Spielberg’s West Side Story Isn’t What You’ve Heard – by Anonymous

Spielberg’s West Side Story Isn’t What You’ve Heard – by Anonymous

Steven Spielberg has recently released a new version of West Side Story, as many people have doubtless heard, and many have feared. I confess, I worried that this remake would be a travesty against the original, as so many are. The words “Music Man remake” are nigh unto profanity in my family for how terrible that remake was. So it was with trepidation that my family waited for the movie to be released.

The first of us to see it was one of my brothers, who was so enamored of the original as a child that he almost had every line memorized. (No one ever said we were normal). If any of us would hate this remake, he would be the one. He didn’t hate it. To our surprise, he declared it the definitive movie version. This was a surprise to all of us.

The readers of this blog will doubtless have also heard how “woke” this remake is. After all, it cast native Spanish speakers as Puerto Ricans (though many were not Puerto Ricans themselves, like Ziegler, who is half-white and half-Cuban and plays Maria), and because Spielberg made some rather odd remarks about choosing not to subtitle the Spanish segments of the movie. I honestly find the wording of his comments rather stupid, though I do not entirely disagree with the decision not to subtitle the Spanish. More on that later.

I have now read multiple articles, as well as the comments (if Oedipus Rex took place today, it wouldn’t be the guilt that made him gouge out his eyes, it would be reading the comments), and one thing is obvious: the people hating on the movie didn’t actually watch it. They heard that they actually cast Hispanics as Hispanics, and they heard that there were no subtitles, and bam! “IT’S WOKE AND STUPID!” Perhaps the articles should have had trigger warnings for the readers’ sensitive feelings?

So, I will start with the point of the lack of subtitles. I watched the movie with my family and a friend. Only two of us understand any Spanish. I won’t call either of us fluent, but I have taken Spanish proficiency tests, and my listening comprehension was rated “Limited Professional”. So I understood most of the Spanish sections. The other one who knows some Spanish understood about the same amount as me. The non-Spanish speakers left the movie considering it better than the original. In fact, we all said that it was better. The lack of complete comprehension did not detract from the movie. In fact, it placed the viewer in the position of observer. The viewer found that he did not have all the information, and perhaps didn’t understand everything. Rather like real-life, that. In real-life we often find ourselves unable to understand others due to lack of knowledge, so this is hardly the worst thing in a movie. And even without understanding every word, the actors conveyed the information with their actions quite well. Chino calling Bernardo an idiot for getting involved in gang warfare while the other Sharks mourn him was still completely understandable to the non-Spanish speakers, despite their not knowing the exact words, though “Bernardo” and “estupido” were enough to get that point across.

Now, the strange complaint (seriously, casting Hispanics as Hispanics is not woke [I think it was more Spielberg’s insistence on only casting LatinX. That final x was the issue-SAH]) about woke casting. At least one no-name internet pundit says there is no way that Ziegler has the grace of Natalie Wood. Frankly, I disagree. Ziegler plays the role flawlessly, and convincingly. And, she plays the character of a Puerto Rican girl freshly arrived in America more convincingly. And, while I do not intend to slight Natalie Wood, Ziegler is more capable in her role, performing her own singing rather than being dubbed over in post-production. The same goes for Tony, by the way. Tony’s actor does his own singing in this movie, and does it extremely well. And this Tony can dance. As a tangent, Tony and Maria’s first dance in this version was remarkable to me, as the movement and footwork was strongly reminiscent of a knife fight, which was appropriate foreshadowing for what that dance led to. 

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’d like to talk about the movie itself rather than rail against snowflakes who scream at the thought of Hispanic actors and no subtitles. This might be the blog post that kills the readership of the blog, but I stand by it, and if you don’t like it, well,  I don’t have plans to make any more posts about it. [I don’t think it will kill the readership of the blog. They know they can throw rotten fruit at any given guest post. – SAH]

The original West Side Story movie really was more of a stage production on screen. It was quite well done, and I still enjoy it, but the way it was shot and acted is closer to the stage than the screen. The new West Side Story was adapted to fit the screen better, and also took some great pains to create a more complete story. The old West Side Story was shot in the emptied slums that were about to be demolished to make way for  Lincoln Center. The new one is set in those same slums, but all around is destruction and demolition. The Jets are no longer cast as the good guys or protagonists as they were in the original. The new Jets are cast as what they were always supposed to be: juvenile delinquents, hoodlums, thugs, gangbangers, and victims of their parents’ abusive behavior. Gone is the attractive gymnast Riff of the original, replaced with a psychopathic thug. The Tony of the original, who we are told “has a rap sheet bigger than the whole West SIde” yet doesn’t seem to have ever seen the rougher side of life, is replaced with a young boy who is barely out of prison, on parole for nearly beating one of the Egyptian Kings to death in a street brawl. He no longer seems like a pretty boy who’s never broken a rule yet supposedly has an endless list of crimes to his name. He now seems like a young boy who discovered what he really was, and is terrified of the terrible things he has done, and is afraid he will lose control again. This Tony has demons, and they haunt him through every scene. This Tony spends every scene yearning for the light, while grappling with his own darkness. I liked this Tony.

