Film Review: THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (USA 2017) ****

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The Greatest Showman Poster
Trailer

Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

Director:

Michael Gracey

Writers:

Jenny Bicks (screenplay by), Bill Condon (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »

 

Films about circuses have been popular having taken many different genres form blockbuster (Cecil. B. Demille’s THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH) to cheap 1966 horror (CIRCUS OF FEAR).  THE GREATEST SHOWMAN aims at being both a biopic and a musical.

Hugh Jackman is a shoo-in for the role of singing P.T. Barnum, obtaining a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a musical or comedy in the process.  Heart-throb Zac Ephron also eases into musical mode as smooth as in three HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL films.  He plays Barnum’s friend and business partner..

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN is a true musical at heart.  Within the first 10 minutes, there are two songs performed already.  The film also boasts to be an original musical, not to be confused with “BARNUM” that played on Broadway decades back.  The songs are catchy with “This is Me”, largely performed by the bearded lady nominated for the Best Song Golden Globe.  But the other songs (by the guys who wrote LALA LAND) are just as catchy (there have been few musicals these days with all good songs) with others just as good, if not better than “This is Me”.  The choreography is also quite spectacular, and one cannot complain that there is not a full all out musical.  It is a feel-good movie, so those wanting hard drama and musical-haters, be advised to stay away.

The story contains two romances, between P.T. Barnum and Charity (Michelle Williams) and the other between Phillip Carlyle (Ephron) and Anne Wheeler (Zendaya), the acrobat and trapeze artist.  The romantic chemistry is not all there, though Barnum’s and Charity’s is more believable.

Though the film traces how American showman P. T. Barnum became the founder of the circus that became the famous traveling Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, there are also subplots like the romance as well as the diversion of the employment of famous Swedish singer Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson) who almost destroys both his business and his marriage.  Her singing performance is astonishing though Loren Alfred provides Lind’s singing voice.  Ferguson lip syncs and fakes it quite well.

The film side steps certain points, like how Barnum suddenly obtained all the circus animals.  The business aspect of the circus is only briefly mentioned in passing.  It is quite hard to believe that the circus made it this big with so few acts and with no clowns at all in the film.

Director Gracey seems fond of emphasizing the fact of equality among performers.  The protests in each visiting town of the residents against the circus ‘freaks’ finally conclude with a huge fire that destroys the circus building.  In Demille’s THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, it was a train crash that almost destroyed the circus, here compared to the big fire. 

The film should have more circus acts on screen time, so the audience can really feel the atmosphere of a circus.  What is clearly missing in this circus film is the excitement and danger of a circus.  Still, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, though is not the greatest show in 2017 still makes appropriate Christmas entertainment.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXCTMGYUg9A

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Film Review: PEARL, 2017, USA, Fantasy/Drama

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SHORT FILM played at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Review by Kierston Drier

Fantastical and filled with whimsy, PEARL is an anachronistic tale with the sweet, sorrowful touching effect of a well-told fairy tale. Director Assia Quinhang Shoa brings this USA film to life with care and detail. Our story follows an aging and lonely puppeteer Sam who finds and rescues a young mermaid. Unable to speak English, Sam names her Pearl and believes at long last he has found a friend. But Pearl belongs in the ocean and no amount of devotion Sam has for her can change that truth.

 

Told with innocence and delight, this simple story warms the heart. It has boasts beautiful and detailed production design and excellent performances by the main characters. It resonates with a meaningful message- young or old, we all want to belong.

 

Sam must make a difficult choice in what is best for Pearl, but that doesn’t mean his impact on her hasn’t been profound. A sweet story with the comfort of a favorite lullaby, PEARL is an excellent short to warm the heart of anyone. A satisfying and compelling piece that is sure to be a delight to all.

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PEARL, 15min, USA, Fantasy/Drama
Directed by Assia Qianhang ShaoIt is a fairy tale about an old lonely puppeteer, Sam, saves a 9-year- old wounded mermaid and helps care for her and love her as a father. However, when her wounds heal he struggles with letting her go back to the ocean.

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Film Review: D’ARLINE, 2017, USA, Drama/Biography

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SHORT FILM played at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Review by Kierston Drier

Dive into A’DARLENE and you will relive the brilliant true story of physicist and professor Richard Fenyman and learn about his impact on mathematics and modern history. D’ARLENE is a short drama, coming from the USA and directed by Christina Jobe. D’ARLENE follows the real-life genius through his time at the Manhattan project, working as a physics professor and his research into the Atomic bomb- but intercuts his present with his recent past- the relationship he has with his first wife Arlene, including her tragic and untimely death.

 

D’ARLENE feels like a feature in the way it boasts complex characters, deep relationships, moving storylines and a brilliant rise-and-fall of plot and resolution. Yet this dense story fits neatly and cleanly into twenty-two minutes. Without a single detailed left unattended, the world Jobe creates is tangible, visual and highly emotional. The film is balanced without a single superfluous scene, shot or frame.

