Les Miserables

Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5

This is another one of those movies where my opinion is totally irrelevant on whether or not you should see this.  If you’ve a) seen this on Broadway and liked it, b) if you’ve never seen a musical you didn’t like, c) enjoy lots of closeups of Hugh Jackman or Anne Hathaway (even though she’s most likely crying), or d) like movies that have a lot of crying or that easily make you cry (even though I didn’t), then you should go see this. Otherwise you might want to skip this one. The other reason why my opinion should probably be ignored is that I am not a good judge of singing talent (remember. . . I’m the guy who likes to listen to Craig Finn of the Hold Steady).

The performances were all very good. The actors needed to do two things: sing and cry profusely (and do both at the same time!). They all came through with flying colors. I even was surprised by Russell Crowe’s and Sacha Baron Cohen’s singing (who along with Helena Bonham Carter brought needed comic relief). The two main kids in the movie were excellent. Special kudos go to Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. Jackman also seemed to transform physically as the movie went on. I barely recognized him in the first scene where he was an emaciated prisoner (with incredible strength).

For me, there were a few things that detracted from the movie:

– I’m ready for the slings and arrows from all Les Mis fans—I didn’t like the music that much. I have never seen the Broadway musical. But for most Broadway hit musicals that I only saw in the movies or years after they were a hit, I have always recognized and liked some of the music. For a show that opened over thirty years ago, Les Mis should fit in that category. But I didn’t recognize/remember any of it, and I’m not humming any songs today.

– Too many closeups! I’ve never seen so many closeups in a movie, especially of people crying non-stop or from the 1800s with poor dental hygiene! The closeups were made especially annoying by me being in the third row of the theater. If you plan on seeing this movie, sit towards the back!

– My guess is the plot of the book fills in a lot of holes. SPOILER ALERT ON *** The love-at- first-sight of Cosette and Marius while the world is falling apart and Marius’ happy return to the bourgeois life surprised me (to say the least). But the movie was long enough as it was. SPOILER ALERT OFF  ***

This gets a marginally positive review due to the performances, but again, if you are a fan of the show, you should go (actually you probably have already).

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

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Best of 2012

Due to the wide variety of movie we saw we decided to have our best in various categories as well as our overall best.  Please add your comments with your views as that is half the fun.

 Bill I's PicksBill C's Picks
Best Overall1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Moonrise Kingdom
3. Argo
4. Arbitrage
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
6. Lincoln
7. Looper
8. Django Unchained
9. Skyfall
10. Silver Linings Playbook
1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. A Separation
3. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Argo
5. The Raid: Redemption
6. Looper
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
8. Safety Not Guaranteed
9. Django Unchained
10. Lincoln
11 .Marley
Best Film Based on Historical Events1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Argo
3. Lincoln
4. Django Unchained (Tarantino’s version of life during slavery)
5. The Impossible
1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Argo
3. Django Unchained
4. Lincoln
Best Bond/Action/Super Hero Film1. Skyfall
2. Ek Tha Tiger
3. Bourne Legacy
4. Haywire
5. Safe House
6. John Carter
7. The Dark Knight Rises
1. The Raid: Redemption
2. The Avengers
3. Haywire
4. The Dark Knight Rises
5. The Amazing Spider Man
6. The Safe House
7. The Bourne Legacy
Best Unique Film1. Looper
2. The Master
3. Sister
4. The Kid with a Bike
5. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
6. Snow White and the Huntsman
7. The Grey
1. Looper
2. The Master
3. The Kid With a Bike
4. The Queen of Versailles
5. Robot and Frank
6. Seven Psychopaths
Best Crime Film1. Arbitrage
2. End of Watch
3. Premium Rush
4. Lawless
1. Killer Joe
2. The Headhunters
3. End of Watch
4. Thin Ice
Best Romantic Film1. Moonrise Kingdom
2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
3. Trishna
4. Silver Linings Playbook
5. Your Sister’s Sister
6. Best Marigold Hotel
1. Silver Linings Playbook
2. The Perks of Being a Walflower
3. The Sessions
4. Moonrise Kingdom
5. Your Sister's Sister
Best Comedies1. This is 40
2. The Dictator
3. 21 Jump Street
4. Ted
5. The Three Stooges
1. Safety Not Guaranteed
2. 21 Jump Street
3. Sleepwalk With Me
4. Klown
5. The Pirates Band of Misfits
Best Music Related Movies1. Marley
2. Searching for Sugar Man
3. Shut Up and Play the Hits
4. Under African Skies
5. Girl Walk/All Day

