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Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Imagination and reality come together in the beautifully arranged musical, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020, PG)Featuring Forest Whitaker as the once famous toy maker, Jernonicus Jangle, we see how one man with the help of his enthusiastic and intelligent granddaughter, Journey, overcomes what seems to be the impossible: reigniting his creativity and reuniting his family. The film begins in the present with Grandmother Journey (Phylicia Rashad) introducing her grandchildren to the story of the Jangle family and their friend-turned-foe, Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key). In a year filled with what seems like one hardship after another, join this diverse and accomplished cast to inspire your sense of wonder and joy this winter.

Experience the magic of Jingle Jangle on Netflix with one of our Rokus.



La La Land

La La Land (2016, rated PG-13) was the best musical I've seen in years, and so of course I think the soundtrack is great too. As I listen to each song, I can see the scene in the movie in my memory. I have a cousin whose daughter is a dancer and whenever I hear the opening song, "Another day of Sun," I see those kids dancing on those cars on that bottle-necked freeway in Los Angeles and it reminds me of her.

While it may be true that La La Land would be a terrific rom/com even without a great musical score, having fabulous music makes it the great movie that it is. I think it should have won the Oscar for Best Picture, but what do I know? Check out the soundtrack on Hoopla today.

My Fair Lady

One of the most interesting, well-directed, and well-performed movies is My Fair Lady (1964, rated G). I have seen it more than 10 times, and I like to watch it over and over again. It rejuvenates me. The songs are great and the language used is superior. This classic stars Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

It is a wonderful movie that demonstrates the progress in human development in some classes of society while some sectors of society languish in ignorance. Above all, it's the score, that incredible score, that always leaves me amazed.

Check out the DVD or place a hold on the soundtrack.

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Spotlight: Musicals

You can't go wrong with Julie Andrews singing and acting in these classic movie musicals.

The Sound of Music (1965, rated G) is such a great romantic and comedic movie! This is a movie for all ages. It's one I enjoy watching over again even though I first watched it at a very young age. The underlying music is quite enlightening. The young children in the movie were superb in their performances.

Mary Poppins (1964, rated G) is a childhood classic that you will remember when you grow up. The story is great, the music is wonderful, and this movie is amazing. Listen to the soundtrack on Hoopla.

Watch both films on Disney+ by borrowing one of the library's Family Rokus with Disney Plus or placing a hold on the DVDs or Blu-rays today. Want more Julie Andrews? Listen to her sing her favorite Broadway showtunes on Hoopla today.


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Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway

What an amazing journey to see how genius Lin-Manuel Miranda created the Broadway hit Hamilton. He was inspired to write an updated, contemporary, hip-hop musical that reignited New York City's Times Square. After writing the story and music, Miranda starred as the title character (and won a lot of Tony Awards).

After reading a biography on an obscure founding father, Miranda was inspired to write this musical. Side note: Alexander Hamilton (2008)by Ron Chernow is available in Overdrive as an ebook, abridged audio (11 hours), and unabridged audio (35 hours).

Miranda brought Hamilton to life by showing his humanity and flaws. He shined light on a historical character that is self-made and rises to unexpected heights. Another groundbreaking effort was Miranda's movement to diversify roles in his musical to further diversity in musical theater.

I highly recommend this documentary to see the inspiration behind the creator of the hit musical Hamilton.Watch Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway (2017, rated TV-PG) on Hoopla today. Then, listen to the Hamilton soundtrack on Hoopla too!

And exciting news: the Broadway production will be available on Disney+ starting July 3. Reserve one of our Family Rokus today for your chance to watch the production.


Aladdin

If you are a devoted Disney fan like me, you may be reluctant about the company's recent foray into live-action remakes of their classic animated movies.  In this 2019 live-action version of Aladdin (rated PG), I went in with low expectations, especially for Will Smith in the role of Genie, because Robin Williams' performance as the 1992 animated Genie was so outstanding.  Smith ultimately does not try to mimic Williams' style and interpretation, but rather adds his own flair to the part.  Genie even gets an expanded storyline in the live-action.  I also appreciated that Jasmine was a more developed character, expressing a desire to break down the oppression of her society and voice her opinions as a leader.

Composer and songwriter Alan Menken returns to score the live-action film, enhancing his original music and adding additional songs not part of the 1992 version.  So perhaps Disney can, in fact, be successful in livening up their animated classics after all!

Be sure to check out the soundtrack as well on CD or via Hoopla.

The Greatest Showman (2017) PG

greatestshowmanFrom start to finish, The Greatest Showman mesmerizes—from the kaleidoscope of colorful costumes and sets to the catchy musical numbers. It portrays the musical story of P.T. Barnum, magnificently played by Hugh Jackman. The extravaganza starts when he is a poor orphan who falls in love and then marries a girl from a well-to-do, snobby family, Charity (Michelle Williams) and starts a family. Then, he sets out to fulfill his dream of building the greatest show on earth. Barnum hires a dwarf, Tom Thumb, and others with physical abnormalities, such as a giant to attract audiences, but treats them with respect. The moving song, “This is Me”, performed by the bearded lady, Tony nominee Keala Settle, won the 2018 Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Also, “Rewrite the Stars” sung by Barnum’s business partner (Zac Efron) and an African-American trapeze artist (Zendaya) while performing their own aerial stunts reflects their budding romance in the face of prejudices.

