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THE BAL: 3 STARS

Director Ryan Murphy returns to familiar territory with “The Prom,” a high school musical adapted from a Broadway show currently airing on Netflix. The creator of pop culture juggernaut “Glee” is throwing subtlety out the window and raising the bar with a star cast to bring the story of inclusiveness to scintillating life.

The action begins on the opening night of a Broadway show, a musical about Eleanor Roosevelt starring two standalone stage icons, Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden).

When terrible critics force the show to shut down on opening night, taking their dreams of glory to the Tony Awards with them, they fear they’ll never work again. Thirty (Andrew Rannells), a Juilliard graduate awaiting his big break as a bartender at Sardi’s restaurant, and Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman), a “Chicago” backing vocalist who spent twenty years for the chance to perform. Roxie.

At the same time, across the country, in a small town in Indiana, controversy is brewing. Local PTA chief Ms Greene (Kerry Washington) has announced that in order to uphold community standards, gay high school student Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) will be banned from attending the ball with her girlfriend.

Cut to New York where the four actors are making a plan to find a cause they can support to strengthen their battered public image. When they hear of Emma’s plight, the self-proclaimed “Broadway Liberals” board a bus to Indiana to bring their self-proclaimed (and selfish) activism to the Midwest.

High jinks and a high progression score.

“The Prom” is a wellness film that celebrates not only inclusiveness, but also the form of the musical. It’s an ode to Broadway and, in these isolated times, to the importance of entertaining people.

When Dee Dee tells high school principal Tom Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key) that she intends to quit the company, he sincerely says, “You can’t stop because I need you to do what. you do.

It’s a lovely feeling, but it makes the awkward handling of many musical numbers somewhat mystifying. If this form is so important, why are large dance sequences such a mix of frantic camera work, sweet colors, and thumping choreography? There is a difference between dazzling and dizzying and Murphy is too often mistaken on the latter’s side.

Other than that, “The Prom” fits alongside pop musicals like “Bye Bye Birdie,” another show about actors trying to advertise in a small town. It’s bouncy with a game cast.

Streep, Rannells and Kidman are having fun in great performances and Corden goes there, but I wonder if Nathan Lane, who would have been great, or Brooks Ashmanskas, who played Glickman on Broadway, were otherwise engaged during the filming of the movie.

The heart and soul of the film, however, is Jo Ellen Pellman as Emma, ​​the gay high school student who shows resilience and courage in the face of prejudice. She’s terrific in a role that requires her to sing, dance while pulling on your sensitive strings.

If you’re someone who has a “West Side Story” release date that features Pellman co-star Ariana DeBose as Anita listed on your timeline, or if the words “Meryl Streep raps” grab your attention, then you’ll want to put “The Prom” in your Netflix queue.

It aims to appeal to fans of the genre and offers an explosion of feel-good feelings, but probably won’t appeal to people who don’t like when the actors suddenly start singing.

I AM YOUR WOMAN: 3 ½ STARS

I'm your wife

There are a lot of crime dramas about villains on the run, but “I’m Your Woman,” a new thriller starring Rachel Brosnahan from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and now airing on Amazon Prime Video, tells the story. from a different perspective. , the villain’s wife.

The action begins when Jean’s (Brosnahan) husband Eddie (Bill Heck) comes home with a baby. We later learn that she is unable to conceive and due to her criminal record they cannot adopt, so Eddie “finds” a baby and now they are a family of three. That night, Jean is awakened by loud bangs at the door.

Eddie is missing and now she has to flee in the company of one of her husband’s associates, a kind-hearted killer named Cal (Arinze Kene). She doesn’t know where Eddie is or why he disappeared, but the situation is urgent. On the road, from seedy motels and shelters to secluded cabins, the couple try to stay one step ahead of the villains who chase them in search of the elusive Eddie.

“I am your wife” is a quiet movie. The stillness is only interrupted by occasional knocks or gunshots. It is the story of a woman trapped in a situation she did not invent, who must shape her own destiny.

It draws inspiration from 1970s crime dramas and even borrows its title from a 1981 line-up of Michael Mann’s “Thief” – I’m your wife, “Tuesday Weld told James Caan,” and you’re my man. ” – but make no mistake, it’s not just a film that reverses the genre of the protagonists. The films that inspired it may have featured men, but that’s another story, it is a look at what happens when the men aren’t around.

