Mixing two Pop Culture Experiences in one post today.
First, the movie....
This movie written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan has been getting all kinds of critical acclaim. "Manchester By The Sea" is sure to be a Best Picture Oscar front runner, and many are already conceding the Best Actor Oscar to Casey Affleck. This is the kind of movie that critics absolutely love....lots of very artsy shots of boats in the harbor, snow falling on traffic as seen from the point of view of the driver of the car, and, of course, it covers lots of SERIOUS and DRAMATIC topics. I will grant you that it is beautifully photographed and the acting is quite good. Affleck is very good in his role, as is Michelle Williams as his ex-wife, and so, especially, is young Lucas Hedges as the nephew to whom Affleck suddenly becomes legal guardian.
For all the acclaim, however, I have also heard several people say that the movie is so unremittingly depressing and sad, that you want to pluck out your eyeballs while watching. So I went to this prepared to squirm throughout while Mrs. Grandstander went through boxes of Kleenex. Yes, Mrs. G. did go through the tissues, but I must admit that I liked the movie more than I expected. As I said, it was pretty to look at and the acting was very good, but don't go expecting a barrel of laughs or a rollicking good time, although it does end with a hopeful note, sort of. Then again, life itself isn't always a barrel of laughs and/or a rollicking good time, so "Manchester By The Sea" does a great job of depicting this particular slice of life.
Two and one-half stars from The Grandstander.
And now, the music....
"The Hamilton Mixtape", as the name and cover art implies, contains 23 songs from the musical "Hamilton" performed by various artists. Many of these artists are rap and hip-hop performers with whom I am admittedly not familiar, but it also includes others like Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keyes, and Jimmy Fallon. All of them put their own spin on numbers like My Shot, Satisfied, Helpless, You'll Be Back, and Who Tells Your Story, so don't always expect an exact duplication of the song from the stage show. It also includes two songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda himself that are labeled as "Demos". One is called "Valley Forge" which should be self-explanatory, and another is called "Cabinet Battle 3" which is Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson, and Madison discussing how to abolish slavery from the new nation, and it is brilliant. So, in addition to writing 46 musical numbers that comprise the show "Hamilton", Miranda, apparently, dashed of at least two other terrific pieces that just couldn't quite make the cut to appear in the show. Amazing.
If you are a fan of the music of "Hamilton", you need to include this one in your music library as well.
Three and one-half stars from The Grandstander.