The besties review
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Singin’ in the Rain
So glad I finally got around to watching this— it really was just as fun, funny, and awe-inspiring as everyone says.
It’s a shame that Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont) was the only actor to get an Oscar nomination for this, especially considering how fantastic the core three performers are. While I loved the plot, script, and setting (Hollywood at the time of the “talkies” transition, yes please) this is worth a watch just to witness Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor dancing circles around each other. If Ryan Gosling can get an Oscar nom for learning to play piano, surely Gene Kelly could have gotten nominated for THIS! Also, remember when movies used to have unequivocally happy endings? Weird.
Favorite sequences: Fit as a Fiddle, Make ‘Em Laugh, Good Morning, and Broadway Melody
P.S. I happened to watch this on Gene Kelly’s birthday. Happy Birthday Gene!
I didn’t like this all that much! Besides the fact that cabaret-style performances aren’t really my thing, I found the characters to be kind of annoying and I didn’t care much for the plot. The only things that consistently kept my attention were Liza Minnelli’s musical performances. She’s an undeniably great performer, and these songs suited her well. That said, I don’t see myself returning to this one any time soon.
I was excited to watch this because it’s more current, it won Best Picture, and I love the city of Chicago. But even though I liked this more than Cabaret, I still didn’t totally vibe with it. The songs are fun and the performances are, at the very least, intriguing, but cabaret performances hit me like a horse tranquilizer apparently.
Weird that John C. Reilly was Oscar-nominated for this, though I did think his “Mr. Cellophane” number was one of the better songs. At the risk of upsetting the Chicago stans, I have to say that I found Richard Gere’s performance (particularly his singing) to be quite unfortunate. He was giving me big “Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia” vibes there.
Barbara Streisand’s classic turn as singer and comedienne Fanny Brice has been on my list ever since Lea Michele sang “Don’t Rain On My Parade” on Glee (that's sarcasm, but not really), and even though that song is so unequivocally awesome, I found the rest of the soundtrack to be kind of lackluster. Babs puts in a great performance and her costumes are delectable, but I think I would have liked this so much better if it were filmed more like a Douglas Sirk movie. All I'm asking for is a little COLOR!
The only musical number where I really liked the staging was the “Roller Skate Rag"— everything else was pretty devoid of choreography, unfortunately. Even though I probably won’t be rewatching anytime soon, you just can’t deny the powerhouse that is Barbara Streisand!
An American in Paris
It’s really interesting that this film (which came out just a year before Singin’ in the Rain) was considered the “superior” film at the time. What makes this a really interesting case is that An American in Paris won six Oscars, including Best Picture. I definitely enjoyed Gene Kelly’s performance and the film as a whole, but it really didn’t rise to the level of Singin’ in the Rain for me. The best sequence in the entire movie is "An American in Paris Ballet," an extravagant 16-minute dance number (composed by George Gershwin) that utilizes Gene Kelly’s choreography to its fullest extent. With less than a minute of actual screen time following the ballet, this number more or less serves as the film’s finale. Luckily it’s amazing, but I still would have liked a bit more resolution than just a post-ballet embrace!
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What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!