Tag Archives: entertainment

Les Miserables will make you miserable! (But in a feel-good kind of way)

15 Jan

I wasn’t exactly sure of the plot of Les Miserables, but I understood what the title meant: “The Miserables.” So, one thing was certain; I wasn’t signing myself up for a family comedy.

Even so, I was convinced that I had to see it. After all, it’s a musical, and I haven’t yet met a musical that I haven’t liked.And I had always wanted to see the play. So, as the lights dimmed and the music drummed up, along with a surge of sea-sounds and booming baritone voices, I felt a thrilled chill dance along my vertebrae.That chill was only the start of what felt like an enveloping experience at the movie theaters.

If one has never seen Les Miserables, it is a mildly difficult thing to try to explain in mere words the emotional force that the music seems to contain. (But I will do what I can!) Les Miserables is a musical emotional force. It starts and ends with a heavy orchestral hand that leaves you slightly a-gape. Les Miserables is more like an opera than a musical, as there is little to no spoken dialogue and nearly all of the major plot is in song, which could have been a huge drawback if the singing wasn’t generally well done. (With an exception of Russell Crowe, who plays the chaotic good cop, Javert, who comes to an end that I believe should come to all poor singers.)

Each scene is loaded with a raw humanity: a prisoner who has hardened his heart, a priest who opens it again, a mother who does anything she can to support her child alone, a child abandoned and found again, a man rebuilt, learning to love, be loved and let go, a young man finding his place in the world and learning loss. Saying that this movie is heavy, hardly covers the plunge into problems that Les Miserables rockets its audience through. This film is not for the faint of heart. (I recommend stocking up on extra napkins at the concession stand if you don’t have tissues on hand.)

Les Miseables opens with the main character, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), working as a slave in a shipyard. The prisoners are waist deep in seawater as they struggle to bring a wounded ship to port. Manacled at the neck and hands, they sing a powerful baritone rendition of, “Look down”. Here the audience is also introduced to the main villain, Jevert (Russell Crowe) who seems to particularly loves to break Valjean. Valjean, having filled his prison sentence, is handed his papers to be free, but they mark his as a “dangerous man”. Once free of the prison, Valjean is still treated like a criminal and finds himself unable to find a job or shelter. Instead, he finds himself sleeping on a doorstep. Luckily, a kindly priest discovers him there and takes him in for the night. Desparate, Valjean steals away the Church’s silver in the night and runs off before they wake–but is immediately caught and brought back before the priest by the police. But the priest proclaims Valjean innocent and the police are forced to let him free. Valjean then makes a point to turn his life around and the movie follows his story.

There are of course multiple branches, time frames and points of views throughout the film. The character Fontaine (Ann Hathaway) is introduced next as a factory worker who is separate to support her child, and ends up selling her teeth, her hair and her body to male strangers. Her story is a tragic one, but her daughter Cosette(Amanda Seyfried) is more fortunate as Valjean takes her in as his own daughter and raises her under his new alias.

Yet, Javert soon discovers him and realizes that he is the former thief who skipped parole and seeks to recapture him. The story leads the audience through the brutal French revolution, introducing yet another character, Marius (Eddie Redmayne) who falls for the lovely Cosette.

Though the story is full of absolute misery, death, and despair–it has such a powerful beauty that though you might be a little boogery by the end you feel a sense of revitalization. Small flecks of humor lighten the otherwise heavy atmosphere throughout the film, and the tiny glimmers of love throughout the otherwise dark film seem large and luminous in comparison.

All and all, I would see this film again and found myself humming “I dream a dream” all the way out of the theater. Les Miserables brings humanity back to film and I give it four cupcakes out of five.

Les Miserables

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Brave movie review and JulNoWriMo

2 Jul

So, I know I had mentioned wanted to review Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter the movie–but I haven’t gotten around to see it yet. Instead, my boyfriend was patient enough to sit through Pixar’s latest movie, Brave, with me.

Mainly, I think he was attracted to the fact that it was a Pixar film, because generally, they do not disappoint: but in this case I probably should have waited for it to come out on dvd.

Brave focuses on the Highland princess, Merida, and her thirst for the freedom to be who she is. Little does she know it, but her mother the queen is grooming her for her betrothal to one of the three clans eldest boys who then show up to try and “win” her hand with an archery tournament. Merida, determined to change her mother’s mind, seeks out a witch in the forest who gives her “a spell to change her fate” and “change her mother.” so she doesn’t want to force Merida to marry anymore. However, this crazy witch’s spell backfires, and literally changes her mother into a Bear.

Now, when I saw the trailers for this movie–I had no idea this was the direction this movie would take. And I’m rather disappointed. Though I loved the movie, and it’s message of mother-daughter bond rekindled, I was upset by how generally not creative this concept all was. I mean, all I could think of was another Disney movie called, Brother Bear. Made in 2003, Brother bear focused on the Native American folklore of “Spirit Animals” and involved a boy who kills a mother bear in vengence of his bother, who is then himself transformed into a bear in order to care for the slain mother bear’s son, Koda. The boys bond in bear form, much in the way that Merida bonds with her mother while her mother is in the form of a large black bear.

Overall, the film Brave is  beautifully animated, the details especially on the animals are amazing–but the plot itself leaves something to be desired.

To address that odd title of JulNoWriMo, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this: it stands for July Novel Writing Month, and I will be participating. The goal: 50.000 words by month’s end. I will be using the plot for the novel I’ve been planning. I’m rather excited, but also already tired. Wish me luck–and sorry if due to the novel I do not post as much here.

