West Side Story ★★★★½

Surprisingly as relevant as today's films, but even more shockingly beautiful than today's films. Every shot is a carefully-constructed piece of art. The cinematography is so meticulous, using both light and shadow to great effect, and the presence and prominence of pure color is so strikingly gorgeous. If this was made today, it would be color-graded to look like a vomit bucket at midnight - some putrid morass of brown smudges with no contrast, no white or black point, and nowhere near as much sharp and stunning detail as Super Panavision 70mm film. Who would ever want to look at this when you could be looking at this?

Not only is the look of this movie truly extraordinary, but so is Lehman's writing, Bernstein's music, Sondheim's lyrics, and the directing by Wise and whoever the hell Jerome Robbins is (I assume he was in charge of the dance sequences?). Everyone involved came ready to put forth their best effort, and it shows. It doesn't show in today's movies that all look like literal sewage; it looks like everyone showed up for a paycheck.

My biggest gripe with this movie (apart from modern films looking far worse than it, and many actually being far worse, as well) is casting a Russian woman to play a Puerto Rican immigrant. "Stick to your own kind"? She is. They're both white.