The Best Movie Critic + review

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The Movie Advent: Our 5 Favorite Musicals (NSFW)

Greetings Movie Advocate regulars! Today we continue off our special Christmas present to you, a series of 12 lists for the 12 days of Christmas. We're continuing today with lists of our 5 favorite musicals. Agree? Disagree? Either way we'd love to hear about it!

Ben's List

5. Cabaret

Cabaret exposes the absurdity of war and the difficulty of living a non-normative lifestyle in a fascist environment. Though we've taken the first lesson to heart, the latter remains sadly relevant. The music is great, too!
4. Lisztomania!

For one, there is a scene in Lisztomania! where Roger Daltry rides around on his 12 foot tall engourged penis. That's worth the price of admission by itself. But in all seriousness, there's a lot of good going on in this movie. The always sensational Ken Russell directs this verrrrry loose biography of the life of fabulous Romantic pianist and composer Franz Liszt, one of my personal favorites. Liszomania is probably the only biopic I can think of that doesn't annoy the hell out of me (La Bomba is really good too). Sure, Richard Wagner wasn't really a vampire, and Liszt didn't escape earth in a heavenly spaceship powered by the lust of all of the important women in his life, but who cares? Rick Wakeman's music - based on melodic and harmonic components from Liszt and Wagner compositions - is catchy as hell. I'm totally serious when I say that this movie is just as good as Amadeus in the classical composer rivalry category.

3. Meet Me in St. Louis

Like most boys weaned on a healthy diet of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, in my youth I had an allergic reaction to cutesy, dated, G-rated musicals. Many of the most dedicated movie nerds and geeks have a difficult time cracking classic Hollywood musicals. I can’t say exactly when it was that the switch went off in my brain, but one day I realized that I adore them. The more contrived, the more unrealistic, the more whitewashed the better. I’m a sucker for movies that fill me with the “joy of life,” and Meet Me in St. Louis is just about the pinnacle in the regard. Judy Garland at her most charming and beautiful. The sadistic little sister keeps things just dangerous enough that the movie isn’t entirely for squares, but not so much as to be truly insidious. The family dynamic is winning, the collection of standards is unforgettable, and George Folsey’s cinematography is some of the most stunning Technicolor this side of Jack Cardiff. Look no further than the Halloween sequence for some of the best control of color around.

2. The Phantom of the Paradise

Regardless of whether or not Phantom of the Paradise is truly a great movie or not, it is one of those “you gotta see this” flicks. Brian DePalma’s mashup of Faust, Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and just about every other archetypal horror story is divinely bizarre. The opening 20 minutes move with cold, calculated speed, and the movie just gets better from there. Muppet maestro Paul Williams does double duty here both as composer of all the movie’s songs and in front of the camera as the villainous, devilish record producer Swan. To top it all off, flamboyant hard rock diva Beef enters the picture about halfway through the movie and threatens to steal the show completely. Oh and in case you were still wondering, Phantom of the Paradise is truly great.

1. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

My favorite musical, Howard Hawks' Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, is also simply one of my favorite movies of all time. Marilyn Monroe's Lorelei Lee is the best "fool" of cinema. She plays dumb but she knows exactly what she's doing. I don't know where Hawks got so fabulous all of a sudden, but this is a movie that celebrates surfaces over depth, beauty over wisdom, and money over love. Hawks seems like an unlikely candidate to pick up the baton from Oscar Wilde, but it's all up onscreen. And for the record, "A Little Girl from Littlerock" is the catchiest song of all time.

Justin's List

5. Viva Las Vegas

My wife said it best, "This movie is fraught." I can't think of a better movie that a book of essays could be written about. All around fun and the tunes are great.

4. Heavy Metal

Everything a cartoon shouldn't be... if you're an establishment type. Soooooo gooooood.

3. Hedwig and the Angry Inch

It took John Cameron Mitchell to make the musical relevant again.

2. The Wicker Man

Also wins for favorite horror movie, mystery, and song of seduction. Come, say, "How do?"

1. Purple Rain

Everything about this movie rules.

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Relevant to: The Movie Advent: Our 5 Favorite Musicals (NSFW) + review


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