Not sure exactly where this fits in the Late Reviewer catalogue, but movie fans everywhere know how central New York City has been to cinema over the years so it felt like an obvious little feature to coincide with my recent visit.
We walked half the length of Manhattan to find this on the hottest day of the year (something like 33 degrees Celsius), and ended up asking the doorman of a fancy restaurant about a block away after struggling to work out its location from a map. There was a steady stream of visitors and fellow film geeks having their pictures taken in front of the iconic location, and though we sadly didn’t get to see inside the place, there was a fantastic little pub called Walker’s just across the road serving nice, cold beer on a very hot day.
Moulin Rouge at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre
I remember seeing this at the cinema and being blown away by the visual and aural spectacle of it all. Can’t say I’ve revisited it much since (though it is on the Late Review pile, and I thought of it recently while watching Across The Universe), but Mrs Late Reviewer and I were determined to take in a show so this seemed like a good shout.
The theatre itself seats around 1,400 (but feels cosy), was built in 1924 and featured artwork in the foyer of performers who’d been on stage there in the past including Frank Langella and James Stewart…
Also, while it’s not far from Times Square and Broadway, it’s far closer to a strip club and people with mental health or drug issues, which seems pretty appropriate for the show currently running there.
I felt there were some interesting and sensible changes to the story, though a Lautrec/Satine backstory felt a little forced. The staging was superb though, the costumes left bugger all to the imagination, and the cast’s voices were all incredible. Like the Back To The Future stage show, it captured the spirit of the film it was based around, but unlike BTTF it didn’t feature any original songs – fair enough, considering the film is in itself a sort of jukebox musical.
It did, however, update the playlist to include dozens more songs which have hit the charts since Baz Luhrmann’s movie burst onto screens (hello, Postal Service’s Such Great Heights and OutKast’s So Fresh, So Clean!), and crowbar in a few which have become meme-worthy in the last two decades… well, one at least. Yes, Never Gonna Give You Up makes a (very) brief appearance.
Yes, it’s a bit of a karaoke show (though the audience never took to singing), but it was good fun, brilliantly produced, and really captured the spirit of the movie.
On a side note – I’ve never seen a film or stage show with an American audience, so while I expected some hooting and hollering (it’s that kind of show, I imagine it’d be very popular with hen parties), I didn’t expect the crowd to roar the place down from the opening of Lady Marmalade. Not a criticism, it added to the fun… but I’ll forever be curious as to what the crowd would’ve been like if we’d been unable to get tickets and gone to see Top Gun: Maverick at the cinema round the corner from our hotel.
Empire State Building
I’ve always been fascinated by American television, so was delighted to see it’s still as mad as it’s always been.
South Park showing at 9am? Sure, why not.
The Departed screening at 11pm? Yep, but heavily edited and dubbed so no swearword worse than “shit” can be heard. Tired as I was, I had to watch a bunch of that because it was hilarious – especially considering 75% of Marky Mark’s dialogue is made up of swearing.
Anyhow, now I’m back and more or less over my jetlag I’m hoping to get back into revisiting some dusty old discs. If you’ve read this far, thanks, and please take a little look at some of the other sections of the site – or get in touch about writing something yourself!