Tom Hooper

Queen Singer Freddie Mercury

You know that gritty, soul-searching Freddie Mercury biopic starring Sacha Baron Cohen that you wanted? It’s not going to happen. According to Deadline Hollywood, Cohen has left the project due to creative differences with Queen, and while that’s normally code for Any Number Of Other Reasons, it sounds like this time the differences were legitimate. Instead of wanting a real movie that dug into R-rating territory (for an iconic musician whose life was certainly not PG), the band was more interested in the Mickey Mouse version of the story. Cohen also brought in heavy hitters like Peter Morgan, David Fincher and Tom Hooper to work on the film, but the band (who had creative control) wouldn’t approve them. Because they’re the last people you want working on your friend’s life story, right? Without Cohen on board, Hooper is out as well. This is a shame. In a studio situation where it’s hard enough to get mature movies made, even when they are essentially recipes for Oscar gold, it’s doubly difficult to see something brought down by the very people who should have a vested interest in telling the most compelling story possible. The funny/tragic thing is that even if Queen wants a PG-rating for their bandmate’s story, as soon as Mercury kisses a dude, the MPAA will probably slap it with an NC-17 anyway. So even though we all know what the lyrics say, the only question that matters now is whether the show will go on.

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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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catchingfire_firstlook

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a movie news column that cares. Bring Me Your Katniss! – We begin this evening with one of a few new images from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the holiday-releasing sequel to that other movie about a girl with a bow, an arrow and a will to live. The above image is our first look at Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee. Seriously, these names…

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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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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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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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Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables

As we all know, period pieces are beloved the world around for their gorgeous, detailed designs and their poorly shaved heads. Tom Hooper‘s Les Miserables will not disappoint on either front, especially considering that these new pictures show off both Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway with heads that look like they were shaved by an epileptic Edward Scissorhands. The joys of Victor Hugo’s novel, come to life!

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A few weeks ago, Twitch exclusively reported that Taylor Swift had been offered the role of Eponine in Tom Hooper‘s Les Miserables adaptation – news which struck most people with ears and eyes as a terrible pick (myself heartily included). But it looks like that news was perhaps a bit too premature, as Swift will not be playing the rich girl turned street urchin (and one segment of the story’s love triangle). Instead, the all-star production has gone in a different direction – by reportedly hiring on an actual trained Broadway actress who has played the role before. Samantha Barks will take on the role, which she previously played in the wildly popular 25th anniversary concert version of the classic story. The news was announced by Cameron Mackintosh (who is also a producer on Hooper’s film) live on stage at the Manchester Palace during the curtain call of a performance of Oliver!, a production in which Barks was playing the role of Nancy. While it’s unclear at this time, most observers seem to think the official news was a surprise even to Barks, who apparently looked both elated and surprised by the news.

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On the heels of the news that director Tom Hooper will likely make the cast of his upcoming Les Miserables adaptation sing “live” on camera (versus inserting vocals after they’ve been polished up in a traditional recording studio), comes news that The King’s Speech helmer may have two other vocal talents to add to his production. Twitch reports, thanks to two different exclusive scoops, that offers are out to Amanda Seyfried and Taylor Swift for a pair of key parts (and both angles on a looooove triangle!). Seyfried (who actually has a background in opera, fun trivia!) has been offered the essential role of Cosette. Cosette is the daughter of Anne Hathaway‘s Fantine (yes, Hathaway is just three years older than Seyfried), the ruined and tragic prostitute. Fantine gives baby Cosette to the rich Thénardiers, thinking they will care for her, though they mistreat her until she is eventually saved by adoptive papa Jean Valjean. And just why do the Thénardiers abuse her? Well, they’re really evil, and they’re also busy lavishing treats on their real daughters, including eldest Eponine. Swift has reportedly been offered the role of Eponine, rich girl turned street urchin. Both Cosette and Eponine are in love with second-generation baron Marius Pontmercy (to be played by Eddie Redmayne) in Victor Hugo’s classic story. The addition of Seyfried is a bit of a no-brainer, she’s well on her way to an established film career (despite some missteps like Red Riding Hood and Dear John), and her actual background in and talent for […]