The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan (Now with Jelly Babies!)

21 Jun

I can hardly believe that the third book in the Kane Chronicle Series by Rick Riordan is already out on shelves. In fact, if I hadn’t been creeping on Mr. Riordan’s Facebook page–I probably wouldn’t have known for a long while.  But as luck or fate or by some blessing of Thoth (the Egyptian god of Knowledge–had a bird head–keep up people.) I managed to scoop up yet another tantalizing read.

If you’re extremely confused–please see my previous two reviews on The Red Pyramid and Throne of Fire, the first two novels in Riordan’s latest literary adventure.

Once again we join our favorite narrators, Sadie and Carter Kane as they take turns speaking into a tape recorder about their latest adventures and mishaps involving the Egyptian Gods. Once more our story starts with a less-than-pleasant battle within the walls of a museam, only this time the Kanes have no need to break in. After the last novel, we have been told that the House of Life (Sort of like the Egyptian Magicians Union) has been divided by the death of the former Head Lector, Dejardins, the appointment of the new Head Lector, the Kane’s uncle Amos, and the differing opinions in the Gods. As such, the Kanes have (a few) allies, including the group in Texas who runs the Dallas museum. What are they after this time–you wonder? Of course this novel’s goal is the absolutely necessary defeat of Apophis–a giant, sun-swallowing, chaos-loving snake that wants to destroy the world as we know it.

Apparently, Apophis has been immensely busy destroying one specific ancient artifact as of late, written by a former magician, Setne.(He literally comes back to haunt them later in the story.)  The Kanes and their initiates know that as this pattern continues, this scroll must hold some secret to beating the baddie–so they insist on trying to protect it. We see our fuzzy baboon friend, Jaz the healer/ rock-thrower and Walt the boy cursed to die young from magic use (See also King Tut.) are still part of the Kane’s gang, along with penguin-loving Felix for this round with chaos. Unfortunately, as seems to be the opening pattern in the Kane Chronicles, the mission goes horribly awry, ending in the deaths of party-going magicians gathered outside and the last scroll they needed destroyed.

Instead, Sadie has a vision of a pointy-nosed man she dubs “Uncle Vinnie” who materializes from the wall just before the battle and tells her to save the golden box. (Sadie almost dies in the process and has a chat with her favorite hottie-god Anubis who urgently tries to tell her something.) The group manages to do as much, and with no other survivors, they retreat back to Brooklyn House full of guilt and regret. Once home, the siblings figure out that the box they saved is also known as a Shadow box, for the Sheut,(Shadow) another important part of the Egyptian soul. Again, we see Riordan focus his novel on a major portion of the Egyptian soul using it as the primary weapon and theme throughout the novel. Bast–their pet cat-goddess–doesn’t seem very eager to help the children decipher much about the Sheut and instead directs them to Thoth.

It is then that Carter is called away for an important scrying message from Zia (aka the girl who was formally a shabti (a statue made to look and act alive.) ) Apparently, the news isn’t good and brings more threats from rebel magicians out for the Kane’s blood. Only highlighting the blatant fighting among the House of Life.

This message eventually leads to the splitting up of the Kane Siblings to accomplish two separate missions but not before a little scene at the children’s school–a dance. Here Sadie is confronted by Anubis, warning her just before they are separated by a very huffy God of the Wind, still attempting to tell her something urgent before he is swept away again. In his place is now a formerly evil Russian magician who has come to warn the Kanes of the imminent peril they face when facing the rebels.

With more bad news on their plates, Sadie and the Russian hurry to meet up with Amos while Carter and Walt head to ask Thoth for more advise. Both parties meet with difficulties which continue throughout the novel. ( Including various fights with the Gods, including one with a Goddess which Sadie convinces Jelly Babies are deadly creatures to hunt.)

The Deadly Jelly Babies (see also The 4th Doctor)

 

The biggest problem in this novel for the main characters (aside from the ever approaching threat of a giant snake eating the sun and how to destroy him.) is love troubles. Walt, the boy who Sadie falls for, is destined to die at a young age and there is a constant depressing threat of his imminent death overhanging their relationship. Meanwhile, Carter deals with at first unrequited feelings, then double what he had bargained for with Zia. Both Sadie and Carter must face the difficult probability of losing the person they have fallen for, along with each other.

This novel proves once more successful, in introducing a real connection to the characters as well as pulling off a fairly seamless storyline. Again, I found myself constantly pulled back into the pages of the story, wanting to know more, wanting to put the puzzle pieces of their newest problem together to see how Sadie and Carter would save the day (literally) in this one. Going along with the theme of Shadows, or Sheut, this novel seems to deal with a few more darker problems than in the last two novels: namely death and the soul. In the last novel, death was touched upon more than once, but it grows much more person in this novel. Walt’s character is developed through Sadie and Carter’s eyes, making you feel personally connected to him as they watch him slowly withering. Also, Sadie and Carter’s mother (who died prior to The Red Pyramid but now rules alongside their underworld dad, Osiris.) is also sucked into this concept of death, initiating the idea of total oblivion and losing those that we most love–a dark and difficult thought subject. Riordan manages to balance this darkness with his own, lighthearted narration from the eyes of Carter and Sadie.

I look forward to reading the next edition in this series (though it is hinted in the first and last chapters of the novel that Sadie and Carter won’t be making any more recordings due to the circumstances that arise in the end.) I am hoping this is just a ruse for the next novel.

Until the next time everypony!

 

Rick Riordan’s Third novel in the Kane Chronicles Series

 

Once more,