Sunday, 24 July 2016

#34b At Long Last Love (Wes)

At Long Last Love
So for our second substitute movie for Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag we had to watch At Long Last Love. I’d never heard of this before, but after a quick look on IMDB I quickly learned that Colin was going to hate this movie as it’s a musical and I know his feelings about them. As for me, I love a good musical. I’ll happily admit that I know all the words to Little Shop of Horrors, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Sweeney Todd, A Nightmare Before Christmas and West Side Story (Ok. I only know the words to West Side Story because of the Schlong album – Punk Side Story, but it still counts!). Since this movie is appearing on our list, even if it is as a sub, I suspected that I wouldn’t be learning the words any time soon though…
Set during the Great Depression, heiress Brooke Carter (Cybill Shepherd), meets an Italian gambler, Johnny Spanish (Duilio Del Prente), at a race track. Meanwhile Playboy millionaire Michael Oliver Pritchard III (Burt Reynolds) falls in love with actress Kitty O'Kelly (Madeline Kahn), after nearly running her over. Kitty and Brooke turn out to be old friends who went to public school together, and the two couples hit the town together, along with Elizabeth (Eileen Brennan) and Rodney (John Hillerman), Pritchard’s butler/chauffeur. As Brooke and Pritchard start to fall for each other, Kitty and Johnny try to make them jealous and Elizabeth tries her best to seduce the staid Rodney. Will anyone find true love? Why is everyone singing when talking to each other works just as well, and doesn’t need to rhyme? Was that a talking canary? Seriously what the fuck? A talking canary? Am I missing something her?

I’ve never had to review a musical before, and honestly I’m not even sure where I should start. All movies are a sum of their parts to a degree, but sometimes if the acting is good enough, or the cinematography is really well done or just if it’s really unique and interesting, then a bad movie can become an ok movie, or an ok movie can become a brilliant movie.
Musicals have this strange uniqueness in the cinematic world though, where as well as the usual things like acting, directing, script, costume/sets, cinematography, editing, SFX etc. you now have to add in the songs, the singing, the dancing and the choreography, which have become even more important than everything else and yet are the things most likely to go wrong for a musical. Unfortunately if you get these wrong then whole thing comes crashing down faster than David Hasselhof at a free bar. At Long Last Love resembles a barman that just left the bottle in this analogy.

The songs were written by one of musical theatre’s greats, Cole Porter, which you would think would give them some sort of pedigree, but it seems that when the songs are put into a movie they just don’t work. To make it worse, there are no huge songs that you find yourself humming at odd times. This film is screaming out for a Singin’ in the Rain or a Time Warp, but it just never delivers, and that leaves you with a sour taste as all musicals should have at least one song that gets lodged in your head for months. In short, At Long Last Love was Porter’s Cut the Crap (by The Clash and one of the worst albums ever by one of the greatest bands ever for all the non punk fans).

To make matters worse,
Peter Bodganovich decided to make one of the worst decisions it was possible for him to make, and he had the actors sing their performances live. This may have worked better with more experienced musical actors, but for Burt Reynolds and Cybill Shepherd it sounds like Carpool Karaoke with Rebecca Black and Bob Dylan.

Reynolds and Shepherd are hardly Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, in fact as a singing duo they’re more like Fred West and Mr Rogers. Shepherd can just about hold a tune, but her dancing is so out of time that it would make Doctor Who would look on in awe. As for Reynolds, him and singing mix as well as milk and beer (AKA the “cocktail” known as horse jizz...). He is so out of his depth in this movie that he reminds me of Tom Cruise in a paddling pool. Having said that though, they both have a certain onscreen charm that lifts their performances into the realms of tolerable, as do the majority of the cast.
The sets and the costumes are actually superb. They capture the decadence of the 1930s musicals perfectly and make this a very nice film to look at. The editing is also done brilliantly, as is the cinematography and some of the scenes themselves have a really good whimsical humour that suits the film perfectly. If Bodganovich had concentrated as much on the performances of the songs as he clearly did on the visuals of this movie, it could have been much, much better.

Since this movie was a sub, then it really isn’t anywhere near the levels of cinematic depravity we’ve been sinking to recently, but it is still a pretty poor excuse for a movie. Bogdanovich's decision to record everything live really backfired on him. Whilst it genuinely looks good, the awful singing, dancing and songs killed off all the potential this film had and just makes this an embarrassing addition to musical cinema. Less The Sound of Music and more the sound of Cole Porter rolling over in his grave.