22 August 2011

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (starring Donny Osmond and Maria Friedman)

I've known of and liked the musical 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat', written by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, for many years. It was very popular in the UK in the 1980s, often done by schools or other choirs, and many of the songs are well-known. So when I first saw this adaptation for film starring Donny Osmond, some years ago, I was not quite sure what to expect.

I was very impressed.

I saw 'Joseph' again four years ago, with relatives, and enjoyed it again.

Seeing it again recently with friends, I enjoyed it once more. It's very unusual for me to be able to sit through any film more than once but the music is enjoyable, the acting and directing excellent, and the whole musical an extravaganza, so cleverly done that even people who don't generally like musicals would most likely enjoy this.

Donny Osmond in the title role is extremely good, playing the young and rather arrogant Joseph in a believable way. The story follows that of the Biblical book of Genesis - Joseph is disliked by his brothers, sold as a slave in Egypt, and gradually rises to a foremost position under Pharaoh. The ending - which I won't mention, just in case anyone reading this does not know the true story - enables it to be both an example of God's provision and plan, despite men's deviousness, and also a happy-ever-after kind of story, ideal for family viewing.

The music is deliberately set in a wide variety of styles, from the well-known 'Any Dream Will Do', sung by Joseph, to the brilliantly executed song of Pharaoh which took our friends (who did not know the music) by surprise!

What I particularly like is the way that the whole is tied in with a school, the narrator beginning as headmistress, and a somewhat surreal integration of past and present. I was surprised how well it worked - and completely mesmerised the first time I saw it!

Suitable for all the family. Highly recommended.

review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews, August 22nd 2011

02 August 2011

Big (starring Tom Hanks)

"Big" is the story of Josh, a twelve-year-old boy who is frustrated at being short, and really wishes he were bigger. At a fairground he makes the wish in a heartfelt way without expecting anything to happen... but the following morning, he discovers that his wish has been granted. Just not quite in the way he had hoped.

Josh is still twelve on the inside, but his body looks like that of an adult in his 20s. His mother, unsurprisingly, is terrified to find a young man in her house - more so when she cannot find Josh himself as a boy. His best friend Billy is suspicious and rather dubious at first, but is eventually persuaded that the unthinkable has indeed happened. And while Josh is pretty frightened, Billy can see some possible advantages to hanging out with someone who looks like an adult.

Before long Josh finds himself in the city, landing an unlikely job and an even more unlikely girlfriend. The film becomes gradually more surreal, but does so cleverly so that it never seems to get silly. Tom Hanks is brilliant in the title role; he manages to remain child-like and naive without being irritating. He explores adult issues with a believable innocence and (sometimes) delight.

There’s a wonderful, iconic scene in a shop with giant-sized piano keyboards - the film is worth seeing for that alone. 'Big" was made in 1988, and thus does look a little dated in places. Billed as a comedy, we found it mildly amusing rather than hilarious, with one or two places that made us chuckle. However, we thought it very enjoyable for a light evening's viewing.