This past week has been a more productive one I should say. I got a lot more writing and general website related things out there for you guys. Also I started to kind of understand how I wanted to shift what I’m covering through the blog. I debuted my Netflix Picks of the Week column — which will be available every Monday — and I have high hopes for doing a lot in the world of online streaming coverage of films this coming year.
This isn’t to say that I’m going to be straying away from theatrical releases for good. I’m not. For now, while on the job hunt still, I’ll be taking a break from the theatre. But I imagine in the near future theatrical releases will become a part of the blog again and I look forward to it. However, I feel this — at least for the first few months of the year — won’t really affect me that much as films in this time of the year are becoming more and more repulsive when it comes to the wide releases and more and more tempting as it relates to the limited ones. It helps also that a lot of the most interesting films being released in a limited form tend to also get somewhat of a VOD release quickly thereafter, sometimes on the same day, as it’s limited theatrical release. So let’s hope for interesting things this year.
Otherwise, we can get on to talking about the films I occupied myself with this week gone by:
HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (2013) – I love bad movies that are so bad their great; this isn’t that ENOUGH SAID (2013) – I’m contemplating this one guys; YOU’RE NEXT (2013) – I WANT MORE HORROR SURVIVAL LIKE THIS!!! OPEN GRAVE (2014) – Honestly, this is interesting, but nothing amazing at all SHORT TERM 12 (2013) – I’m emotional again guys, damn you movies TOUCHY FEELY (2013) - this is what people mean when they talk about bad indie right?
BULL DURHAM – “Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.” BLAZING SADDLES – “I didn’t get a “harrumph” out of that guy!” LES MISERABLES – “This is the land I fought for liberty, now when we fight, we fight for bread” STEP BROTHERS – “We’re here to fuck shit up!”
My count for the year of 2014 is updated to 8 First time watches (1 from 2014); 5 Rewatches; 13 Total Films
This week we say hello to 2013 by reviewing a film from 2012 we missed out on and loving the French crazy action filled night that is Sleepless Night. I would think of more ways to write this intro, but you know you just want to press play… so here’s the notes and such:
Looking to 2013 (00:02:30)
What We’ve Been Watching Douglas (00:10:03): The FP, Cabin in the Woods, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Hour, The Perks of Being a Wallflower Damion (00:20:58): Seven Psychopaths, Stop-Loss, Brideshead Revisted Andrew (00:38:42): Sleepwalk With Me,Les Miserables,Jack Reacher
Thanks for listening and feel free to let us know what you think either through the comments below or email us here. You can subscribe to the podcast via our RSS or iTunes. It would be awesome if you would rate/review us on iTunes (we’ll read your reviews on the show)
It’s a new year with more films than I’ll know what to do with. I cam close to hitting the 400 films seen mark in 2012 and I hope to surpass that note, or actually get a social life, whichever comes first. Regardless, heres my first update of films seen in 2013.
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (2012)
This is one of those special cases of documentaries where I feel the fact that you know nothing going in serves as the best way to enjoy the film. When the love, and effect, of an undeservedly forgotten miss in the history of American music is sought after by a couple of South African musicologists a lot of interesting details come to light. A great overall documentary and if nothing else it gives us, the audience that wasn’t listening, a new artist to listen to.
Every year these movies come around. The kind of movie where regardless of how long or drawn out any one audience member may feel about it not one person can deny the acting talent of almost every person cast in the film. From Daniel Day-Lewis to Tommy Lee Jones,Lee Pace to David Strathairn, and John Hawkes to Hal Holbrook the movie is great. However, even more than that Steven Spielberg takes on the difficult task of humanizing the myth of Abraham Lincoln in a way that’s never been done before and I appreciate it for that, but I’m not quite sure I feel completely in love with the movie as some others have.
THIS IS 40 (2012)
I’ve been the sole defender of Judd Apatow I feel for too long. I stood behind him as he produced Girls and even when he gave us Funny People. Here he revisits Knocked Up (a generally loved film) to give the side characters of Pete and Debbie (PaulRudd and Leslie Mann) and it’s a bore. He attempts to make this psuedo mid-life crisis film about this couple who’re struggling to stay intact at the turn of their ages and it never felt funny or even like a real story. With a lack of a resolution with any form of weight due to a lack of stakes throughout the film everything just felt completely flat and uninteresting. I wonder if this will tarnish my good memories of Knocked Up everytime I see that movie.
LES MISÉRABLES (2012)
An interesting approach to film based musicals that Tom Hooper decided to tackle but I don’t believe it quite hit singing nirvana for me… Here’s my review.
