On Friday with much hype and fanfare Disney+ has released a 2016 performance from the original cast of the stage performance of Hamilton. Hamilton was a sensation. Tickets were virtually impossible to get, and when they were announced for Toronto they sold out in record numbers. Sadly the shows were all cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The show was nominated for 16 Tony Awards and won 11, including Best Musical. So Disney+ offers up the Broadway cast, including creator Lin Manuel-Miranda playing the main role of American founding father during the 1700s and beyond. Alexander Hamilton, the man on the $10 US bill. He was a right hand man to George Washington. He was the original person responsible for setting up the federal Treasury, centralizing banking and the credit for America as a nation.
In terms of the performance, it is excellent and worthy of your time. The cast is uniformly excellent was tremendous voices. I can’t point to any one particular song (you don’t finish thinking that you need to buy the soundtrack) but they move the story along well. It is a story that I don’t know, but I am glad that I had some context of the time by watching a series like John Adams (on Crave and HBO). The founding fathers and their stories are intertwined with Washington, Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton all living during tumultuous political times as America violently rebelled from the British Empire. Jonathan Groff, who plays the King, and is well known now for his role in Mindhunter is excellent. He is funny, he is over the top, and he drools like a doberman as he sings. The man who played Washington has an excellent voice. They all have excellent voices. Each contributes to a memorable play experience. The mostly unknown story of Hamilton is mostly forgotten in US lore (President Obama actually was pushing to replace his image from the $10 bill – but pulled back when the play was such a colossal hit. Miranda has done something quite remarkable in putting forth an historical musical which teaches while at the same time entertains and informs. I am glad that I was able for the price of Disney+ to watch this play, and obtain my refund for the play in Toronto. Do I need to see this again live? I am not sure. I would be glad to do so, as I think I could catch more a second time. The music for older viewers, as I watched with Mom and step-father, was more difficult for them to follow. The music can be more rapid style rap than they are used to. It is not your traditional showy Broadway tunes. They both enjoyed the second half more than the first.
On Netflix the new popular film is the Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell comedy entitled Eurovision: Story of Fire Saga. This is a lightweight comedy focused on a fictional musical duo from Iceland looking to win the popular Eurovision contest. It has a number of cheesey performances and really bad Icelandic accents (notably Pierce Brosnan as the father of Will Ferrell). In Alison’s words she said “I didn’t hate it” which I don’t take to be tremendous praise. It is mind candy and filler for a couple of hours. Not having been familiar with the actual contest itself, I don’t get the references to performers from the past that are as unique as they come. From the silly to the outrageous. Do I actually believe that Rachel McAdams did the singing? No. Does it really matter? Not really. There were a couple of laughs in this in the slapstick variety, but overall I can echo the sentiments that “I didn’t hate it”.
I realize that I have never reviewed the 1999 sci-fi classic The Matrix. It was on Crave again Sunday night and I find that this is easily watchable time and time again. It was a innovative for its time by the wire work that was done on the stunts. This was part one in what turned out to be a three part series. This, by far, is the best of the series. In short, a computer hacker, played by Keanu Reeves, is intrigued by some outsider computer felons making his online news feeds. He leads a double life as a hacker himself, but also works as a worker bee in a software company. In dramatic fashion he learns that his life in the world as he knows it isn’t what he imagines. In fact, he learns that the humans have become slaves and live in a virtual world to keep them mentally occupied. A virtual prison for their entire lives, to serve the machines, a product of Artificial Intelligence. The story traces the battle between the machines and their agents and the people trying to survive in the real world. There is an excellent supporting cast with Laurence Fishburne, Carrie Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano and Hugo Weaving. Together they tell an exciting, compelling, unique sci fi story in search of The One who live save humanity and end the destructive war with the machines. There is a scene fairly early on where Neo (Reeves) is interviewed by an agent and it turns in an unexpected direction. I was hooked from that point onward. This is a good time to point out that a new Matrix movie has been announced for 2022. The story is unknown. Given the scope of the original three episodes, and the ultimate conclusion I am uncertain where this new episode can continue, but I guess we will all find out. Reeves is back as Neo. Carrie Ann Moss is back as well. Reeves was 35yo in 1999. Twenty two years later it will be interesting to see how the new Neo will look. They are apparently filming this now.