‘West Side Story’ and those winks for those of us who still care about the cinema | Culture | ICON

See the new West Side Story directed by Steven Spielberg in a semi-empty multiplex next to the Palace of Sports in Washington in the week of its opening has been a strange experience. Lying in the most comfortable armchair in the world, literally engulfed by the lyrics and melodies of one of the most beautiful musicals in history, I felt the gap that separates us from the younger generations, who are supposedly directed by a film that in a Not so distant time would have burst the box office.

A massless spectacle screeches like a ghost ship. Without queues in the bathroom or at the popcorn counter, without the religious silence of the living room when the lights go out, the weary voice of a middle-aged African-American woman who knew all the songs slipped in. I do not know if it was necessary to re-roll this classic of the genre, but once the waste is done, it is appreciated to feel emotions from another time, although almost no one wants to return to that time.

The West Side Story Spielberg’s has been a fiasco at the box office in his country and its spectacular images are revealed as the fatal closure of an era that began precisely with what is perhaps his masterpiece, Shark, the movie that changed Hollywood and its commercial strategies; the cinematic experience that turned empty movie theaters into an amusement park. Spielberg is no longer 27 years old and perhaps that is why he has made a musical that is an exciting defense of an old school cinema, a dream anchored in the realism of the performances, an authenticity opposed to the hollow and conservative fantasy of recent films like In the Heights, where Lin-Manuel Miranda rewrites the role of Latinos in West Side Story proclaiming a generational change with new clichés loaded with the most stale ideals.

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With overwhelming choreographies, beautiful voices, an art direction that contextualizes the historical moment of New York and its immigrant gangs in which this tragedy of Capuletos and Montagues occurs, the remake from West Side Story it is as personal as it is true to the 1961 Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise film. But if the number of the starter and that of the famous chorus I like to live in America They have an unusual force is thanks to two secondary that eat the film.

Ariana DeBose, as Anita, and especially Mike Faist, as Riff, do everything well: sing, dance and act. So much so that they manage to give a new dimension to these two characters. Although where Spielberg demonstrates his ability to press the sentimental key is when he puts the mythical Somewhere in the mouth of a character that did not exist, the old woman played by Rita Moreno, the 90-year-old actress who won the first Oscar for a Latina for her Anita and one of the icons of this musical and of the Hispanic world. It reminded me of what Lars von Trier did with Joel Gray, the emcee of Cabaret, in his throbbing appearance in Dance in the dark. One of those winks that works only for those who still care about movie theaters.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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