Hamilton

Features, Shorts, Live-Action and Direct-To-Video
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Re: Hamilton

Post by Randall » June 22nd, 2020, 2:25 am

Can't wait!

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Ben » June 22nd, 2020, 4:28 am

After all the hype about a new kind of screen version way to experience a stage show...this kind of just looks like a screen version of a stage show!

We'll probably run this on the Saturday, which will be appropriate, and when I will be shocked into realising that half of this year has evaporated... :shock:

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Re: Hamilton

Post by EricJ » June 22nd, 2020, 6:18 am

Sounds like they "reinvented" something that used to make 80's cable great in the early days--
Pirates of Penzance, Sweeney Todd, Master Harold...Showtime had some of the best Broadway concerts on the birth-of-cable, before they screwed up the whole industry.

(We still have the "Broadway HD" channel on Amazon, but they mostly show the BBC Shakespeares from the 70's, a few minor off-Broadway plays, and...the old Showtime concerts from the 80's.)

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Dan » July 3rd, 2020, 7:03 pm

An interesting little opinion piece on Newsweek about how Hamilton just might be "the most Disney" Disney film. :mrgreen:

https://www.newsweek.com/why-hamilton-m ... on-1515158

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Ben » July 3rd, 2020, 8:22 pm

Interesting parallels. I hope the toning down the language is done well and not too noticeably. I wasn’t really aware of much cursing in Hamilton, but it’s obviously used for an intended impact and not throwaway shock value, so I hope it doesn’t detract or take away from those moments. Just as with an old movie I watched the other day which had some parts trimmed down so as to be suitable for an afternoon TV slot, one does kind of wish for unedited films and shows to be shown on an appropriate platform, rather than have those films cut or amended to fit.

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Re: Hamilton

Post by EricJ » July 4th, 2020, 3:40 am

Haven't seen "Miramax Syndrome" since the early 00's--
You remember, that was when, whenever Miramax made a good Oscar-winning movie, they were kings of the Oscars, but when Miramax made a controversial R-rated movie, all of a sudden it was...(gasp!)...DISNEY'S fault? What would Mickey say??

Here, it's the concert video of a Broadway show filmed four years ago, and that before Lin Miranda was hired to occupy Alan Menken's old slave-cell as permanent full-time Disney songwriter.
Disney didn't do anything but buy the rights to the stream, and all of a sudden it's "Disney's Disney-ized version of history!"

(I never got to see the stage version, and I'm only halfway through, so I'm waiting to see how goofily the "Street history" plays out Burr being some kind of Salieri-like "mortal rival" of Hamilton.
In reality, the duel was fought over Hamilton using allegations of treasonous negotiations with Spain--which Burr was tried for later, in the pivotal first American treason trial--to smear Burr's career after the poisonously divisive election of 1800.)

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Dan » July 4th, 2020, 3:26 pm

Having seen the show twice on stage and listened to the cast recording numerous times, the edits to the two F-words may come off as noticeable, Ben. One is muted while the other they attempt to do the record-scratching that would be done for edited rap albums. Miranda did warn ahead about this, so I imagine he had some say in how the edits came off.

Honestly, the overall presentation is very good and I imagine it ranks quite high compared to other musicals that had live performances recorded (granted I haven't seen too many, but I think Hamilton ranks highly given how well I thought it maintained the show's aura when watching it on stage).

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Bill1978 » July 4th, 2020, 7:45 pm

I am almost tempted to sign up for the free month trial to check out Hamilton. Mainly because after listening to the cast recording last year or 2 years ago I was left very underwhelmed by the musical score and can't understand the love it has. Just wondering if the visuals will help me understand where people are coming from. At the time I didn't find any of the numbers memorable or 'hummable' and I had no idea what was happening as a story - a major negative for me. When listening to a musical I should at least be able to follow a basic plot. Or maybe I just can't enjoy the musical style of Hamilton and am an old fuddy duddy dinosaur who prefers the Menken/ALW approach to musicals.

So I guess what I'm asking is, if I have a low appreciation for the songs will the visuals help me appreciate the musical and story?

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Ben » July 4th, 2020, 10:18 pm

No.

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Re: Hamilton

Post by EricJ » July 5th, 2020, 12:18 am

Bill1978 wrote:
July 4th, 2020, 7:45 pm
So I guess what I'm asking is, if I have a low appreciation for the songs will the visuals help me appreciate the musical and story?
It's basically like that one time MTV tried creating "a Hip-Hopera" on their network, unquote, and just as silly sounding.
There's no scenery except for ladders and props (which is good, now Broadway shows don't have to keep reviving Sweeney Todd every time they can't afford scenery), there's slinky diva-dancing by dancers in bluecoat uniforms, and there's no dialogue except for rap-recitatives.

