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West Side Story

I’m really happy that this exists. I’m not sure I’d ever choose to watch this one over the original 1961 adaptation, but it does do some really worthwhile new things. Although I wouldn’t agree, I wouldn’t be too put out by anyone arguing that this was the better film of the two. It has most of what you’d expect from the source material and most of what you’d expect from Speilberg, and that’s a really great mix. 

It’s rare that a remake doesn’t feel like a quick cash-in. Especially when it doesn’t seem like the original needs one. If nothing else, this is a great argument that a remake can co-exist and do its own thing without either replacing or diminishing what came before it. What’s really nice is seeing this in a more modern way makes it really obvious just how much it’s influenced and how important it is as a narrative. I suppose what’s sad is how relevant it all still is. 

My only gripe was the casting of Tony. Ansel Egort, to me, is probably the least endearing person alive, but admittedly that is outweighed by how perfect everyone else is. David Alvarez and Mike Faist do a great job as Bernardo and Riff, both feeling every bit as three dimensional as the characters are written. This is easily one of the best films of the year.

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