The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman (Michael Gracey, 2017) 4/5

Contemporary musicals are essentially the rarest of filmic breeds. They are either reboots of older classics or adaptations of great stage productions from around the world. What is more common is when these are fused with popular historic figures and this fusion works well when that person was linked with show business. Michael Gracey’s directorial debut is a show stopping adventure through tposter-largehe weird and wonderful eyes of P.T Barnum and his eclectic mix of performers.

Scepticism did almost overtake me prior to watching this Hugh Jackman star vehicle, but I persisted, and I’m very glad that I did. From the cinematography, acting, editing, and performances everything here works so well that it is seamless in the action. Jackman is no stranger to the spotlight of the stage and thrives her as the protagonist as through dance numbers, all of his skills as a performer are brought out in full force. He carries this movie with aplomb (I love that word!) and bringing Zac Efron onboard to entice a younger crowd (clever marketing), plus throwing the added class of Michelle Williams adds another dimension to this already celebrated canon.

In essence, this film is about inclusivity and diversity, which is a little more than topical at the moment in time. I won’t go into that too much (*ahem* Trump, *ahem* Harvey Weinstein) and the songs show a very strong reflection of this zeitgeist. Fox made a very clever hire of Pasek and Paul, who are fresh off their win for the – dare I say it, slightly dull – La La Land at last years Oscars. Their songs are simply infectious and you will be singing all of the way home. Of course, it does help that the screenplay is also written by Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City vet) and Bill Condon (Dreamgirls and Chicago).

Of course, it can be very difficult to balance the gritty reality of the actual figure and the glitz of movie musical. Sure, some bits are glossed over with glitter, but this movie is all about escapism. If you’d like a more pronounced musical biopic, I’d direct you to ‘Walk the Line’ for example.

There are shades of Baz Luhrmann here too and Moulin Rouge is clearly something they wanted to emulate, not just with the rooftop dancing, but also with it’s feverish pace and fast editing.

In sum, whilst The Greatest Showman might lean a little too much on the ‘show’ aspects and not on the murkier sides of Barnum. This movie is an escapists dream with a very powerful message of inclusion in a time where not everybody is getting the representation or safety they deserve.

This Is My Land

This Is My Land (Tamara Erde, 2014) 4/5

Teachers are always bound by their ethical positioning when it comes to curriculums,this is my landwhether enforced by government officials or private entities. Erde infiltrates both of these with gusto as children from both sides learn about their inherent indifference towards each other. It becomes immediately clear that state run schools in Tel Aviv or Ramallah handle sensitive information incredibly differently. The former with censored text books and the latter with less conventional class room teachings (of which includes physically kicking down walls).

The events of Holocaust Memorial Day and Independence Day allow the film to actively tackle how history of persecution still remains today, as well as, how teachers on both sides plan their lessons. In truth, it is concluded that classrooms tend to traumatise children with loud alarms and visits to concentration camps, which in turn rile hatred for one another.

Erde’s film is compelling not for the topic of discussion, but for allowing us an insight into how the representation of these are being monitored by the gatekeepers of education. In truth there is more flexibility in non-state schools, however when censorship ends, personal feelings take over and this begs the question can teaching be wholly objective?

This Is My Land obtains it’s title from an educational video within the documentary, which portrays the land grabbing nature of the Romans, Egyptians and the British. As such, through visual prowess Tamara Erde begs the questions where and when does it all end?