Today! Because every time I look at you I don’t understand/Why you let the things you did get so out of hand –
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
Directed by Norman Jewison (x2)
Starring Ted Neeley (x2), Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman, Barry Dennen (x4), Josh Mostel, Bob Bingham, Larry Marshall, Kurt Yaghjian, Paul Thomas
I’m concerned how this movie was translated overseas, as the above tagline – “Love Message Forever” – doesn’t manage to resonate with me, anyway. Nonetheless! Norman Jewison’s follow-up to the damn near perfect #114 Fiddler on the Roof wasn’t the same sort of awards darling, even following a similar template of no name stars, grand location shooting, and excellent source material. Where Superstar leaps ahead in my personal preference is that it’s about an hour shorter, and has just about my favorite rock opera soundtrack of all-time.
Used copies available in record stores everywhere!
Today! Because oh, what I’d give for a hundred years, but the physical interferes –
Directed by Alan Parker
Starring Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce, Jimmy Nail
Look, I get it, theater people – in a lot of ways, this movie is a jumble of bungled nothing. Like many modern musicals, it had to cast stars just to make the film, and movie stars don’t tend to have the voices to pull off even moderate singing, never mind borderline operatic Andrew Lloyd Webber/Stephen Sondheim type shows. The 2012 Les Miserables barely missed this list, it’s still sitting out there as #401 – I really like that movie, and it actually has a bunch of decent singers, but the Russell Crowe Javert just kills me. Same deal with Sweeney Todd, my favorite stage musical of all time, is just gutted by the warbling.
However, somehow, I think Evita manages to transcend this problem. First off, the production values are terrific – they really manage to pull this show off the stage and make it a movie. The opposite is a more prevalent problem with filmed versions of musicals (and a lot of plays) than not. Second, for what it is, Madonna’s voice works okay. Sure, if she didn’t have Banderas opposite her she might’ve looked worse, but because they’re both okay singers performing at around the same level, it stays a pretty steady, nice film. Continue reading