In the Heights is going to be in cinemas in June and it has both Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame behind it and John M. Chu who was at the helm of Crazy Rich Asians. Firstly a stage musical, In the Heights has now been made into a film and stars a range of up-and-coming new stars including Hamilton’s Anthony Ramos. It follows the same plot as the musical, telling the story of a New York City bodega owner who saves his money in hopes of a better life.
In the Heights will be in cinemas in the US on June 11th and in Australia on June 24th. It will be streaming on HBO Max in the US at no extra cost for a month and here in Australia, it will most likely stream on Binge.
This film version of In the Heights has been in the works since 2008 when it debuted on Broadway but a number of stars had to align before it was finally made into a film. Creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda found success with Hamilton, his 2015 Broadway smash, and director Jon M. Chu made the film Crazy Rich Asians to critical acclaim and so, once Miranda and Chu were more like household names, the interest to make In the Heights a film became much stronger. Now it’s up to us to see it and see if these two well-known creators have made a good film.
So what’s it like? Well, it has to be one of the liveliest and most moving films you’ll see this year. One reviewer likened it to a “feature-length version of that moment in Fame when all the kids start dancing and singing around the yellow cab outside New York’s High School of Performing Arts.”
This does describe In the Heights pretty well. The story follows Usnavi de la Vega (Hamilton’s Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner in Washington Heights with big dreams of reopening his father’s bar in the Dominican Republic. As well as this it follows his friends, family and lovers living their neighborhood being progressively lost to gentrification. To refer to New York City as a place full of “character” is a well-worn cliché but it really bursts to life in this film, not simply through the shots of streets and landmarks, but because of the way each corner and sidewalk brims with life, love and culture.
Jimmy Smits stars and Miranda pops in for a cameo role
Vega runs his corner store with his cousin Sonny (Gregory Diaz IV) and we meet many of his customers including Vega’s friend Benny (Corey Hawkins) and his boss Kevin Rosario (played by Jimmy Smits). Vega has a mad crush on Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), who’s on the verge of moving downtown to follow her fashion designer dreams. There’s also a fun minor role played by Miranda himself, and to bind them all together, there’s the local matriarch Claudia (Olga Merediz), who’s practically raised the entire neighborhood.
The characters in the film are all either immigrants, first-generation Americans, or that in-between generation which immigrated when they were young. Often the question of where do people belong is raised and we see this most clearly when Vega narrates the film’s events to a group of children on a tropical beach. It brings in an element of Hamilton and gives the film a poignant twist.
The director, Chu, cinematographer Alice Brooks, and choreographer Christopher Scott, make it clear they plan to tell the story of In the Heights through these characters and the fact they sometimes move in unison – singing and dancing. But there’s no rush because the film lasts for two hours and 23 minutes so there’s plenty of time to build up to these group scenes.
If you’ve enjoyed Hamilton and Crazy Rich Asians, you’re going to love In the Heights. This will be one of the movies of the year for sure.
In the Heights will be in cinemas in the US on June 11th and in Australia on June 24th. The film will stream on HBO Max for one month and most likely on Binge in Australia but this hasn’t been confirmed yet…
Stan is bringing a new series called Eden to our screens next month
Eden is an eight-part original drama series made in Australia, inspired by the iconic beauty of the town we know called Byron Bay. Home to many well-known celebrities, Byron Bay is on the east coast of Australia and while it’s not a city, it has everything you need including beaches, luxury accommodation, beautiful mansions, expensive restaurants – you name it.
The new series follows Scout (Bird‘s Sophie Wilde), a high-achieving 20-year-old who returns home to the beach community of Eden after a year of studying abroad to discover her best friend, Hedwig (The Dry‘s BeBe Bettencourt), has indefinably changed.
Later on, during a drug-fuelled night out, Scout confesses her romantic feelings for Hedwig. But after the night ends in a violent struggle, Scout blacks out. When she eventually wakes up, she discovers Hedwig is missing. In the episodes that follow, the series moves backwards and forwards in time, reflecting on Hedwig’s summer and following Scout’s desperate search to find her missing friend as she uncovers secrets about Eden’s tight-knit beach-side community.
The series features a huge list of diverse Australian talent including Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash), Cody Fern (American Horror Story), Samuel Johnson (Molly) and Christopher James Baker (True Detective). The cast also features Rachael Blake (Cleverman), Leeanna Walsman (Penguin Bloom), Simon Lyndon (Mystery Road) and Maggie Kirkpatrick (The Letdown).
The series was written by series creator and executive producer Vanessa Gazy alongside an all-female writing team. Eden was created in collaboration with Every Cloud Productions’ Fiona Eagger and Deb Cox (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) and the creator of iconic UK series Skins, Balloon Entertainment’s, Bryan Elsley.
Eden is the latest Stan Original Series to be produced locally in Australia alongside others including the compelling drama Bloom and the popular series, Bump.
Eden starts streaming on June 11th on Stan with all episodes available at once…
Headspace – the Netflix show which aims to help you sleep
You may know of Headspace already because they make those YouTube ads saying they can give you all the info you need to get to sleep. Well now they’ve made a Netflix show, so you can stay up watching this to find out what you need to do to get all the sleep you need.
Called Headspace Guide To Sleep, this show has seven episodes which are roughly 20 minutes each. The best part is, every episode finishes with a relaxing, guided wind-down – just like the one your yoga teacher gives you and you can’t really fall asleep because you’re in class. Well, if you have a TV in your bedroom, it could be possible now to watch this show and drift off to dreamland straight after you turn the TV off with your remote.
Headspace Guide To Sleep looks at all the misconceptions there are about getting to sleep, gives you tips and then shows you how to wind down. Tips include putting your phone away at bedtime (and whether phones are even bad for you in bed), the nature of dreams, managing stress, the use of sleeping pills, managing insomnia and obtaining a healthy sleep rhythm.
If you’re into this sort of thing, there’s also Headspace Guide To Meditation, which landed on Netflix earlier this year.
Headspace Guide To Sleep is streaming now on Netflix…
Betty returns for Season 2 on Binge on 12th June
Betty is the show about girls who like to skate and it’s back for season 2 in June. If you’re a girl who likes to hang around a skate park, you’re considered a ‘Betty’. Based on Crystal Moselle’s critically acclaimed feature, Skate Kitchen, the second season of the hit skateboarding series premieres on the 12th June on Binge with weekly episodes.
Starring Nina Moran, Dede Lovelace, Moonbear, Rachelle Vinberg and Ajani Russell, Betty follows five young women, each embarking on a journey of self-discovery as they navigate the male-dominated world of skateboarding in New York City.
Across the six-episode second season, the five protagonists step firmly into womanhood; tackling the challenges this brings with it and the pressures of adulthood. Their male counterparts start to step up, step in, and become true allies, forming a united front for the greater good. Set in the last chapter of 2020, the season captures the pandemic in New York City, where masks and outside activities are the norm.
Betty season two will stream on Binge on the 12th June…
YouTube’s Sam the Cooking Guy tells us how to make the Dinner he and his wife can’t stop making
If you want to learn how to make a delicious, grilled chicken dinner then this YouTube video could be for you. YouTube’s Sam the Cooking Guy, tells us how his wife, Kelly and he: “…legit cannot stop making this dinner – the most delicious marinated and then grilled chicken, homemade Naan and a sauce that brings everything together. It’s easy, delicious, and healthy – and frankly doesn’t get much better, unless you hate chicken. 👌🏻”
You can catch The Grilled Chicken Dinner that my wife and I can’t stop making on YouTube here…
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