There is more to it, however. “I am your wife” is a much more human story than the paranoid thrillers that have informed it are not. Here Jean is not fighting against a machine or the government, but against the imbalance of power in a personal situation. It changes the dynamic of the storytelling and emphasizes the person fighting, Jean, and not a monolithic organization.

Brosnahan is in almost all of the images of “I’m Your Woman” and yet there is no trace of Ms. Maisel to be found. In a formidable performance, she allows Jean to develop survival skills that she was not aware of. But, just like it’s not “Eddie Coyle’s Friends”, neither is it “Atomic Blonde.” It’s a film that guides us step by step through Jean’s journey, without flashy action or large numbers of bodies.

Suddenly, “I’m Your Woman” abolishes the nihilism of many thrillers to offer something rare for the genre, and it is a hope for the future.

songbird: 1 ½ STARS

KJ Apa

“Songbird,” a new film produced by Michael Bay and now on premium VOD, seems ripped from the headlines.

Like today’s headlines.

The first film shot in Los Angeles during the lockdown details life during COVID.

Set in 2024, in the fourth year of the pandemic, COVID has mutated, leaving the United States under martial law where infected citizens are forcibly evicted from their homes. Treated as walking and talking biohazards, they are housed in concentration camps called Q-Zones.

Meanwhile, motorcycle courier Nico (KJ Apa) is immune. A recovered COVID patient, he has the antibodies to fight the disease. When his locked-in girlfriend Sarah (Sofia Carson) is suspected of having contracted the virus, Nico kicks in to save her from an abduction.

There are plenty of supporting characters, like the sex-crazed record producer Bradley Whitford, a veteran lover played by Paul Walter Hauser, Demi Moore’s protective mother, and an over-the-top Peter Stormare as the evil head of the “sanitation” department. of Los Angeles. –but most of them exist only to increase the grim desperation of the situation.

“Songbird” is not a politicized cover-up on masks or the origin of the virus. Instead, it’s cursed-style romance – “You’ve never been in the same room,” Sara’s mother says, “but he loves you.” – in the context of the worst global event in decades.

It would be one thing if “Songbird” had something to add to the conversation about COVID, but it doesn’t. Instead, he plays our collective worst fears in awkward and exploitative ways.

It’s likely to appeal to conspiratorial enthusiasts who may touch their foil hats with excitement at the mention of bracelets for “munies” – the immune – an uncontrolled sanitation service that shuts down at will, apps that will alert you if your temperature is above normal and constantly monitored.

For those who aren’t prone to dystopian extremes, “Songbird” is a crude reminder of the real death, illness, unemployment, and heartache that COVID has caused. It sounds muffled, and worse, it’s a bad movie.

YES, GOD, YES: 3 ½ STARS

Yes, my God, yes

Based on director Karen Maine’s own experiences as a Catholic high school student, “Yes, God, Yes”, now on VOD and Blu Ray, is a look at the sexual arousal of a young woman while she is in the grappled with the taboos surrounding his faith.

Set in the early 2000s, “Yes, God, Yes” stars Natalia Dyer as Alice, a protected sixteen-year-old who accidentally falls into a racy AOL chat room. The obscene photographs and provocative conversation are unlike anything she has ever seen or heard and it puts her on a journey of self-discovery.

At 77 minutes (including credits), “Yes, God, Yes” is an airy and often insightful coming-of-age story. The push and pull Alice feels between her faith and budding sexuality is handled sensitively by Maine and delicately portrayed by Dyer. Caught between naivety and mature thoughts, she is on the cusp of a big change, groping her way through her difficult formative years. The movie gives him the space to do it, and every low-key reveal feels genuine.

It is not a film with great moments, just a series of sometimes frank but often soft settings. From shy Alice’s confessions to an atrocious rendition of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” to claiming that every roasted marshmallow is a mortal sin before holding it in the fire, “Yes, God, yes” is keenly and respectfully observed. In Alice, the film finds everyone’s character, a teenage girl who struggles through feelings of confusion and shame in search of her own pleasure.

“Yes, God, Yes” doesn’t judge its characters, even when they’re too shredded to be believed or preaching abstinence-focused sex education. Instead, it paints a picture of a time and place and allows characters to inhabit it.

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