Maria is mostly the same character, though she is definitely the young girl she is supposed to be. Her behavior is much more like the 18 year old she is supposed to be in both original and remake. Ziegler plays her role quite well, and she has a voice. I enjoyed every note of her singing.

Chino was the surprise role of this movie. The Chino of the old movie is, frankly, forgettable. He doesn’t even make an appearance until the 2nd Act in which he famously tells Maria “HE KILLED YOUR BROTHER!” This Chino surprised me. He makes an appearance in the opening scene in which he shouts at the Jets after they stole the sign from the store where he works as a bagboy. That scene alone sets the stage well for the movie. The stolen sign declared in Spanish that the store sold groceries, while the sign underneath was faded and bore a four-leaf clover, representing the changing human geography of the slums of the West Side. All at once, you see that this is a story of the old-timers versus the newcomers, with the Jets, as Lieutenant Schrank puts it as “the last of the Can’t Make It Caucasians”. He details the other groups that had come through those slums, and how those groups worked hard and rose out of the slums, and now live in nice apartments and have nice daughters the Jets would love to date, but the Jets don’t want to do the hard work to get out of the slums. My apologies for digressing. Chino, in this movie, is present from the beginning, and he is not a Shark. He is a long time friend of Bernardo’s, and wants to join the Sharks, but Bernardo has other plans for him. Chino is going to night school to learn accounting (and adding-machine repair) and he has a future. He is no tough, he is a hardworking man that Bernardo sees bringing his sister out of poverty and giving her a stable household with a steady income. But Chino looks at Bernardo, this young tough boxer who protects their community against the depredations of hoodlums, and wants to be tough like him and join the Sharks. The Chino of the original was little more than a set piece. This Chino is a man. He has goals, dreams, ambitions, and he changes through the story, until he makes the fateful decision to shoot a man in the back to avenge his dead friend, and realizes his mistake when he sees the woman he hoped to marry sobbing over the corpse of her love.

Elaborating on my previous comment about old-timers versus newcomers, this version of West Side Story is not so much a story about the evils of racism, but the evils of tribalism, factionalism, and identitarianism. I submit that this movie is not only not woke, it is anti-woke. The movie featured multiple decision points where if anyone could have seen past their tribe, they would have realized they were not enemies, and they could have avoided the tragedy of three homicides in a single day.

One small but significant change is this version is less anti-police than the original. The original we hear Lieutenant Schrank complain that the Puerto Ricans have made a bad neighborhood worse, and he even attempts to recruit the Jets as his personal enforcer squad and offers their help if they get in a rough spot. The new version of Lieutenant Schrank is against the violence and disorder the gangs bring to the street. And this Sergeant Krupke is tired of the Jets and past his prime, rather than the old version who is little more than a tough with a badge.

One more character surprised me in this version. In this version, Doc’s Druggist is no longer run by Doc, but by his widow, a Puerto Rican woman named Valentina, played by Rita Moreno, who was Anita in the original. Say what you want, but that casting choice was perfect, and her rendition of Somewhere was heartbreaking, especially as she gazes at a picture of herself and Doc together in front of their store. Photoshop does have some good uses. She plays the only responsible adult in the life of the Jets and other hoodlums, trying to redeem those she can, and even giving Riff a chance, despite him having stolen from her store since he was six years old.

Now, a few other interesting notes. Several songs change places in this version of the movie. Where the stage production has Officer Krupke in the second act, and Cool in the first, the original reversed that order, and the remake places both of them in the first act. Officer Krupke takes place as the hoodlums are being questioned about the Rumble prior to the fight, and ends with them trashing the station when the cops foolishly leave them alone to chase after another kid who assaulted one of their number. And Cool in this version changed drastically, and for the better. This version of Cool consists of Tony attempting to take away Riff’s gun, which he purchased from a bartender who was an acquaintance of his criminal father, as Tony attempts to tell the Jets that they shouldn’t be warring over turf anymore, and that a gun (a S&W Model 10 in .38 Special the dealer tells them) will only get them into trouble. He fails in his attempt at disarming the Jets, and the final “pow” of the song is delivered by Riff, not singing, but telling Tony that he is no longer a Jet, and nothing will keep Riff from the Rumble.

There is one and only one concession to wokeness in the movie. The character of Anybodys is no longer an extreme tomboy, and is now played as Trans. It’s not loudly shouted, nor played up. The character is just androgynous, and says they’re a boy, while the Jets says they’re a girl.

Perhaps I have done a poor job convincing you, but I will leave my final suggestion: watch the movie, and actually watch it with your eyes and not with the commentary from glib pundits who are as hair-trigger and sensitive as any wokie I’ve ever met. Just watch the movie. You will enjoy it.

127 thoughts on “Spielberg’s West Side Story Isn’t What You’ve Heard – by Anonymous

  1. Heck, we throw fish at some of YOUR posts….. the readership of this blog is the definition of “tough crowd” in the dictionary. 😎

        1. OK, that looks more like a Salmonqueduct (fishqueduct?) than an actual salmon or fish cannon to me. There’s no aerial arc to speak of. But then I quibble, and it is pretty cool. But I do have one question: Whatever happened to fish ladders? I thought that was the go-to for letting salmon run upstream to their spawning grounds after a dam was installed.

