Les Miserables

discs big picture

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Big Picture Paul (Romain Duris) is a successful lawyer with a wife and two beautiful kids, but something is amiss in his marriage. He envies his neighbor Greg’s casual freedoms, but when he discovers his wife has been loving Greg in some far more physical ways, a conversation between the two men leads to an incident that sends Paul running for his life. This French thriller is based on a novel by Douglas Kennedy, and as they did with Harlan Coben’s Tell No One, the result is a far more literate thriller than we would probably get from Hollywood. Duris is a fantastic actor, and he invests Paul with passion and emotional intensity as his mistake leads to a life he’s always wanted but was afraid to attempt. The supporting performances are equally solid including a brief turn by Catherine Deneuve. [Blu-ray extras: Trailer]

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Basic CMYK

Tomorrow, during the Academy Awards ceremony and telecast, Mondo will be unveiling new posters for sale tied to the Oscar-nominated films (visit the shop here). It’s their second year doing a special series like this, and you may recall last year’s designs for Rango, Hugo and others. As you can see above, we’ve gotten a preview of their 2013 crop with artwork revealed for posters for The Master, Les Miserables and ParaNorman. You can see these in full after the jump along with a massive gallery featuring some older designs for current and past Oscar nominees.

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Best Picture

Here it is: the Big Kahuna of the Oscar season. Bestowed upon the producers, the Best Picture award is easily the most memorable category of the Big Six. It often coincides with a Best Director win, but with almost twice the nominations than Best Director and some high-profile snubs, there’s always a chance for an upset. Best Picture is also one of the most divisive categories out there. To target a specific talent or role, it’s easy to zero in on one element of a film. A medicore film can have fantastic, Oscar-worthy cinematography. A film that has no shot at comprehensive awards can offer a scene-stealing performance for a Best Supporting Actor or Actress win. But Best Picture? That’s as comprehensive as it gets. Since the nominations have been made and all the complaints about why certain movies weren’t on the list (like the awards-forgotten Moonrise Kingdom) have been logged, it’s now time to focus on the nine films that made the cut. While the statuette is handed to the producer of the film, it’s an honor that everyone involved in the production can enjoy. Such a picture will either become a minor all-but-forgotten footnote in Oscar history (like The Last Emperor or last year’s The Artist), or it will become a well-known winner of cinematic legend (like The Godfather or Titanic). It will also serve as great marketing copy for any future DVD or Blu-ray release from now until the end of time. Read on for the nominations […]

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Best Production Design

It’s got a new name! Best Art Direction is now Best Production Design, in keeping with the equivalent change of the Academy branch. Of course, the name change doesn’t have any practical impact on the content of the category or its predictability, but it is cool nonetheless. This year’s crop is an interesting bunch. Three of the five nominees are also up for Best Picture, though the category doesn’t align with the top often enough to make it a no-brainer. There are three period films and two fantasy films, in keeping with the Academy’s reluctance to award contemporary design. And it goes without saying that most of the nominated films are visually stunning. Check out the nominees for Best Production Design with my prediction in red:

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Best Original Song

Last year’s Best Original Song category had a dismal two (TWO!) nominations in a year that gave us such songs as the catchy “Hello Hello” from the piano man himself, Elton John (who has seen no love from the Academy since The Lion King in 1994) from Gnomeo and Juliet, a brand new (and beautifully haunting) song from The National, “Think You Can Wait,” from Win Win, and eleven new songs (any of which could have/should have been a contender) from Sigur Rós front-man Jónsi from We Bought a Zoo. Luckily this year the Academy decided on a much more respectable number of songs (five of them!) pulled from a variety of film genres including a documentary (Chasing Ice), comedy (Ted), musical (Les Misérables), action (Skyfall), and adventure (Life of Pi) performed by a range of singers, including chart topping artists and even one actress. An increased number of songs may be getting their moment in the spotlight this year, but only one will be left standing at the end of the big night. Read on as we turn up the volume on each of the nominees along with my prediction of the winner in red…