JACK REACHER (2012)
Everything I was hoping for from this film. Christopher McQuarrie gave us The Way of the Gun and it is the perfect action buddy film about detestable villains that you enjoy hanging out with. Here he gives us the hero that you need. The detective who can see all the angles but doesn’t need to articulate them for others to know. He’s the drifter with nothing to lose and here to serve justice. The action is fantastic, the characters are great and more than anything else it works as an overall detective/conspiracy story. However, the most important part of this movie is how cool our main hero and bad guy come off. It’s the perfect action movie blend that I needed and I’m so happy for it. Review to come this week.
In the flurry of 2012 films that I’m watching, still yet to decide on my Top Ten of the year past I also decided to revisit the blaxsploitation action western genre film by QT that is Django Unchained. A review is forthcoming this week.
Also deciding to take a break from the movies that I feel I needed to absorb more attentively than others I revisited Fantastic Mr. Fox the gem of 2009 that needs even more love than it got from mainstream audiences.
My count for the year of 2013 is updated to 5 First time watches (0 from 2013); 2 Rewatches; 7 Total Films
Les Misérables, being the classic Broadway musical, is a story that most already know. The question that any cinephile would ask themselves going into this film is why someone would be interested in adapting it into a film and how they could manage to make it an interesting representation for the audiences of today. After seeing the film (which in all honesty is my first experience with the story itself) I’m not sure I have any idea of how to tackle that question in the first place.
To it’s core the film is about the changing of one’s life in a moment. When we see Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) decide to adopt Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), Marius (Eddie Redmayne) decide to join the barricade, or Éponine (Samantha Barks) decides to help Marius these are all moments where characters decide to put the lives of others ahead of their own for the sake of a greater cause which in turn creates this somewhat idealised belief in good spirited ‘Christian’ living.
Musical and film have been intermingling since the industry was first capable of syncing an audio track with the visuals recorded to film. However, for the most part, it had it’s own style and definition than any theatre production that ever existed. Les Misérables differs from that film ideal and goes deep into a complete theatrical style of storytelling by allowing for two main differences: all songs were recorded live on set rather than in a studio for actors to then lip sync to when doing the actual choreography; and the entire film (with the exception of a couple short moments during the barricade) is told through song.
In 2002 when Rob Marshall made Chicago (which went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards) musicals in film were instantly revitalized. The genre had been dwindling for years but with an infusion of traditional film narrative and the theatrical musical element there was now something new to strive for in the genre which got audiences wanting. This iteration of Les Misérables is completely counter to that decided structure, all in the service of delivering the most authentic version of the story to it’s audience. Where that may cause problems is for anyone unaware of this expecting to see a Rob Marshall-ized version of the play and may find time to laugh at a lot of the old age storytelling and even some of the lesser singers in the film (*cough* Russell Crowe) when they fail to hit a note here and there.
One of the embedded faults that one can find in watching such a true to it’s core, or attempting to be, version of a classic is how it treats a lot of themes and ideas with blunt tools socially within the film. Like the hunt of Jean Valjean by Javert (Russell Crowe). When the film opens we see Jean Valjean on what is his final day of bondage as a prisoner, being overseen by Javert, and before leaving he’s asked to retrieve a flag (which just happens to be attached to a massive ship’s mast) which proves some effort by him. Later in the film they meet again, while Valjean has left his parole and assumed a new name, but Javert doesn’t seem to recognize him. However, there is a moment (not too soon after they meet) where Valjean must perform an exceedingly taxing physical task, in order to save a man’s life, and the music plays that is a carbon copy of what played when he lifted the mast in the opening scene and we get that ‘recognizing’ look which just feels like such a dated way of presenting a familiar moment for characters in film.
Another feature of this film, which some may see as a negative, was the bland direction. Especially in a lot of the musical scenes. Due to how it was all recorded (live) most (if not all) scenes are recorded with a sense of stillness. However, unlike a film like The Master which did the same it didn’t feel as enveloping, but rather demanding of the audience to try and stay with what’s happening rather than daze off. While I appreciate it in some choice scenes, like ‘I dreamed a dream’ or ‘Who am I’ (the first iteration), the film definitely feels jarring by having this effect throughout it’s near three-hour runtime.
As it pertains to the music of the film, which obviously is an important element, it works. Yes the live effect creates a different feel and a musical result that if you were to buy the soundtrack there wouldn’t be more than a handful of tracks that you’d be willing to listen to on their own (one of which I’d venture to nominate would be ‘On My Own’) but within the context of the film are great. It’s refreshing to have scenes where music outweighs choreography and feels like it actually came from the scene rather than always looking like the actor is crapping their pants trying to hit a note that definitely didn’t need that much effort to pull off. Even in the moments where we can hear an off note we forgive it for the same reason we would forgive it when someone would go to see a mid-run showing of the play in the theatre. It’s the whole that matters and not any one specific off moment.