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Let it never be said that director Tom Hooper doesn’t make some interesting choices when it comes to filming his projects for maximum veracity. His Oscar-winning hit The King’s Speech was shot on a former porno set (grit!), he used Colonial Williamsburg for a number of sets for his John Adams (gritty, in a different way!), and now it looks like he’s going full-hilt on his first musical feature. Hooper’s next film is a full-scale musical feature version of the done-to-starving-death Les Miserables, and while a new take on Victor Hugo’s classic material doesn’t strike most people as necessary, Hooper is going to give the project its own spin to liven it up. No, no, he’s not going to make it some sort of bizarre “reimagining,” he’s going to make its stars actually sing. No, no, it’s much more interesting than that – he’s going to make them sing live. A “source close to the production” has told the Sun UK that “the director is determined to make the project as authentic as possible.” As such, “the cast will record their vocals live on camera rather than go into a studio first then mime on film to the pre-recorded vocal…First they have to learn the complex songs, then they’ll have to get it right on set in front of the other stars and crew.” This does provide a look inside Hooper’s vision for the film, which may be much more classically theatrical than first suspected. Hooper has already lined up […]

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Last month, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe officially signed on for Tom Hooper’s take on the classic Les Miserables, set to face off as dashing criminal Jean Valjean and Police Inspector Javert, respectively. At the time, we didn’t yet know who would be taking on the female leads in the musical, but it looks like Hooper has rounded out at least one role with that rare beast – a Hollywood starlet with a predilection for belting out tunes. No, not Barbra Streisand. No, not Cher. Oh, guys, no, not Christina Aguilera. It’s Anne Hathaway! Hathaway will play eventual prostitute Fantine, who gives up quite literally everything (including her teeth) to provide for her daughter Cosette (who comes under Valjean’s wing). She also sings her way through a number of big numbers, the most famous of which is unfortunate Glee fodder “I Dreamed a Dream.” Hathaway has sung in a few features (including Rio and Ella Enchanted), and she’s broken out her pipes during her duties as Oscar co-host and two-time Saturday Night Live host, but she’s yet to bring those talents to a full-scale musical. Hathaway has also been long attached to (and quite personally involved with) a Judy Garland biopic. Should her performance in Les Miz establish her as a singing force to be reckoned with (toothless and all), maybe we’ll see that Garland film yet.

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If you spent yesterday ruminating on whether or not Hollywood needed yet another Anna Karenina, you can now use those brain muscles to ponder the existence of yet another big-scale adaptation of a classic work – now with 100% more Russell Crowe! We’ve known for awhile that Hugh Jackman would star in Tom Hooper‘s take on Les Miserables, but it’s been unclear just who he would play and, conversely, who would play opposite him. Dream no more dreams, mon amies, all of our questions have now been answered. Jackman will star as prisoner 24601 himself, criminal Jean Valjean (but a dashing criminal who stole bread to save his family, a thief with a heart of gold!), with Crowe set as his long-time nemesis, Police Inspector Javert (who is essentially the Officer Krupke of the entire production). Jackman and Crowe round out the essential male roles of the film, with casting still up in the air for the female leads Fantine and Cosette, along with the entire Thénardier family. This new Les Miz is viewed as a “live-action adaptation” of the famous stage musical and an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel. You know what that means! Singing! It’s no secret that Jackman loves to belt out tunes, and the actor is pretty skilled when it comes to doing the big showy stuff (hell, he’s even done it on Broadway in The Boy from Oz). But Crowe is no singing slouch either, as he likes to put his gravelly voice to more rock tunes, […]

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Any theater fan knows that making Les Miserable as a film will be a considerable undertaking (one that hopefully keeps the rotating stage). It’s an epic piece of writing made even larger by the music created for the stage version by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil (the English version libretto was done by Herbert Kretzmer). With a Best Picture under his belt, Tom Hooper wants to tackle it, and so does Universal, but they’ll both need some giants to fill the main roles, and it looks like they’ve gotten their first. Variety is reporting that Hugh Jackman, famous for being well-versed as an actor, a singer, and a not-too-shabby dancer, is currently in talks to star. It’s unclear whether he’ll be playing the fugitive Jean Valjean (who was imprisoned for stealing bread to feed his sister’s family) or Javert (the police inspector determined to hunt him down), but speculation seems to be that he’ll be running from the law instead of representing it. That speculation is based on Jackman’s natural tenor singing range, but it wouldn’t be the first time a production forced an actor to do something out of their safe zone. The real question is which part he’d be best for. That, again, is Valjean. Although he could honestly nail down either part firmly. Now to find a suitable counterpart. How about Liam Neeson (who portrayed Valjean in the 1998 film adaptation), Karl Urban (can he sing?), or Jean Dujardin (making a proper launch into US filmmaking)? On […]

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Editor’s Note: This review originally ran in November 2010, but since The King’s Speech just won the Academy Award for Best Picture, it seemed incredibly relevant. Enjoy. According to the dictionary, to be kingly is to be “stately or splendid, as resembling, suggesting, or befitting a king; regal.” The great movie kings — Henry II, Richard III, Arthur — fit that description, being strong, alpha male types, domineering presences unafraid to exert their authority and make their reign felt. What a surprise, then, to encounter George VI (Colin Firth) in Tom Hooper’s eloquent, emotional The King’s Speech. The current Queen Elizabeth’s father ascended to the throne in 1936, at a time that called out for a forceful leader. With scandal in his wake, spurred by his brother Edward’s abdication, and the European continent on the precipice of war, the new king faced the daunting task of inspiring an empire rife with tumult.

