Ever since "The Sound of Music" or "Singin' in the Rain," sweeping, soaring epic photography and numbers have been essentials for the common film musical. I can tell you that I prefer the clean-cut and "stabilized" shots instead of handheld ones. I understand that this type of style is supposed to emulate a grittier, sourer atmosphere. In a post-modern age, we strive to innovate or at least, resurface different and interesting film techniques, such as the versatile green screen or the breathtaking IMAX. But for things as complex as 3D or as straightforward as the "shaky cam," I can't really reason with my headaches or my dizziness.
This all changes (or at least, I have found my one, rare exclusion) with Tom Hooper's "Les Misèrables." This film adaptation takes advantage of the quick and frenzy Dutch shots, handheld shootings, and the furious close-ups. Honest to God, Hooper has reinvented the musical genre, which has been sugarcoated since "Moulin Rouge" and dead since 2007's "Hairspray." We can't connect with lip-synching or random breakouts of songs, anymore. That was yesteryear, and Hooper realizes this. So, any viewer can comprehend this "Les Miz" remake as a crossover between the YouTube generation and the Golden Age of cinema: the film, even its flaws, are both seriously personal and breathtakingly epic.
"Les Miz" begins with Jean Valjean's (Hugh Jackman) quest not for revenge against the obsessive Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe), but for moral redemption. A good-hearted father figure, Valjean decides to adopt Cosette (an older Cosette, played by Amanda Seyfried), from the disgustingly funny Thénardiers (Sacha Baren Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter). What makes the story so classic is the cast of characters, familiar to the theatre geeks and overwhelming to the average moviegoer.
We are immediately captivated by the struggles many of these characters endure mainly because we are forced to watch their emotions. Sometimes it epically works, and sometimes it epically fails. For instance, the Thènardiers' "Master of the House," even though the film needed comic relief, felt out of place, and almost anachronistic. "Les Miz" felt awkward at places, and such musical numbers with the Thénardiers had to have better flow. There was yin and yang, and for the theatre it worked, but for film, it can't.
Hooper's radical take on "Les Miz" also carries some questionable baggage. Live singing certainly makes the experience so much more real, but for me, it was not Crowe's or Seyfried's singing that made my head tilt. It was Jackmans'. Even though I could count the number of sweat drops his forehead had, his voice drowned underneath other more powerful voices.
But these flaws do not outweigh the highlights of "Les Miz." Anne Hathaway as Fantine has a show stopping number ("I Dreamed a Dream") that could haunt you throughout the entire film. She isn't in it much, but during those 15 to 20 minutes, Hathaway's bawling and crying are just asking for an Oscar win, and she deserves it. Other enormously emotional performances include Samantha Barks ("On My Own") and Eddie Redmayne ("Empty Seats, Empty Chairs"). These three songs, including Hathaways', proves that the grimy close-ups and down-to-earth live singing can actually work on a visceral and cinematic level.
"Les Miz" starts strongly with Fantine and ends strongly with Èponine and Marius, and then there's this lagging middle. The French Revolution scenes felt extremely claustrophobic and the close-ups never end. So does the singing. It feels tedious and grandiose and overlong during that hour, but for some reason, everything feels right. This type of filming ensures a tedious and grandiose and overlong experience. And for that reason, I respect Hooper and the few talents who define this film.
Languid techno formulas, obnoxious troubleshooting ideas, and revolutionary Friendster cheats flood Mark Zuckerberg?s busy head. Stern looking and strinkingly skinny, Mark has the talent of a mini-Einstein, a ruler of geekdom at Harvard University. Many do not recognize the Rebook-wearing, pajama-stealing and bum-looking student at such prestigious grounds, but many do recognize his creation of the savvy Facebook. In David Fincher?s gloomy and grainy The Social Network, a young billionaire is scrutinzed with an extreme social-based enivorment where outcasts growl for pretty girls and school campuses drool for swashbuckling parties. Socially awkward Mark and his interpretation of power is taint because of his definitions of acceptance, motivation, and sacerfise.
Oastracized and isolated, troubled Mark tries his best to be accepted by programming a virtual network. Ironically, his perception of interacting with others is equivalent to a profile pic and a realtionship status on screen. Beneath an Ivy-leauge and fancy foundation, Harvard dives deeper into the college definition of fitting in. Mark swears himself to be invited in exclusive disco nights and the secretive Pheonix Club. Insufficed with his own idea of interaction, Mark realizes that the only way to open new doors and VIPs is the invention of a revoltuionary idea. Hacking into the school?s system and outlining Facebook?s fate, Mark finds himself into more distance because of his latest creation; still running his mouth about geek-things and robotics, Mark cannot find the answer to the never-ending formula of how to socialize with others. He drives the idea of builidng an empire towards a deadend since the naïve dream of ?distinct and cool and fun and hot invitations?? is much too eager and silly. While he encodes a drainy equation when updating a site about socializing, Mark cannot apply ?liking? and ?tagging? into his own personal wall.