          OK, two questions: Why do these types of videos always seem to be accompanied by really annoying music?

          1. seems the Northwest has a lot of dams without ladders. many are being blowwed up because of that and greenies hate hydro power
            The dam a block from me has two versions of ladder, but I’ve never seen the newer “improved” one being used (A tube that extends out further and less slope) I guess the fish don’t like it as much as the one more like the small falls that would be on the river

        2. Is it just me, or does the fish in the preview of the vid look kinda resigned to this. Like, he’s been through it at every damned dam up and down the friggin’ river and he’s had it up to here.

  2. Well! Now I will seek out and watch this new West Side Story, especially since I find the older movie a little too stagy (if you’re going to be stagy, go the whole distance and actually film the stage version, as was done for Li’l Abner, and that wonderful Stoppard-scripted Anna Karenina). But just what do you find so unbearable about that remake of The Music Man, assuming you mean the TV version with Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth? I found the completely different approach to Prof. Harold Hill refreshing, and a much better idea that trying to out-Robert Preston Robert Preston. And besides, Victor Garber, my semi-official middle-aged TV crush.

  3. The problem is we’ve been burned so hard on Hollywood wokeness that we don’t want to risk giving these woke bastards any money. THEY RUINED MY STAR WARS!!!!! And I’m PISSED about it.

    So it is with trepidation we see these movies. And with small signals like the director saying Latinx, it’s just not work the risk.

    So a film you thought was great gets ignored, because the abused spouse right in this country doesn’t want to get sucker punched in the face again….

    1. Fortunately, Dave Filoni and John Favreau have given us The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. They don’t quite make up for the steaming pile of bantha poodoo that was the Sequel Trilogy, but they’re still easily the best Star Wars since 1980.

      1. I’ve actually enjoyed Favreau’s little bit parts in the Iron Man and Spiderman movies. Of course what happens to him in any future Spiderman movies is questionable, since the entire world has forgotten that Peter Parker ever previously existed.

    2. It is the nature of the Wokist to destroy everything good and decent in its reach then flee the ruins for more fertile places raze. The perfectly mindless berserker leaving destruction in its path.

      For a long while, the only thing that kept me watching anything Star Wars was the animated stuff. Mostly that was The Clone Wars and I enjoyed the Bad Batch a lot. Even Star Wars Rebels wasn’t half bad. When the Mandalorian came along, I was suspicious as heck but gave it a try on the recommendation of a half dozen or so folks I know are fans but not stupidly so. I am glad I did. I’ll give the next season a try even though the idiots at Disney got rid of Gina Carano as Cara Dune.

      I do plan to watch the Book of Boba Fett. Partly on the strength of The Mandalorian and partly a chance to watch Ming-Na Wen kick ass and take names again. She was perfect for the character of Melinda May in Agents of SHIELD and I hope she does as well as Fennec Shand.

  4. When I first heard about Spielberg’s decision not to subtitle the Spanish, I thought it was a dumb idea. If he wanted to make both languages equal, why not subtitle the Spanish sections in English, and subtitle the English sections in Spanish? The other day I saw a preview for Disney’s Encanto which did that (audio was in English, with Spanish-language subtitles on-screen) and it worked fine. That would have been a better decision, if Spielberg’s stated rationale was actually the real reason he made that decision. (He’s a Hollywood mogul, so lying is always a possibility).

    And even though the movie is comprehensible without the subtitles, I still find it to be a dumb decision. Plenty of movies choose to have foreign-language dialogue unsubtitled in places, so that the audience won’t know what’s being said. Generally that’s a storytelling choice to reflect the fact that the point-of-view character doesn’t speak the language. E.g., the protagonist meets with a mob boss, who barks out orders to his lieutenants in (say) Russian. Did he just order them to shoot the protagonist in the back as he leaves, or to follow him back to his car and protect him from any rival gangs? The audience not knowing (unless they happen to speak Russian) adds to the tension of the scene.

    But — and correct me if I’m getting this wrong — the Spanish-language sections of the movie are all using a native speaker of Spanish as the point-of-view character, right? In that case, not subtitling the dialogue is dumb: it hides information from the audience that the characters understand perfectly well, and that’s just bad storytelling.

    1. It is stupid in it limits more than Ebil American audience (he can claim what he wants, but he did it to be an ass and signal). There are reasons bands like Epica, Jinger, Sabaton, Nightwish etc, sing in English. More folks speak english and can understand their lyrics than their native Dutch, Russian/Ukranian, Swedish, Finnish etc. Bets they sub both everywhere else

  5. Eh…. I’ve no desire to give Hellywierd any more of my hard-earned cash. I think that not subtitling the Spanish was stupid (and the whole “giving power over the language” justification that Schpielborg is the dumbest thing I’ve heard… eh, this week), but I honestly just don’t care enough about the movie one way or another to watch it.

