You might have read about the new release, Tale of Two Cities, which recently had its world premiere in Austin, TX. If not, here’s the scoop: the movie is partly set in Austin and partly in Shanghai, and it follows the intertwining stories of Joseph Chang (played by Ryan Gosling) and his American visitor, Jerry Lin (played by Michael Shannon). The film is the winner of the coveted Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, and its soundtrack was composed by Thomas Newman, who won an Academy Award for his original score for Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015. Now, on the heels of its premiere, the movie is on sale for $14.99 on Amazon, where you can also find its official synopsis.
While the premise of the film is intriguing, what really makes Tale of Two Cities special is how it merges two distinct moviegoing experiences: the first half, set in Shanghai, focuses on a traditional Chinese New Year Festival held in an open-air theater, while the second half, set in Austin, dives into the music scene there. Between the lively street performers and the film’s vibrant colors, you’ll feel as if you’ve traveled to another country – or, at least, another era.
Since the early days of film, people have been leaving theaters and heading straight to home to watch the latest movies. But in recent years, with the rise of streaming services like Netflix, theaters have started to see a comeback, and this is especially reflected in the cinematic releases that get major theatrical releases. One fascinating example is Tale of Two Cities. Set in both China and Austin, the film is truly a hybrid masterpiece that melds East and West, tradition and innovation, and cinema and streaming.
Shanghai New Year’s Eve
If you haven’t been to Shanghai yet, you’re in for a treat. Located on the eastern coast of China, the city is one of the most historic regions in the world, with a fascinating culture all its own. One of the best ways to get a taste of this is to attend a Chinese New Year’s Eve Festival. This year, the festival runs from February 22 to March 1, and you can see a variety of performances – from traditional Chinese music and dance to comedy and fireworks displays. With many performances taking place at night, take the time to see Shanghai at its best. You’ll find restaurants, bars, and clubs packed with locals and tourists alike.
Tickets for most of the events are inexpensive – even the VIP packages, which grant you access to the best seats, aren’t too costly. You can find out more at the Shanghai New Year’s Eve Festival website, and remember to make your hotel and travel arrangements well in advance.
Theater Madness In Austin
Theater is one of the most traditional art forms around, and it’s often the place that you go to experience the most prestigious films. So it makes sense that as movie theaters have started to pop up all over the world, so has the practice of going to the movies at home. Today, anyone can become a movie buff and discover the joy of cinematic storytelling without leaving their couch. This is made possible by the advent of streaming services, which allow people to download or stream movies on their smartphones and tablets. While many people may balk at the idea of going to the movies at home, the truth is – it’s here to stay.
And just like that, we’ve arrived at the crux of the matter: Tale of Two Cities is a hybrid masterpiece that seamlessly weaves together two iconic cities – Austin, TX, and Shanghai, China – through a series of intimate encounters between strangers that evolve into lasting bonds.
Shanghai, like many other cities around the world, has a vibrant theater scene. It’s not just about going to the movies there, but about spending time in the theaters and watching the latest films. One of the best places to see local performances is the Shanghai Theater Mall. There, you’ll find state-of-the-art cinemas that show both Chinese and foreign films. One of the best features of the Shanghai Mall is that it showcases a variety of performances, from Chinese New Year’s Festival to award shows and indie films. And what’s more is that many of the theaters there are equipped with luxurious velvet seats. This is because the mall’s main tenant, the Harvey Norman Cinemas, imports the furniture and materials from all over the world.
Theater Meets Music
Along with films, music is another art form that has seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to streaming services. This is particularly true for jazz and blues songs, which became very popular in the ’80s and have continued to be so ever since. One of the best things about Tale of Two Cities is how it seamlessly weaves together music and theater. In fact, the film’s title refers to the famous Chinese New Year’s Eve celebration in Shanghai, which is also known as “the city’s premiere music and theater event.”
The festival kicks off on the last day of Chinese New Year, and the streets come alive with performers of every kind. You’ll hear jazz music blaring from open bars, and you’ll see people wandering to their favorite restaurants for dinner. In between all of this, you’ll catch sight of traditional Chinese performers, showcasing their amazing skills in tai chi, acrobatics, and dance – all while keeping perfect time with their music.
In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Shanghai native, Jerry Lin, plays a pivotal role in introducing Austinites to the wonders of jazz. As the festival comes to a close, all of the performers take to the stage for an award ceremony. As the music starts, Jerry walks up to the microphone and introduces himself. In the process, he reveals that he’s a pianist and starts playing a number of jazz standards. This prompts the audience to clap and cheer. It’s an unforgettable moment that not only showcases Jerry’s musical talent but also the universality of jazz as a form of art.
The sound designer on Tale of Two Cities handled a lot of the background music, and he did an amazing job. While many people may not know much about jazz music, it’s a form that everyone knows and loves. This is especially the case with film music fans, who have grown to love and appreciate classical music, especially since it was first incorporated into films. Take a listen to the jazz radio station, KUT, and you’ll hear nothing but classic tunes. Even the most diehard fans of jazz will happily recognize most of the songs on KUT.
Festival, Broadway, And Family
Back in 2018, the world got to enjoy the theatrical debut of Little Shop of Horrors, the incredibly acclaimed new version of the classic 1950s musical, Shop Of Horrors. It was inspired by the works of Steve Martin, who is best known for his 1960s album, Piccolo Spazio, and is about a band of bohemians who run a flower shop and rehearsal space in the legendary Greenwich Village. The Broadway musical follows the story of Seymour (played by Alison Best), a meek and mild mannered dentist who dreams of being a rock star – and whose dreams come true when a band of famous musicians, led by the glorious Orin (played by Chris Connolly), come to his shop to rehearse.
While the show is primarily a product of Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant mind, it is truly a joy to behold. From the very first notes that emanate from the band’s keyboard player, you’ll know that this is going to be something special. The music is both unique and instantly recognizable, and it perfectly captures the spirit of the times in which the musical was composed. The score is, in a word, phenomenal, and you’d have to be a rock ‘n’ roll dentist indeed to not be moved by it.
It wasn’t just the music that made Little Shop Of Horrors so special, however. The way that it weaves together the story of a dentist and his band of musical friends coming to terms with AIDS is moving and immensely powerful. In one of the most touching scenes in the show, Seymour’s ex-wife, Audrey (played by Caroline Sunshine), encourages him to get tested for AIDS. What makes this scene even more poignant is that, at the time of its writing, Stephen Sondheim was dealing with HIV himself. Though the musical is now over forty years old, it still feels as fresh and vital as the day it was written, and it is a perfect example of how timeless all great art can be.