Zero Dark Thirty

Bill I’s Review – 4.5 out of 5

Best review of the topic I’ve read is this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-hoffman/zero-dark-thirty-terrorism_b_2421874.html

It’s a fantastic film, fact based combined with the best film-making from Kathryn Bigelow. The acting is superb, doesn’t ever seem like acting, just seems real. I loved Argo, but comparing the scenes from each film where the protagonists try to work their cars through angry mobs in Pakistan or Iraq, and you will see that Zero Dark Thirty takes it to another level, of realism, of feeling the threat, or what it must have been like. The subject of torture (“enhanced interrogation techniques”) is controversial but to me appears very well portrayed: the US did it, it wasn’t pretty, wasn’t effective in most cases, and damaged our reputation. It wasn’t the key to unlocking where Bin Laden was, and if you pay attention this film shows that. It yielded pieces of information, but it took sleuthing, bribery, technology and persistence to finally track him down. The capture exercise by the Navy Seals is a mini-movie in itself, one of the best, and I assume realistic, I’ve ever seen. The CIA is portrayed as comprised of some heroic, dedicated, career professionals who make it through (or don’t, in some tragic circumstances) the hell that is terror central. The CIA is also shown as home to some career bureaucrats, who are more concerned about their careers, showing some “wins” even if it means taking down low value targets, while not taking undue risks, more than succeeding at getting Bin Laden. But, Spoiler Alert…we got him!!!

Bill C’s Review – 4.5 out of 5

I agree with Bill that this is an exceptional film. It draws us right in with actual, heartbreaking recordings of people in the WTC and responding to the tragedy. The film then does an amazing job of netting out a 10-year search into a well-told 2.5 hour movie.

I think part of the reason I liked this movie so much was that these events are so fresh in my mind. The events of—and since—9/11 had such a real and emotional impact on all of us. I think the strong emotions of the Iranian hostage crisis contributed to my strong feelings about Argo also.

As Bill points out, the search and successful mission was totally dependent on the sacrifice and dedication of many Americans. The film does a great job of showing how success came more from ferreting out the lies from captives and painstaking attention to detail and mundane detective work.  While this sounds boring, as presented in the movie, it is not.

Jessica Chastain and her supporting cast are excellent. She deserves her best actress Oscar nomination. I am surprised that Kathryn Bigelow was not nominated as Best Director. She won the Oscar a few years ago for The Hurt Locker (which I highly recommend).

Unless you will be turned off by the torture and violence, you should definitely see this film.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

 

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is Peter Jackson’s follow-up to the mega-successful Lord of the Rings Trilogy with J. R. R. Tolkien’s first book. To cash in on the success of the trilogy movies (3 books = 3 movies), Jackson is splitting this single book into three movies, with the first installment being well over 2.5 hours long. The movie is well made and the action sequences are good, but the movie could have been much shorter.

Bilbo Baggins takes off with a large assortment of dwarves and Gandalf the wizard on the dwarves’ quest to retake  their former home. With so many dwarves, I didn’t really come to care about their characters, and I felt that if they couldn’t win one of the battles, Gandalf (or someone/thing he summoned) would bail them out when necessary.

There was one sequence with Andy Serkis as Gollum, and for me, this scene was the highlight of the movie. Serkis was great and the scene was also excellent.

An Unexpected Journey did a good job of setting things up for the next two movies, but I was expecting more…in less time.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

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Parental Guidance

Bill I’s Review – 2.5 out of 5

I expected very little from this predictable comedy, but it exceeded my expectations in several places, including an excellent chemistry by Billy Crystal and Bette Midler and the grandparents trying to bond with their grandkids for a long weekend. The kids are unique and of course clash immediately, then one by one they develop that special relationship that can only come with wacky romps in the rain and mud, and some old fashioned parenting advice.

Guilt Trip

Bill I’s Review – 2 out of 5

It pains me to say this, but Seth Rogan is totally uninteresting and fairly lame in this predictable road trip movie, while Barbra Streisand, as Seth’s doting mom, is sympathetic and mildly interesting. There’s some enjoyable moments, and a nice ending, but this is the type of movie you watch when it’s on TV and there’s nothing else on.