Firdaus Tarmizi

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The Hills are Alive! (Part 4)

In Musical Films, Reviews on August 14, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Note:  This is the fourth installment of the 7-part series.  You can read the rest of the series here.

Movie:  Chicago

Chicago Poster - from wikipedia

Be infamous!


The movie “Chicago” is one of the few modern musical films that I actually like, the other being “Rent”, which I will write about in another entry.  Other films such as Hairspray, Moulin Rouge and High School Musical might be OK, but they didn’t have that extra factor that managed to get them into my list of 7.  The factor that I’m talking about is simple:  catchy, memorable songs (yes, yes I know, it’s totally subjective, but I can totally back up my claims)


Favorite Song: We Both Reached for the Gun

It’s a close tie between this, and Cell Block Tango, but I simply have to give it to We Both Reached for the Gun, if only because it is so fun to sing along to.


I remembered when my wife and I went on our 9 hour long road trip from Illinois to Pennsylvania, and we repeated this song again and again and again, while trying to learn the chorus part:  “oh yes oh yes oh yes we both oh yes we both oh yes we both reached for the gun the gun the gun the gun oh yes we both reached for the gun, for the gun!”.  Suffice to say, we didn’t get bored the whole length of the trip.

I love how the songs in Chicago is intertwined with the story-telling and of course, the puppet sequence is totally noteworthy.  Described perfectly the “court of public opinion” scenario happening in Malaysia: how a sensational  story and the media can sway public opinion even before a case is heard in court.


Special mention:  Mr Cellophane

This might be the only song that injected the needed sad/heartbreak emotion into the otherwise fun movie.  The scene might be seen as comedic, but the lyrics, John C. Reilly’s great acting and lastly, the pain in Amos’ voice (check out his face at 5:00), totally made me feel like giving him a hug.  This song also showed how emotional, soulful singing is always better than technical, screamy and diva-like over-singing (I’m looking at you, Celine Dion).




The Hills are Alive! (Part 2)

In Musical Films, Reviews on July 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Note:  This is the second installment of the 7-part series.  You can read the first part here.

2.  Movie:  West Side Story

Ahh, West Side Story.  The movie adapted from a Broadway musical, which in turn was adapted from Romeo and Juliet.  I can’t resist the gritty feel of Manhattan, and the flamboyant yet crass behaviors of the Jets and the Sharks (the Montague and Capulet of this adaptation).  And yes, Natalie Wood.  I had a big crush on Natalie Wood right after watching this movie.  Well, I still do have a soft spot for her even now.

Natalie Wood - from

*Doki Doki*

Favorite song:  I Feel Pretty

Isn’t it weird that amid the more famous songs like “Tonight” and “Maria” and “Somewhere”, I fell in love with the simple but catchy tunes of “I Feel Pretty”.  With the cherry jig and Maria’s infectious enthusiasm, I can’t help but picture the whole scene whenever I even think of the “Lalalalala la la la lalaaa” melody.



Special mention:  America

Two reasons:   First, the choreography, which seems chaotic and all over the place, but actually an excellent representation of the independent Sharks, with everyone doing the same steps but with individual flavors (check out starting from minute 5:15).

Second, the terrific acting of Rita Moreno.  You can just see how she’s having fun as Anita.  Doesn’t hurt that she’s sexy as hell too.


The Hills are Alive! (Part 1)

In Musical Films, Reviews on July 8, 2011 at 10:03 am

Now I would only have to find me a hill to be alive on. And that dress.

This is a long post.

One of the things I would have to thank my parents for is them filling my childhood with songs and wonders by way of books, stories and movies.  And not ordinary movies at that, my early days are bright with songs and dances of musical films.

As a nod to that, I’ll be writing 7 parts of my top 7 list of my favorite songs from 7 of my top musical films.  Special mentions will also be given to some songs that I feel have other significance for me.

1.  Movie:  Fiddler on the roof

Favorite Song:  If I Were a Rich Man.

Why? I just cannot resist the shimmy that he did.  The best part of the lyric for me is around 4:00, where he says something along the line of being able to spend more time praying and learning about religion if he’s rich.  Now isn’t that profound?  How many of us left really wants to become rich just to be closer to God?

Special mention:  The Chava Sequence.

Man, I can’t watch this without shedding a tear or ten.  I’m a pansy I know, but that part was so deep emotionally:  to have all the emotions of Tevye losing her daughters.  The story is told to through a ballet sequence starting from 2:20 – the mother bringing little Chaveleh into the world, to play with her two sisters.  The violin comes in when they start to dance together (2:58), maybe to depict their traditional upbringing.  It starts to become REALLY sad when one by one the daughters are taken away by other men.  The fiddler at 3:42, trying to call Chava back to “tradition”, only to have her turning back to her Christian boy, would explain Tevye’s  act of disowning Chava.

“If I try and bend that far, I’ll break.”

Just go ahead and enjoy the sequence.  If you do not feel like crying after watching it, you either were built of stronger material than me, or you are just a heartless monster.