This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
Every once in a while, something happens in life that makes you wonder who you are and if you possibly ever even knew yourself at all. For example, this week I realized I had never seen nor heard a single thing from the musical Tick, Tick...Boom!.
I am exaggerating of course. But still, liking musicals is my thing, in so much as millennials enjoy making “liking things” their entire personalities. Like any gay thirtysomething who did musical theater at his suburban high school, I had a big Rent phase. Yet somehow that never really sent me to research more about the works of its creator, Jonathan Larson, and the project he had produced before Rent that would posthumously make him a legend. (Larson died the morning of Rent’s first off-Broadway preview of an aortic dissection.)
Since it is almost never the case, it was an invigorating experience to go into Netflix’s new film adaptation of Tick, Tick... Boom!, which is now available to stream, with no preconceived opinions of the source material, who should be cast, or even what the songs sounded like. I absolutely loved it.
In the best way possible—in that it will likely telegraph whether this is definitely not a movie for you—Tick, Tick... Boom! plays like a film made with love by musical theater geeks for musical theater geeks.
That has to do as much with what this project is as who made it. Lin-Manuel Miranda, a vocal evangelist of Larson’s work and the effect it had on him as a creator, makes his directorial debut with this. He takes Larson’s original project, what the Los Angeles Times describes as “a semiautobiographical rock monologue” about a composer-lyricist who “aims to take the industry by storm with what he believes to be a musical masterpiece,” and opens it up, transforming it from what Larson performed as a barebones one-man show into a vibrant, full-scale cinematic musical set throughout New York City, with all the grandeur and energy that entails.
Everything that was small about the production and unknown about Larson explodes. Hope, idealism, emotion, and heartbreak radiate off the screen in near-incessant songs and musical numbers.
Andrew Garfield plays Larson with an indefatigable gregariousness, capturing everything determined, deluded, destructive, and genius about Larson and committing to it with a surprisingly lovely singing voice. Who ever understands how these things shake out, but Garfield deserves his second career Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance. It’s one of the most impressive leading male turns I’ve seen in a movie-musical.
Thankfully, it turns out I have not lost who I am completely. To spoil too much would be to ruin it, but let’s just say there is a sequence that is filled with so many cameos of esteemed Broadway legends and I 100 percent burst into tears during it. So you have that to look forward to, too.
I Am Inordinately Excited For These Things I Have Not Seen
It’s been a big week for trailers of upcoming things that appear to have been generated in a Hollywood lab with the express purpose of appealing to me.
First came the thrilling announcement of the return of cinema’s greatest genre: the mid-budget Jennifer Lopez rom-com. If the film industry only produced movies in which Jennifer Lopez and a generic handsome man work through issues stemming from being at different stations in life and fall in love in 100 minutes or less, I would finally believe in art again. Lopez and Owen Wilson star in Marry Me, which will be out on Valentine’s Day, and according to its trailer appears to be an unimpeachably perfect film. (Watch the trailer here.)
Then Julian Fellowes swooped in and said, “Hi, gays!” as the Downton Abbey creator’s next period piece also unveiled its first trailer. The Gilded Age is set, well, in the Gilded Age, and stars Christine Baranski as a snobby rich lady. Joining her in the cast are Carrie Coon, Cynthia Nixon, and a roster of Broadway stars so stacked we as a community have decided we are just going to turn its premiere red carpet into the Pride Parade. (Watch the trailer here.)
Finally, the Christmas miracle we all deserve: Mariah Carey is filming another holiday special for Apple TV+. Mariah’s Christmas: The Magic Continues will premiere December 3. The trailer previews Carey in a shimmering ball gown singing holiday music while handsome men dance around her, my happiest of happy places. God bless us, everyone. (Watch the trailer here.)
Madonna, the Mansion, and the Very Rich Dog
On Thursday, I saw a headline that read, “Madonna’s Former Miami Mansion For Sale By German Shepherd Named Gunther.”
Surely, I thought, I must be misreading this. So I clicked on the article to learn more. It turns out that, well, Madonna’s former Miami mansion has been put up for sale by a German Shepherd who is named Gunther. Gunther VI, to be exact.
It turns out that Gunther VI is the inheritor of the property, as well as a fortune worth about $500 million. He enjoys, I kid you not, flying by private jet to the Bahamas and having his personal chef prepare him meals with caviar. I recently had to charge a carton of milk to a credit card, but congrats to this dog.
Dionne Warwick Still Winning Twitter (Taylor’s Version)
I was certain that I could not be convinced to care about Taylor Swift, Jake Gyllenhaal, and the scarf. Once again, I am humbled.
What to watch this week:
Tick, Tick...Boom!: An absolute joy for musical theater nerds from musical theater nerds. (Fri. on Netflix and in theaters)
King Richard: As crowd-pleasing a movie as there is this awards season. Will Smith is gonna win the Oscar. (Fri. on HBO Max and in theaters)
The Great: The rudest, crassest, just absolute blast of a TV show. (Fri. on Hulu)
Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: Otherwise known by its alternate title, The Assassination of Ramona Singer. (Now on Peacock)
What to skip this week:
Tiger King 2: Exploitative, pointless trash that lost its fun and became stale a long time ago. (Now on Netflix)
Cowboy Bebop: No bebop should be this dull! (Fri. on Netflix)