Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blind Spots 2012: The Band Wagon

I'm in a bit of a writing slump, and if I waited to write a full review of this movie, I'm pretty sure it would never happen. So I offer instead my live-micro-blogging thoughts on it (complete with a couple of screencaps to illustrate specific moments I mention), along with my usual mini-review at the end.

3:49 p.m., when I put the movie on - I really have no idea what this movie's about, so it should be a lot of fun.

3:51 - This auctioneer's self-esteem seems to have shattered fairly quickly.

3:53 - When was Easter Parade? I'm trying to place this among Astaire's other, later films.
(The answer to that turned out to be 1948, so this was 5 years later.)

3:57 - My completely logical and unbiased opinion: Every movie should be a musical.

3:59 - "I can stand anything but pain!"

4:01 - Haha, the Love Appeal machine right next to the funny mirror is fun.

4:02 - I LOVE when musical songs use objects in the scene for musical effect. This shoe shine number is fantastic.

4:06 - This Jeffrey Cordova must be quite a character...

4:09 - "If it moves you, if it stimulates you, if it entertains you, it's theater."

4:11 - His friends are a hoot.

4:13 - I forgot that there weren't so many serious musicals back then.

4:16 - Oh, hey, "That's Entertainment"! I wonder if this is a revue or if the songs were written for it? It's hard to tell with early shows...

4:18 - Heh, that writer guy is clearly not a dancer.

4:20 - At first I thought I'd hate Jeffrey, but he is kind of fantastic.

4:23 - I wish I knew enough about ballet to be able to tell when someone was really good.

4:26 - "Gabrielle Gerard in her stocking feet is, at the most, 3 feet tall."

4:28 - I miss the practiced diction of old movie actors and actresses. It sounds so very classy.

4:34 - Well, *that's* an awful outfit to wear to a dance call. You have to be able to move. Heh.

4:36 - LOL, that 8/8 performance was hilarious.

4:40 - A little part of me just died watching him smash those records.

4:44 - There hasn't been a song in forever. Come on, musical!

4:47 - There's something almost unbearably beautiful about sudden dance sequences.

4:49 - That dance in the park was fantastic. Not overblown, not too big, just perfect.

4:52 - SOMEBODY is going to trip over that cord...

4:53 - This is not the smoothest of tech rehearsals.

4:58 - This movie is refreshingly antagonist-free. There's nobody to dislike in it, really.

4:59 - This audience reaction is hilarious. So much funnier than angry ranting about a bad show. 

5:05 - Dancing in such a confined space is DIFFICULT. This is kind of impressive.

5:08 - Go, Gabby. Do your career the way you want to.

5:10 - Hmm. That set seems less like cheery sunshine and more like Egyptian desert.

5:12 - Catherine O'Hara in Waiting For Guffman!!! THAT'S who the writer chick reminds me of!

5:14 - I am having so much trouble thinking of a musical plot where these 3 numbers would work together... Certainly not the one pitched to us earlier.

5:17 - LOL, seriously, where do any of these songs fit in their fictional show?

5:19 - That triplets song may be one of the creepiest song & dance numbers I've ever seen.

5:23 - Spinning the stage around during the murder mystery number must have been quite a trick...

5:25 - Ya know, I think I preferred the Faust to this bizarre mishmash...

5:28 - Seriously, this whole thing makes zero sense as a stage number. A musical sequence that depends on camera tricks doesn't work on stage.

5:37 - Well, mostly I really enjoyed that. Oddly, it was the abundance of musical numbers at the end that was off for me.

Final Review:
The Band Wagon is, for the most part, a very solid and enjoyable movie musical, but it loses its way 2/3 of the way through and never quite regains it. The song and dance numbers are great fun, but they stop having any bearing on the plot about an hour in - and, worse, barely even interact with the plot. The only songs or dances in the last 30 minutes or so are ones that are part of the musical-within-a-musical. It becomes just a series of performances with no context to them, so the emotional effect, whether sweet or fun or uplifting, is mostly lost. While I don't always object to that, it was especially disappointing since I was so enamored with the first 2/3 of the movie. The impromptu dance sequence in the park was one of the most beautiful dance numbers I have perhaps ever seen in a movie musical. But it mattered because it had context. Strip the movie numbers of their context, even contrived context, and the songs have to be a whole lot more entertaining than this to make it matter.

3.5 stars.

Blind Spot Movies I've Seen So Far, In Order of How Much I Liked Them
Beetlejuice (1988)
The Band Wagon (1953)
Office Space (1999)

Blind Spot Movies I Have Yet To See, In No Order
The Hurt Locker (2008)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
The Exorcist (1973)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Carrie (1976)
Rushmore (1998)
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Nosferatu (1929)


  1. You know that never really occurred to me, but you're completely right about the lack of antagonists (Paul is about as dislikable as the characters comes), maybe that's why it's such a nice movie.

    And completely agree about the triplets song.

    1. I kept expecting there to be antagonists and kept getting thrown off when the characters I thought I was supposed to dislike ended up being great.