    1. Now… if it were the biginning of Good Men or Darkship… I’d be buying tickets well ahead of time; but grunge tranny remakes of old films are just meh.

        1. 😀 Who bogarted the dip? (Cat Christopher Klaavil. But in his defense, they don’t have real seafood where he’s from. He thought it was tuna.)

  6. Also, FWIW, I watched the Music Man remake. Didn’t hate it, didn’t think it’s as awful as everyone says. My chief complaint was that Matthew Broderick seemed to be phoning in his performance. If Harold Hill comes across as bored by the whole course of events… that’s not good.

    1. I’d have to agree. Broderick’s performance was okay, but it was just… off…for whatever reason. I know he’s done better on other projects.

    2. I have the DVD of the original movie version of WSS, and sort of like it, but my preference is the CD of the Broadway show. I’m a sucker for Sondheim’s lyrics when he’s good (we’ll skip several of his efforts when he’s bad 🙂 ), and “Officer Krupke” was a favorite dating back to when I was in 6th grade. [Insert get off my lawn reference here.]

      I’ve been sucker-punched too many times to be willing to spend money on H’wood. Happy Feet started OK, but the “Plastic will kill All The Birds” bit sucked spoiled carp. The LatinX and Spielberg’s condescension over not subtitling turned me off. Haven’t been in a theater since around Y2K, and I’m not willing to try again.

      FWIW, the local theater group did an amateur version (with one or two pro actors as leads) of The Music Man, and it worked well. I think I managed never to see the original movie, so really can’t compare. The only Robert Preston effort I recall was The Last Starfighter. Kind of fun, mostly.

        1. It’s been present, but low in the Round-tuit mental list. Might have to see if I can get a DVD. (Bandwidth issues (satellite TV/Internet) preclude much streaming.)

    3. Yeah the remake felt like both Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoworth were fhoning it in. On top of that Robert Preston kind of owned the harold Hill Role. Heck they essentially had him be an alien Harold Hill act alike for “Last Starfighter”.

  7. Good summary. And yes, watching the trailer for the movie could (and did for me) give you an impression of extreme wokeness. However, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and probably watch it went it gets released to TV or RedBox.

  8. Street gang warfare today bears NO resemblance to “West Side Story”. In the original, there’s ONE gun, and a couple of knives, which were how we did it back in the day [minus the gun, but with pipes, chains, etc.]. Now it’s drive bys, and street battles w/ high capacity nines. So the movie is as dated from the original as the original is from Cagney’s “The Strawberry Blonde”.
    And Spielberg’s attempt to ‘purify” the linguistics, and make sure the Sharks and friends are played by Hispanics reeks of “Woke”. And I believe he did say he was trying to ‘correct’ the original or somesuch. Thanks anyway, but I’ll stick with the shary.

    1. “Now it’s drive bys, and street battles w/ high capacity nines.”

      Minor quibble. No such thing as “high capacity” with firearms, don’t let the control freaks corrupt the language. Whatever I can jam in a magazine I hope by all that’s Holy it’s what I need plus one more round. If the worst day of my life involves me dealing with one person, or twenty five, I don’t have control over it one way or the other. I’d prefer not to have to do a combat reload every seven rounds, no matter Mr. Browning’s genius (MPBUH)

      1. I’ll need to do a combat reload after 9 shots (because I don’t usually carry one in the chamber.) If I suspect trouble before I can break away, yeah, then I’ll rack one in.

        1. Sometimes it’s twelve, sometimes ten, but that’s only because it’s proving challenging to conceal the thirty round magazines.

    2. You’re gonna have to explain how having actors of ethnic group X playing characters of ethnic group X is woke.

      Unless you want black Anne Boleyn, or a freckled ginger Zulu. Which admittedly would be a magnificent troll.

      1. “Hispanic” isn’t an ethnic group — it’s a linguistic minority group that shifts to mean whatever the folks complaining need it to mean, kind of like how “white” can mean everything from “not black” to “not of a recognized cool ethnic group.”

        It’s woke because it pretends that the childhood language of someone’s grandparents matters more than their ability to look and sound correct to be the character in a movie.

  9. I’d give it a chance. But I’ll wait for it on cable.

    I haven’t been ‘to the movies’ in years. And now, especially with the ‘mandates’? Ushers and Karens yelling at people about masks through the whole movie? That would be worse than ten squalling brats in the theater. No way.

  10. Interesting take on it that I hadn’t heard. May take the spouse to see it when I’m over the crud.

    Honestly all I’d heard of it was that he had decided not to subtitle the Spanish sections for what sounded like stupid reasons and assumed that it would make the movie unintelligible. If that’s not the case, then it could be a fun thing for the spouse.

    Subtitling can be tricky. I know Red vs Blue had a large chunk of comedy based on no-one being able to understand a word of what Lopez was saying. (“If you morons cannot understand Spanish why did you program me to only speak Spanish?”) and Ip Man has a real debate on whether the Japanese should be subtitled or left off (the main characters don’t speak Japanese, so they have no clue what the Imperial Japanese officers are saying, and for the audience, not knowing what’s going on after they’ve just shot someone really ramps up the tension.)

