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. Behold the weepie that has its own actors snotting into their sleeves. Iím casting no stones here: The quality-assurance boast of that monster-hit stage musical Les Misťrables (itself based on Victor Hugoís 1862 juggernaut novel) might as well be ďSuccessfully Wringing Tears Since 1985!Ē Ė and Iíll be damned if it hasnít wrung buckets out of me since I was old enough to buy a cassette tape of the original Broadway cast recording. I mention the immoderate wetness of this film versionís cast only because it serves as a useful barometer for how much hysteria attends director Tom Hooperís extravagant adaptation. In brief Ė a lot. And I loved it.Watch A Haunted House Online
. Built like an ox, his bloodshot eyes narrowing to blasted-out pupils, Jackman is commanding as the former convict Jean Valjean, who hides his past as Prisoner 24601 under an alias to become a factory owner devoted to God and the well-keep of his workers. Soon, the closing-in of his onetime jailer, Inspector Javert (Crowe), forces a spiritual crisis and yet another flight from the law. Indeed, the ever-recurring refrain (amid a score that Ė letís be honest Ė hangs on only four or five rock-solid melodies, endlessly noodled on) is that of their cat-and-mouse play, with both men convinced of the righteousness of their paths as they crisscross over decades, and reach their final crossroads at the student-led Paris Uprising of 1832.Watch The Hobbit Online
. When Les Misťrables is good, it is very, very good, and when it is bad, itís usually because Russell Crowe has opened his mouth. Among the held-breath gambits Hooper (The Kingís Speech) endeavors is his mix-and-match cast of stage veterans, movie stars, and intriguing in-betweens, like anchor Jackman and lesser-known breakouts Samantha Barks (as the lovelorn …ponine) and Eddie Redmayne (as the revolutionary Marius Ė and if weíre ranking, Redmayneís spare, gutting take of ďEmpty Chairs at Empty TablesĒ could easily claim best-of-show). But Crowe, whose professional singing career topped out with vanity band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, is a sorry (and toady) simulacrum for the raging Javert; he sings standout solo ďStarsĒ like itís a lullaby, the words ďI will never restĒ coming off not like the mission statement of an obsessed lawman, but rather the peevish sulk of an insomniac.Watch Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2 Online
. Certified movie star Anne Hathaway fares far better in a justly hyped supporting role as the factory worker turned prostitute Fantine. Her solo ďI Dreamed a DreamĒ is the first significant test case of Hooperís other big gamble, which was to record his actors performing live, with flat notes and rough edges preserved and not redone in the safe haven of a studio. Though his tendency is to overchoreograph, here Hooper plunks his camera down and holds for an unbroken shot that both brutalizes and fascinates in its all-in bravado: A high note is missed. A line of song dissolves in panicky hiccups. A moist trickle gathers in the nostril. And it is marvelous. I was never not once convinced Hathaway wasnít performing, but good God Ė what showmanship.Watch Django Unchained Online
. The ďpure singingĒ approach is problematic only if youíre contemplating the film as a future soundtrack purchase; the raggedness, in fact, proves Les Misťrablesí saving grace. Shot to shot, Hooperís vision careens between lightly grotesque hyperrealism and tinny movie artifice, wherein unplucked brows and oozing open wounds share space, if not sensibility, with digital fakery and histrionic zooms. It is, shall we say, a little pitchy, this seesaw between grit and gloss, and it is those very wobbles in performance, the so-called mistakes of too shrill or too soft, that make Les Misťrables human and heartfelt and Ė ultimately Ė a potent piece of cinema, most especially for fans of the musical hungering for nearness to the material. If not quite buckets are wrung by movieís end, then certainly both shirtsleeves are moist from the effort.Download Rise of the Guardians Movie
. A year ago, there was much geeking out in my home. I was excited because of the earliest rumors and information about Prometheus (reviewed here!). My wife, on the other hand, was drooling over the information that was slowly leaking out about Les Miserables, one of her two favorite musicals. I figured I had the best of the yearís worth of anticipation; whether or not the epic I was enthusiastic about met my expectations, I would get a new Anne Hathway film on Christmas day. It was win-win for me (and I was one of the few who still loved Prometheus) and having to not wait until Christmas for new Anne Hathaway made it even better (if you want new Anne Hathaway now, check out the Funny Or Die video with her and Samuel L. Jackson online now!). Les Miserables is a film based upon the play based upon the novel and it is worth noting that while I have seen the play or read the book, I have seen film and filmed versions of the play. I have also reviewed one of the celebrated soundtracks for the play (that review is here!) and my wifeís enthusiasm for it has certainly made me excited for it. However, I intend to limit this review to the Tom Hooper-directed Les Miserables that seems this seasonís most obvious Oscarbait.
Unlike Chicago (reviewed here!) from a few years ago, Les Miserables is a musical that is presented as a film with its own reality. This is not a ďplay on filmĒ like Chicago was. The musical interludes are a way to present emotions, exposition, and create mood, as opposed to intentionally replicating a theatrical (play) event. And, while Les Miserables is obvious Oscarbait, it manages not to fall into the same problem as Mystic River (reviewed here!) where there is predictable greatness. While I am tempted to say that anything that features Anne Hathaway is stacking the casting deck, the truth is she has a more extensive cinematic resume of romantic comedies, as opposed to deep dramas (though the dramas she has been in have been ones that show her easily able to handle an incredible range and a wide variety of situations). Moreover, Hugh Jackman has had some real cinematic lemons, as have Sacha Baron Cohen . . . and Russell Crowe is frequently typecast and used for a very limited range of character. Fortunately, on Les Miserables, the cast is used extraordinarily well and, with the exception of Crowe, who is stiff in his performance as Javert, in ways that they are not frequently captured on film. Les Miserables is a story of one manís struggles and strife amid the backdrop of the French Revolution. Having stolen a loaf of bread to feed his family, Jean Valjean is imprisoned for the crime and his attempt to flee prosecution. When Valjean, on parole after nineteen years of hard time, steals from the local bishop, the Bishop vouches for him to the authorities and Valjean is given a second chance to live right. Valjean becomes a respected citizen, mayor, and factory owner after years of being on the outside. Working at one of his factories is Fantine, a young woman who has turned to prostitution on the side in order to feed her baby daughter. Rescued from Inspector Javert following a conflict at Valjeanís factory, Fantine dies of tuberculosis. Despite Valjean exposing himself to Javert to prevent an innocent man from being accused of being Valjean and having Javertís wrath taken out on him, Valjean strikes a deal with Javert. Valjean promises to return to Javertís custody after he makes arrangements for Fantineís daughter, Cosette. Valjean betrays Javert and takes Cosette on the run from the law. Years later, having raised Cosette as his own, revolution comes to France. Cosette finds herself embroiled in a love triangle with a revolutionary boy and Valjean has the chance to forgive Javert for a lifetime of pursuit when the revolutionaries are going to put Javert to death for being a spy.