Monday, January 21, 2013

Les Misérables

Directed by Tom Hooper

Screenplay by William Nicholson 

Based on the stage musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg & Alain Boublil (book) and Herbert Kretzmer (lyrics)

Original French text by Alain Boublil & Jean-Marc Natel

Additional text by James Fenton

Based on the novel by Victor Hugo

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Sascha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks and Daniel Huttlestone

There was no inclination of me seeing Les Misérable, because there was no intrestest in seeing it. I might have to give up my gay card, but musicals are getting played out. This is a straight person's musical with lots of death and drawn out ballads. I like the flashy musicals. What can you do? Since the movie with nominated for eight Oscars, it was my duty to see it. The title is fitting. It was a miserable expierence.

Taking place in France, a prisoner Jean Valjean (Jackman) is released from serving hard work when he stole a piece of bread. Excuse me, that is the starting point of the movie. I think that so fucking stupid. Valjean is released by Javert (Crowe), a ruthless policeman that attended for Valjean's life to be a living hell. Under the conditions of his parole, he has to check in frequently. Valjean decides to go on the run and change his idenity. 

Years later, he is a mayor of small town. One of his factory workers, Fantine (Hathaway) is tossed out in the streets. She has to turn to prostitution to help pay for the care of her young daughter, Cosette. When Fantine dies, it has become Valjean's duty to help raise Cosette as he promised to Fantine. Valjean and Cosette has to live their lives on the run from Javert.

The opening frames of this movie, I knew that I was going to hate it. No. I don't hate it. The movie is like being in a canoe in the middle of a hurricane. There is this build up then the eye of the storm comes and some remnants remain. You just want to toss your cookies.

I'm not going to bag on the entire movie in this review. The notables highlights of the film were the breathtaking visuals, the costumes. It was aesthetically pleasing, but the movie is 97% singing. Everything seemed muddled together. I enjoyed the female characters in this movie more than the males. Anne Hathaway was transcendent in her part as Fantine, the prostitute dying of consumption. She broke my heart. A special commendation goes to Samantha Barks who played Éponine. She was fantastic in brief appearance in its 2 1/2 hour runtime.

Does Hugh Jackamn deserve his Oscar nomination? I'm debating on that. Hugh was fine. I have a huge problem with Jean Valjean's intentions. The decisions that he made where questionable. I cannot get into many details without spoiling it. Russell Crowe was cringe-worthy. He has his "band", but him singing was painfully bad. His monotone delivery was almost unbearable.

The main thrust of this movie was the commoners rising up to the establishment. The message of the revolutionaries was trivial. It was an afterthought. I didn't care for it. The movie tried to be the sweeping grand epic, but it felt disconnected to me as the audience member.

My Rating

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Amour (2012)

Written and directed by Michael Haneke

Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert,  Alexandre Tharaud, William Shimell, Rita Blanco and Ramón Agirre

While I was researching for my Best Foreign Language Film submission of The LAMB Devour the Oscars blog-a-thon, I stumbled on the official website and realized that Amour was opening at the indie theater downtown. I went to the first opening showing of the movie. The movie being nominated for Best Foreign Film and Best Picture, I thought I would fall in "amour" with the film. It was good, but not great.

A married octogenarian couple, Georges (Trintignant) and Anne (Riva) are enjoying their golden years together. After attending a concerto by one of their star students for when they were music teachers, Alexandre (Tharaud), Georges notices that Anne is unresponsive to him. He tries desperately to figure out what is wrong with her. Later, they come to realize that Anne has stroke which leaves her paralyzed on her right side. Now, that Georges has to take care of her, Anne does not want to be a burden to Georges. She wants to be her old self before her health began to decline.

This movie really hit home with me, because my grandmother who has recently passed on was dealing with some of the instances that happened in this movie. My grandmother was the typical grandmother that loved life, her family and will do anything to help you out. When she got into her twilight years, her health began to decline and she would have to depend on nurses to come in and caregiver to help her through simple chores the aveage person takes advangetage of. I know that my grandma and Anne did not want to be living in a helpless state. They are both strong-willed people that could be difficult at times.