    By the same token, leaving out subtitles in something like ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ and you have pretty much no idea what’s going on or why.

    1. Watching silent films (I recommend the original *Thief of Bagdad*) gives a notion of how to handle. *Thief* has scenes where the gestures are all that indicates conversation, and it works.

      1. Actors that can act.

        One of the things I suspect contribute strongly to Anime’s popularity is exactly that; we watch with subtitles, but the three and five year old are able to follow along quite well.

      2. In the Ip Man sequence, one of the IJA officers more or less out of the blue, pulls a gun a shoots one of the characters dead, then he and another office start yelling at each other. Knowing what they are saying illuminates a lot about the antagonists and their conflicts, but you don’t have to know the language to understand the uncertainty and threat the protagonists are under.

        I’ve mentioned before that that movie in general had very good physical storytelling. It’s fundamentally a martial arts movie, but they made each fight tell it’s own story.

      1. I have not asked Calmer Half to watch Black Panther. When I attempted to explain the setup and the world to him, he was torn between disbelieving laughter at the ignorance and stupidity, and annoyance edging on anger at the outright disrespect to the actual tribes and people he knows and loves. Asking the guy who’s an initiate into the sangoma mysteries (call it a first-level Zulu witchdoctor. Long story) to watch Wakanda seemed… like I’d have to get him a lot drunker than possible or probable.

          1. I’m told that in the movie “Zulu,” a character does the Marathon bit -runs in exhausted, gasps out his message to the Zulu leader, and drops. They couldn’t get the scene right and the poor guy had to run in over and over. The director let him pick his own words (in his native African language). When the movie came out, people who understood what he said cracked up, because his vitally important message was, “They’re not paying me enough for this!”

          2. A friend at the University of Florida recorded Greedo’s speech back in the day and took it to the language department. It turned out to be Quechua. A fragment of legend about a grandmother honeybee, if I’m remembering correctly.

        1. I don’t know. Just the battle with the rhino cavalry (with anti-lock brakes!) might be fun to inflic—, er show him.

          1. Rhinos with anti-lock brakes? Yowza.
            Having seen a big draft horse come to scrambling slipping “oh crap ohcrap OHCRAP” stop on wet grass…. Yowza!

  11. I’ll pass, for now. Spielberg isn’t worth my money (or any current Hollyweird production today).

  12. For what it’s worth, I’ve not ever seen the original all the way through. I’m at least marginally familiar with the music from it, but the parts I saw bored me and seemed overdone/overblown. As a result, I have no emotional connection to the original nor desire to watch it and thus the new one also has no pull for me. I never intended to see it even before all the uproar and outcry about it, so…. eh.

    1. Same here. I’ve seen more than enough of the original movie, unwillingly, in bits and pieces, to last me a lifetime. Even in tiny doses, it’s a tossup between boring and irritating. The new one could be 100% better, and I’d still refuse to watch it, because — possibly unpopular opinion in this venue — all live-action movie-musicals inherently suck.

      1. Then you haven’t seen Sweeney Todd. 😛

        It’s Priest
        Have a little Priest
        Is it really good?
        Sir it’s too good, at least
        Then again they don’t commit sins of the flesh
        So it’s pretty fresh

      2. I know this is Sacrilege, but I have the same reaction to Casablanc. I simply cannot stand to watch it, but I’ve seen so many bits & pieces… Oddly, when I read the script/transcript.. it looked like it would be a good movie. But watching the movie? Include me out!

  13. Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’d like to talk about the movie itself rather than rail against snowflakes who scream at the thought of Hispanic actors and no subtitles.

    Well, THAT killed any good will I had for the author up to that point.

    1. To elaborate:
      persuasive writing requires treating the other side as serious.

      I’m willing to listen to arguments as to the effect of not using subtitles for the Spanish, and so on; I am not willing to take seriously someone who doesn’t even have the confidence in their own stance to not light up a strawman as the support of the statements they had thus far made.

      Hiring actors because they speak a language, fine. Hiring actors because they look the part, fine. Hiring actors because they speak a language in an acceptable manner and look the part, fine.
      Hiring people because they have the right ancestry? No, that’s not fine, and objecting to it does not make someone a “snowflake.” That the argument for why THIS abuse because of ancestors is OK is “shut up, pussy” tells me that the author didn’t think he had a stronger argument– which either means he thinks that’s acceptable, or there wasn’t much else going for it.

    2. Are you saying insulting your audience might not be a good move? What a concept!

      That’d be sarcasm.

      But seriously film and show makers could stand to learn that.

      1. I know, right?!

        I’m so tired of “you ungrateful peasants don’t recognize my genius, worship my awesome self for doing what is currently popular virtue signaling!”

        Now, if he’d made big noises about hiring actors that were completely fluent in Spanish, as well as that looked the part? Cool!
        Even if he’d made noise about how they’d networked to try to discover untapped talent in and from Puerto Rico, and worked WITH the actors on dialog, so that not only was everyone actually fluent in the language it was accurate to what stuff would sound like– put in stuff here for how language changes and implications to phrases change? Yeah!