The Greatest Showman is pure entertainment for school-aged children and adults. There is also a sing-a-long version. Check out The Greatest Showman: original motion picture soundtrack to listen to the incredible songs again.
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The Merry Widow (1934)

merrywidowJeanette MacDonald, before being paired with Nelson Eddy, made several charming musicals with Maurice Chevalier. MacDonald, as the title character, owns 52% of her homeland of Marshovia. She throws off her widow's weeds to enjoy the excitement of Paris. But what if she decides to stay in Paris? What of her 52%? Sent, for the good of the country, to woo and wed the widow is Captain Donilo, the most accomplished lady's man the country has to offer. The Merry Widow is full of delightful songs and humor.

Spotlight: 1930s Germany

Spotlight: 1930s GermanyIf you have just finished reading In the Garden of Beasts (Erik Larson’s portrait of Germany as the Nazis rise to power and influence), you might like one of the following movie depictions of the same time and place.

Cabaret (1972) is the popular musical starring Liza Minelli as the original “good time girl” who is oblivious to the changes happening around her. Based on The Berlin Stories of Christopher Isherwood.

Three Comrades (1938) is a poignant story of the love between fragile Margaret Sullavan and Robert Taylor. Taylor’s other two comrades are Franchot Tone and Robert Young.  Young, politically active, runs into trouble with the pro-Nazi marchers in the streets.

Mephisto (1981) is a German language movie with Klaus Maria Brandauer, as an actor who sells his soul to the devil in order to keep working in Nazi-era Germany.

The Harmonists (1997) is based on the true story of a successful German singing group that was forced to disband in 1934 because three of its members were Jewish.

Hairspray

Hairspray (2007) PG
Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), an overweight and goodhearted teenager, is able to live her dream and become a regular member of her favorite TV dance program, The Corney Collins Show,which seems to be Baltimore’s version of American Bandstand.

This lively musical is set in 1962 when segregation was prominent. The issues of prejudice and integration are dealt with in an upbeat manner. See John Travolta transformed into Tracy’s plus sized mother. I finished my viewing with a smile on my face and songs in my head, especially “You Can’t Stop the Beat” and “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” (sang by Queen Latifah).

Also costarring Amanda Bynes, Zac Efron, Allison Janney, James Marsden, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brittany Snow, and Christopher Walken.

Hairspray was based on John Waters’ cult film Hairspray (1988) which spawned a Broadway musical and this movie version. Check out the music with the CD Hairspray: original Broadway cast recording.

Sweet Charity

Sweet Charity (1968)
Charity (Shirley MacLaine) is sweet and trusting and easily used by the worthless men she keeps falling in love with. When Charity meets a young insurance clerk who doesn’t know about her life as a dance hall hostess, Charity thinks, “this could be it!”

For another movie choreographed and directed by Bob Fosse, see All That Jazz.

Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge! (2001) PG-13
The opening scene of this movie is a frenetic, whirling burst of lights, colors, and music! But try and stick with it because it is one luscious movie!

As the story goes, Christian, an impoverished writer, comes to Paris and falls in with Toulouse-Lautrec and the Bohemians of Montmartre, which leads us all to a merry romp at the Moulin Rouge. Christian meets Satine, the club's star and a beautiful courtesan. When he falls head-over-heels in love with her, a dangerous love triangle begins!

Ewan McGregor is terrific as Christian, Nicole Kidman is perfect as Satine, and they sing and dance! Visit About.com to find more about the movie, the stars, and the music.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
This funny and entertaining musical just might be Marilyn Monroe’s best movie. In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Monroe and costar Jane Russell are superb. To publicize the movie, the actresses put their handprints in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – and they both wrote “gentlemen prefer blondes.”

For more fun facts about the movie, visit the TCM website. And enjoy this video of the leading ladies at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Bells are Ringing

Bells are Ringing (1960)
Telephone operator Ella Peterson (Judy Holliday) becomes involved with the lives of all the customers at Susanswerphone, including handsome playwright Jeffrey Moss (Dean Martin). When Ella finally meets Jeffrey, its love at first sight, but she can't tell him who she really is--the motherly voice on the phone who has been listening to his problems and giving him advice. Includes the songs "Just in Time" and "The Party's Over." Also with Jean Stapleton (of All in the Family) and directed by Vincente Minnelli. See it at the library on Friday, December 5 at 7:00.

Lubitsch Musicals

Lubitsch Musicals (2008)

For anyone with an interest in classic movies, this collection of four very early Ernst Lubitsch musicals is for you. The movies – Love Parade (1929), Monte Carlo (1930), The Smiling Lieutenant (1931), and One Hour With You (1932) – star Maurice Chavlalier, Jeanette MacDonald, a very young Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins, and Charles Ruggles. These “pre-code” movies will surprise you with their wink wink nod nod innuendo and slinky negligees. Although not to everyone’s tastes, there are many delightful moments in these charming treasures.

Get information about each of the movies, as well as links to reviews in national newspapers and magazines, at the Criterion Collection site. You can also listen to an NPR review of the collection.