“In the Heights” Review by Chris Ramirez

I saw Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights last night but, by the time I got my backside into that seat, Chris Ramirez had already seen it three times. It holds a special place in his heart, having performed years of musical theater and even recently portrayed “Sonny” in the Dallas Theater Center version. Here’s his review and check out his bio at the end to see what Chris is working on, including a play about pro-wrestling!

This summer, theaters nationwide are showing the film adaption of Lin Manuel Miranda’s 2008 masterpiece In The Heights. I saw it on Broadway in 2009 and, as a Latino, I had never felt the amount of pride and representation in a theater before. The rumor mill said that a film version (starring Lin Manuel Miranda, Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas) was in the works and I couldn’t have been more excited! For years, the movie was stuck in limbo and I lost hope. Lin aged out of playing Usnavi and HAMILTON became the new toy everyone wanted to play with. When the announcement came that the movie was FINALLY being made, you can imagine how enthralled I was. I was even playing “Sonny” at the Dallas Theater Center when the trailer and poster were released!!!  I had the opportunity to see the film and all I can say is it was worth the wait. 
From the second it starts, director Jon M. Chu makes it clear that In the Heights will lean into stylization and magic. I mean…the opening song was executed TO PERFECTION. The films ability to capture Latinidad, community, family, love, culture, and characters within the first musical number had me in ugly tears 4 minutes in. They didn’t stop for the next two and a half hours…and that’s ok! The cinematic style and musical numbers work so well together that you will want to hop up and move those hips with the actors on screen. Speaking of which, the acting in this film is so truthful and heartfelt, you’ll feel as if you know and understand the people of Washington Heights. The dialogue from Quiara Alegrìa Hudes, who also wrote the book for the stage version, is phrased so beautifully. I will be shocked if she doesn’t get an Academy Award nomination. 
If you are a fan of the stage version, it’s important to know that things were cut, moved around, and changed to accommodate the length. This isn’t a bad thing. I actually support every decision and change they made because a direct scene-by scene-copy would not translate well. Jon, Lin, and Quiara also had to move things around for the emotional arc and pacing of the story. Don’t worry, it is still the In the Heights musical we all know and love. There are even some great cameos and easter eggs for long time fans. 
If you are fully vaccinated and get the chance to see In the Heights in the theater, I highly recommend it. This touching story of sueñitos (dreams) and community is one to be shared WITH people. Laughing and crying with strangers when I watched it at a theater is a memory I hold so close to my heart and will not soon forget. It may have taken over 10 years for this to finally come out, but In The Heights delivered and will serve as a reminder that Lin Manuel Miranda created a masterpiece before HAMILTON. I leave you with Lin’s own words, “Esta bonita bandera, contiene mi alma entera, Y cuando yo me muera, entierrame en mi tierra!” WEPA! (This beautiful flag holds my entire soul, and when I die, bury me with it in my land.)

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The “Julie Says So” MOVIE MINUTE Podcast (w/ help from HAUNTED AF)

“Ugh…now they’re screaming about movies.”

Rebekah Black and I love working together. It started years ago, during our CBS Radio days. We worked on morning shows for different stations but palled around in the break-room whenever we could. We started covering movies together and the rest is history…sort of.

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Summer Movie Review on “Good Morning Texas”

I made my first in-person appearance on Good Morning Texas today, after a straight year of Zoom interviews! It felt great to be back in that seat, even though the wind blew my hair into my lipstick and I’ve completely forgotten how to walk in heels. It was my first segment with new GMT host, Hannah Davis too, who is just as adorable in person as she is on TV. We discussed the post-Covid theater experience and what you can do to prepare for it (namely plan ahead) and I gave her my review of A Quiet Place Part 2. We also discussed the other big upcoming releases, like Disney’s Cruella, In the Heights, F9 and Black Widow. Click HERE to watch the segment and remember to check out the brand-new Julie Says So Movie Minute podcast right HERE.

“Cruella” Review by Dawn Burkes

(Dawn Burkes has written for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,The Dallas Morning News and she currently spends her days at the Los Angeles Times. She is one of my favorite critics in the world so I’m insanely proud she’s letting me share her review here.)

Disney keeps pulling tricks out of the magician’s hat, and this time, they may have pulled out one of the biggest: One of the best parts of “Cruella” is that at some point, you completely forget that it’s a Disney film.

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Movies are BACK!

Movies are BACK!
We’re Back!

It’s been a long year. Hell, after Covid, I had decided to hang up my “Film Critic” hat and donate my giant purse (the one I use to smuggle candy and tiny wine bottles into screenings) to Goodwill. I even came this close to shutting down this website. Then I made an appearance on Good Morning Texas to give my Oscars predictions (watch that HERE if you want). It was the most “normal” I’d felt in a straight year and I loved it so much, I decided to load up the giant purse and don that hat again. I even have my first in-theater screening next week to see A Quiet Place Part 2! That will give me a better opportunity to see how theaters are operating in a Covid world but AMC, Cinemark, the Angelika and the Alamo Drafthouse have their protocols posted online. There will hopefully be Free Movie Screenings in our future but, for now, I’ll focus on the films that are opening in theaters soon like Cruella, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and, of course, Black Widow. I’ll kick off with a review of A Quiet Place Part 2 next week so have a look at the trailer below. Now, want to add anything to my giant purse?

Free (Virtual) Movie Passes to See “Chemical Hearts”

Chemical Hearts starring Lili Reinhart and Austin Abrams

I haven’t posted on the Julie Says So movie website since May…for obvious reasons. It still surprised me to open the front page and find a tumbleweed rolling across. I was even more shocked when I had to chase a family of squirrels out of the Free Movie Passes page, but I did so because I actually have free movie passes to give away. Well, not the kind you’re familiar with. Instead of sitting in a theater filled with masked strangers, trying desperately to stifle a cough, you can watch this movie in the privacy of your own home!

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Julie Says So: What’s Streaming NOW (5/22)

I was so excited when Good Morning Texas expressed interest in sharing the Julie Says So “What’s Streaming” segments, THEN I attempted to film one on Zoom. Three days (and multiple meltdowns) later, I still couldn’t find a way to fix my hair. You’ll just have to pretend it isn’t magically disappearing and then reappearing as you watch the segment, but you’ll still get some excellent streaming ideas for Memorial Day Weekend. Watch it HERE and huge “Thanks” to Good Morning Texas for sharing my work!

As always, thank you Vintaglio Jewelry for providing the bling. Take a look at their website and gorgeous hand-made pieces HERE.