For Mark, the dangerous seedling of motivation grows chatoically. While his Facebook creation goes viral and wild, buisness deals, advertising ideas, and more contracts contribute to his obsessed and claustrophobic nature. Mark is ?in a word, paranoid and blind like a workaholic gone wrong?? because of his feeling to be recognized. His appearance is bright and cunning, but inside, a dissatistication abrupts his success on making the second-most-visited site. The feelings of having to tweak and fix Facebook?s glitches overflows his own social life; soon, his eagerness to become the next popular Bill Gates is struck down because of his monster creation. Throughout his expierences, Mark consistently ignores his mawkish colleagues, meticulous schoolwork and fellow students to dedicate Facebook?s evolutionary process. Absurdity and ridicule suck the film?s style simply because of Mark?s counterpointed beliefs of interacting via web versus via face-to-face.
Once his obsessive rubber band snaps in the cold, Mark narrows his choices of spreading Facebook?s name with selfish sacerfises. His one and only friend, Eduardo constantly massages Mark?s stressful neck with his new ideas of buisness, CEO deals, and programming filters. Though, once Mark encounters womanizer and tycoon Sean Parker, the pathway to a sin-free and happily-ever-after Genesus explodes. Stressed about his co-workers? liability, unsurprisingly Mark pulls a nasty prank on his best bud just to expand Facebook?s global empire. Sean?s swindle skills implant inside Mark?s narrowed mind that simply screams for more smart buisness deals and formal meetings. Inside his love life, Erica dumps Mark because of his inconsistent measures of knowing the line between selfishness and self-image. Just for Facebook?s popularity, Mark costs Eduardo?s CFO position for dirty Sean and loses a clingy crush for ?thinking all for yourself?You?re a nerd, yes, but you?re mostly hated because you?re an asshole.?
Friending someone, tagging one?s photo, and writing on a celeb?s wall is not the universal framework Fincher tries to assay. Inciting and interlocking, Facebook?s creation is part of Mark?s damaged background during the painful process of trying to pull popularity?s strings, being engulfed by an idea that contrasts his own personal life and losing everlasting friends just to replenish a will-be-epheremel phenomanon. Mark may win the big fat lottery, but empires eventually destruct and destroy. For the youngest billionaire, gaining power is merely realized by biased and blashemy components that only revolves around them. But there is always a point of sanity and settlement even for a tangled and egocentric CEO like Mark.
Sorry to say, but family matters added up with media doesn?t smell too yummy. All you gotta do to impress the niche marketing boys is pack up some funny ol? catchphrase (anything that streches the iPhone band or parents stalking their 12 year-old?s best bad friend on Facebook) or trip the siblings into some misleading mischief, in which the mom would jokingly whine about that she?d have a miscarriage. Faster than the comeback an emo kid would applaud to, the children would hug each other, smooch BS kisses on the cheeks, and then, God forbid, there comes the croony awww. Background cues just attempt to smolder on our dandruffs, don?t they? Like that?s how real households act. They?d fire their chimneys, fix their lamps, accidently crash their vases into four shards, and then forgive each other the next minute a tween recieves some text message.
So much for the matter part. Businesses can only be so, oh very predictable with the market crashes and the dungy goers. Hollywood?s pow-wows stood near with the Will Smiths, instead of the nicer olden Cosbys. Hell, even that was more tangible than a faaabulous reniun with a Modern Family network. Really, not everything has to be a go-go type of dinner. Kids don?t always dive that shallow with trouble?s syndrome. Parents aren?t that kewl as Jay Leno?s. With the genre?s feeble-minded backpack, sometimes a woman just gotta slap the man in the face when they?re dealing with touchy papers. Fox Searchlight earned +5 points with the encouragement of a sad family who grew sadder, then +10 for the other little smash hits, all molded into depressing bummers Mayans would?ve teetered. Some peeps have the courage to finger puke the chocoloate chips and leave the bitter biscut as their little boy?s snack.
