Friday, August 17, 2007

You Can't Stop the Beat

I just recently went to see Hairspray -- the musical-based on a Broadway musical-based on a John Waters film -- and fell in love with it. It reminds me of the best parts of classic musicals--singing and dancing and costumes, yes, but also just the incredible joy of being alive (and a happy ending doesn't hurt). If you haven't seen it yet, go mama go, go, go! (If you have and you got the reference, good for you!)

I actually grew up loving musicals. Near my house was an old-fashioned movie house called The Redford Theater. It showed classics on the big screen with an organ performance and cartoon shorts before the show, an intermission when the organ played again(!), and a ceiling painted to look like the sky with little twinkling lights for stars.

On their website you can actually see a film database with the schedules from the 1970s through today, and if you want to know the movies that shaped me growing up, this is your best way to learn--just pick any year in the mid to late '80s. I was looking at the schedule for 1988, and I have no doubt that I was in the audience for West Side Story and Meet Me In St. Louis and Showboat and Oklahoma.

So, the whole point of this exercise in nostalgia is to let you know how jazzed I am that Rough Guides has come out with a new book in their series of film guides: The Rough Guide to Film Musicals by David Parkinson. It is fan-freaking-tastic for both the beginner and old pro. I learned more about musicals I thought I already knew and am glad to have added some to my needs-to-be-seen list (Love Me Tonight, how have we never met?).

Mr. Parkinson is very informed--this is not a piece of fluff, but neither is it overstuffed with film-school jargon. I also like that he is opinionated (except, of course, for when I disagree...) without being condescending towards the films or his readers.

I should note that this is part of a great series that Rough Guides does on film. I'm quite familiar with The Rough Guide to Chick Flicks by Sam Cook, but there are also books on American Independent Film, Film Noir, Westerns, and others. I'm of the opinion that they are way better than most of the film guides out there.

Speaking of musicals, the store is quite quiet for a Friday night during the summer. Me thinks it is all the kids at home watching High School Musical 2. Darn it, why aren't I?

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