July 9, 2009

West Side Story


Directors:
Jerome Robbins
Robert Wise

Screenwriter:
Ernest Lehman

Book:
Arthur Laurents

Music and Lyrics:
Leanard Bernstein
Stephen Sondheim

Cast:
Lip syncing Natalie Wood (She's a fraud)
Lip syncing Richard Beymer (Ditto)

Some American ballet dancing finger clicking fruity gang bangers
Some Greek salsa/tango/mambo dancing feet stomping fruity immigrant gang bangers pretending to be Puerto Ricans.

Story:
The fruity American dancers don't like it that their 'hood is being taken over by the Greeks, probably because they dress better. The head of the fruity Americans gets a massive stiffy over the sister of the leader of the Greeks.
Shits gonna hit the fan, but not without 7 years of jazz and two of ballet training it's not.

Think "Grand Theft Auto" as imagined through the eyes of that bald gay dude from Sex and the City series after falling asleep watching Romeo and Juliet.

Veriew:
It all starts off with an extreeeeeeemly long overture that has the two gangs fighting over territory, but it really looks like they're having a dance off.

Turn pause step pivot twirl step pause click pause aaaaand pout.

The poh-leece turn up and use words like "Wiseguys" and "Hoodlums" and tell the two dance troupes to cop on. They don't.

Instead of popping some caps and sending out the word that they're the biggest and toughest gang in the whole wide world, the leader of the American fruits starts to sing and dance and his gang all stand around watching him and telling him to "Go girlfriend".
Oh, and his name is "Riff". The only way he could make that name butch is if he was a chick.

Step step twirl click shuffle finger click pause pirouette mince and jazz hands.

Back at the Greek's place and the women are fine but the men are too busy whining about not liking it in America. The women love it in America. Cue a song and dance about loving/hating living in America, called "America". Genius.

Stomp stomp clappy hands dress shaking bad pronunciation stomp stomp and pose

So the Americans and the Greeks have a war council to decide weapons for a big time rumble. They get interrupted by the poh-leece who come in and talk about everyone's ma. In the meantime the head of American's - Anto is sniffing around the sister of the head of the Greeks - Anne Marie.

So Tony is all like:

"Here, Anne Marie give us a shift"

And Anne Marie is all like:

"No way man, me brother would kill me and he'd probably burst you too"

Then Tony is all like:

"I'm not afraid of no sucker, I pity the fool!"

Then Anne Marie gets all moist at Tony's manliness and they do it everywhere. But because this is a classy film we don't see it, but I bet it was durrty.

The next day in work Anne Marie tells the girls that she's feeling pretty and then she sings a song about feeling pretty which you think would have been used in a make up or tampon commercial over the years, but whatever.

and sing and twirl and gay

So they all go to a dance, which was the natural habitat of street gangs back in the 50's, dontcha know?

At the dance the Americans and the Greeks separate the dance floor like boys and girls do at an underage junior disco. But the leader of the Greeks (Barney) sees Tony eyeing up his little sister, Anne Marie and goes apeshit.

So they all have a dance.

De de de de de de de dum dum dum dum Mambo!

Surprisingly, this doesn't seem to ease the tension between the two groups and they organise a fight under the Brooklynn bridge. The fight is to be a 2 man fight, but then Tony turns up playing the big man and in the confusion, Barney kills the uber butch Riff. This makes Tony "pity the fool" as earlier mentioned, because Riff is like his BFF. So Tony takes a knife and kills Barney.
This isn't good, because Barney is Anne Marie's brother and he's going to have to get some Quality Street or After Eights if he expects a leg over again.

So Tony goes to see Anne Marie and he tells her that he offed her bro and despite the complete lack of chocolates or flowers or a witty Limerick, he totally gets his leg over. I think they sing a song, not sure. It's highly likely that they do as it's a musical.

shag shag shag song song song and scene

So back at the American's hangout spot they're all freaking out cos Riff is brown bread. So the poh-leece come around to get some answers, but they're not the sharpest needles in the haystack so they leave with nothing.
As a celebration to the cops leaving, the Americans have a song and a dance.

sing laugh dance giggle happy happy dance laugh

The poh-leece don't like songs being sung about them, except when it's Bad Boys, so they go around to the Greek ladies place and start asking questions. But they get nothing. So the ladies have a bit of a sing, and it's all depressing. Mostly because I keep being reminded that it's not Natalie Wood singing and maybe she's getting paid way too much for half a job done. She doesn't even dance for Sondheim's sake.

In the meantime, the writers have kind of run out of songs to hold our attention so Anne Marie goes to try and save Tony because word on the street is that one of the Greeks is going to avenge the death of Barney.

She turns up to hear Tony screaming like he's on an estate in Finglas and she starts screaming too, but one of the Greeks is packing heat and pops a cap in Tony's ass.

Anne Marie is all like

"WTF? :-o"

Then all the other cast members show up, excluding the dead ones and just kind of watch Anne Marie's melt down and to cut a long story short, it ends.

Verdict:
It's a classic, despite the camp gang dancing and is one of the most successful musicals of all time, and probably the best.
I prefer the stage version because depending on the director, the Natalie Wood character shoots herself at the end too. Oh, and she doesn't lip sync.
It's a must see and chances are you know a lot of the music even if you didn't realise it before.

Rent it, buy it, watch it and click your fingers all the way through.

Pow pow chunga bang and rev us off!

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