        You can even come up with artistic type reasons for subtitles.

        But bragging about using art for political power struggle statements? Heck with that! I can donate money to political goals if I want to support THAT!

        1. When the filmmakers for Rogue One started advertising a safety pin on their logo, I knew I’d never watch that movie.

          After Trump was elected, people said they were going to wear safety pins to signal they were safe for people scared of those evil, violent Trump supporters, when people in MAGA hats were the ones getting targeted and beaten up.

          1) helping whip up unwarranted fear and 2) helping create a narrative to justify the oppression of fellow citizens all in one gesture.

          “Just watch the movie”

          No. Not a second of my time nor a cent of my money.

          1. “Just watch the movie”

            Yeah, right up there with “how do you know you don’t like (submitting to the asker’s desires) unless you try it” for phrases to run away from very quickly.

            1. If it sounds like what you say to the 4 year old to get them to try the new thing you made for dinner, it’s probably not a good idea to try it on adults.

          2. I recall something about the safety pin thing some administration earlier (and it wasn’t Obama’s!) and recall someone pointed out the safety pin thing would be GREAT… for predator types to makes a very simple false signal. The safety pins? BAIT!

  14. My take on from online reviews, friends who’ve seen it, news coverage, etc. is that it is a well done movie, the lack of subtitles can be a problem for some, and the trailer is far more woke than the actual movie. However, Spielberg’s woke pontificating about the movie (and in general) is enough that I don’t want one cent of my money reaching him.

  15. “Just watch the movie. You will enjoy it.”


    Not a second of my time nor a cent of my money for people who hate me.

  16. I wonder if the music, the dancing, or the costumes are interesting. None of the reviews have said much about that. So far, every review has tried to shame the reader into paying up. To me, that indicates… PASS.

    1. Wall Street Journal said there were some excellent dance scenes (their comment was it was clear that for years there had been a musical in Spielberg trying to get out). They highly praised Rita Moreno, and thought the actor playing Tony was flat. They had no trouble with the Spanish-language scenes. The review was, “nice movie, not raving about it.”

  17. I don’t care if it’s not as Woke as the director wanted everyone to think it was.

    No money for Hollywood pedos.

    1. And that’s where I am too. “Don’t give money to people who hate you”

      Now if we were all civil and agree to disagree, kind of differences, I’d watch a thing on the IDK if I’d like it list. Heck, I might watch this later on someone else’s purchased DVD later or pick up a used copy. But my Hollywood objections are broader than thinking one director said one stupid thing.

      1. I swore off Stranger Things when the creator made that crack about punching people.

        “Snowflake” means collapsing into tears because someone doesn’t you your preferred pronoun.

        “Snowflake” doesn’t mean: “We want to beat and kill you and confuse, sexualize and mutilate your children, now pay to watch our crap or you’re a snowflake.”

  18. I’ve never seen the original. I’m rather tired of the “star-crossed secret lovers whose tribes hate each other” trope, which is why I’ve never seen it. And for the same reason, I likely won’t see this one.

    Anony Mouse makes some points that certain unusual decisions Spielberg made work. There’s an issue, though, in that Spielberg essentially uses offensive arguments to defend those actions. Even if I were inclined to see the movie, that sort of thing pushes me away.

    1. I get tired of the “their people hate each other, and are being stupid, but they are Better Than That!” version.

      It’s hard to find one that treats the non-POV-characters with respect.

      1. Foxfier, I submit for you Aaron Sorkin, an absurd but talented left wing crazy, who gave the best speech in his movie to Jack Nicholson’s character:https://www.americanrhetoric.com/MovieSpeeches/specialengagements/moviespeechafewgoodmencodered.html, even if Sorkin may have thought Nicholson’s character was the villain of the peace.

        Sometimes art comes through despite the artist’s stated intention. I can enjoy Lonely Are the Brave and Spartacus despite Dalton Trumbo being an outright upper-case Communist and intellectual hypocrite. Then there’s the song, What About Us? that Pink thinks is a very woke, anti-Trump manifesto, but is actually her singing a perfect anthem for the Blexit movement.

        As to West Side Story, while the choreography and songs might be very enjoyable, if you’re going to steal from Shakespeare, please don’t steal his plots. He already stole them, and they’re the least worthwhile thing about his work.

        Still I appreciate Anonymous’ educated take on Spielberg’s latest venture, but, as many here have said, putting money into somebody’s pocket who thinks it best to advertise his wares by insulting you? Probably not a good idea.

        1. Add parodies of movies that were never made– Team America! (America! F yeah!)

          If I remember correctly, the guy who wrote A Man For All Seasons and thus the scene about cutting down all the laws of England to get at the devil was a progressive.

          Doing a GOOD JOB can rescue a work– can even rescue an author, Pratchett came around to the right side of a lot of stuff by the looooooong way.

          … none of which fits the idea that objecting to the creator publicly stating “I am hiring people based on a broad ancestry group rather than relevant skills, and will be actively sacrificing work quality in favor of political goals” is an inherently invalid reason to avoid a work, and that even objecting to such discrimination is evidence of a sense of entitlement to special consideration.