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Academy Awards broadcast. Please join us for our Live-Blog tonight (because we ask nicely), and while you wait for the winners, check out our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. Tonight’s the night! You find out if you will take top prize in your office pool, and, you know, you’ll get to see which fantastic films are most celebrated with little naked statues of gold. If you love the Oscars, hate them, or pretend to hate them while sitting riveted to the broadcast, one thing is clear: tonight is a night to celebrate the best in filmmaking. We love movies. So do you. Tonight we can all celebrate our favorites of 2010 even if they don’t win and even if they weren’t nominated. As for those in the running, they are all beautiful works of art, they’re all winners tonight, they went out on the field and gave 110%…and…yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s get to the winning, right? And the Oscar goes to…

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We’ve reported before on the possibility of The Weinstein Company shooting for an edited version of The King’s Speech in order to get a brand new, shiny PG-13 rating. According to Variety, they’ve successfully done so. What does it all mean? It means that an Oscar contender for Best Picture has been watered down because 1) bad language is dangerous to our youth 2) teenagers put down their Nintendo DSes and sexting devices for long enough to lobby TWC to get a teenager-friendly version approved and/or 3) none of the above. What it really means is that if you haven’t seen the film, and you want to see it in all its (literal) fucking glory, you might not be able to soon. If TWC decides to pull all of the original, un-bowdlerized versions and replace them with the PG-13 version (which some source are saying has the words muted. That’s right. Muted. You’ll hear nothing instead of a human talking where a human is supposed to be talking), then you might be out of luck. As adults and movie fans, the only response is to do the opposite of what TWC expects – don’t go see the film specifically because its been edited. It’s unclear what role Tom Hooper played in this move, if any, but it is clear that The Weinstein Company has done it solely because they feel it will expand their profit base. However, the millions of teenagers demanding access to this film will finally get it […]

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If there’s one thing that’s really great about the Academy Awards it’s the manner in which they decide who gets nominated and, ultimately, who wins for each category. It makes little sense to have directors vote on who did the best acting, or musicians deciding on who had the most splendid photography, or screenwriters deciding who made the best non-scripted picture. Professionals in their field decide on which other professionals in their same field did the most exemplary work to represent their profession.

And thank God, because I can’t imagine how you would define what constitutes great directing. The job encompasses so much that great directing can be equally applied to someone obsessively anal about their “vision” just as much as someone who relies on spontaneity and ad-lib to achieve the best results. It can be applied to someone with incredible photographic technique and an eye for scene setup, and another who seems to have little regard for visual appeal. As the matter of fact, as of last year it no longer even matters whether you have a penis or not.

I absolutely have no clue what constitutes great directing despite having my own opinion, which carries no weight because I’ve never done it in my life. I probably couldn’t direct traffic let alone tell someone to film me doing it from a specific spot and focus on my anxiety in close-up and then cut to a slow-mo clip of me weeping when drivers don’t pay attention to me. If I could do that then maybe I’d have an idea what a great director really does.

Thankfully, I don’t have to as the Best Director is decided upon by others who have been there, done it and conquered it in their own way to acknowledge how difficult it must have been to focus all collaborators’ attention to the right areas at the right times to arrive altogether at the same, desired destination; which is ultimately arriving at a final product they can all be proud of.

Here are this year’s nominees for Best Director:

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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The LA Times seems to have spies situated deep in the camp of The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper, and they’re spilling all of the beans when it comes to what his next film may be. One shady, unnamed source says that Hooper has already been offered and turned down the chance to direct Iron Man 3. As has been previously reported, Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black will be the one taking on the further adventures of the red and gold Avenger, so this suggests that Black was not Marvel’s first pick for continuing the series. What is Hooper going to do instead of a super hero sequel? Well, another source close to the director told the Times that he is considering an offer to direct a film version of Les Misérables. What started as a 1860s era novel by French icon Victor Hugo has spawned countless republishings and adaptations since it’s release, the most famous of which probably being the stage musical of the early 80s. The trench coat wearing, standing in the shadows source intimates that it would be the musical that Hooper would be adapting for the screen here. The last Hollywood adaption of the story was directed by Bill August, came out in 1998, and was not a musical.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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