Which is one of the problems, in that it all sounds like ONE endless 2-hour rap song, and never slows down long enough to latch onto who is who or whether we care about them. All we're doing is watching Lin come up with neat rhymes for "Amendments" and "Bayonets" ("It's the battle, we'll stay in it!"), which, at its worst, can almost make us picture we're watching Brad Sherwood and Wayne Brady do a "Revolutionary Rap" sketch on Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Still, as to the stage musical's runaway phenomenon: You look at cult-phenom Broadway musicals like Lion King, Wicked, The Producers, etc., and notice...gee, notice how they seem to keep happening to musicals with mainstream appeal, not insular gay-cult-movie celebrations? It's almost like MORE people are buying tickets to "Hamilton" than to "Mrs. Doubtfire", "Tootsie", or "Spongebob Squarepants"!

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Randall » July 5th, 2020, 2:24 am

Bill1978 wrote:
July 4th, 2020, 7:45 pm
So I guess what I'm asking is, if I have a low appreciation for the songs will the visuals help me appreciate the musical and story?
The songs are the WHOLE thing, so, yeah... no. :)

We all enjoyed it tonight, but my strong appreciation for what it was trying to do was undermined by the lack of a single "killer song." 30 minutes after watching it, I can't remember one song. I did enjoy the rapping energy of it all, but I didn't really feel moved for the most part, aside from a single scene in the last act. I also would have liked a little more spoken exposition, just to break up the unrelenting songs, many of which are spoken so fast that it's hard to absorb what is being said. (Though, I was in awe of the performers who were able to deliver those lines! The cast has many talented actors.)

And, of course, not being American, I'm not really the target audience. I know way more US history than most Americans know of Canadian history, but Alexander Hamilton was virtually unknown to me aside from his name sounding familiar. Still, I followed it all okay, though I can't claim to have the same attachment to the events being depicted as what an American would.

And, if I'm to be honest... As a celebration of American history and achievement, I'm afraid it rings a little hollow right now to this non-American. The last few years, and certainly 2020, have not been kind to the US reputation. But art like Hamilton is at least a step in the right direction.

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Randall » July 5th, 2020, 2:44 am

Here's a nice article fact-checking the play. We all knew that dramatic license was involved, so this isn't a slam at all. It's just interesting for those like me who aren't as familiar with the true history and want to know more.

https://www.politifact.com/article/2020 ... n-musical/

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Ben » July 5th, 2020, 6:26 am

I was actually left exhausted by the whole thing last night!

Yes, the sheer *amount* of writing is impressive, the cast, and their ability to recall and convey *all* of that, simply amazing. But...it was just relentless, and not in a healthy way. Like Rand, I couldn’t connect with who and what and why, and as someone coming to the history for the first time, I couldn’t really now tell you what happened, other than a guy named Alexander Hamilton set up some banking system and his son, and then he, got shot.

Two or three songs stuck with me ("Alex-ander Ham-il-ton'!"), and I appreciated the couple of slower numbers that took the edge off the constant couplets, but ultimately hip-hop is not my thing, outside a general appreciation for certain acts and songs, and this was not only over two hours of hip-hop, but it was two hours of hip-hop where I couldn’t even enjoy the songs because I had to pay super attention to who was singing and what they were singing so that I could have half a chance of keeping up with why they were singing it!

I had been led to believe that Hamilton was a mix of styles, although I knew hip-hop was a major component. No problem with that, but I wasn’t ready for *quite so much* of it without a few more breaks or differences, and the need to really pay attention to keep up. And, I don’t know about anyone else, but I didn’t find the sound quality to be all that clear on the actual voices. I did actually turn off my bass speakers to get a bit more top end and clarity because, for a production where *hearing* every word is a must, the "dialogue" had to fight against a lot of other things going on.

Plus (whisper it!), I wasn't actually sure how great Lin himself was. Maybe he was a bit tired at the end of the run, when this was shot, but I found him to be quite a slight guy, with a voice that came and went, and not always only "faltering" when it was in character to do so. Everyone else was pretty amazing, though, and I don’t think there was any other dud in the pack. Likewise I didn’t always find the staging to be anything special, like the original production of Chicago, which was basically people sitting around; someone should get up, sing a song, then sit down again.

Here it wasn’t exactly like that, and maybe it’s an American thing as Rand says, but I kind of felt I needed to "see" more: a lot of Hamilton is people standing around and rapping about all this stuff that is going on, but we never really get even a flavour of seeing it...so me without my drilled-in history lessons didn’t have any idea of timeframes, circumstances or wider events. Once this becomes a proper movie, there’s a real opportunity, like Chicago, to open this up and hopefully show more as it’s being told, which would also really help those who don’t know to understand more.

This also brings up the way this version was made, which far from the unique and revolutionary way of shooting a stage show that was proclaimed, really was just a shooting of a stage show. Yes, they went back in without audiences to shoot pickups and additional shots, but there was also a lot of live shooting inadequacies that I couldn’t believe weren’t edited out. One that really astounded me was a camera reframe on Miranda as he was either singing or listening to someone else (I can’t remember which), and it just threw me as that’s the first kind of thing you get rid of. And there were one or two jarring cuts where people in the pickups were noticeably in different positions or looking in different directions, which for me totally broke up the illusion of this being either: a) a smooth performance, or b) a totally new and unique way of bringing stage to screen. It kind of cracks me up that it’s being referred to as a "film", since this was a recording of a stage show, pure and simple, just as countless other shows (even going as far back as Cats in 1998) have been: filmed performances augmented with later pickups.