It quickly bubbled. With indie flicks boiling from healthy, calorie-free broil, to fried underwater carp, the serious shennigans are poked fun by the smart industry. Sideways mothballed happy jokes and the funny woman stomping their feet down on the lazy, incompetent males (PC term for the dumb wangs); Juno started the entire revalation about teen mom?s awesome parents and MTV reality shows. Next up, 27 Dresses with freaking Katherine Heigl as a brided Anne Hathaway, except not a sad Rachel, but uhm, we can only guess, a younger Julia Robert?s corny com? Sundance sure can soften up like mush Jell-O, or it can rock hard, act bad-ass and real crybaby vid, not Miley Cyrus acting as if she ain?t a cash girl or something in one of her floozy dramedies. Loner pictures can either ride high as screwball inteligentes. They can also catch hemorrhoids, anuses flying all over the gross-looking offspring.
The rest is bearable. The whole black comedy idea mustered with the sibling?s album juts home improvement and might work its way up to a TV troupe, one for the kids. Mid-life crisis is another average thing that acts as a smelly curse, a lemon a screenwriter might utilize sour-good for a dying indie playground. Sad weepies can go on for a while, but at least the ones with a couple of wry gags, dry lines and lying secret, squeeze Searchlight?s brim for the festivals. One 45-year-old-something It girl is Tamara Jenkins, not a family name, and far away from marrying crippled Gary Marshall. She writes and directs a fiery funny and hungry hypercarnal docudrama. A gutbucket?s scary relationship sticks up their rude middle fingers, like how real human issues act via face-to-face, not with Skype.
Jenkins surprisingly does get away with her Nia Vardalos? poofy hair and an all too ?90?s ta and cheap attire. Her films ? OK, it?s hard to count with like one hand ? sit at the end of a social latter, way deep and too shallow. Her early ?90?s wonky sunnyside-up Fugitive Love isn?t exactly like Clueless or Say Anything? More parties! More one-liners! More break-ups! She?s great with awesome forgettables like the chicks in The Slums of Beverly Hills, rom com meets a cracked sausage. We can only guess she?s the housewife Palin always wanted to be, the community college graduate cocky soccer mom, or the middle school teacher around the kid?s block. Filming those kinds of fluffy, lean flicks surely won?t let you drive anywhere. Fresh from the lawn drinking her cool lemonade while her husband?s mowing, Jenkins is the unknown gal who?ll stay with alibi. Sadly, she isn?t some Diablo Cody or something. But this time, she cracks down low and pulls down her pants so the whole crowd can see the cheeks. The Savages marks her pooh-pooh territory. If she plops dysentary, it?ll be one for the team.
Here?s her little back up plan. Forget the bigwig?s nametag, listen to the characters; elimante the platitude OMFG moments, and get them to cry like it?s some (melo) graveyard moment with Joel Osteen. Aaaand she wants to make you think. The Savages is advertised as the lone family crop, minus the kids, the pets, the plastic peeves. If that?s modern at all. Cold smirks and burnt cocktails are centerfolds for these major lewds. We meet two siblings who can?t think of ways to set up the dinner table, who keep fighting about who?s the better egghead, who wonder why their lives just freaking stink up the entire apartment. They?re adults. They?re middle-aged. These siblings look like bourgeoisie dead ends. Will be single forever and emo, these American adults will make kids think that the funeral will be there in a quarter till four, while the grannies, well, just wish them luck.
?DO DIET, SO SINGLE
This spreads lots like wildfire with dentures. Philip Seymour Hoffman gults his way down with ten Twinkies and a milkshake, pudgy and sometimes grumpy, Jon Savage, the mellow fellow whoe smart and wicked with words, slow with the whole marriage thing. Vilified research is his stressball; Polish women are karma. His too-normal-looking sister, Wendy (bravo Laura Linney) is almost 40, winding the clocks as an ankle-deep emotional lady with playwriting toppled aloof and med bottles equivalent to the Great Depression. Jon should have had his boy by now, someone that?ll relieve his cholesterol attacks. Wendy should be a mommy by now. (Too bad she?s massaging affiar?s love handle with a 52 year-old-grandpa.) They?re two clumsy armchairs, kids arrested if they acted like mature, bright adults. But they do like to write. He?s the smart professor lecturing until eggs cook by microwave; she?s the freelance writer, trapped in some flimsy cubicle cell.
