Crying my way through Les Miserables

100 movies of 2013

Les Miserables

In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.

Shoot me. I’ve lived in London for my whole life and seen a fair few musicals and plays and what nots in the West End. Yet have I seen Les Miserables? No. I’ve even seen a handful of musicals a good few times. But still no Les Mis for me.

Saying that, it’s not as if I was unfamiliar with the music from the show. I knew of I dreamed a dream, Suddenly, On my own and One day more. The story? Not totally familiar. Just it was something French. Revolution-y. Ish.

Les Miserables is a powerful film. Powerful, emotional and, sorry if I sound terribly film poster-y, but it is a triumph. As the title of this post suggest, yes, I spent 90% of my time crying while watching this film. Nearly every song hits you right in the gut. Knocks the wind, and the tears, right out of you. Though, much like everyone else who’s seen it, it’s Anne Hathaway’s performance and songs that really hit me where it hurt. Never thought Anne Hathaway would have such an amazing and strong singing voice. Backed up by an absolutely heartbreaking performance. Yes, Hugh Jackman’s was fantastic too. But, I expected greatness from him. And he delivered. Like Anne, amazing voice and stellar performance too.

I know there’s been a big deal made of Russell Crowe’s vocal performance. From my point of view, I saw nothing wrong with it. Yes, he’s got a very different singing voice to everyone else. But, to my untrained ears, I didn’t hear anything out of tune. Very powerful. Very authoritative. Much like his character.

Having all the actors sing while performing, rather than have songs recorded in a studio, gave the film much more of a real feeling. Am I right? None of this dubbed over and lip syncing.

The film itself is beautiful. Think the barricade scene made me think I was watching a musical onstage. The set felt very like a theatrical set, rather than film set. Yet to decide whether that’s a good or bad thing.

You could do a lot worse than cry your way through Les Miserables. In fact, if you don’t, I worry for your soul. And now, I’m on the hunt for some tickets to the West End musical. Ahhh… there are tickets available near May/June time!

Les Miserables (Viewed: 23/01/13 | Rating: 5/5)

Check out all of the films I’ve seen this year:

120+ movies: Getting behind!

120+ Movies of 2011

I think I’m running a bit behind this year if I hope to get to over 120 films for the year! Need to pick up the pace.

A Beautiful MindA Beautiful Mind (01/05/11)

After a brilliant but asocial mathematician accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn to the nightmarish.

Beautiful film. Really great film. Great performances from everyone and I think Russell Crowe’s best since Gladiator. Jennifer Connelly completely tore me up as John Nash’s world started falling apart. I completely and utterly believed what John Nash was seeing and doing. I didn’t really think that he might be hallucinating. Well, until things started going really crazy.

Loved the James Horner score. Think it’s my favourite score of his since Titanic. It doesn’t sound like a lot of his other scores, most of the time! The biggest problem I have with Avatar and Troy’s scores.

Very touching film that had me in tears!
Rating: 4/5

ExtractExtract (05/05/11)

Joel, the owner of an Extract plant, tries to contend with myriad personal and professional problems, such as his potentially unfaithful wife and employees who want to take advantage of him.

Thanks to my new love of Arrested Development I have a bigger love for Jason Bateman. Seeing his name listed in the credits for this film made me think it’d be worth a watch. Him and Mike Judge of Office Space fame, which was one of my favourite films I’d seen last year.

Extract just bored and irritated me sadly. There were some funny moments. JK Simmons made me laugh as did Bateman. But overall it just felt like a painful film to watch with none of the fun or wackiness that Office Space had.
Rating: 2/5

HannaHanna (06/05/11)

A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

Loved this film. I really like my action-thriller type films. This one had the added benefit of Eric Bana. Even with a slightly unidentifiable accent he was very good in the film. However all the credit in this film goes to Saoirse Ronan. Fantastic young actress who can play a ruthless assassin as well as a very naive young girl who’s never been out in the world. Think the weakest character in the film was probably Cate Blanchett’s Marissa. She just felt a little one-sided to me.

