Hugh Jackman swaps his Wolverine claws for P T Barnum’s egotistical top hat in the entertaining musical The Greatest Showman. He excels as a flamboyant song-and-dance man who dared to chase a dream; entertaining the public by shining a spotlight on society’s timid misfits, transforming them into fearless, showbiz divas. The film’s ambitious song-and-dance numbers are exhilarating; the ideal antidote to the January blues.
Yankee Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is found wounded in the Virginia woods by schoolgirl Amy (Oona Laurence) and brought to Miss Martha Farnsworth’s Seminary for Young Ladies. Prim and proper Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) tends to McBurney’s leg wound in the name of Christian charity and, as he recovers, they all vie for his affections by dressing to impress and offering gifts and banquets in their isolated mansion with its candles and Doric columns. The enemy soldier, using sly charm, disrupts their genteel routine of French lessons, prayer, sewing and music until matters come to a shocking head. McBurney fled the gunpowder and shot of a Civil War battlefield only to discover southern hospitality can also be deadly with its righteousness and humidity. Writer-director Sofia Coppola channels southern gothic in her screen adaptation of Thomas Cullinan’s 1966 novel. It made me want to revisit Don Siegel’s 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood as the wounded Yankee.
Does love conquer all? What is the cost of pursuing your dreams? These timeless questions are posed by La La Land. The screen musical, despite its feel-good song-and-dance numbers, has a melancholic motif as a love story unfolds. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a pianist passionate about jazz whose ambition is to run his own jazz club; Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress/writer. Fate brings them together but then stuff, as they say, keeps getting in the way. I watched the acclaimed movie at York City Screen today; excellent entertainment.