The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as the former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.
Biopic of the iconic French singer Édith Piaf. Raised by her grandmother in a brothel, she was discovered while singing on a street corner at the age of 19. Despite her success, Piaf's life was filled with tragedy.
In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century".
Jean François Heckel,
Detroit, the early 1960s. Curtis Taylor, Jr., a car salesman, breaks into the music business with big dreams. He signs a trio of young women, the Dreamettes, gets them a job backing an R&B performer, James "Thunder" Early, establishes his own record label and starts wheeling and dealing. When Early flames out, Curtis makes the Dreamettes into headliners as the Dreams, but not before demoting their hefty big-voiced lead singer, Effie White, and putting the softer-voiced looker, Deena Jones, in front. Soon after, he fires Effie, sends her into a life of proud poverty, and takes Deena and the Dreams to the top. How long can Curtis stay there, and will Effie ever get her due?Written by
Columbus Short tested for the role of C.C White. See more »
The Dreams' success montage includes a picture of the trio standing on the Great Wall of China. The U.S. and China had no diplomatic relations from 1949 to 1971; Washington had ties with Taiwan instead. However, the two countries had numerous cultural contacts in the late 1960s. China wanted to improve relations with the U.S. because their relations with the U.S.S.R were growing strained. It's entirely possible that China would've invited a famous singing group like the Dreams to tour the country. See more »
The film begins immediately after the distribution studio logos, with no opening titles/credits of any kind. See more »
In 2017, Paramount released a "Director's Extended Edition" of "Dreamgirls." This version runs ten minutes longer than the theatrical version and contains changes which include the following:
The opening talent show scene has extended performances of "I'm Looking' for Something'" and "Goin' Downtown," including a longer scene on the stairs outside the Detroit Theater, where Curtis offers Marty a cigarette and a sales pitch after Charlene and Joanne walk out on him, and Curtis catches a first glimpse of Deena
Sung dialogue leading up to "Steppin' to the Bad Side" ("You've got me to think for you now...") proceeds the scene in which Curtis tells Wayne and CC of his plan to sell off the car dealership, similar to the lead-up to the song in the original Broadway show. This scene takes the place of the shorter, spoken word alternate version used in the theatrical version
All shots of Wayne enacting Curtis' payload plans at radio stations are replaced with scenes of the Mafia members Curtis makes a deal with distributing the records and the money
The Jimmy & the Dreamettes performance section go "Steppin to the Bad Side" is extended
"Love You I Do" is extended by adding an instrumental break under the scene in which Michelle gets a job at Rainbow Records, and then showing Effie sing the song's second verse on camera
"Heavy" is extended by adding a break and a chorus, and placing more emphasis on Effie keeping an eye on Deena's image taking over the TV studio monitors
There is an extra shot of Curtis and Deena's mansion as Deena heads to the service car outside
An extra scene shows Curtis, C.C., Wayne and other Rainbow executives at a board meeting, at which Curtis decides to finance his "Cleopatra" film pet project with a 10th anniversary special (This scene includes two F-bombs by Jamie Foxx; the Director's Extended Edition is unrated as a result)
"Patience" is extended by adding extra choruses to the section in which Jimmy and Lorrell record the song, accompanied by a choir
"Perfect World" is extended by including a full verse and chorus
"I Meant You No Harm" and "Lorrell Loves Jimmy" are both extended by a few bars
Jimmy's silent glare at Deena basking in her fame at the Rainbow 10th anniversary TV special is replaced by sung dialogue ("Because I was here long before you...") similar to the "Firing of Jimmy" scene in the original Broadway show
"I Miss You, Old Friend" is extended by a few bars
"Effie, Sing My Song" - sung dialogue in which C.C. and Effie reconcile - is added in place of the spoken word alternate version used in the theatrical version
"One Night Only" is performed in full (only half is used in the theatrical version). At the conclusion of the song, Curtis' Mafia associates come to Effie's performance in Max Washington's bar, which is how they get word (and a tape) to alert Curtis
Curtis has an extra line of dialogue when being interviewed on the Dreams' farewell performance red carpet, in which he announces that his new artist, Tania Williams, will be releasing her debut album in a month
You have only two first choices in making a movie musical; you can preserve its stage nature, or decide at the first to make a movie, something that has a cinematic sense. I like musical presentation and all; I like theater and the contact of performance. Its all fine, but what really transports me is what I think of as opera in the modern sense. Its that multiple delivery of sense, primarily through sweeping enveloping visual grammar, supplemented by coordinated threads: text, narrative, music, emotional and intellectual.
"Moulin Rouge" is my gold standard, born as a child of film, deeply reflexive. Chicago was less coherent some of its cinematic collage really was just chop, but even then they eye needs rhythm and "Chicago" delivered. That film also had something this has only in certain places: sweat if not blood. We knew that Zellweger and Zeta-Jones are uninteresting people, and the songs manufactured emotionally (as opposed to say, blues songs from someone blue). But we saw them work their guts out.
This is an odd, odd thing musically. Start with genuine R&B, sung in Detroit basements and school auditoriums. Now transform that for the market, initially black showgoers. Now transform it again for a similar record-buying public. Again for white recordbuyers (where, incidentally I found myself in the late sixties), and then again for TeeVee watchers (and with added glamor, Las Vegas).
Let that steep for fifteen years, all becoming a joke, then transform it again for the Broadway stage. By this time, any performance related to this collection of genres cannot be genuine in any way, merely a commentary. The performers may be black, but its as far removed from what it pretends to be as a scene in this film depicts: a white teen along the lines of Johnny Vee covering a black song. Its not a matter of how good the singer is, even the earnest Hudson who gets the applause here. Its a matter of market forces: art is brought to us by market forces and those forces bend, filter, bleach.
Now take that stage show, based on a story about just this: how mass music MUST be untrue take that stage musical and transform it one more time, and you'll have this. That's six generations from where this music meant something to what it is before it hits our ears. The only thing that can justify this is the full bore experience.
The stage show delivered it in spades, because it used extraordinary stagecraft. It was to the stage musical what "Moulin Rouge" was to the film musical: the vocabulary stretched to its most colorful (read: moving) excess. Where's that excess here? There are three (three?) moments where a rehearsal sweeps around and you find yourself on stage. Once done well would have been enough, these aren't.
One character in this needs to be the white space, the root of the thing in terms of values. Maybe it could have been the avuncular manager (Glover) or the silent Dad, or the child. But no one is given the nail. One song at least needs to be performed as genuine. Yes, Hudson's number brings down the house. But it is so overproduced and overstaged its clear it is merely dare I say it? a show by a woman trying hard to have a career, not a woman who actually lives in her song.
At least "Hustle and Flow" was obviously dishonest.
Oh well. Seeing Eddie Murphy do James Brown just before the man is buried meant something to me. Its an homage of sorts.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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