At times the film felt a bit schizophrenic, but in a good way! Flipping from fast paced action thriller to an indie feeling film about a very innocent girl.

Loved the British family played by Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng. They weren’t caricatures, instead felt like real people. Funny people at that.

The score was awesome! I’m loving this trend of DJs scoring films. There was Daft Punk and Tron, Basement Jaxx and Attack the Block, and now we have The Chemical Brothers and Hanna. Loved some of the pieces they did during the action sequences.

I know there are talks of a sequel. I hope there isn’t one. Well, unless they can top this one!
Rating: 4/5

CatfishCatfish (07/05/11)

In late 2007, filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost sensed a story unfolding as they began to film the life of Ariel’s brother.

A lot of hype surrounding this film and it’s hype I got caught up in. However, it still took me a long time to watch the film. I think the hype ruined it slightly.

I did enjoy the film but I think I was expecting a bit more of an ‘OMG’ twist towards the end. I kept hoping something else was going to happen. Though, after I’d watched the film and thought about the events a bit more, I did see the madness of it all properly.

Ariel really annoyed me throughout the film. I just got more and more annoyed with him. I can’t remember why, but I remember the annoyance!
Rating: 3/5

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesPirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (20/05/11)

Jack Sparrow and Barbossa embark on a quest to find the elusive fountain of youth, only to discover that Blackbeard and his daughter are after it too.

I’m one of those weird people who enjoyed films 2 & 3 in the POTC series. Yes, they were long and convoluted. But they’re fun to watch and get lost in.

I did not get lost in On Stranger Tides. Johnny Depp is still fantastic as Captain Jack Sparrow and new additions Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane were great, but there were some other new additions who weren’t so great. The main plot line of the fountain of youth was a fun bit of adventure. The love story between Philip and Syrena felt a bit pointless and was just in there for extra padding. Neither character had much depth to them and I couldn’t get behind either of them.

There were some good set pieces, but none of them felt like they were as big in scope as any of the ones in the first three films.

I sadly did spend some extra money and see this film in 3D, due to lack of 2D screenings. There were some attempts at some things pointing out into the audience, but for the most part, like Thor, it just wasn’t necessary. Especially during the action and fight scenes where things are moving so quick it makes me feel slightly cross-eyed with 3D glasses on!

Wasn’t impressed with the scoring on this film either. I was looking forward to some good stuff from Hans Zimmer – I’ve loved his previous work with this franchise. But it just didn’t feel like this film had its own theme.

I hope there’s not a fifth film!
Rating: 2/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far:

120+ Movies: Long Overdue Update

120+ Movies of 2011

Long time no update! Well here’s finally an update to my movie tally for the year. I’m getting there. Though if I want to hit my target I might need to speed things up again.

Sucker PunchSucker Punch (02/04/11)

A young girl is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather. Retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, she envisions a plan which will help her escape from the mental facility.

Well, erm, it looked fantastic. That counts for something. Well for me that counts for at least 1 point out of 5 that I’ve given it. It all starts off brilliantly, but as soon as we slip into the various fantasy lands things go very wrong. The fantasy lands look amazing though. Some stunning set sequences. Sadly the storyline, characters and dialog aren’t the strongest parts of the film. The dialog in particular, at times, made me cringe it was so bad. And I like films like Fast & Furious, which isn’t known for having great dialog! OK, along with looking very slick the film does have a fantastic soundtrack. Which is on my list of things I need to buy very soon.

Nice attempt from Zack Snyder to create his own movie but it just didn’t work for me. Would have made a great plot line for a console/PC game though. Shame there wasn’t a game tie-in.
Rating: 2/5

CarriersCarriers (03/04/11)

Four friends fleeing a viral pandemic soon learn they are more dangerous than any virus.