He and she hear some bad news about their pa. Lenny (dry Philip Barco) is either telling Jesus that he has had enough of white aprons and obnoxious nurses, or he has some serious mental trauma. (For older generations, we can only call it dementia.) He writes crazy stuff on bleached walls, clean cut by the lovely caretakers, with his shit. When Lenny isn?t the dellusional mixed old guy, he?s the crazy mad grandaddy. Jon and Wendy are asked to give some siblings-parent time before he croaks dead. (When his girlfriend went farewell, it?s only fate for him to escape from those damn hopitals.) His wonderful son and daughter both hate their father to the guts mostly because the wonderful fatehr hates them. Ouch. Convos like, ?My boy isn?t a doctor?!? or ?Who?d pay me for you to be so annoying?? hurts sweetie Wendy, and drives Jon to a facepalm. Why, their lives, so cheery.
The chub doesn?t gurgle much attention; Wendy is the swelling mess. Because of a shot self-esteem by bazooka, her yen is craved all the way like it?s locked in a period symptom. Wen ignores the fact that she sips lies like daily coffee, has no running time, and well, it?s sorta gloomy to see such young old woman already wishing to sleep in a red-medicine-smelling death bed. And, ah yes: she?s backstabbing a husband?s wife by sleeping with their precious hubby. Wendy steals medicine from an old patient. She lies through her teeth about work. She?ll do anything to gnaw Jon?s plushy shoulders about who?s the better writer. When she cheats, all her face can do is look stoned while he?s humping away. Lying Wendy! Dying Wendy! Don?t we all. As she woes like her father has never been mad at her, she reminds herself that a wrinkly whore should only deserve zippo. Wendy whipsaws doses as a middle-class nonsense runnerback, a confused woman who thinks she enjoys womanizers, a daughter who thinks the father is like a babysitting chore.
Funeral music doesn?t rerun on their radio. (Although, this does have its winsome share of twinkling depressing cellos.) The bros and sis kinship is yet to be solved until the final death wish. But aren?t all troubled girls and boys stay static? No time for Kleenex weeping, and then, it turns out to be freindship braceles, but soon another foolish fight wrecks it. Jon punches bags like word brawls; Wendy sneaks in the very lying truth. (?Are you having a heartattack??) The two can?t even wash their own pillow cases, so why not throw mad dad at some eldery, sunny, marvelous house?, i.e. a squirt?s worst nightmare, closer to an insane asylum than a POW headquater. Which one: Valley View or Green Meadows ? they all smell the same, and embody toilet seats with the miffing nursery rhymes. Jon bobbles his head and finds the most brutal rehabilitation mall, while his cuckoo sister cusses hysterically. As her brother spits a reminder that all elderly houses encourage grosteque murder, she uses a lie as bait. Jon eats. Wendy cries. Adults when they?re related.
Lenny?s eyebrows would cringe soon enough. But yeah, everything moists up pretty sadly. He?s er, well, less than a nicer grandpa, a bald ?do that would scare a 4 year-old?s toy truck. Taciturn answers means he?s at least content. Or lazy? We can only tell. Something like ?Not bad? or ?Mhmm? gives ease for the Savages like breast cancer was just cured. Then, in the next second, a new epidemic wipes all the buffoons. Daddy shouts at the top of his lungs, curses the freak outta a nursery room, slaps Jon at the back of his free willy neck. You could say he?s quite bipolar. When sunset crawls down to night, rituals, make the guy so ticked off, evil step-fathers would end up as swallowed black widows. His kids have their quirky grabbags like affiar rings, moobs and men. A moving truck full of bon bons left behind, they shouldn?t be complaining. Of course, a wee edginess burns at the side of Lenny?s sketch. He?s the saggy Scrooge, but for Jon and Wendy?s humility, they can only frown.
The family hug is quite ? oh, well, teary. This isn?t exactly a fluffy soap opera whipped cream. You can?t wank off during the crybaby montages. Jokes come and go, Jon gets the fat boy sweetness out of him, Wendy has that doomed voice surely browbeaten and shameful. As huangdog?s lives aren?t so sorely funny, this isn?t a laughing fiasco. Here?s something that?s sit and cry then titter, as you?re half-tickled. Their father sure is cranky, but at least the sideways siblings make some ?do time and figure up their banged-up roads and cut-short abjects. Mad squirts are so in; pricky yuppies live outside with Biden and the rest. (After all, not every adult tends to be moola-making after school.) Family just can?t be Christmas carols anymore. True life tends to be the bitter victim. You have middle-aged losers who can?t marry anyone, gain more weight as book?s mouths fly open, practice more sex while their partner?s wife is on the line, take meds like quick Tic-Tacs, hate fathers, accept mothers as sperm donors. Take a whiff.