Author Topic: Howard (2020) - Documentary about Howard Ashman  (Read 543 times)

Small Man Big Horse

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Howard (2020) - Documentary about Howard Ashman
« on: August 09, 2020, 09:59:30 PM »
This turned up on Disney+ this week, a documentary about Howard Ashman, the writer and sometimes director of some of the best musicals ever made like Little Shop Of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. It's the tale of his life from childhood to death, mostly covering his musicals on stage and on film, but it does tackle his falling ill with HIV and sadly finally dying at the far too young age of 40. Admittedly if you're not a musicals fan there's probably not that much that you'd find interesting, but I really enjoyed it, there's a great selection of talking heads, a good deal of interview footage of Howard as well, and it's a fascinating insight as well as being very touching too. 7.8/10

Re: Howard (2020) - Documentary about Howard Ashman
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2020, 11:12:07 AM »
Apparently it also mentions his work on a Kurt Vonnegut musical, which sounds the sort of thing we need more documentaries about. (Although I wouldn't want to sit through a whole one.)

Re: Howard (2020) - Documentary about Howard Ashman
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2020, 11:19:24 AM »
I'm not a musical fan but my partner is and had this on last night and I found myself watching it. Was really good.

Fucking Aids - he'd be okay these days?

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Howard (2020) - Documentary about Howard Ashman
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2020, 03:58:32 PM »
Apparently it also mentions his work on a Kurt Vonnegut musical, which sounds the sort of thing we need more documentaries about. (Although I wouldn't want to sit through a whole one.)

Yeah, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, which Vonnegut came to see and apparently loved.

I'm not a musical fan but my partner is and had this on last night and I found myself watching it. Was really good.

Fucking Aids - he'd be okay these days?

As much as I understand it, as long as they diagnose it fairly early on, with medication you can live a completely normal life.

Re: Howard (2020) - Documentary about Howard Ashman
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2020, 11:35:28 AM »
I watched this at the weekend, and it's interesting and moving. I was pleased it devotes as much time to his pre-Disney off-off-Broadway life/career (a world I didn't know much about) as to his work on Mermaid/Beauty/Aladdin. It maybe could have gone in a bit more detail to the creative process and politics and stuff at Disney (while it communicated Ashman's health problems well, it was less good on the filmmaking stuff, songs getting dropped, creative arguments, etc), but I guess being a Disney doc they didn't want anything too dark.

A couple of thoughts:

1. As jobotic says, it emphasises the tragedy of AIDS and the huge number of people killed in the richest countries in the world, at least partly because they were gay (or black or drug addicts). There are a lot of good films and TV about this (mostly considerably more polemical), from docs like The Nomi Song or How To Survive A Plague to fiction like Pose, but it's clearly not something we should forget. Particularly when many people today are happy for others to die of COVID.

2. I really like some of the songs, but still can't get into the conventional musical genre where a nice white woman sings a sweet song to orchestral backing. Ashman and Mencken could write great songs across a wide range of genres (such as the 60s pastiche of Little Shop Of Horrors, or the genre-crossing Prince Ali), so why write musicals in a retro, twee musical genre? Disney has made tentative steps to be slightly more musically modern and inclusive, but even when they got Lin-Manuel Miranda (for Moana) it didn't change much.

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Re: Howard (2020) - Documentary about Howard Ashman
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2020, 06:19:36 PM »
Wept like a bairn over his demo recording of "Part of Your World" in the credits.

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