Manila, Philippines–On Valentine’s week, Steven Spielberg’s first full-length musical movie, “West Aspect Story,” which lately been nominated for seven Oscar Awards, together with this yr’s “Finest Image,” lastly screens in Philippine cinemas beginning February 16.
Set within the late ’50s Manhattan, “West Aspect Story” opens in San Juan Hills, the place many Puerto Rican immigrants thrive. Nonetheless, their close-knit neighborhood is on the brink of extinction; it’s being rebuilt as an city improvement: the Lincoln Heart advanced, a hub for the elite performing arts organizations, such because the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera, in the present day stands.
“West Aspect Story” opens in a protracted take, the place cinematographer Janusz Kaminski’s digicam swoops from midtown Manhattan’s skyline to the rubbles of some elements of the West Aspect’s San Juan Hills; the world has been enclosed and declared a non-public property. The digicam then zooms onto the architectural plans of the Lincoln Heart advanced, whose each nook and cranny turns into a battleground between two warring gangs, comprised of juvenile delinquents, the Jets (White People), and the Sharks (Puerto Ricans).
The Jets and the Sharks very effectively remind us of the feuding noble households of the Montagues and the Capulets in William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Romeo and Juliet,” which impressed the unique 1957 Broadway manufacturing conceived by Jerome Robbins, with music by Leonard Berstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and guide by Arthur Laurents. Within the middle of the road fights between the Jets, led by Riff (Mike Faist), and the Sharks, led by Bernardo (David Alvarez), are star-crossed lovers: American Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Puerto Rican Maria (Rachel Zegler).
Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner earlier revealed they’d based mostly their film on the staged version–and they are not remaking the 1961 movie, which starred Natalie Wooden (Maria), Richard Beymer (Tony), and Rita Moreno (Anita). Now a 90-year-old display screen legend and producer, Moreno returns on this musical’s reiteration in a particular function: Valentina, a confidante to Elgort’s Tony, and who sings one of many present’s most romantic anthems, “Someplace”–albeit in a comparatively transient, however genuinely heartfelt, method.
What the unique stage manufacturing had disregarded, this “West Aspect Story” within the time of on-line streaming, Hallyu, and NFTs, Spielberg and Kushner’s well-written expanded backstories–infused with unsubtitled Spanish dialogues–make the characters Tony, Maria, Valentina, and Chino (Maria’s Puerto Rican suitor) extra actual. Tony is now an ex-convict; he was in jail for over a yr for tried homicide, which explains his abject disapproval of the Jets’ bullying The Sharks. Maria, who shouldn’t be working anymore at “sister-in-law” Anita’s bridal store, cleans an upscale mall within the evenings, which underpins the relentless class wrestle between the wealthy and the working class.
Furthermore, Puerto Rican “abuela” Valentina, who replaces the white male pharmacist Doc within the staged model, supplies the proverbial motherly love that overpowers the hot-tempered gang members and consoles a distraught Anita (Ariana DeBose). A straight-up dork, Chino, whose arms wield a handgun that led to that unlucky evening for Tony and Maria, has now a well-structured story arc, whose earlier ambitions to turn out to be a part of The Jets have been short-lived.
Spielberg, an enormous fan of the unique Broadway manufacturing’s recording since age 10, recreates the present’s beloved musical numbers, initially choreographed by Jerome Robbins and enhanced for this new adaption by Justin Peck, with vigorous digicam actions, but revealing as many particulars and wealthy, nuanced facial expressions from his actors. Spielberg’s kinetic digicam, which additionally zooms into excessive close-ups within the extra intimate moments, acts like a co-dancer amongst a sea of splendid terpsichoreans in “Dance on the Gymnasium: Mambo” and “America,” owned by means of and although by DeBose’s Anita, or a curious co-actor onlooking Anita’s hostile encounter with the Jets.
Spielberg’s honest reverence to “West Aspect Story” is felt from begin to end, contributing to an as an alternative rushed ending for this movie. Traditionally, the staged model’s previous few scenes have been problematic because the authentic Broadway manufacturing when a tragic ending shouldn’t be a preferred selection amongst American musicals. The Broadway musical and Spielberg’s now acclaimed movie ends equally: an abrupt silence, with out a lot fanfare or a giant end, resembling Mama Rose’s in “Gypsy.”
Subsequently, the viewers is perplexed: are we going to face on our toes and clap, or not?
“West Aspect Story” is produced by Spielberg, Kristie Macosko Krieger, and Kevin McCollum through Amblin Leisure and TSG Leisure and distributed by twentieth Century Studios.
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