Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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The Dream That Came Through a Million Years

The Greatest Showman
dir: Michael Gracey
scr: Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon, story by Bicks

P.T. Barnum happily bore the title Prince of Humbugs, insisting there was nothing wrong with hyperbole to sell tickets, as long as you delivered on a satisfying show and brought joy to the people. The Greatest Showman is a valentine to that spirit, if not the actual facts (if we are to go by Barnum's ageless children, his entire showbiz career spanned about six to eight months): it razzles, it dazzles, it feels a lot about The Stage as a place where, to paraphrase one character, the full tapestry of humanity is on display. The choreography is executed by actual dancers, with a constantly roving camera capturing their every move from head to toe! Michelle Williams, allowed to smile on screen for the first time since Oz the Great and Powerful, impresses with a winsome singing voice and a warm openness - would that she could get more roles like this!

In truth, it reminded me a lot of my favorite movie, Xanadu: for every "Guys like me shouldn't dream, anyway" moment of on-the-nose clunkiness (and oh boy, there's a-plenty!), there are three musical appeals for beauty and spectacle that remind you just why we go to the movies in the first place. Also like Xanadu, it ends with all the money thrown up on the screen in a busy yet shockingly moving finale. It wears its heart on its sleeve and naively expects everyone else to, too. I loved loved loved it.

"Never Enough", my favorite song from the film

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