            1. The only Jane Fonda movie I will willingly watch is, “Barbarella.” I guess you could say I’ve seen a lot of her ..

            2. Wouldn’t a ten foot M16 require an awfully long attachment on the front end of the rifle? One that extends well beyond the front of the rifle? One that is going to be long and slender? One that needs to be “fixed” in place before use?

              Just a stray thought.

  19. I’m not the audience for a musical.

    I am seriously thinking over the general question of ‘can I stomach money going to this organization’.

    Disney has a strong case for no. Live action Mu Lan. Okay, sure, /alleged/ rape camps, and mainstream Hollywood might have raping actresses as part of the business model. The information I have, which seems on balance credible, is that money to Disney is money in support of rape.

    There are a lot of media groups owning a lot of IP, sucking up to the PRC.

    Is that enough to say that it would unethical for me to buy a DVD set of an old much beloved series?

    How about Japanese LNs? A lot of those publishers apparently have lines they watch with respect to annoying North Korea, and perhaps the PRC.


    I actually was thinking of going hard no on Amazon, but backed out. OTOH, I am thinking about other sources for DVD purchases, as opposed to Kindle stuff.

    1. OK my faves from that list,
      Man in the White Suit — Alec Guiness as a goofy scientist, just lovely
      War Of The Worlds — Cool Special effects for the martians, Stock footage of Flying wing to drop an A-Bomb, got to love George Pal Sci-Fi
      20000 Leagues under the sea – Disney magles the story but Kirk Douglass singing badly is enough to make up for it
      Them! – Giant Mutant Ants, Nuff said?
      Forbidden Planet – Classic Sci fi. AND Leslie Neilsen does a Capt. Kirk and falls for the girl (10 years before Capt Kirk 🙂 )

      Lot’s of good monster movies from my wasted Saturdays as a kid…

  20. Did not even know there is a remake. Haven’t followed hollywood movie releases for decades. Pandemic rules aren’t helping. We do not go to theater, we don’t go to moves. Might DVD and watch it when it hits free cable. Might. Note. We’re the type of movie watchers that when the Titanic came out our response was “the boat sank”. Have seen it, once, on cable, since then. Okay, more than “the boat sank” … but … YMMV

  21. Wanted to say I’m just not a fan of remakes but I got to allow this is probably the twenty thousandth or so remake of Shakespeare’s star crossed lovers and some of them weren’t bad at all.

      1. Was going to say the Bard definitely stole the plot. look long enough and there’s probably a variant of the story in cuneiform or hieroglyphs :-).

        1. The Bard “stole” pretty much all of his plots, except for maybe the historical plays. Though he also improved all of them over the source material, so no one complains.

      2. Of The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke and Palace of Pleasure by William Painter, both based on an Italian original.

    1. I am reminded of the Allan Sherman tune “Pop Hates the Beatles” with the bit:

      “Little girls in sneakers and jeans destroyed the territo-ry
      ‘Twas like some of the gorier scenes from West Side Sto-ry.”

  22. Was never a fan of West Side Story, soo…..

    I have seen that the woke left has expressed outrage about the movie because someone who is Spanish, from Spain, was cast as Puerto Rican, and in the words of the work “someone from Spain is not Hispanic even if they speak the language”. In other words, people who reside in the Western Hemisphere of Spanish decent are utterly separate and not connected to Spain, the country from which all people of Spanish descent in the Western Hemisphere are ultimately descended from. are not permitted to take Spanish speaking roles if the character is from the Western Hemisphere. WTF? Talk about going down the 1930s racial identity fascism road.

  23. O/T. The entire Covid cover story just blew up, due to DARPA documents produced, which show that DARPA refused to fund Wuhan, Fauci did, American and Chinese governments (and many other governments) knew all about it before it happened, and that Covid wasn’t more dangerous than ordinary flu…And that HCL and Ivermectin would probably treat it, and that the “vaccines” wouldn’t work…etc..And at least one US university was on board a year ahead of time…https://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=244791

  24. I agreed with Pauline Kael that West Side Story was mediocre, Romeo and Juliet without the dull poetry, and music that was not really outstanding…The remake can’t change any of that…

    1. I think I have to disagree with Ms Kael on the music. Bernstein’s music is gorgeous, the book is ok to mediocre. Part of the issue is that Bernstein’s music is truly operatic in range and complexity. Thus most of it was outside Natalie Wood’s capability and even stretched the ever present voice over of Marnie Nixon to (and slightly past) her limits. Sounds like the new actress is a singer first and can pull it off.

  25. So, the movie makes the white people look far worse, therefore…it’s not as woke as I would have thought? Funny, that is EXACTLY what I expected Spielburg to change and exactly what he changed.

    And the song “Somewhere”, originally a tragic song of dramatic irony sung by the leads, is given to the hispanic matriarch to become a song about how one day they’ll be free of white privilege.

    How about we all pass and not give money to people who hate us?

    1. They cancel anyone and everyone who utters a single syllable they don’t like.

      We say: “Give it a chance! Support quality!”