Watching the movie, it made me ask the question, "If I was too far gone to take care of myself, would I be treated like an adult baby or be able to find everlasting peace?" It is hard to answer that question now. The movie is very quiet in its presentation. Haneke's last feature, The White Ribbon left me with a bad taste in my mouth. He tends to omit the good stuff and leaves the scraps on the screen. The same thing almost happens here.

The movie is saved by the wondrous performances of Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. I truly believe that they were a real married couple that has to deal with a major life altering event. The movie is heartbreaking to watch a woman lose a bit of herself every time you saw her. I thought the movie was similar to Away from Her on the surface, but delved into depths never before shown on screen. I have to say one final thing, I was confused by the intentions of Georges at the end of the movie.

My Rating

Monday, January 14, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Directed by David O. Russell

Screenplay by David O. Russell

Based on the book, "The Silver Linings Playbook" by Matthew Quick

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Julia Stiles, Paul Herman, Dash Mihok, Brea Bee and Chris Tucker

I have no idea why it took me so long to see Silver Linings Playbook. I guess, it was something about football that I don't know shit about. It's all a foreign language to me. Since the movie was nominated for eight Oscars, I thought I should check it out before it leaves the theaters. I am glad I did.

Bi-polar Pat Solitano (Cooper) has been released from the loony bin after eight months by her mother, Dolores (Weaver). He was put in there in the first place, because he had a psychopathic break when he caught his wife, Nikki (Bee) cheating with another man and almost killed him. Pat tries to integrate back into his family's eccentric dynamic. Pat Sr. (De Niro) is a obsessive compulsive man who is very superstitious about his betting on the Philadelphia Eagles in order to open a restaurant.

Pat is obsessed with Nikki and wants to change for Nikki to take him back. Pat meets a broken young widow named Tiffany (Lawrence) who is self-described as dirty sloppy slut. They have a weird set of run-ins until they both have major things that want done.

What made stay away from this movie with mental illness and football aspect of the film. I have suffered from mental problems all my life and I hate how it is portrayed on screen. It's either the butt of the joke or completely over the top. I'm glad it was not exploited in this movie. It made me relate my eccentricities to the characters on screen.

Even though, I loved the movie. It was something about the ending that made me scoff. I understood there can't be "Silver Linings Playbook" without the silver lining. I forgave it for that. I'm thankful that the Oscar nominations made me get off my butt and see this film.

My Rating

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Screenplay by Mark Boal

Stars: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Fares Fares, Jennifer Ehle, Édgar Ramírez, Mark Strong and James Gandolfini

One of my most anticipated releases of 2012 was Kathryn Bigelow's latest feature, Zero Dark Thirty.Waiting on bated breath as the movie didn't come out in wide release until it was nominated for five Oscars on Thursday. Bigelow's last film was the Oscar winning The Hurt Locker, which was my number one movie of 2009. I fully expected that this movie was surpass it. Needlessly to say, I was slightly disappointed with it.

Maya (Chastain) is CIA operative who has been reassigned to Pakistan after the events of 9/11. She witnesses first hand what interrogators do to get the information they need to find the most wanted man ever. The small groups of operatives go off of leads and intelligence reports to find the exact whereabouts of bin-Laden. Is he in a cave as the American people all believed? Was he hiding in place sight and nobody knew anything about it? That was Maya's number mission to locate and bring bin-Laden to justice.

I remember the night when the president announced that Osama bin-Laden was killed. People were gathering in front of the White House cheering on his death. Watching a movie, I remembered a phone interview I had with former Fox commentator John Gibson on his radio show a few years back. He asked me if the US should go into Pakistan to get UBL. I said, yes. We debated on how can the US invade a friendly country to get the mastermind behind 9/11. He had to pay for killing 3,000 people that day. I was proven right. In your face, John Gibson. Suck on that.

