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At The Motion pictures: Spielberg’s West Aspect Story retains the exuberance

At The Motion pictures: Spielberg’s West Aspect Story retains the exuberance

West Aspect Story (PG13)

156 minutes, opens Jan 6, 3 stars

Three-time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg has made his ardour mission an replace of the 1957 stage manufacturing – the one tailored into the famed 1961 film musical.

The driving thought right here is that to do justice to the stage manufacturing, it must be set in an actual New York. Key scenes, particularly those that includes dance-sequence face-offs between the rival Sharks and Jets gangs, are filmed on location – towards alleys and shopfronts.

As concepts go, it’s barely sufficient, particularly when the alleys and buildings are the idealised Fifties variations anyway.

However whether or not he means to or not, Spielberg’s best contribution is to erase the legacy of brownface. The 1961 movie model could be a basic, however like so many basic movies, it’s blotted by way of white actors darkening their pores and skin with make-up in order to look extra Latino.

Viewers can now benefit from the songs of Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim in a guilt-free package deal. This would possibly sound like a trite motive, however to dismiss it might be to downplay cinema’s significance as a shaper of values.

Primarily based loosely on Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo And Juliet, the story takes place within the Fifties, when two New York Metropolis gangs – the Sharks and the Jets – vie for dominance. The Sharks are Puerto Ricans and the Jets the white locals who see the migrant households as a risk to their lifestyle.

One evening, Tony (Ansel Elgort), a good friend of the Jets, and Maria (Rachel Zegler, making her characteristic debut), a disaffected Puerto Rican migrant, fall in love. Ignoring the warnings from everybody round them, they pursue their affair.

The important thing songs are right here – together with the love ballad Tonight, sung on the balcony by Maria and Tony, and the rousing America, carried out by an ensemble – with barely noticeable modifications to the unique lyrics and the location of musical segments inside the story.

Spielberg’s presents as a storyteller don’t fairly cowl the film’s greatest ask – that viewers settle for that harmful gangs work out their variations by way of the medium of contemporary dance – however he absolutely captures the exuberance that made the 1961 movie such successful.

The Hand Of God (M18)

130 minutes, Netflix, 4 stars

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