I Saw ‘West Side Story’ (2021) a Few Days After New Year’s and Now I’m Going to Write About It

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West Side Story (CREDIT: Ramona Rosales/© 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved)

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, Brian d’Arcy James, Corey Stoll

Director: Steven Spielberg

Running Time: 156 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 10, 2021 (Theaters)

Did West Side Story (2021) make me want to have my own West Side Story? It wouldn’t be too hard! Considering my personal history, it would probably take place at the AMC Lincoln Square, even though that’s not the theater where I saw this particular movie. (I opted for the Brooklyn Alamo Drafthouse instead.)

I could certainly see myself suddenly falling for some fellow moviegoer as I walk to my seat, and then we dance through the lobby. But I don’t think I would kill her brother. I just don’t have it in me! Maybe we could find some replacement for that part.

Anyhow, I liked the part when Tony and Maria were talking on the subway the most. I may be skeptical of love at first sight, but I very much believe in the power of an initial spark leading to conversations about the practical steps needed to advance a relationship. If there had been more of that in this story, maybe there would have been less death!

Grade: I Felt Pretty, Insofar as I Feel Pretty While Being Fully Attentive During a Movie That I’m Enjoying

‘Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It’ is Just a Documentary That Decided to Be About Rita Moreno

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CREDIT: Roadside Attractions

Starring: Rita Moreno, and Friends

Director: Mariem Pérez Riera

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Casual Hollywood Cruelty

Release Date: June 18, 2021 (Theaters)

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It is your typical celebrity biography documentary, though the subject is far from your typical celebrity. She was the third person ever to EGOT, after all! So obviously respect must be paid. We get to know the skeleton of her story via interviews with the 89-year-old living legend herself, as well as some of her closest friends and collaborators. She had struggles early in her life, as she dropped out of school at 15 and became the breadwinner for her family. She also had struggles throughout her career, as she endured sexism and harassment and navigated Hollywood’s notorious habit of racism by employing what she refers to as the “Universal Ethnic Accent.” She also had some romantic encounters that came and went along the way (Marlon Brando comes up a fair bit), and there’s that one project that looms large above them all (West Side Story, of course). Once again, this is typical celeb profile fodder through and through, but it’s worth paying attention to, because Moreno has endured, clear-headed and still full of energy.

I believe that all movies are best experienced on the big screen, even something as straightforward as Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. Alas, I did not see this particular movie in a theater (studios are back in the swing of holding in-person press screenings, though not quite at the pre-pandemic rate), and while I wish I had, the Sunday evening that it spent on my television felt appropriate. This very much feels like the sort of in-depth human-interest reporting that you would see on PBS on CBS that tends to air on the first day of the week. If someone told me that this was a series of about ten separate CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes features stitched together to form one feature-length piece, I wouldn’t be surprised, both in the sense that it has the vibe of those shows and because it’s perfectly believable that Moreno would be covered that often on the same program. So if you’re a big Rita Moreno fan and you have the opportunity to make it out to the theater, I recommend it, but if you prefer waiting until you can lounge at home and summon her up on your TV, that’s not a bad option either.

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It is Recommended If You Like: Rita Moreno herself of course, Celebrity features on newsmagazine shows

Grade: 3 out of 5 EGOTs