As stated before, my expectations with this movie were very high. I thought it was going to blow all of the other movies out of the water. Was the movie intense? Yes. They were few and far between, expect the last act of the movie was edge on your seat. I had the same feeling when I saw The Master. The movie felt empty. I was bored was the movie, shifted around in my seat. I think that Chastian's performance deserved the nomination for Best Actress. There were specific moments in The Hurt Locker that I back on with awe. I guess, that would be said with the last moments of the movie, but it had to be added in when the US captured bin-Laden as they made the movie. Without that last part of the movie, it would been another disappointment as I had many this year.

My Rating

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Django Unchained

Django Unchained (2012)

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino

Stars: Jaime Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Dennis Christopher, Walton Goggins, James Remar, Don Johnson, and Jonah Hill

Happy New Year, everyone. I know that I haven't been posting for awhile. I had to deal with a death in the family. I know that life goes on and you have to move on. I wanted to get that out of the way before I start my review, which will contain coarse language where I delve into the "controversy" of the subject matter and language. Be forewarned.

Tarantino is one of my top five favorite directors of all time. His way of filmmaking is alike anyone. Before you say anything, yes, he gets ideas from other movies and pop culture references, but he makes his films in such way that are fresh and new. His last effort, Inglourious Basterds was one of my top ten films of 2009. My anticipation of his latest feature was at a fevered pitch. This movie is Tarantino's take on the spaghetti western of Sergio Leone, but setting it in the pre-Civil War South circa 1860.

Django (Foxx) is walking across the plains of Texas with other slaves that were recently purchased at auction. The action stops where Dr. King Schultz (Waltz), a bounty hunter masquering as a traveling dentist, rides up to try to find a particular slave that knows a trio of wanted men. The only person that knows who they look like is Django. Schutlz buys his freedom in order for Django to travel with him to collect a bounty. There is also another reason why Django wants to stay with Schutlz. He wants to find his wife, Broomhilda (Washington) who was sold separately because they tried to run away.

Before the film came out, the film swirled with controversy because the frequent use of the word "nigger" throughout the movie. People have to take into account that the movie is set in the Deep South in the late 1850s, nothing was PC back then. The slave owners or white townsfolk can't say, 'look at that African American there." No. Slaves were considered property to their owners like livestock. Nobody cared about what the right word was. They referred to a black person, "boy", "negro" and most of the time, "nigger." Nobody says anything when rappers say "nigga" is their lyrics or when two black people say "nigga" in passing. You cannot have it both ways.

I have to say that I was disappointed in the way that Spike Lee criticized the movie for "disrespecting his ancestors" even though he had never seen a single frame of the film when he made that statement. Coming from a man that dealt like racism like Do the Right Thing or Bamboozled, it's the pot calling the kettle black. Slavery is a touchy subject that few will address. It is a part of the African American experience. I came from strong willed people who survived being ripped from their homeland, packed into slave ships like sardines, living under hazardous conditions, suffering beating, rapes and other awful things to survive. We need to have a dialogue about our dark past.

Now that is out of the way, I want to talk about the film on its own merits. I thought was going to pull an IB and not be what it was advertised in the TV spots. Nope. It was exactly what the ad were saying, which wax disappointing. That doesn't matter that the movie was awful. It was enjoyable to watch. Blood spurting out of wounds that hasn't been seen since Kill Bill: Vol. 1. The violence is over the top, because the movie's plot was never happen in real life. Bring on the blood splattered walls.

I have to give a special shout-out to Leo, because his portrayal of Calvin Candie was nuanced and subtle, but he turn on a dime on you. Sam Jackson was the comedy relief in such a heavy subject. His presence in the movie was what the movie the needed. I like everyone else. Nothing remarkable about them. Django was good when he was kicking ass or outsmarting whitey, but he seemed to fall shout of being a well rounded character.

My Rating