song and dance numbers. As for the acting? It is all impressive. I didn’t take a Playbill from the April 28th, 2019 showing, but if you were one of the actors/dancers in the play, you did a tremendous job. Especially the leads like Hamilton and Burr, the way they could memorize all those songs, movements, and words and make it look like another walk in the part is nothing short of masterful.

So if you are on the fence about seeing this, why? Don’t be. It’s amazing and truly a thing that should be on your bucket list. Whether you are a history buff or even scoff at history, there is something in this play for everyone to enjoy. The play is 2 hours and 55 minutes (including a 15 minute intermission) but you could’ve fooled me, the time just whizzes by extremely fast and furious. If this is the one thing that Lin Manuel Miranda is remembered by, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. If there is real magic on the planet, this Broadway play, is the closest that it gets to seeing is believing.