Feb 12 2019

Episode 28: Starstruck

Starstruck

Cyndi Lauper’s adorable Australian cousin?

Citizens of Jazzhandia, we are here with an ambassador from the 1980s by way of Australia – it’s STARSTRUCK!

If a Cyndi Lauper music video had a love child with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the result would be the delightfully bonkers STARSTRUCK.  Featuring catchy early 80s punk/pop delivered in the form of mini-music videos, the movie flies by with quirky interactions sprinkled liberally between musical set pieces.

None of your hosts had ever even heard of this movie when the Alamo Drafthouse did a screening of a newly restored print, and this episode proves that it’s really hard to describe dance with just words. Which means you’ll just have to seek out this movie and see it in all its glorious joy for yourself.

And if you have seen and loved THE APPLE, you need to make this a priority, Jazz Hams.

Take a listen and fill up our letterboxes with your own thoughts!

BEST NUMBER IN THE MOVIE

SECOND BEST BUT STILL AHMAZING

Starstruck

“Penis envy!” (It makes sense if you watch the movie.)

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Feb 05 2019

Episode 27: The Band Wagon

The Band Wagon

Legs not to scale: They’re even longer in real life

Jazz Hams, this week’s episode features a pairing that is sure to delight:  Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse! THE BAND WAGON is a light, frothy delight featuring iconic and influential dances created by Michael Kidd. Neither Vinnie nor Mike had seen it before, but Windy was downright giddy at getting to revisit this gem.

Meta as all hell, THE BAND WAGON tells the story of an aging song-and-dance man (Fred Astaire) who wants to revitalize his career by doing a show. He gets paired with a ballet dancer (Cyd Charisse) and the two have concerns about the age difference and their differing dance styles. But the real fun comes when Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan) agrees to helm the show and decides it is clearly a modern retelling of Faust!  Hilarity and shenanigans ensue – along with dances that have cemented this film’s place in cinema history (“Dancing in the Dark” and “Girl Hunt Ballet”).

Vincente Minnelli – the man who loves color – directs, and the sets and costumes are eye popping.

The Band Wagon

Arm loofas are a thing that should come back in style

But the real star is the amazing amount of talent from our leading players.

The Band Wagon

“Whose idea was this again?”

If you’ve never seen it, you’re in for a treat!

Triplets! You know you’re curious

Gilda Radner and Steve Martin dancing in the dark

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Jan 29 2019

Episode 26: RENT

Rent

ENTIRE CAST: “It was easier to play a decade younger on stage.”

Listeners, this week Mike leads us through the movie version of RENT which Vinnie has never seen.

The 2005 film unites much of the original cast which seemed like an exciting idea at the time – until you have a close up on a 30-something trying to sell the uniquely narcissistic arrogance of the mid-20s. It also illustrates how very much “of the time” the musical was in 1996:  ten years later and the themes, topics, and music do not age well. A period piece rather than a timeless classic.

Perhaps the greatest stumbling block is uninspired and clunky (and strangely sanitized) direction that manages to take an ensemble of incredible talent and render them lackluster.

Join us as we cover RENT (see what I did there?)!

Rent

“WHO is directing??”

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Jan 22 2019

Episode 25: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

, with special guest:
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

French. Charming. COLORFUL. (Did we mention colorful?)

Citizens of Jazzhandia, this week we go international with guest Melissa Kaercher who shows us THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (which neither Vinnie nor Windy had seen!).

We actually recorded this the same night as THE LAST FIVE YEARS and it made for a surprisingly eloquent double feature about the relationships of youth, and the conflict between our dreams and our needs.

The movie inspired much of the visual look of LA LA LAND, and wow – is it obvious! Much of our discussion focused on the visuals – hard to encapsulate in words – so we hope you’ll seek this out and take a look yourself.

If only for THE WALLPAPERS.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The Wallpaper. Her dress MATCHES the WALLPAPER. (And every single room has more breath-taking Wallpaper.)

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The WALLPAPER.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

OMG. THE. WALLPAPER.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan 15 2019

Episode 24: The Last Five Years

, with special guest:
The Last Five Years

Notice how they’re looking in different directions. Foreshadowing.

This week, we explore the uniquely constructed, emotionally haunting THE LAST FIVE YEARS. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s okay. This is a theater nerd deep cut (frankly, Windy is shocked that a movie version even got made).

One of the often-mentioned “lost episodes,” we grabbed special guest star Melissa Kaercher while she was in town for Fantastic Fest.  The resulting conversation gets into a deeply psychological character study – very appropriate for this musical (but with our patented goofiness).