As for the "emotional" ending, let me just mention a massive show from the 80s, Blood Brothers, about two young guys who’s lives take different directions. This was HUGE back then, winning all the awards and plaudits on both sides of the theatrical pond, and just pulling in audience after audience wherever it played. Huge. So we went to see it, as everyone did, and my word, the thing felt so amateur and tedious. There’s a recurring song that the mother sings throughout, about how she had hoped her life would have gone, and it repeats to the point of driving one insane, as I was. I kept thinking "this thing is this huge?" in astonishment. But, as things come to a head and events reach their inevitable conclusion, I’ll be darned if the la-la-ding-dong singing suddenly stopping doesn’t swamp the auditorium with silence and huge emotion like a sledgehammer wallop. And it’ll get you every single time.

It feels like Miranda was well aware of this when writing Hamilton, as I was very much reminded of it when the ending came, and this can be a huge part of why people keep flocking back to the show: without these emotional payoffs, it would be interesting to see how these shows would go over if they lacked their final punches and, arguably, the reason for being.

Lastly, since this *has* been presented as a film, and on Disney+ no less, I do have to address the language. I only noticed one obvious f-bomb, which was the one that was bleeped, and didn’t have a problem with that - indeed it kind of felt that this was kind of a knowing wink to those "parental guidance" stickers and kind of made a point about using that word, and I wonder if it would actually have been better having it intentionally bleeped all along. There were a few other places where they were about to rhyme with "luck" and the like, but they stretched it out and made it a near-gag, presumably intentionally and in keeping with the show.

But, and as I said I wasn't really aware with with what kind of show Hamilton was outside of knowing two or three songs beforehand, I was amazed at some of the other language it contained. Now, I’m no prude, and in a show dealing with themes including rage and hate, I would expect language to be used on the stage. But I didn’t know how much Hamilton was a "family" show, or not. When I saw Disney had picked it up, I guess I thought it was maybe a bit more "family" than it was. Therefore, after the f-bombs got deleted, I was still somewhat shocked to hear whore, shit, shitting, piss, etc..., all quite prominently throughout. And I type those out here because the kid-friendly D+ apparently thinks that’s okay to have on a family service without any indication or marking it up as being aware for language.

I’m not saying those words shouldn’t be in there, or should even be taken out. They are intrinsic to the plot and what is being said. But I do question as to if Hamilton should be on Disney+ in the first place? This brings us back around again to what exactly D+ is, and what is appropriate for the service. I have a problem with some of the X-Men movies being on there, for instance (is Wolverine's one and only memorable line from First Class intact, for instance? It kind of shouldn’t be). Disney needs to be more careful what it brands as a "Disney" production, and keep things that should really be on Hulu on Hulu. Or just, you know, get over the whole smudgy "family" thing and lump it all in together with age filters.

Because if I was a parent and put Hamilton on last night as a family treat thinking it would be okay because it’s on Disney, I would be more than a little put out because of the language. Which kind of takes away from the achievement of the show itself. Looking at Hamilton as a selection box on the D+ page, it kind of doesn’t fit in there for a start: its only a Disney production after the fact (I also have this issue with The Sound Of Music jumping out at me every time I see it in the Disney Through The Decades lisiting).

Really, however one ultimately finds the show and whatever they think of this version of it, Hamilton is unique enough and should kind of be its own thing. While it wasn’t always for me, I can appreciate some of the elements and am pleased to have finally seen it.

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Randall » July 5th, 2020, 10:47 am

But at D23 Expo, Christina Aguilera said that The Sound of Music was one of her favourite Disney musicals! ;) :roll:

Miranda was the weakest link in terms of stage presence and voice power, but I figured hey, it's his show. I know that I wouldn't be the one to tell him he can't star in it. He was "good enough" and obviously knew how he wanted the lines delivered. (It does bring to mind how Carl Reiner was told by the network to find a new star for his TV show in the 1960s, so he hired Dick Van Dyke instead. The rest is history.) It would be interesting to see the "current" version of Hamilton to compare leads. Still, having Miranda front the show didn't keep it from winning a whole bunch of Tony Awards, I guess.

My kids are teens, so I wasn't put off by the language. But I know what you mean. Hamilton is more "grown up" than most D+ fare. For better or worse, though, such language has become more common these days, and so far I have heard no other outcry about it. But it does make one wonder about the D+ strategy of withholding other films from the service with similar levels of adult-ness. Eventually, they may have a "Touchstone" selection where they can lump in the more grown-up stuff, and then we can also see Splash uncensored.

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Dan » July 5th, 2020, 11:02 am

Always thought it was funny that Cameron Mackintosh brought Hamilton over to London, where it apparently has been well received.

I watched (again) with my folks last night and they're at the point where they really need subtitles to watch anything. My dad is of the opinion that people had multiple viewings because they were singing so fast and to determine how much of the show was accurate. :mrgreen:

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