Thursday, 13 February 2014

‘Les Miserables’, Dir. Tom Hooper, 2012 – DVD - Wednesday 12th February 2014

(Rated 4/5 )

I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen the musical ‘Les Mis’ on stage, and how many people I have taken with me ;). It is my all time favourite musical. If requested I could probably sing it all by heart though you may not want to hear that ;) Unless, that is, I sing along with it in which case I am able to carry the tune pretty nicely if I say so myself :) My first experience of it was at its opening at the Barbican. That dates me… and it! It 25 years old in 2012!! I won’t tell you how old I was then :) Like all good things over-indulged in, I started to get a tiny bit bored and so left it for maybe at least 10 years. I even left seeing the film for some time til now. I wanted to really want to see it…
It’s good, very good actually, but not great. Given that it is a film I expected the production of it to be better. The staging of Les Mis was extremely impressive – in particular the barricade – but then maybe that would be the case because it’s not so easy to do on stage. The script, or should I say score, is changed a little from the stage version – a new song for Valjean and one of Gavroche’s about Little People taken out – also some very minor alterations – not really sure why but that doesn’t matter very much. What I wish is that they hadn’t chosen ‘stars’ to sing the leads – or okay more specifically Russell Crowe as Javert as he was okay but not good enough to carry the film in the huge rivalry main plot along with Hugh Jackman as Valjean, who did a much better job. However Anne Hathaway as Fantine was excellent – deservedly winning awards – as were Amanda Seyfried as Cosette and Samantha Banks as Eponine – gorgeous voices. Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as Mme and Mr Thenardier were fun and stayed in tune-ish. But the most impressive and surprising for me by far was Eddie Redmayne as Marius. Stunning singing! Well done young man! But why not have that quality for Javert and Valjean together?! A big shame that something as permanent as a film is not given the best of the best of the right talent to make it hugely impressive.

Les Miserables – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2014

Monday, 3 February 2014

Scandi-Noir = Scandi-Gold!!!!!

The Bridge (Original) Season 2 Finale starring Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia and The Winner Takes It All by ABBA
Saturday 1st February 2014 on BBC4
(Rated 10/5!!!!!)
I know my reviews have gone almost completely crazy in their scorings. But where do you go when you've given some things 7/5 and then you see some other things even better than that!! Okay so makes no logical sense but maybe double perfect can work given I'm writing about 2 things and given there were 2 stunning acting talents in The Bridge to see, and 2x2 exceptional people; in particular 2 out of those 2x2 who were responsible for The Winner Takes It All! And that should make a lot more than 10! Hm my logic completely fails me and any plot structure there should have been for this review has gone all wrong, which isn't surprising, as like Sofia and Kim, I am far more interested in the emotions in all of this work than plots and calculating out the logic.
I have already written about Saga and Martin in The Bridge. Could they move me even more? Well yes actually. Their performances were stunning, moving and so gripping I felt more in it with the pair of them - and to be fair the other characters too - than I think I ever have before on a TV show. As I said before Sofia's Saga holds everything just behind her eyes in that impervious face she shows and Kim's Martin can pick that up just as we can as audience. But what happens when it gets really serious - when their relationship is tested to the limits - when a person who cannot really relate to others (Saga) admits Martin is her one and only friend - and he breaks her trust and she in turn gives in to the morally right thing rather than those feelings for him she is starting to really show so committing him to... well no, I won't give it away... except to say those little cracks in her face move you to the point of breaking hearts and tears and Martin's experiences - though more easily shown - are no less powerful and moving. The actors have also said this is a love story. It is - not in any sexual way - but how a love can develop between 2 people far beyond the most romantic romance given how far they have to come in relating to feel it. I do think part of the emotion the audience feels is you're almost doing it for them as well as they can't fully break themselves. But almost more than Romeo and Juliet these two complete each other and the biggest tragedy to life is for them not to have each other as friends. Saga is Martin's rock. He is her compass for the 'normality' of human feeling and expression of that. Words really genuinely feel totally inadequate to express just how good these performances were. And just as it all comes to its thrilling conclusion and we have to wait for Season 3 to get any real sense of resolution...
BBC4 puts on a show about ABBA! Showing yet another example of sheer talent from the Scandinavians! I've been a fan for years. In fact this was the first music group I was a fan of! And now I am so proud of that - yep then it was something you hid a bit ;) Their songs moved me then - the power and depth of The Winner Takes It All, SOS, The Day Before You came and others. Bjorn Ulvaeus is interviewed in the show. The Winner Takes It All was him writing about the break-up of his marriage to Agnetha Faltzkog, and then as we all know, he gives it to her to sing. And we feel the heart and soul of the truth of their feelings in this process. It's just WOW!
Art is at its most compelling we can't but help feel empathy for those who have created it for us. It grabs our hearts, the feeling parts of our minds, and our whole being and just won't let go - leaving a permanent imprint of itself on us. Pure Gold!!!!!

Scandi-Noir = Scandi-Gold - Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2014