When the great Mikhail Baryshnikov deems it necessary to offer commentary on a film’s legacy, then you must pay attention.
But when it comes to West Side Story (No rating, MGM, $16.99-$44.99 depending on version, 5-of-5 stars), no one ever had to get me to pay attention. Baryshnikov’s presence is still welcome, however.
The film – quite simply – is one of the top three musicals to ever grace Broadway and, without a doubt, it’s the best adaptation of a Broadway musical for the screen.
I bought the meat-and-potato three-disc set that includes the movie, a remastered version for DVD and the disc with the blu-ray.
The extras here are captivating from beginning to end. Of particular interest: A Place for Us: West Side Story’s Legacy, which takes us through the inception of the play to the film’s adaptation and how the latter impacted popular culture.
In the process, the producers give us interviews with legendary lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and composer Leonard Bernstein’s daughter.
On the blu-ray itself there’s an in-movie experience that allows the viewer to dissect the film’s dance sequences. The movie’s music fans will particularly enjoy the individual commentary that Sondheim provides.
A piece of fun that the producers added: a way to share comments via social networking sites while watching the film. Necessary? No. But it’s definitely an entertaining enhancement.
There’s little to quibble with respect to how they’ve assembled this this package, doing justice to one of the iconic films in cinema’s history.
That being the case, the movie is the perfect addition to a blu-ray library. However, films such as this scream for the silver screen. Clevelanders get their shot to celebrate the 50th anniversary West Side Story over the next five days when it playing at the Capitol Theatre at W. 65th St. in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
A colleague posed the question on Facebook: what actors over 75 have given great performances in recent memory?
I’d argue that while there are several, none will ever be as enlightening and enjoyable as the one delivered by Christopher Plummer in Beginners (Rated R, Universal, $16.99-$24.99 depending on version and format, 4.5-of-5 stars).
Plummer stars as a senior who comes out of the closet late in his life and begins to live with gusto. But that’s not the entire story.
Beginners explores the relationship between Plummer’s Hal and his son Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and how Oliver’s relationships have been affected by his parents.
With Oliver’s mother, Hal was reserved, passionless and bordering on cold. In his new life he’s anything but. However, without an example of what a relationship is supposed to be, he struggles in his own private life – even after meeting the possible woman of his dreams (Melanie Laurent).
This is deep, emotional stuff and the players do the material written by director Mike Mills justice. Plummer will certainly see an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.
Extras: Goodies are few, but this one is about the movie.
Bargain bin: Oscar-winner American Beauty can be had for $6.99 on blu-ray right now…The holiday classic The Polar Express is priced at $12.99 on hi-def…Another holiday flick, Bad Santa starring Billy Bob Thornton is available for $7.99.
Next week: Super 8.