WEIRDLAND: West Side Story (2020) by Spielberg starring Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler

Saturday, April 27, 2019

West Side Story (2020) by Spielberg starring Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler

West Side Story (2020) has found its leading man and created a brand new role for original cast member Rita Moreno, so count us as officially excited for Steven Spielberg's forthcoming adaptation of the Broadway classic musical of 1957. West Side Story (1961) directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, explored forbidden love, and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.

Ansel Elgort is the lucky actor who's been cast to portray Tony in the Manhattan-set musical. The 24-year-old actor previously received critical acclaim for his role in 2017's Baby Driver, but this will be his biggest role to date by far. As for Moreno, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for playing Anita in the original 1961 film, she'll appear as Valentina, who is a "reconceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony works." Ned Glass played Doc opposite Moreno in the first film, so it will be interesting to see how she changes the character, especially since Moreno will also be listed as a producer on the film.

In the original West Side Story (that won 10 Academy Awards), Tony and Maria are the protagonists of the tragic love story modeled after Romeo and Juliet. Tony is a former member of the American gang the Jets, which rivals the Puerto Rican gang the Sharks. Maria's older brother is the leader of the Sharks, and thus enters the story's central dilemma. Tony was first portrayed by Larry Kert in the original 1957 musical and later by Richard Beymer in the 1961 film.

Rachel Zegler, a Colombian-American actress, soon will prepare to play Maria in Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of 'West Side Story'. Though Natalie Wood is famous for her impassioned portrayal of the star-crossed lover in the screen adaptation, the casting choice has since been met with criticism given that Wood was not Puerto Rican.  Source: www.popsugar.co.uk

In Billionaire Boys Club (2018), a slick Ansel Elgort plays Joe Hunt, the youthful L.A. investment firm honcho who racked up countless wealthy clients in a high-stakes Ponzi scheme before it all came crashing down; Taron Egerton is Hunt’s business partner, Dean Karny, who narrates the story. In the opening shot, Elgort sits smugly behind a pair of dark sunglasses as Egerton announces a credo in voiceover: “Fuck money. Being rich is about respect.” The fetishization of wealth yielding power has been a cinematic trope from “Wall Street” to “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but “Billionaire Boys Club” turns it into a routine. 

Played with dopey naivet√© by Ansel Elgort (who previously co-starred with Spacey in “Baby Driver”), Hunt is presented here as a well-meaning victim of class circumstances, seduced into betraying a bunch of born suckers by the glitzy allure of their Beverly Hills lifestyles. The movie goes far out of its way to suggest that Hunt wasn’t such a bad guy, joining “Gotti” in the category of loathsome apologias for convicted creeps. But the irony of the film’s inevitable failure is that Spacey — who delivers one of his great egomaniacal scenery-chewing performances — took the risk of playing a character dangerously close to his off-screen persona at roughly the same moment those similarities were revealed to the world, making it doubly uncomfortable to watch the actor leer at the ensemble of handsome Ken-doll dudes the movie parades in front of him.  “Because the perception of reality is more important than reality itself,” Spacey explains at one point, all but daring to overlook the hairpiece that transforms him into Hollywood player Ron Levin. Source: variety.com

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