REVIEW: Maestro

The long-awaited Leonard Bernstein biopic came to theaters on November 22nd. With an unmatched legacy in the classical music-sphere, Maestro offers us a unique look into the personal life of the first American-born composer to receive international acclaim. 

Director and lead Bradley Cooper led a gripping performance as the conductor extraordinaire, providing a rare glimpse into the world of the beloved American conductor. I was interested to see what parts of Bernstein’s life would be highlighted in the film, as he lived quite a vehement life, filled with passionate successes and seething controversy. With so many notable musical moments that Bernstein boasts, the movie is rather centered around his tumultuous marriage with actress Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan) rather than much of his career work.

The film begins with a spritely 25-year-old “Lenny” (as he was often referred to) and progresses with early career successes until he meets Felicia at a house party in 1946. They marry in 1951 and the story uncovers the beauty and bitterness behind their marriage, alongside Lenny’s confusing journey with his sexuality. The story feels complete marriage-wise, but lots of questions about his queerness remain.

The movie presents Bernstein’s life as a constant performance. His inherent presentational-based occupation and obsession with the media seep their way into Lenny’s marriage. This is shown in the way he falls in love: with choreographed dance numbers and flirtatious rehearsals on stage with Felicia. As well as the lavish parties he throws later in life with famous patrons who are watching his every move. His romance with Felicia always remained public in this sense, while his relationships with men were consistently private. Additionally, this was an interesting way to highlight the oppressive culture surrounding queerness in the 20th century. One of my favorite aspects of the film was the contrast between the unmarried and married Lenny. This shift is shown in the cinematography, with a black and white filter over his life while he is falling in love with Felicia, and a shift to bright color into the later years of their marriage, when more problems come to life. 

The film did not necessarily showcase all the music he created or the specific legacy he desired, but it was a brilliantly crafted story that explored deeply into the musician’s marriage and sexuality. This movie is thoughtful and heartbreaking with overwhelming passion—much like the music Leonard Bernstein created himself. Maestro is in theaters for a limited time and is now available on Netflix. 


Bradley Cooper (left) and Carey Mulligan.


129 minutes. Rated R  for discreet nudity and a ton of cigarettes.

Image thanks to Movie Insider and Netflix.

Review: 8-Prop and Problem

Another event celebrating the birth of the Spectrum Center was the first ever reading of the play “8” by Dustin Lance Black. It was an interesting experience. I had never been to a live play reading before. It was sort of like watching a regular play, except the actors carried the scripts around on stage with them and didn’t deliver the lines quite as well as they would have, though they still did an amazing job. It was also really great because many of the actors were the same Broadway UofM alumni that had performed the night before at the Pink Carpet Gala.

The play was based on the transcripts of the trial in California fighting against Proposition 8. This amendment to the Constitution of California banned gay marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages. The trial was not broadcasted nationally,

If you want to get in your best shape ever, look at insanity

although the plaintiffs did fight for it to be. Because of this, the only record we have of the trial is the transcript, and from this document Dustin Lance Black wrote a creative interpretation. His play will be making a tour around the country at many universities. Hopefully it will help spread awareness of what is happening in California and in the rest of the country when it comes to the rights of TBLG people.

Attending this event was sort of like attending a court trial, as it was staged like one, except that it gave us the bullet points of what happened and also introduced the families that were fighting together against the proposition and the ad campaign used by the supporters of Prop 8. It was sort of funny watching this depiction of the trial, because I’ve always wondered how conservatives defend their “values” like banning same-sex marriage. I always wonder what kind of evidence and argument they can come up with. This is exactly what I thought it would be like. The defense could not provide evidence or even an argument. Its witnesses were absent from court because they were afraid to defend their own words on the witness stand. The one witness that did get cross-examined ended up supporting the plaintiff’s argument, completely crushing any chance the defense had.

The outcome of the case was that same-sex marriage would not affect the rate of different-sex marriage or the rate of procreation, which is the argument the defense was trying to use. The plaintiffs won, though it is being repealed and we are still fighting Prop 8 to this day. The best thing we can all do about it is to stay informed and educate others on what has happened. I believe that is what Dustin Lance Black is trying to do with his play and I hope it works.

For more info on Prop 8, please visit or search it online for other websites that you might prefer. Also, just a fun video that came out around the time of the trial;

Prop 8 the Musical
Prop 8 the Musical

Sending you love and light,

Danny Fob

(Coffee is on me if you can name the show that my sign off is from!)