Thursday, December 27, 2012

Movie Review Les Miserables

Another long movie in which the audience (including me) sat spellbound as the story unfolded in front of them. From the advertising before hand we knew the singing in Les Miserables, except for the original scene was done as it was shot. No studio singing. And yes, it made a difference, it was like watching a stage production, but with the most magnificent sets.  I originally saw Les Miserables on stage in New York and although I don't remember much of it, as it was a long time ago, I did purchase the CD set of the songs, as I had been moved by the music. I also watched the movie made with Liam Neesom and Geoffrey Rush again a few nights before going to see this production and therefore I was aware of  the story line. Although some of the information from the other movie filled in some blanks for me, this one was more, much more in that it had a lot more scenes at the ending, plus some characters which were not in the other one, and as I have not read Victor Hugo's novel, it does not matter, which story was accurate, as the story laid out here is so compelling.
The actors singing was great, even surprising, as who would think Russel Crowe could sing well enough to pull off the part of the never relenting police officer Javert - but he did. Wonderfully well. Hugh Jackman I knew could sing, but the acting and singing together definitely makes his part Oscar material. Simply put, he was great.  Anne Hathaway, another one, I did not know could sing, but does great in the role as the fragile, sad Fantine and then Amanda Seyfried, from Mama Mia so we knew she could sing, plus look innocently beautiful.
My friend Marion who was with me turned to me at the end of the movie, as I handed her a Kleenex said, "Now I know why this has been nominated for so many awards". 
The director Tom Hooper, who directed Kings Speech, did an amazing job, and I'm sure will also be recognized. Yes, many awards including Oscar nominations will come from this movie.  It is a must see.
If you don't know the story, Hugh Jackman's role, Jean Valjean is imprisoned for 19 years after stealing a loaf of bread, we come onto the scene as he is being released. He is on parole for life, and after stealing some silver from a church, the priest lets him go requesting he leave an honorable life. He changes his name, makes a new life until is old nemesis,  Police Officer Javert, Russell Crowe recognizes him, and then the story unfolds. Jean Valjean is reacquainted with Fantine, Anne Hathaway, as she is dying and advises of her daughter Cosette.
Valjean gets Cosette and they go to Paris, where she is raised in a convent, when they come out of the convent (oh yes, Jean Valjean works as the gardener there until Cosette wants to see the world). What she discovers is Marius, and they fall in love while the battle for the republic begins. Valjean saves Marius, so they can be together.  All done with wonderful singing and understanding.
I do have to mention the light side of two characters played by Helen Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen. They provided the levity, that the story sometimes needed, and were in their great acting style.
Whether you like musicals or not, this movie is definitely a must. A must to see on the big screen because of the environment, the feeling, plus the singing.  Go!!
5 out of 5.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Movie Review Parental Guidance

When one has nothing to do on Christmas Day, one drives through the snow to go see Parental Guidance and is not disappointed. I laughed and laughed in this movie. I'm sure some of the looks, the jokes, the situations, only a parent would enjoy. But the theatre (oh yes many others were there with me) was filled with laughter from the adults. This is a movie adults understand and will laugh at.
Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei at their best. Billy Crystal is at the hub of it all as the Father/Grandfather, who has his own mind how things 'should' be, and while Bette Midler tries to have him see otherwise, he doesn't listen - for the first half of the movie. This sets everything up for the second half, when they three grandkids, played well by the young actors begins to take on a different turn.
I'm not going to say much more, because this is a movie you need to go see for yourself. Go laugh, and forget the problems of the world.
4 out of 5 (for laughs and good acting).

Movie Review Jack Reacher

I am a fan of Lee Child's Jack Reacher books. I think I've read every one of them, or close to it. Having discovered them on one of my trips to New Zealand (where they are very popular and well known) I went through them one by one. Now was my opportunity to see what Tom Cruise could do with this interesting, unusual character, Jack Reacher.
I thought he did an admirable job for a 5'7" playing a 6'7". He managed to convey his contained aggressiveness effectively. He managed to look like he could handle 5 people coming at him, and I enjoyed how they incorporated information of Jack Reacher into the movie for people who were not great fans. They did not make a great statement, which some movies do, instead they dropped the tidbits of information slowly so the character of Jack Reacher was understood.  (You can tell by the bold Jack Reacher - I'm a fan).
Bloody, not as much as some of the books, fights, car chase (I think that's Tom Cruise, as I don't remember too many car chases in the books). Sex, not much -- usually Jack Reacher has his way with they main woman before the end of the book - not here.
As far as I'm concerned Jack Reacher was presented accurately enough, that I'll go see the next one. Hopefully it will do well enough dollar wise for Tom Cruise to consider the next one.
I give it 3 1/2 out of 5.  Worth seeing if you like to car chase, fighting, shooting etc. movie. 