It’s on Netflix and we highly recommend a watch.  The music by Jason Robert Brown is excellent, Anna and Jeremy are sublimely charismatic, and the concept is an intriguing gimmick that actually does add to the emotional story.

You can’t do better and we guarantee you’ll be smiling (those are song references).  Take a listen and let us know what you think!

The Last Five Years

Yeah, this isn’t gonna end well.

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Jan 08 2019

Episode 23: Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns
LOVELY

Alright, Jazz Hams, it’s an extra giddy, extra squeeful, extra-long episode this week because we all absolutely fell in love with MARY POPPINS RETURNS!

SIDENOTE: We promised to link to the Drafthouse no talking PSA featuring Lin and Emily, but it was not to be found on Youtube. Apologies!

BONUS SIDENOTE:  The BMX bikes do not have motors, that is just the spokes whirring.

EXTRA SIDENOTE: That random whirring sound you hear is Windy’s laptop fan getting excited.  Not – as Mike has theorized – an alien spaceship beaming us up.
PLAY ALONG BONUS ROUND:  Jazz hands everytime you hear the laptop fan!

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Jan 01 2019

Episode 22: Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins
Contract killer or straight-up witch?

Listeners, it is no surprise that your hosts have been anticipating the opening of MARY POPPINS RETURNS since Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda were announced. In anticipation, we’ve found a stunt virgin who has never seen the original MARY POPPINS! This week, Ashley Landavazo finally learns about all those cultural references she’s been missing, and your hosts revisit their childhoods!

Featuring Julie Andrews’ film debut (which also won her an Oscar) and Dick Van Dyke’s most outrageous accent, the movie is chockablock full of tuneful originals courtesy of Disney’s house composers, the Sherman Brothers. Almost every song is a classic, as well as an irritatingly persistent earworm (currently, I have “Sister Suffragette” stuck in my head. Again.).

Join us as we reminisce, hum a few tunes, deconstruct family dynamics, explore fan theories, and make up a few wild ones of our own. Good luck will rub off if you take a listen!

Chim Chim Cheree as performed by a pencil

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Dec 25 2018

Episode 21: White Christmas

White Christmas

Songs, dancing, Edith Head gowns…who needs plot??

This week, Holiday Hams, Mike and Vinnie are exposed to that Christmas mainstay WHITE CHRISTMAS.

Directed by Michael Curtiz (CASABLANCA) with costumes by Edith Head and filmed in glorious VistaVision, it’s a visual treat.  The dance numbers are lavish, and the cast is glorious. The actual plot is… good enough to keep watching for the next dance number!

This movie is an annual tradition at Windy’s house having grown up with it, but we think it’s worth a watch no matter your traditions. Snappy dialogue, engaging relationships, and tunes galore – happy holidays from Windy, Mike, and Vinnie!

 

 

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Dec 18 2018

Episode 20: Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn

Is there a film genre for “problematic but charming”?

This week, Vinnie and Mike finally take in the seasonal classic HOLIDAY INN, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, with Windy as their native guide.

It’s a standard romantic comedy love triangle, except that one-third of the triangle is crooner extraordinaire Bing, and another third is one of the best dancers of his (or any) era.

The plot serves mainly as a vehicle to get from one Irving Berlin song to the next, but along the way you get gowns by Edith Head, and snappy banter courtesy of Claude Binyon.

But.

You also get one of the most infamous blackface numbers still remembered today, as well as troubling gender politics, and even a bit of jingoistic war propaganda.  Because that’s what the holidays are all about!

There’s so much that is delightful – and there’s so much that should be seen and not forgotten – that you should take some time out to watch HOLIDAY INN.

Holiday Inn

Bing is giving some side-eye to the film tropes of 1941

Marilyn singing “Lazy”

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Dec 11 2018

Episode 19: Broadway Melody of 1940

Broadway Melody of 1940

Not Picture: George Murphy because DUH

It’s a super-sized episode this week, Jazz Hams! Vinnie and Mike just couldn’t stop talking about the amazing dance numbers in BROADWAY MELODY OF 1940!

Teaming up two of the best tappers of the era, Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, the dancing is fast and light, just like the banter. The plot is as fluffy as meringue, but you’re watching for the amazing dancing anyway. Eleanor Powell doesn’t get mentioned as often as her male counterparts of the era, or even Ann Miller, which is a shame because her tapping, ballet, and gymnastics are all top notch – not to mention a smile that lights up the screen.

All the dances are beautiful, but it’s the finale “Begin the Beguine” that has made this an enduring classic.  Fred and Eleanor tapped themselves into history, and they look like they’re having the best time doing it.

Take a listen and if you can’t find the movie, at least hit up Youtube for the dances. You won’t regret it!

Eleanor in “All Ashore” – adorable and amazing!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032284/