      This is why we lose.

    2. This.

      I am a huge fan of the original. I saw it as a conflict between two groups of boys, who happened to be of different races, but who,100 years ago, would have been the boys from the North side of town vs the boys from the South side of town, or earlier, boys from this village against the boys from the next village over. Boys running in packs, getting into mischief and fights, but no more, until the rivalry between the two leaders goes too far. The time was my parents’ generation, and the characters in the movie looked no older than my parents did in their high school photos – kids just looked more mature back then. Basically, decent blue collar kids on both sides for the most part.

      The new one sounds like the white kids are evil racist flyover country Trump supporters, criminals and useless bums. I won’t touch it.

      1. To be clear, the “evil racist flyover Trump supporters” is how I think Spielberg views things, not me. 🙂

  26. Most Hollywood projects fail the “Do I want to give these people my money?” test. The last take on Romeo and Juliet that I enjoyed was Warm Bodies. Honestly, West Side Story has some great music, all of which I can better appreciate via listening to a soundtrack instead of watching the film.

    1. Not long ago, I saw a TV program that emphasized the comparisons of the old, original 1961 film version of West Side Story and Spielberg’s reboot/remake of the film version of WSS, and, more recently, I listened to the entire soundtrack of Spielberg’s West Side Story film version on youtube, just out of curiosity. The whole Spielberg film version of WSS seems way overdone, too heavy, forced and unnatural, and not at all like West Side Story. The soundtrack to Spielberg’s West Side Story film version was very metallic-sounding, and was flat in a great many places. I also think that both Ansel Elgort’s and Rachel Ziegler’s singing voices were overrated; Ziegler’s singing voice was quite nasal in many places, and Elgort Ansel’s voice and overall meander was rather bland.

      The backdrop scenes of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story film version looked far more like the tonier, wealthier parts of the city, rather than the impoverished and rough-and-rundown parts of the city.

      The Jets and the Sharks themselves in Steve Spielberg’s film version of West Side Story, imho, looked far more like the Newsie boys than the Jets and Sharks in the old, original 1961 film version, and the girls in Spielberg[‘s film version of West Side Story look far more like a bunch of wealthy suburban prep-school girls who are dressed to the nines for partying around town than a bunch of gangsters’ girlfriends

      I also think that the Jets and Sharks in Spielberg’s West Side Story were way overdeveloped, in personality, as well, and that the good guys vs. bad guys outlook has been revived in this film version.

      To be truthful, I’ve always had a gut reaction against remakes of older classic films, generally–especially something such as the old, original 1961 film version of West Side Story, which is my all time favorite movie, hands down.

      Given the stuff that came out about Ansel Elgort and his disgusting attitudes and actions towards underaged girls (i. e. grooming and sexually assaulting them), he sounds like a dangerous, disgusting and gross human being, and reading all the stuff that came out about him has stiffened my resolve to vote my pocketbook and not go to see Steven spielberg’s film version of West Side Story, at all. I’ve seen enough comparisons comparisons between the old, original 1961 film version of WSS, and Spielberg’s reboot/remake of the film WSS so that I’ve made my decision.

      One of the strengths and beauties
      of the old, original 1961 film version of West Side Story is that when it was transferred from stage to screen, it was preserved as a larger-than-lifesied piece of theatre.

  27. I have to say that I discount a lot of what anyone who hides behind the “Anonymous” moniker has to say.

    IMHO West Side Story has got good music. That said, I’ve never been able to actually watch the (original) movie; I find it a terrible bore.

    On the gripping hand, I think Romeo and Juliet don’t get half the kicking around they deserve.

    1. There are people, including regular readers and commenters on this blog, who for job reasons cannot publish on a politically-charged blog such as this one under their own names.

    2. While I can understand your caution, I think that might be a bit too much defense. Does that mean you discount all that stuff written in the late 1700s by “Publius”?

    3. I think Romeo and Juliet don’t get half the kicking around they deserve.

      I’ll admit, this is a big part of my motivation in writing a Romeo and Juliet alternate ending/sequel:

      “Wait, you two get half the cast killed with your impulsiveness and irresponsibility, then die tragically so that everyone will sit there crying for you poor widdle things whose love was ruined by the feud? Oh, no. We’re having none of that! You’re going to LIVE, damnit, and be forced to face the consequences of your actions!”

      1. The end of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, which I otherwise greatly enjoy, changes the ending just slightly by having Juliet awaken from her coma before Romeo drinks the poison, not after. My reaction every time I watch it is, “if you would just shut up for a minute, you mouthy bastard, you’d notice that she was alive!”

      2. Half the cast?

        That Romeo’s attempts to prevent Mercurio and Tybalt from killing each other were futile doesn’t change that those two idiots were responsible for their own deaths.

        Personally, I would set it up with some wandering mercenaries in the opening — the prince tries to hire them — and give them a chance to talk about moving from city to city. I would make the ball be in honor of a foreign dignitary. And I would give Juliet or Romeo an aunt who didn’t live there (a la A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

        They would realize that the city was toxic and run away.

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