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Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Dec 13, 2019.
Matt Hough submitted a new blog post
Judy Blu-ray Review
Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
Here’s another title where the 4K release is digital only. As more and more titles are going this route, I wonder if HTF might consider doing reviews for digital releases? I know RAH has done a couple under his “stream-o-vision” trademark.
Sorry but I disagree on you assessment of Rene’s singing and “stab” at the role . She’s not a great singer to begin with and this matched her ability to Judy’s in later years. Also if she was lipsynching to someone else other than Garland it would have distracted. I thought she did a shockingly excellent job from what I was expecting and forgot it was Rene at times.
Great review Matt. I had very mixed feelings about the movie when I saw it in theater. I thought Zellwegger was wonderful all the way through and that her performance is a triumph, but found the movie itself to be something of a mess.
I've never seen the play upon which it was based (the title alone is enough to ensure that) but found that the movie wants it both ways. It plays with facts to allow us to wallow in her downfall through most of the running time and then creates the standard biopic "happy ending" finale out of whole cloth to make us feel better about it all at the end.
The scenes of "young" Judy interspersed throughout add absolutely nothing but confusion and come right out of the screenwriter's imagination. The young Judy Garland was not an innocent waif and she wasn't Dorothy Gale. The screenwriters seem not to know that and have decided to portray her as if she IS Dorothy Gale, thrust into wicked Hollywood. I get that it fits the tale they're framing but yuck.
Through it all, Zellwegger really shines, though. She captures Garland's humor and her wit, which can't be overstated (she makes Judy's jokes as funny as if they were coming out of Garland's mouth and that isn't as easy as it sounds) and levels the whole thing up to seem better than it actually is. I never give Zellwegger enough credit and I'm always (ashamedly) surprised when she's able to pull something like this off. I should realize, by now, that she's got the stuff.
Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows had Judy Davis lip-synching to Garland's recordings and pulled off the impersonation with far more validity than Judy did. An album of cuts from Judy's Talk of the Town engagement was released, so vocals could have been gotten from there (she also did a concert in Denmark near the end which also had a bootleg release), so vocals from the period were available if they had wanted to go the lip-synch route. Renee may not be a great singer, but her pitch, tone, and delivery are NOTHING like Judy's (to be fair, no one's is which is why trying to match her vocal delivery is an impossible feat), and a dyed-in-the-wool fan like me always has knee-jerk reactions whenever one of the songs would come up. For me, "Get Happy" was the most successful song because it was sung in a low voice without trying to project to a huge club or mimic the Garland's performance mannerisms (like flinging the mic cord over her shoulder which Renee did feebly compared to the whip-like manner Judy used.)
Oh well different strokes for different folks. I thought she gave a fully realized performance and particularly liked her “By Myself” number more than “Get Happy” which sounded flat to me. I was expecting far worse and was pleasantly surprised by her interpretation. What I wasn’t looking for was an impersonation a la Jim Bailey.
Now having seen both Rocket Man and Judy, I can say that Rocket Man is the greater achievement. Judy was by no means bad, and Zellweger pretty much accomplished what she set out to do, which was to channel Garland. Perhaps being a superfan of Garland and knowing every nuance of her performances, I wasn’t able to completely suspend my disbelief and accept Zellweger as Garland, but that’s not her fault. I actually think the Rocket Man approach worked better, where Taron Egerton was instructed to not imitate Elton John, but instead be his own version of Elton. By that approach Egerton’s cover versions were uniquely his own and made me hope that he pursues a recording career. Zellweger on the other hand tried to imitate Judy’s vocals which neither succeeded as imitations, nor were unique in any way as covers. That said, bravo to Renee for actually doing the vocals, and yes she can sing! Unlike Rami Malek who won an Oscar for a dubbed performance.
One thing about this movie that distinguishes it from its predecessors is that for the first time in my life, I actually felt sympathy for the men in her life. We, the audience, only got to see those glorious moments where she performed. Her ex-husbands, including the man she was still legally married to at the time of her death, which this movie wisely avoids trying to recreate, saw her at her absolute nadir. Maybe part of that is my getting older and actually having loved and lost by now.