I was half-watching a DVD last week of Alan Parker‘s Evita (1996), and it looks like hell on a 50-inch screen. For its upcoming 15th anniversary, Hollywood’s best all-singing musical opera (yes, better than Sweeney Todd) needs to be Bluray-ed. For me Darius Khondji‘s widescreen cinematography is compositional heaven — each and every frame has an exquisite painterly balance, and is lighted to perfection. And Gerry Hambling‘s lively cutting is a perfect compliment to the musical rhythms and rhymes.
And it’s a very fine film for what it is, and the music is entirely catchy and hummable and pizazzy. The kids and I used to sing the songs together when they were seven and eight. “So what happens now? / where am I going to? / you’ll get by, you always have before.”
I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that Evita may be Alan Parker ‘s best film ever.
No, Madonna’s performance isn’t triple or even double grade-A because she’s not a gifted actress, no argument, acknowledged, but it’s certainly the best thing she’s ever done or will do acting-wise, and I truly respect her work here because Parker got her to do nothing except sing (and I think she fully honors Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s score) and emphasize feelings and needs with her face and body and wear great clothes and look dazzling and forceful. She’s playing a grasping, conniving operator, but yet there’s something common and shared in her eyes and voice. She gives it hell and brings it home.
Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Pryce are exactly right in their phrasings and flavorings and emotings. Honestly? I can’t think of another American-made film in which I’ve enjoyed either actor more. Banderas was better in his early Almodovar turns in the late ’80s, but that’s another realm.
Evita is probably my all-time favorite Hollywood musical — yes, more so that Singin’ in the Rain or Cabaret or you-name-it. It just gets the snap and brio and excitement of being a unified opera that sings and breathes with one voice, one truly Latin spirit. And it’s just too beautiful-looking not to upgrade it to Bluray. Okay, I’ve said it.
“I want to be a part of BA, Buenos Aires, Big Apple…”