Need a Les Mis: The Movie drinking game? Drink every time a character sheds one tear. You’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning before the first dead revolutionary. The intimacy, close-ups, and emotion of Les Misérables are well summed up in those copious single tears.
The arrival of Les Misérables to the big screen was met with eager anticipation and a great deal of nervousness by her die hard fans. Previous “stage to screen” adaptations range from the good (Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera) to decent (Hairspray, Rent) to lousy (The Producers) to the complicated (Sweeney Todd). How would they ruin this amazing show in the conversion to a Hollywood movie? For those less familiar or not at all familiar with the musical, would they be drawn in to see it and would it make any sense?
Well, they didn’t ruin Les Misérables. If you loved it before, you are likely enjoyed most of it. If you disliked it or musicals in general, this will make it worse. If you never really knew it, and like musicals, you’re probably okay.
So here’s a quick review of different aspects of the film.
The Oscar Nominations nominees are always full of surprises and excitement. I particularly love the records of the Academy Awards. The Hollywood Reporter lists a number of the landmarks this year, which are as fascinating as baseball stats to many. However, I love baseball stats.
Note: Stats are not a statement of quality of the film. I just like the quirkiness.
A few that stand out:
We have the youngest and oldest Best Actress nominees in Quvenzhane Wallis from Beasts of the Southern Wild at age 8 (6 when filmed) and Emmanuelle Riva from Amourat 85 although they aren’t the youngest/oldest in all acting categories.
Pity (?) poor Greg Russell of Skyfall – his 16th nominating as a sound mixer with no wins yet. But he isn’t the worst either – Kevin O’Connell, also a sound mixer, has 20 nominations with no wins.
The surprise Best Directors category didn’t include 3 of the 5 people nominated by the Director Guild of America (DGA) which usually matches up perfectly. They both had Spielberg (Lincoln) and Ang Lee (Life of Pi). But the DGA had Ben Affleck (Argo), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), and Tom Hooper (Les Misérables). The Academy substituted Michael Haneke (Amour), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), and Benh Zeitlin (Beast of the Southern Wild). This puts a serious dent in both Argo and Zero Dark Thirty’s Best Picture chances. See details in Erik Lundegaard’s blog post.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is full of winking humor that makes for a great palate cleanser for the child torture of Temple of Doom. But it is the much more tongue-it-cheek style that keeps it from being as immortal a film as Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have also seen this film so many times over the years that I have a personal interaction with it.
Watching my Blu-Ray of the Indiana Jones trilogy over new years (There’s a 4th movie in the box, but it’ll never see the light of day).
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is such a misfire. Probably because on the heels of a ginormous blockbuster family adventure film, Spielberg and Lucas made a family about an ancient ritual cult, human sacrifice, and child torture. The story goes the two men were in a darker place after breaking up with their wives, Amy Irving and Marcia Lucas. It was still the 10th highest grossing picture of all-time on its release.
Temple of Doom has much to commend it. But the nasty subject matter places it in a lower tier than Raiders of the Lost Ark or Last Crusade. For this new year of 2013, I am listing 13 of my favorite things about Last Crusade.