Musical films bring classic song and dance to local movie theaters

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Musical films bring classic song and dance to local movie theaters

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December will be a song-filled month for moviegoers with the release of four musical films. [SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT, UNIVERSAL PICTURES, CINEGURU, GREEN NARAE MEDIA]

The end of the year is one of the most popular seasons to enjoy musicals. The celebratory atmosphere of Christmas and the excitement of waiting for New Year’s Eve have many people heading to musicals with their loved ones. As much of a joyous experience musicals present to their audience, however, they often come with a hefty price.

For those looking for a cheaper alternative, their local movie theater may be the place to go, as several musical films are being released in December. Although the sound may not be live and actors will not be performing in person, it is an economical choice for those looking to get the most out of their 8,000 won ($7) movie ticket.


La La Land

The first option is the internationally-acclaimed “La La Land,” which hit theaters on Wednesday. Directed by the promising filmmaker Damien Chazelle, who helmed another music-themed movie, “Whiplash” in 2014, his latest won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and opened the Venice International Film Festival this year.

The film audaciously opens with a long take musical sequence featuring drivers stuck in a traffic jam who climb out of their cars to sing on the highway ramp that leads to downtown LA. The opening song “Another Day of Sun,” which is about pursuing dreams, gives a hint to the story about to unfold.

Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as the main protagonists, and set in LA, the film depicts the romance of two struggling dreamers: Mia (Stone) and Sebastian (Gosling). While Mia dreams of being an actress, talented jazz musician Seb hopes to open a jazz club. Despite their grand dreams, however, their realities are somewhat different. Mia finds no success in auditions, and therefore continues to work as a barista to get by while Seb begrudgingly plays piano stints at bars and restaurants that don’t allow him to show off his musical talent.

Although the romance itself does not make “La La Land” stand out from other romantic films, its music and choreography are reminiscent of Hollywood’s musical heyday in the 1950s.



Sing

The family-friendly “Sing,” which will be released on Dec. 21, will be a good holiday entry for those who like animated films. Helmed by Garth Jennings, the film features the talent of big stars behind the cute animal characters.

The film begins with an entrepreneurial koala that tries to save his failing theater by organizing a singing competition with a $1,000 prize. However, his elderly assistant accidentally adds extra zeros and flyers promoting a $100,000 prize fly out the window and spread throughout the streets of the town. The flyer instantly gets all of the animals living in the town to follow their dreams, and chase after fame and wealth. These determined characters all have different background stories: the overwhelmed mother pig Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon); Meena the elephant (Tori Kelly), who has stage fright; and the gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton), whose father forces him into a gang instead of being a singer.

The movie features more than 85 popular songs throughout the 108-minute running time.



The Phantom of the Opera

Another movie that will compete at the local box office this month is the longtime musical classic “The Phantom of the Opera.” The movie, which heads to theaters on Dec. 15, is a re-release of the 2004 film, starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum, which was adapted from the stage production.

“We decided to re-release the film this year because 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the musical’s world premiere,” said a source from the film’s importer Green Narae Media.

“The reason we decided to release it this month is because December is usually when demand for musicals is high,” she added.



Chicago

Similar to “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Chicago” is another re-release of a movie that has been adapted from musical. The musical is coming back to local theaters - 13 years after it premiered in Korea in 2003.

Starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere, the flashy and sexy musical touches the themes of celebrity, scandal and corruption in Chicago during the Jazz Age.

The critically-lauded film, which won six Academy Awards in 2003, is also scheduled to head to theaters on Dec. 15.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

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