music friday
redes (fred zimmerman & emilio gómez muriel, 1936)

geezer cinema: hamilton (thomas kail, 2020)

Well, I finally found out what all the excitement was about. We actually had a plan to see this in London, but then travel kinda took a back seat to the pandemic. Honestly, I wasn't too sad that we missed it ... I didn't have high expectations, by which I mainly mean no matter how good it was, I doubted I would like it.

I take it back. Hamilton was much better than I expected. One problem is that most Broadway "rock" musicals are far more Broadway than they are Rock, and I thought Hamilton would be the same for rap. But in this case, it felt right. It took me awhile to get used to the rhythms of rapping dialogue, and in the end, I'm not sure this was "authentic" rap or hip hop, anymore than Hair was "authentic" rock. But for whatever reason, I ceased caring somewhere along the way. I can't say I remember any of the songs, although if I spent some time with the soundtrack, that problem would probably solve itself.

It was fun recognizing a few members of the cast, especially Oakland's own Daveed Diggs. I admit I didn't realize Aaron Burr was played by Leslie Odom Jr. (Sam Cooke from One Night in Miami), but he was good, too. But ultimately, it's Lin-Manuel Miranda who astonishes. He wrote the music, lyrics, and script for Hamilton, while playing the title role. The play won a Pulitzer Prize and 11 Tonys. Hell, the cast recording spent ten weeks atop the rap charts.

What we watched was a filmed version of the stage play, with the original cast. It was straightforward ... there was no attempt to "open up" the play, it was just a document of an actual performance. Miranda and director Thomas Kail had a few tricks up their sleeves ... they shot three different performances and edited them seamlessly into one. But this was a play as much as it was a film.

I never thought I'd say it, but Hamilton was a highlight of the year.



I'm surprised you liked it, too, though it's not at all surprising that you did. I had no interest in it but my kids were HUGE fans of the soundtrack back in 2016. They finally got me to listen and it was hard not to like.

Steven Rubio

I might never have gotten around to it, except 1) we just signed up for Disney Plus, and 2) it was Robin's turn to pick the Geezer movie, and she wanted to see it.


My girlfriend and I had tickets to see it last year when it was supposed to come to LA, but of course they got Covided, so we ended up watching it on Disney+ like yourself. I had somehow largely avoided exposure to any parts of the show despite obviously hanging in circles where it was a very prominent subject. If I were to over-analyze myself, I'd say that the insane Broadway ticket prices that became almost a joke in the theatre world cultivated something of an unfair resentment in me towards the show. After watching it, I couldn't deny just how impressive the whole thing was, especially on the part of Miranda, like you said. I was left wondering, though, whether, today, in a post George Floyd world, it would have made the same kind of impact as in 2015. Though you could argue that its impact in 2015 was a not insignificant factor in opening up the conversation that helped lead to where we are today. I couldn't help but feeling, though, that a sufficiently woke xennial watching it for the first time today would see it as tame and punch-pulling compared to the millenials who took to it so hard when it opened.

Steven Rubio

You raise a good point. Hamilton has resonance today precisely because it is Hamilton. But it wouldn't be "Hamilton" if it came out now, and that might make a difference. Having said that, it boggles my mind that this talented fellow read a book about Alexander Hamilton and thought, "I could make a rap musical about this!"


For sure. I wouldn't shy away from calling it a work of genius, both in inspiration and execution; I think it absolutely is.

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