I thought this was going to be a straight up road trip movie turned zombie flick. I think it got half way there. From the outset I think, as a viewer, you’re meant to think it’s an average college road trip film. But they jump into the apocalypse type world slightly too quickly, as if they’re worried you’ll lose interest if they don’t throw it in from the get go. None of the characters are particularly likeable, so it’s hard to root for any of them when things start going wrong. However I was grateful for the bleak ending. Not everything’s happiness and sunshine.
Rating: 1/5

Source CodeSource Code (06/04/11)

An action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.

From the director who brought us Moon. That fact alone had my bar raised significantly for this film. Maybe the bar was set a little too high, but that’s not to say Source Code isn’t a brilliant film.

In the beginning I felt as disoriented as Colter Stevens. Though as Colter began to get a grip on things it felt like I did too. Sure a lot of the main plot of the film is devoted to your standard get the terrorist but you’ve got Colter’s story interwoven in that fairly well. Loved the twist at the end. Great performances from everyone. Didn’t quite reach the levels of slack-jawed wow that Moon got from me, but still, one of the better and more intelligent sci-fi films to come out this year.
Rating: 4/5

3:10 to Yuma3:10 to Yuma (09/04/11)

A small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who’s awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher.

My second Western movie remake of the year! Probably my last too. Only because I can’t think of any others. Oh wait, The Magnificent Seven. Maybe I should aim to add that to my list of films to watch this year.

Really liked the film. Ben Foster plays a creepy villain. Just had sadistic written all over his face. Russell Crowe and Christian Bale were great as the two leading men. I was more impressed by Logan Lerman in this than his recent role in Percy Jackson. Thought he did much better in this film!

I haven’t seen many Westerns so I don’t think I can compare it to anything. Fun to watch with some great action sequences. Can’t ask for much more in a Western.
Rating: 3/5

Walking TallWalking Tall (12/04/11)

A former U.S. soldier returns to his hometown to find it overrun by crime and corruption, which prompts him to clean house.

Second film remake on this update. Though with this one, I had no idea it was a remake. This was just one of those films that happened to be on whilst I was up and I sat there like a lemon and watched it.

Not a great film at all. Though I had fun spotting various Canada based actors like Ryan Robbins, Aaron Douglas and even Cobie Smulders in it. Lots of action, but none of it anything more than loads of bullets getting flung around. I think I lost the main plot of one man’s mission to single-handedly clean up his home town in amongst the action. Johnny Knoxville actually amused me in parts. Which worried me a little.
Rating: 1/5

Your HighnessYour Highness (13/04/11)

When Prince Fabious’ bride is kidnapped, he goes on a quest to rescue her… accompanied by his lazy useless brother Thadeous.

I think when I first heard about this film and saw clips/trailers I had my hopes set fairly high. I was imagining something like The Princess Bride crossed with Pineapple Express. Almost, but not quite. Thankfully just before I went into the film, I had my hopes knocked down a few pegs.

It’s your typical stoner film with the usual kinds of jokes thrown into a fantasy-esque setting. There was a lot of effort thrown into the film for some of the bigger set sequences. The score soundtrack from Steve Jablonsky did a good job of creating some sense of gravitas in said set sequences. Even though on more than a couple of occasions I was reminded of Transformers and was expecting to see some Autobots roll out.

The accents were all over the place, the jokes were lewd and obvious but I laughed more than once and had fun watching it. It’s what filmage is about!
Rating: 3/5

El MariachiEl Mariachi (14/04/11)

A traveling mariachi is mistaken for a murderous criminal and must hide from a gang bent on killing him.

I love Desperado. I think it’s my favourite Robert Rodriguez film and I promised myself one day I’ll sit down and watch the film that spawned that and Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

Had I not been such a fan of Desperado I’m not sure I would have enjoyed this film as much as I did. Spent a lot of the time watching scenes unfold and remembering those same scenes, polished up a fair bit in Desperado. None of the acting’s particularly good, but that’s not the point. In fact there’s one actor in it who’s Spanish was pretty damn bad.

