Terry Hunter reviews Steven Spielberg's WEST SIDE STORY
Updated: Dec. 19, 2021 at 11:28 AM HST
The musical, WEST SIDE STORY, has been popular since its first production on a Broadway stage in 1957. Now, 60 years after WEST SIDE STORY was turned into a movie, filmmaker Steven Spielberg has made a new version that’s showing only in theaters. And there’s a lot to like about Spielberg’s re-imagining of this classic musical. The flashy cinematography, fresh choreography and superb dancing are exciting. The inspired music by Leonard Bernstein and crowd pleasing lyrics by Steven Sondheim are as appealing as ever. And the actors are very good. But the fairy tale-like story line didn’t stir my emotions very often. What moved me most was 90 year old Rita Morino, who played Maria’s friend Anita in the original film. Here she’s a wise old Puerto Rican woman who tries to mediate between the Caucasian and the Puerto Rican gangs. Spielberg has her sing “Somewhere,” which has been performed by Tony and Maria in all previous versions of West Side Story. If you liked the original film, you’re bound to enjoy this one. (Only in Theaters)
DOWNTON ABBEY was a popular TV series on PBS for six seasons before a hit movie version continued the story in 2019. Now a new version called DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA opened in theaters this weekend. And for anyone who has enjoyed past versions of DOWNTON ABBEY, the new movie will be a real treat. Most of the much loved characters are back along with two new entertaining plot lines, the usual sweeping cinematography, soaring musical score, and lavish costumes. For me, watching DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA was pure pleasure. Nearly all of the characters get chances to grow and change in this film which offers plenty of laughs and a few tear jerking moments. It seems that creator and writer Julian Fellowes loves his characters at least as much as DOWNTON ABBEY fans do.
Streaming movie sites have been great for independent filmmakers. Twenty years ago a small, quality film like INBETWEEN GIRL would never have been seen in Hawaii. Now, it’s just a few clicks away. The film is a wise and realistic coming of age comedy/drama about a 16 year old girl who is the only Asian student in a private high school in Galveston Texas. This movie understands the messy complications of adolescence and racism and doesn’t shrink from dealing with them. The main character is Angie Chen, a talented artist and soccer player who is not part of her school’s in crowd. She’s played by newcomer Emma Galbraith. First time feature filmmaker Mei Makino wrote and directed. (Showing for $4.99 on Amazon, You Tube, Apple TV, Google Play) Note: The title really is “INBETWEEN GIRL” with no space between “in” and “between.” If you search for it online and include a space, you come up with nothing, so it’s important to leave the spelling the way it is with no space.
A new British comedy called THE DUKE, starring Oscar winners Jim Broadbent and Hellen Mirren is showing only at Kahala Theaters right now. The movie is a sweet, heart warming, and very enjoyable comedy based on the true story of an eccentric cab driver who in 1961 stole a portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. He didn’t take it for his own financial gain but, as he put it, for the “good of mankind.” Broadbent plays plays Kempton, a bumbling, would-be Robin Hood, whose goal is to give the ransom money he gets for the painting to poor senior citizens so they can pay the license fee required to watch BBC television. But, of course, nothing goes as planned. THE DUKE is evidence that true stories can be every bit as funny as fiction. (On Oahu at Kahala Theaters only)