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Les Miserables and Joan of Arc

What is the very best way to use of the close-up? Is it best to save close-ups for the emotional arcs of a film, or to introduce a character? Can too many close-ups leave audiences feeling claustrophobic, and can too few prevent us from properly identifying with characters? Much has been made of Tom Hooper’s controversial use of the close-up for Les Miserables. The lack of critical consent over the film’s close-ups could be a major reason why Hooper has been on few shortlists for directing awards, even as the film garners attention fin other categories. Hooper’s use of the close-up perhaps reaches its apex early on, in an extended shot of Anne Hathaway as Fantine singing “I Dreamed a Dream,” a sequence that has been generally celebrated as the film’s strongest moment and ostensibly ensured Hathaway’s lock for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. But Hooper’s isn’t the first filmmaker known for implementing the close-up liberally and controversially. How does Hooper’s use of the close-up for a film musical compare to one of cinema history’s most famous close-up-structured films, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc?

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argo_29

One of the big surprises of the 2013 Golden Globe Awards involved a sort of “Argo-f**kyourself” to the Academy Awards, as Oscar-snubbed Ben Affleck was named Best Director of the year. His film, Argo, also ended up winning Best Picture in the drama category. Early in the night, in a brilliantly hilarious monologue by co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the ceremony offered some foreshadowing with subtle jabs at the Oscars with immediate shout outs to Affleck and fellow Academy snubs in the director category, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino. They even fit in a joke directed at Anne Hathaway about her 2011 Academy Awards ceremony co-hosting gig with James Franco. Hathaway expectantly wound up winning for Best Supporting Actress, though, and her film, Les Miserables won Best Picture – Comedy or Musical. Co-star Hugh Jackman was a bit of s surprise as Best Actor – Comedy or Musical. More than who won and what didn’t, people will be talking about the somewhat cryptic speech by Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Jodie Foster and the appearance by Bill Clinton to present Best Picture nominee Lincoln. Speaking of Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis surprised nobody by winning Best Actor – Drama. But at least I ended up surprised that he did a comedy 25 years ago called Stars and Bars, which I need to see immediately. My Golden Globes live-blog co-host, Daniel Walber, alerted me to that. And if you didn’t follow us during the ceremony, which we found far more enjoyable than […]

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JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

The 70th Golden Globe Awards will be held tomorrow night, and I invite you to join myself and FSR’s awards guru, Daniel Walber, for live-blog commentary during the ceremony. We’ll try to keep it smart, avoid too much snark and will likely be obeying the rules of the drinking game that co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have devised. It will also hopefully be more conversational than remarks we could have just tweeted, in order that I can turn the discussion around as a more readable post-event recap of the night. In case you’re too busy paying attention to your TV to also read our words simultaneously. Anyway, you can’t head into a big awards telecast viewing without predictions for what you think will win. Daniel and I seem to agree on exactly half of the movie categories. So, maybe it won’t be such a predicable night. Check out our choices after the break and give us your own predictions in the comments. If you do better than either of us, we commend you in advance (and maybe at the end of our GG coverage too).

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trailer_beasts of southern wild

Everyone calm down. The Oscar nominations are not a disaster. They actually make for the most exciting awards season in recent memory. I know that for many of us this took a few minutes to notice. I am, frankly, still pretty ticked off about Kathryn Bigelow somehow missing a nomination for Best Director. I’d rant about this, but Monika Bartyzel over at Movies.com has already done an excellent job breaking it down. Other things aren’t so much infuriating as they are irritatingly dull, like a Best Supporting Actor category full of former winners and a studio-dominated Best Animated Feature. Add that to the embarrassing jokes Emma Stone and Seth McFarlane threw at us at 8:30AM EST, and it’s not surprising Twitter turned into a mini-maelstrom of bitter resentment. However, there is much to be stoked about! There are the little things, like four nominations for my beloved Anna Karenina. There are littler things, like Quvenzhané Wallis becoming the youngest Best Actress nominee in history. There are the littlest things: PES’s Fresh Guacamole might be the shortest Oscar nominee in history with a running time of just over 90 seconds. Finally, the big picture is also a lot more intriguing than anyone would have guess just a few months ago.

