Monday, December 25, 2006

Dreamgirls

The movie Dreamgirls opened today. It is an amalgam of so many things it's hard to get them all in. The basic story is modelled on The Supremes, a Motown group from the sixties, and in the movie Beyonce plays the Diana Ross character, and Jennifer Hudson, a newcomer to the films, is the ousted Effie. The casting is particularly fabulous. Eddie Murphy plays the male singer the girls first work as backup singers for, and Jamie Foxx is the manager, Curtis.

Three different periods are represented: the early sixties when The Supremes were in their heyday, 1981 when the musical opened on Broadway and the present. My ears heard 1981 Broadway and not 1961 Motown in the music. The plot is still a viable plot today. There still is a soul style and a white style of American pop music, though soul singing has crossed over into mainstream as it certainly had not done in the sixties. American Idol still does its best to surpress the soul stylists. The role of the present when viewing this movie is that more than just black people can appreciate the soul singing.

Curtis insists that the singers cultivate a more white sound without ornamentation. Some do this more willingly than others, and Curtis gradually weeds the reluctant ones out. Effie is the first to go. He was right, of course. The Supremes made a lot more money with a whiter style than they ever would have made as soul singers.

Beyonce is perfect for singing in the mainstream, and Jennifer Hudson is fabulous as the soulful Effie. Hudson is the star. The plot continues to include her character, to give her songs and screen time, after she is expelled from the group because otherwise all the energy would go out of the show. She deserves the Oscar buzz she is getting. It is a breakout part. She pops like Judy Garland.

Recommended. It's great fun!

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