 

The production value is excellent and the mise-en-scene thought out and lush to watch.  All artistic details are attended to with the precision of skilled professionals. Beyond the story and composition of the work, the performances by the cast are second-to-none. The climax of the piece, a letter written by the actual Richard Fenyman and delivered by the actor, leaves a powerful resounding effect on the viewer.

 

As a story, as a piece of cinema, as a work of art, D’ARLENE has much to be proud of. Bravo Christina Jobe. Bravo.

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D’ARLINE, 22min, USA, Drama/Biography
Directed by Christina JobePhysicist Richard Feynman struggles to make a scientific break through after experiencing personal trauma and while fighting guilt over his work on the atomic bomb. Based on a true story.

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Film Review: TWO, 2017, USA, Fashion/Experimental

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SHORT FILM played at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Review by Kierston Drier

Bright, stunning and boasting exceptional editing, TWO is 60-seconds of a non-stop visual art. Directed by Tamara Hansen out of the USA, TWO depicts the relationship between two women, in an avant-garde cinematic display. Opulent and decadent and seamlessly attentive to detail, this is a film that leaves not a single frame wasted.

 

From the very first second of TWO, the audience is hit with an onslaught of rapid-fire images, each equally riveting, visually interesting and lush. Highly interpretive, this one-minute piece is open to discussion regarding its larger themes. Yet there is no doubt that it has much to say. A shimmering example of exceptional visual work and guided with an excellent editorial hand, TWO is a fantastic vibrant short.

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TWO, 1min, USA, Fashion/Experimental
Directed by Tamara HansenThis short film is about the relationship of two girls, shown in an artsy way.

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Film Review: THE SCULPTOR, 2017, USA, Documentary

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SHORT FILM played at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Review by Kierston Drier

This short and timely four-minute documentary coming from the US, directed by Ben Ginsburg, is a fascinating story following a young artist. Creator Malcolm Macdougall is an up-and-coming artistic sculptor that works in metals- crafting sheet metal and scrap metal into huge and masterful artistic works. Often finding inspiration from the natural world, these gentle giants of artistry are remarkable and breathtaking. Yet Malcolm must like the art he creates, is calm, relaxed and thought-provoking. He speaks of his medium as a form of self-expression without any pretensions.

 

His art is simply his hobby, but a powerful and meaningful hobby. Yet this hobby has him working in a huge warehouse, welding and dealing with a medium that requires exceptional skill, labour and patience. A strong and powerful cinematic piece with fascinating works of art to be shown, this short documentary is well worth the watch.

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THE SCULPTOR, 4min, USA, Documentary
Directed by Ben Ginsburg This short documentary examines the work, process, and philosophy of Malcolm Macdougall, an up-and-coming sculptor in the Hudson Valley.

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Film Review: BRIDGING COLOR, 2017, South Korea, Drama

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SHORT FILM played at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Review by Kierston Drier

BRIDGING COLOUR comes to us by director Chang Hyun Park, and hails from South Korea. An emotionally driven piece delivered with passion, flawless execution, and dramatic balance, it tells the tale of a highly accomplished and ego-centric Art teacher whose arrogant self-righteousness gets the better of him when he slowly begins to go color blind.

 

A perfect story of poetic justice and the compelling nature of art subjectivity, BRIDGING COLOR is ultimately a metaphor for ableism and inclusion. The rules we rigidly adhere to are able to shut us out as much as they pull us in.

 

There is a seamless flow to BRIDGING COLOUR, one that takes our hero down a perfect hubris-fueled poetic fall. One of the best parts of this film is the exceptional acting of the hero, who is able to have the entire audience feel compassion and sympathy for him- although he never totally breaks his clearly flawed character. Completely with an emotional and touching ending BRIDGING color is a well made and perfectly put together piece of cinema.

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BRIDGING COLOR, 23min, South Korea, Drama
Directed by Chang Hyun ParkAn arrogant, world famous painter becomes colorblind and realize that what he see is not always what it seems.

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Film Review: TASTE OF LOVE, 2017, Austria, Romance/Experimental

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SHORT FILM played at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Review by Kierston Drier

A sizzling, tantalizing, nerve-tingling show of physical pleasures- TASTE OF LOVE is a dive into the sensual world of self-discovery. Filled to bursting with tangible physical metaphors and riveting images, TASTE OF LOVE may have you squirming in your seat.

 

Our story follows a young woman on her journey to explore what love tastes like- and in her journey, she finds herself engulfed in a variety of new experiences, bringing her into the world of sweet, salty, bitter and sour.

 

Bright and colorful, with the intensity of a dance-party on a drug trip, this is a film that slams into you and demands not just to be seen, but to be felt. Visual, intense and sinfully vibrant, TASTE OF LOVE is not to miss.

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TASTE OF LOVE, 4min, Austria, Romance/Experimental
Directed by Paul ScheuflerWhat is the taste of love?

Could it be sweet, sour, bitter or even salty? A girl embarks on an aromatic journey of love, stimulating her taste buds to the point of climax. With all senses, she explores the various forms love can take on. “Love is as diverse as our sense of taste”.

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