Once the action started going it got more of a fun film to watch. Though I found it amusing seeing the blood packs underneath a lot of the guys shirts when they were shot. A shot later, the blood pack would be gone and all you’d see is a torn shirt! Magic!
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far:

100 movies: Checking in at 115

100 movies of 2010

I think I might just be able to hit my adjusted 120 target for the year. Which scares me a little. Why? I wanted to aim for more movies next year. I don’t think I could top 120 for next year!

UnstoppableUnstoppable (26/11/10)
Unstoppable has all the ingredients of an extremely enjoyable and fun to watch popcorn film. You’ve got Tony Scott directing, Denzel Washington playing the hero, Chris Pine playing a younger hero and the villain of the piece is an unstoppable train. Of course you need the two heroes of the piece to start on rocky ground and then through the events of the film, they grow to be friends. All of this works in Unstoppable’s favour. The movie does take a little while to get into, but once the action kicks in, it’s a fun ride. You do know how it’ll all end before you get there, but there’s enough banter between Chris and Denzel’s characters for you not to care. There are some fun action set pieces and the score by Harry Gregson-Williams is brilliant (With a throwback to his work he did on Man on Fire). A very good action film to lose a few hours to.
Rating: 4/5

The SoloistThe Soloist (28/11/10)
I wanted so much to enjoy this and really like this film. But I got slightly bored and frustrated. I honestly did wonder why Robert Downey Jr’s character cared so much for this homeless but brilliant musician. Of course you can do things out of the goodness of your heart, but I didn’t get any of that from him. Well, not in the beginning. Both him and Jamie Foxx did a good job with their performances; Jamie Foxx in particular. I just didn’t feel the ‘heart’ of this film at all. Everything seemed too superficial, as if it was just skimming the surface of what the real point of the film was. I’m probably missing something. Highlight of the film for me was LaFayette (Nelsan Ellis) turning up as a person who runs a homeless shelter.
Rating: 2/5

The Next Three DaysThe Next Three Days (30/11/10)
Remake of the French film Pour Elle which I saw earlier this year. Back then I had no idea they were remaking the film. When I did find out I knew I wanted to see it. Just to compare. It’s pretty much a straight remake, with little variance from the original. The scene where the wife is arrested is almost exactly the same and there are a few others which are dead on too. The remake is definitely more ‘American’. In the sense that there’s a bit more explanation of the whys and whats. There’s more action. There’s less style. The French version had a bit more realism in it. The Next Three Days is a good enough thriller, if exceptionally slow. It did not feel like a film that was just under two hours. There were far too many endings. Though the cast were all good. Russell Crowe did an ample job of playing the helpless father and Elizabeth Banks the locked up mother. If this sounds like your kind of film just watch Pour Elle instead. It’s much better.
Rating: 2/5

100 movies – A long overdue update

100 movies of 2010

It’s been a long time since this blog has been updated let alone anymore movies being added. Never mind, playing catch up now!

Underdog May
Just a poor kids movie that I got suckered into watching due to boredom, a heat wave and a cute pup.
Rating: 1/5

Dan in Real Life May
I’m not a fan of Steve Carell. I appreciate that the majority of people find him hilarious, but not me. It’s probably why this film’s been sitting on my Sky box for so long. It’s not Steve Carell as I know him, and for that I was grateful. Very sweet film with some funny moments.
Rating: 3/5

In the Loop May
I wish I could swear like one of the characters out of this film. I didn’t know what was going on for most of the first half of the film, but the swearing was fantastic. I got into it towards the end, and it got a few laughs out of me.
Rating: 3/5

State of Play 19/06/10
Brilliant thriller. Never saw the original BBC drama this was based on but eh. Doesn’t really matter. The film was awesome.
Rating: 4/5

Pride and Glory 19/06/10
This is the kind of film where I think everyone in it is really good but the plot just didn’t grab me. Typical dirty cops kind of film.
Rating: 2/5

The Losers 20/06/10
Fun film to watch on a Sunday afternoon. Very little brain activity needed. Brilliant bits of action – don’t need anything more!
Rating: 3/5

Read more to see the full list of movies I’ve seen so far this year.