Monthly Archives: December 2017

Review – The Greatest Showman

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I haven’t been motivated to write a movie review in quite some time.  Not even for “The Last Jedi”, which I have a lot of feelings about.

But after seeing “The Greatest Showman” I have some things to say.

First, for some mysterious reason there are people out there who seem to think that this is some kind of bio-pic.  Uhhh, no.  For starters, IT’S A FREAKIN MUSICAL.  The closest I have ever seen a musical come to depicting actual events is “Chess” and here’s a hint that you can apply to almost all musicals — The singing and dancing parts probably aren’t the historical parts!!!!  If you are thinking you are going to get even a remotely accurate picture of how P.T. Barnum got the whole thing going you are going to be disappointed.  A good biography will be more worthwhile and I’d love to see one actually.  P.T. Barnum is an interesting, if sometimes very disturbing character.

Anyway, you shouldn’t be disappointed.  No far from it.

So I’m going to start with this little tidbit of information which you may or may not know.  I do not like musicals.  I can count the number of musicals I actually like on one hand and still have fingers left over.

But being who I am, being interested in things like this, and knowing that Hugh Jackman actually was a song and dance man long before he ever took on the mantle of Wolverine, I figured I’d go and see it.  At worst I would see circus and sideshow acts I’ve been fascinated by since I was a kid.

This was oh so much more.

Maybe I’m especially susceptible to the overriding theme of this movie summed up well in the following lyrics:

Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

Every artist/entertainer dreams big.  One of the earliest lessons I ever got from Mystery School was to “imagine as if you had unlimited resources.”  That way you have a vision.  After that you can start to figure out how to make it work.

And that is exactly what the overriding message of this film is.  Yes, the road has it’s challenges, and that’s the story here, but the message, the thing you will walk away from this with is one of the most entertaining depictions of “DREAM BIG” I have ever seen.

The stories of “outsiders” making a home with each other should speak to the souls of nearly everyone I know.  The music is relentlessly modern, as are the depictions of the various circus acts, and I am completely fine with that.  This is meant to appeal to a modern audience.  Nevertheless, the imagery still maintains an era appropriate feel even if not a strictly era appropriate authenticity.  Again, I am good with this as the point is not to recreate but to reimagine a story you are meant to feel good about.  It’s meant to move you and inspire you, and for my money it does so incredibly well.

I was moved to tears of happiness from the very opening moments and the rollercoaster ride of inspired dreamer never left me.

I can say with all honesty that I have found another musical that I can add to my very short list, and I only have one finger left before I need to go to another hand for counting.

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Artistic Control: Can You Really Petition The Last Jedi???

With the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi has come a wave of controversy utterly unexpected.  I’ve seen it twice now.  The first time with my wife and a friend who had gotten the tickets for free.  The second time because my office decided that was what we were going to do for our holiday party.  We’ve been doing that every year since I started working here actually, so I’ve seen Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Last Jedi all on my office’s dime.

I have to admit that after my first viewing I had some serious questions, which I could talk about endlessly but that isn’t the point of what I’m writing here.  Upon doing a little extra reading and then seeing it a second time I think I am having some serious reconsiderations such that Last Jedi may be up there even with Empire Strikes Back as one of the best of the whole Star Wars saga.

No, I’m not interested in debating that with anyone.  Time will tell whether I am right or not about it, but regardless I believe that I have found the aspects of this movie that lead me to thinking it is actually that good and that’s enough for me.

So what am I here to talk about?

Artistic Control.  See here is the thing, whether you like it or hate it, it has inspired some serious reaction in you the viewer.  And debate about the merits of a film in a beloved epic is really the heart and soul of the geek.  Cue stereotypically slurred speech patterns arguing “Space Leia”, “Finn’s a coward”, “Poe sucks” or any other topic you like.

But what set me off is that yesterday I actually saw a petition that someone had started to try and have Last Jedi “stricken from cannon”.  Seriously.  Here’s the link:  https://www.change.org/p/the-walt-disney-company-have-disney-strike-star-wars-episode-viii-from-the-official-canon

As of this writing it has gotten nearly 35,000 signatures.

Think about that for a second.

Now, admittedly since then it has changed directions, and that’s a good thing, but think for just a moment about the implications of such a petition.

Have we become so easily riled up that we think we, the fans, have any kind of right to demand such an asinine thing in the first place?  Do we genuinely believe we have a right to control another artists vision simply because we disagree with it?

Look at our political climate right now.  Silencing dissent is a huge issue for us as a nation.

I remember about 15 years ago getting a phone call from a religious group that wanted to actually put in to law that Hollywood had to make “Christian friendly” versions of their films.  This, of course, died a quick death, but it seems that some of us are still suffering from the same kind of backwards thinking regarding ART!!!

Just because you don’t like the art doesn’t mean you have a right to force the artist to conform to your demands.  What you do have the right to do is talk about it.  Say why you don’t like it.  Say why you do like it.  And best of all — YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CREATE YOUR OWN ART!

And THAT is what we all need to be doing.  Creating art.  Art that inspires.  Art that disturbs.  Art that gets the conversation flowing, that points out the greatness in humanity, and reveals it’s flaws.

A society that thinks it can petition to have art removed in any fashion is a society that is heading in a dangerously bad direction.

Create your art.  I look forward to seeing it.

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