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Film Jockeys 2 - Snob Who Stole Christmas

Check out Derek’s porfolio His other webcomic “Northern Empires” And/Or the Film Jockeys Archive

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Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 4.53.07 PM

There is a lot of buzz about the live singing on the set Les Misérables. All of the actors sang as the cameras rolled rather than recording in a studio first, and that’s a great accomplishment since many of the actors have wonderful singing voices and don’t exactly need autotuning. This live singing in combination with the film’s grand scope – finally, a film of the legendary Boublil/Schönberg musical! – is supposed to make this a great film. But, very sadly, it does not. While the film is filled with a lot of great talent and certainly is watchable, it buckles under the often mind-blowingly heavy-handed direction by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and never becomes the epic piece of cinema that it so clearly set out to be. The story is fairly common knowledge (and quite involved), but Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is finishing up his prison sentence for breaking into a house and stealing a loaf of bread. He thinks he is free, but because of being on a stringent parole at the hand of Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) he cannot get employment after his sentence is over. Valjean vows to make another go of it and when we find him years later, he is living under an assumed identity as the mayor of a small town. Valjean pays his good fortune forward when he helps factory worker-come-prostitute Fantine (Anne Hathaway). After Fantine’s death, he bails her young daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen) out of an abusive boarding house […]

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Ben Affleck

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that finally gets to stop talking about Walk of Shame, which was really being something of an attention hog lately. Some real bad news hit today for everyone looking forward to seeing what a trainwreck Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart starring opposite of each other as romantic interests would have been. Affleck announced that, due to his busy schedule of being a busy person, he’s not going to be able to act in Focus after all. This means that the Glenn Ficarra- and John Requa-helmed pic will have to find someone else to vibe with Stewart as its in-the-mood-for-romance con artist, and Affleck is going to have to stick to directing movies, a place everyone seems to feel way more comfortable with him being in anyway. [Variety]

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Les Miserables

Let it never be said that director Tom Hooper took the easy road with his follow-up feature to his Oscar-winning The King’s Speech. While Hooper’s decision to again tackle a period piece with a new film version of an already often-adapted piece of work might have seemed simple when it was first announced, Hooper’s inspired idea to make his Les Miserables as close to an actual stage production as possible is anything but safe or expected. With Hooper making the bold decision to use “live” singing from his cast (not going the more traditional route of lip-syncing and recording tracks in post-production), his version of Les Miserables places quite the premium on getting truly great musical performances out of its stars. Which is why it might be confusing to many a moviegoer that the cast of Hooper’s Les Mis is rounded out by big name movie stars that most people wouldn’t necessarily associate with the Great White Way. But Hooper knew exactly what he was doing when he cast such stars as Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathway, and Amanda Seyfried in his film, because while the cast of Les Miserables is rife with well-known acting talent, it’s also filled to the brim with exceptional (and, in most cases, exceptionally trained) songbirds. Not sold on the dulcet tones and vocal stylings of this new Les Mis cast? Let’s take a look at their singing backgrounds.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly thing about movie things, mostly dedicated to rounding up the best uncovered news of the day, with a few nice caveats thrown in for good measure. Tonight, it’s all business, baby. Nolan on Superman – “Superman is the biggest comic book character of them all and he needs the biggest possible movie version which is what Zack’s doing. It’s really something.” That’s pretty big there, Mr. Nolan. 

