Sunday, June 7, 2009


I just came from my annual presentation to the incoming freshmen, where I elicit their cinematic standards (realistic, believable, relatable, draws you in and keeps you watching) and then try to destroy those standards one by one. My methodology is the musical. The conventions force us into new stances toward the material. And the form can even be used to create distance, to subvert genre expectations, to question the conventions themselves. It comes sometimes from cultures with their own take, with alien emotional beats and technical traditions.

Now here I am watching the Tonys. And I'm full of love right now, as I always am after that presentation, for theatricality and heart-on-your-sleeve performance. In the perfect mood, in other words, for a celebration of Broadway.

I have to maintain a certain critical stance -- at least to the extent that I can ask questions about quality and elicit the students' responses -- while hosting that 75 minutes for the students. But the truth is that I'm almost in tears during every single clip I show. My selection varies little, and over the years it's been honed to the moments that move me the most. "Pines of Rome" in Fantasia 2000. "Your Song" in Moulin Rouge. "Start Of Something New" in High School Musical. "Singin' In The Rain." "Ghanan Ghanan" in Lagaan. "Cvalda" in Dancer In The Dark.

If anybody cared to, they could create a frighteningly accurate psychological profile of me from that list. Please feel free. I need to excuse myself for a moment; there's something caught in my eye.

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