The Flick Star Kyle Beltran Beautifully Recalls The Five Films That Rocked His World
October 15th, 2015
by Kyle Beltran
Kyle Beltran made his Broadway debut as Usnavi in In the Heights and later gave audiences so much life as Mingus Rude in the wildly under-appreciated off-Broadway musical The Fortress of Solitude; now Beltran stars as Avery, a huge Pulp Fiction fan and all-around film buff working at a local Massachusetts movie theatre, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning off-Broadway drama The Flick.
Below, Beltran richly expresses his own sentiments about the five films that totally rocked his world.
Note to the reader: I've always been terrible at making these kinds of lists. It's excruciating for me to have to narrow down favorites and I totally tortured my loved ones with my indecision as I struggled come up with these five films. It's also worth noting that my castmates at The Flick were a bit disappointed that none of the Disney animated classics made the cut, which led to a very spirited sing-along of "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid.
Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Why I Chose It: Original, magical, heartbreaking and heartfelt. I was moved deeply by this film and stunned by Quvenzhané Wallis' performance, which I found totally unselfconscious and beautiful. This film really captures something essential about childhood and fear and imagination for me in a way that's hard to articulate.
Year I Discovered It: Summer of 2012, I went to see this alone twice at the small independent cinema in the neighborhood where I grew up. I was staying with my father while I recovered from a medical procedure and this film was a wonderful respite from (or maybe part of?) the healing process.
Ultimate Scene: I love Hushpuppy's "gun-show" and scream after she "beasts" open her crab shell.
West Side Story
Why I Chose It: I knew I wanted to include a musical movie on this list and this one (with the exception of some unfortunate use of brownface) is as flawless as they come. Sweeping, sexy, brilliantly designed, staged, and performed. Some of the best choreography to be captured on film and one of my favorite scores of all time. I also have this amazing memory of my mother, aunt, and grandmother spontaneously singing "Somewhere" in three-part harmony in my grandmother's dining room. It was just some random, quiet afternoon. I remember really being in awe.
Year I Discovered It: I was in elementary school when I watched this for the first time with my parents on family movie night in our basement, It completely floored me.
Ultimate Scene: Please don't make me choose! I guess today I'd say the “Dance at the Gym”? So good.
Why I Chose It: I've always been a huge fan of dance in all its forms and not-so-secretly wished that I'd studied as a dancer growing up. Definitely something I'd do if I could go back in time. I think this documentary is such a stunning tribute to a great artist and a gorgeous translation of one art-form into another.
Year I Discovered It: I saw this with a close friend at Lincoln Center in 2011. I could've watched it for five more hours. The human body is so incredible and I have such astonishment and wonder for the ways in which people use it to create and communicate.
Ultimate Scene: I don't know the name of the piece, but the sequence in the pouring rain with the flooded stage is so thrilling. I also love the image of the woman in the long red dress chasing her duet partner out of the room with windows for walls.
Imitation of Life
Why I Chose It: This is the 1959 remake of the 1934 version (which I've never seen) and it's melodramatic for sure, but it so boldly deals with issues of race, class, and gender in ways that are far ahead of its time. It was one of my mother's all-time favorite movies. I lost her to Lupus in 2004 and so, of course, her favorite things are very special to me.
Year I Discovered It: She sat me down to watch this when I was early in high school and brought a big box of tissues.
Ultimate Scene: The scene where Sarah Jane is hit by the man she's dating when he finds out she's black and has been "passing" is so gut-wrenching, but I should probably go with the random Mahalia Jackson gospel cameo!
Year I Discovered It: I hadn't seen this until I was well into college. It was one of those movies that I was embarrassed to admit had somehow gotten by me whenever it came up in conversation. I felt like the only person who missed the boat. Better late than never, right?
Ultimate Scene: "La-di-da, la-di-da, la la." Or every frame of Diane, more or less.
See Kyle Beltran in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama ‘The Flick’ at the Barrow Street Theatre through January 10, 2016.