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Django Unchained

This last month of 2012 is packed with movies to suck up our time when we need it the most. You got Tom Cruise stretching his acting muscles as an action hero, Russell Crowe singing in the shower, Matt Damon getting all teary eyed nostalgic over old America, and more. Plenty of variety before the apocalypse ruins our chance of ever seeing what Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s Batman would be like. If this is our final month of filmgoing, then so be it. With Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson, Judd Apatow, Kathryn Bigelow, Christopher McQuarie, and Gus Van Sant all jollying up our holiday season, we couldn’t ask for a better last hurrah for movies if those apocalypse rumors are proven correct. Before we all die horrible and painful deaths, make sure to see these films:

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If there’s anything I hate most about the Oscars it’s the way the movie awards have the power to influence filmmaking. This time of year it’s more and more difficult to tell if certain films are even meant for us, the audience, or if they should solely be shown to the Academy in exchange for little gold men. Of course, one of the purposes of baiting for Oscars is to receive nominations and especially wins, which will presumably help earn more money at the box office (or, more likely, from the cable outlet). This still excludes satisfying the audience as the primary impulse and objective of making movies. In theory, accolades should indeed motivate Hollywood to make the best pictures they could possibly make. There’s still something to be said for art being the best when not aiming for praise and prizes, but in terms of studio product, which is more craft and entertainment than art and expression, such goals can be positive inspiration. Without the Oscars we probably still would have seen a profit-aiding progression of special effects technology and artistry, but surely some production values have improved over time as a result of sound recordists and costume designers and art directors and composers and songwriters striving to be known as the best in their field.

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Welcome to the first installment of the CriterionCast takeover of Movie News After Dark. While Neil spends the week singing karaoke, or whatever it is that you kids do at Fantastic Fest, I’ll attempt to fill his manly, bearded shoes with my own geeky art-house sensibilities. Speaking of Fantastic Fest, the folks handling the PR have been releasing a ton of great material for all of us non-attendees, to soothe the pain. Apparently Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick, Brothers Bloom) joined in on the nerd karaoke fun that everyone was talking about this weekend, and they sent out a hefty pack of high resolution images, to help prove what we already know to be true: Rian Johnson is the coolest.

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Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables

A decent amount of talk has been dedicated to director Tom Hooper‘s decision to have the cast of Les Miserables sing live during takes instead of using the more traditional method of overdubbing. Rightfully so. Though it’s not the first movie to eschew dubbing, it’s the largest scale project to do so completely, and that creates a bit of danger in the form of raw voices. On the other hand, as cast members Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Russell Crowe, Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne explain, there’s a freedom that comes with it which allows for them to truly emote through their songs. After a stunning teaser, this look into the method behind the madness proves once again that there’s a lot to hope for with this flick. It looks to be an epic given the proper epic treatment, and the on-set singing aspect, especially, gives it a fascinating edge that will most likely be something far beyond a simple gimmick. If nothing else, this featurette shows plainly the filmmakers’ investment in and dedication to the process. Check it out for yourself:

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Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables

Merry Christmas, everyone! Now let’s cut off all our hair and sell it so our children can eat! Wait, is that not how you celebrate the holidays with your family? Too bad, it’s how we’re celebrating this year. With the news that Universal has pushed back their Les Miserables to open on Christmas Day, the rest of Hollywood (completely relatively speaking) has joined in and mixed up their release date schedules like so much calendar Cobb salad. Just when will we see Aaron Eckhart as a new wave monster and where is that The Rock-as-concerned-dad drug film we all need and what the hell is Battle of the Year? After the break, let’s dream some dreams with the new release dates for Les Mis, Snitch, No Good Deed, Battle of the Year, and I, Frankenstein.

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Les Miserables Anne Hathaway Shaved

Most trailers are anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes, but very few pack as much grandiose power as the new teaser for Les Miserables manages in just a minute and a half. To be fair, director Tom Hooper is utilizing time-honored music that swells and soars, but there’s also a power in the shots, the set design, and in Anne Hathaway‘s voice as she laments the death of a dream. With a shaved head. The scale looks nasty, brutish and epic. Check it out for yourself:

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
B


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