Movie Review - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Recently I was in Vancouver visiting my family for my daughters birthday and have a pre-Christmas dinner with all the family.  While there Bridget and I went and saw The Hobbit.  It was hard to believe it was three hours long. I did not move from beginning to end. Even Bridget who gets super uncomfortable in movies, said "hard to believe it was three hours, Mum". 
The Hobbit, if you have seen Lord of the Rings, has many similar characters, for me like a revisit, and I missed a few of the old ones, but got to enjoy some of the Dwarfs which are featured. Some scenes like the Brown driving his sled drawn by 'rabbits' who look like 'hares'. Talk about laugh and enjoy.  I loved seeing the opening scenes of Hobbiton, as I was visiting it live in February - (note to self must get my photos on facebook). The New Zealand scenery was spectacular.
I feel like I'm impantient for movie Number 2 to come out, the hint of the dragon arising - well, how will it turn. How will Bilbo Baggins do with the ring in his pocket, while Golem always lurks? Will the dwarfs win out? You can tell I have not read the book  (I tried many years ago, and just could not get into it).
Somehow the computer generated scenes fit in easily and although our minds tell us they are computer, they look real and when a large, snarling dog/wolf/whatever comes you react. I especially loved the large eagles which come at the end. 
The question always is - is this movie worth seeing - YES it is.  4 out of 5.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Movie Review - Lincoln

My friend Trish and I made the one hour trip north to see Lincoln, as it was not on at our local theatre and we were not sure when it would be, and we both wanted to see it.  Plus it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the drive, with the lake sparkling and the sky blue and the land covered with snow.
We were not disappointed that we had made the trip. How could it be anything less than good with Daniel Day-Lewis playing Lincoln (another Oscar nod I'm sure) and Steven Spielberg directing.
This movie is informative about the last months of Lincoln's life. How he was balancing the ending of the war with his desire to see the constitution changed to end slavery. All the players, especially noted Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, who puts aside his own agenda to ensure the legislation goes through. It was done brilliantly and we all breathed a sigh of relief when he contained himself. I especially enjoyed James Spader as the wild W.N. Bilbo, one of the beginning lobbyists. It really looked like the beginning, but a reference was made to something occurring previously so I can't say for sure the first lobbyists, but you begin to see where they have played a part in American Political History.
Politics is often viewed by the non political as being sly, sometimes less than honest, and feeling there is a second agenda. This movie, in its subtly, certainly does not dispel this illusion.
I have to mention Sally Field (25 lbs heavier) as Mary Todd Lincoln. She plays it well, but mostly as a woman, I loved the dresses she wore. Often I was more caught up with her dress than her words (acted wonderfully I might add). I found myself thinking afterwards, how on earth did those women visit the lady's room. Probably didn't, so here is this great movie of historical importance, acted and directed wonderfully well and I'm thinking, dresses, washrooms and cold....the heating of those places in those days was by fireplace and they don't really warm the room well at all (I know I grew up with that).
If you like history. If you want to see how Lincoln must have appeared to others, if you want to see some beautiful dresses, and most of all great acting, then go see Lincoln. I learned quite a bit about what was happening during that time and feel sad, as many do, that Lincoln did not stay alive for the reconstruction of the south. We all know what happened there without him at the helm.
This movie is definitely worth seeing, 4 out of 5.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Movie Review - Midnights Children

Last night I chose to go and see a movie called Midnights Children. Several reasons for this, mostly it was because I had either seen the other movies offered or did not want to see them. Plus this was a movie from Deepa Mehta, who has done wonderful movies in the past.  I was not disappointed. This movie arrives with no publicity that I had seen. No previews that I saw. Nothing, Unfortunately, in this first showing only four of us were in the theater. I truly hope the theater fills out, as more and more people discover what a wonderful movie this is.
The story line, of how two boys, right on the stroke of midnight the day India has independence are switched. It primarily follows the life of Saleem, with Satya Bhabha playing the elder Saleem. He was born to poor parents, switched with a child born to rich ones. What makes this movie wonderful is its many story lines, each one explored and completed. You come away feeling filled. Like all the t's are crossed and the i's dotted. A wonderful screenplay written by the original author Salman Rushdie. As Saleem grows up, you also learn of the historical events between India and Pakistan. How the politics effect his family (and of course others) lives.
I was mesmerised by the cinematography, the transition scenes as Saleem grew up sometimes were so simple, but the events of the time reflected. This movie moved me on many levels. I was caught up in the story, I enjoyed the characters and their progression through life and some to their death. I loved the metaphysics, the philosophical statements made, especially when Saleem was able to contact other midnight children in their astral form.
He later on, after forgetting who he is, remembers when he sees one of the other midnight children, the beautiful Parvati, played by Shahana Goswami. His antagonist, the one he was switched with - Shiva - played by Siddharth, rises as a soldier and ends up persecuting Saleem and other midnight children, because of their 'powers'. 
This is a delightful story with so many levels. One which I want to see again to ensure nothing escaped me. The philosophy, the interactions, how love shows up, how people care, and how a man gets to raise a son who is not his and where one loves and the other does not. Most of all it shows the turmoil India and Pakistan have gone through and how lives are effected by it.
If you can go see this movie - Midnights Children. Its wonderful.  5 out of 5.