Cinema Digest 2012 – Week 52

Les Misérables (2012)
les mis

First, a bit of personal history. I’ve been a fan of the stage version of Les Misérables for a number of years. I saw it on stage twice and was actually in the play during High School. I think it’s one of the most beautiful stories ever written. And so it was with great expectations that I sat down to watch the first filmed adaptation of the musical. Director Tom Hooper made two very important decisions that pay off immensely. The first is having the actors sing live rather than lip syncing to a pre-recorded track. This allows the actors to think more about acting than keeping a specific rhythm and makes their performance much more immediate and in the moment. The second thing he did is mostly to just stand back and give the actors control. Many scenes take place in long, unbroken takes with the actors singing most or all of the song uninterrupted. This is an actor showcase and Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks in particular are amazing. Special attention must be paid to Anne Hathaway who brought tears to my eyes no less than twice. Seriously, there is no justice in this world if she doesn’t get an Academy Award for her performance.


The American Scream (2012)

Every October, people all over America prepare for Halloween: putting up decorations, looking for costumes, buying huge bags of candy, building haunted houses in their backyards. Well, most of us don’t do that last one, but there are certain families that spend all year collecting, planning, tinkering, and making something to scare the pants off those in their neighborhood. These aren’t just a few plywood walls thrown up with skeletons strewn about, they’re major productions with special effects, make-up, and big casts. This fun and fantastically shot documentary focuses on three families who live and breathe Halloween all year long. For these people, scaring people isn’t a pastime, it’s a lifestyle.


The Devil’s Carnival (2012)

Darren Lynn Bousman is no stranger to horror, nor to musicals. He previously directed Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, and Repo!: the Genetic Opera. While I sort of liked Saw II & III, I absolutely hated Saw IV and Repo!. This bears much more relation to Repo! in that it’s a musical but unlike Repo!, there are only a handful of songs here rather than the entirety of the movie being sung. And unlike Repo!, I didn’t think the songs here were completely unbearable but they’re still no good. But what’s the story? Well, three people die and go to Hell (although one of them surely didn’t deserve to): one is a kleptomaniac, one is attracted to dangerous men, and one committed suicide for… some reason that isn’t clear; each plays out an Aesop’s Fable. Satan tells a young boy each of their stories in hell as they are punished for their sins. Well, Sean Patrick Flanery mostly wanders around looking like he’s on the verge of bursting into tears. And in case you didn’t get the message, someone else comes on after each story to retell the story again and explain how it relates to the fable. Fortunately, the movie’s only 56 minutes long. Any longer and the experience really would have been hellish.


Django Unchained (2012)

Some are calling this a black fantasy vengeance film. The advertisements aren’t helping to curb those ideas either. However, they are all wrong. Django Unchained is not a revenge story but a love story. It’s a story of a man who will do anything to be reunited with the love of his life. True, it may involve killing a whole lot of people but his heart is in the right place. Jamie Foxx plays Django with a restrained complexity and a huge amount of cool. His teaming with the delightful Christoph Waltz is nothing short of amazing. They play off each other so well that I could have watched another hour of just them doing their bounty hunting. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the villain with a cartoonish reckless abandon that’s incredibly fun to watch but Samuel L. Jackson steals practically every scene he’s in. While a bit looser structurally than (my personal favorite QT movie) Inglorious BasterdsTarantino‘s cinematic eye has never been stronger. There are some beautiful landscapes courtesy of cinematographer Robert Richardson and the state of Wyoming. But there are also some brutal scenes that show just how ugly the whole slave trade was and give the film some gravity. Inglorious Basterds may be Tarantino‘s masterpiece, but Django Unchained still shows us why he’s one our greatest living filmmakers.


Brave (2012)

I’m going to tell you right off the bat that this film has been unfairly maligned. Seems when it comes to Pixar, if it’s not perfect, it’s no good or “passable” at best. This is more than just passable, this is a great film. It’s unique and hilarious and gorgeous and I feel badly for anyone who can’t see past their preconceived perception of Pixar perfection. This is the ever unique Pixar‘s take on the Disney Princess fairy tale and it works wonderfully. There’s a very different mother-daughter dynamic than we’ve ever seen before, the environments are beautifully rendered, and the humor and drama are both well written and executed. Just because it’s not a masterpiece doesn’t mean it’s not great.


6 thoughts on “Cinema Digest 2012 – Week 52

  1. um whoever you are, the devil’s carnival is brilliant! i dont think a non musical fan should review a movie like this, repo! was suppose to be sung completely it was a F’N OPERA! geez where did you go to school, how about you get a little culture!? REPO! the genetic OPERA! an opera is sung from beginning to end! wow. and devils carnival the guy did diserve to go to hell because he committed suicide! and he kiled himself because he lost his son under his supervision and his son died! and the reason the people didnt know they were in hell is because they didnt remember dying because that was part of their punishment in hell having to relive their sins and remember them….maybe if you watched the movie open minded instead of going into to already hating it and probaly not even paying attention then you might have seen the good in these movies asshole! go watch some micheal bay movies they have big pretty explosions that will surely entertain your 5year old attention span….lol us open minded culterly strong people will watch the artistic movies for you, theyd probaly just confuse you anyways….lol have fun in your meager idiotic life.

    1. Hello Josh, thanks for being my very first angry, ranting, grammar-and-spelling-challenged commenter.

      Now uh, maybe you jumped right to the review of Devil’s Carnival without reading anything else in the post. I’m not sure how else you missed my review of Les Miserables at the very top of the page which, like Repo!, is completely sung but which I gave very high praise to. So I am not a “non musical fan” as you claim. I like musicals. You sure do like to make a lot of assumptions. I never go into a film wanting to hate it, I was fully paying attention aside from taking notes on the film, and I was aware going in of what an opera is. I just didn’t like that particular opera.

      Perhaps I should have been clearer, but the undeserving soul I was referring to is the woman who gets with bad guys. To me, she seemed more of an abused and damaged woman like many real women who stay with an abusive husband because of past traumas or because they’re afraid. Basically, I don’t think the woman should have gone to hell and been punished because her abusive boyfriend shot her.

      Ah Michael Bay. The go-to “your taste in movies sucks” guy. I actually think a few of his movies are legitimately good but then the first two Transformers movies gave me a headache. And again, in the very same post, I expressed my love of Les Miserables which is a nearly three-hour musical so I think I’m actually good to watch the “artistic” movies with you “culterly strong” people. But what’s wrong with explosions, eh? Are you going to tell me you legitimately hate seeing explosions?

      So yeah I’m going to enjoy the big pretty explosions as well as the “artistic” films because unlike you, I’m both a well rounded person and I don’t have my head up my own ass.

      1. You legitimately got me there, A: I was severely upset when I
        I read your post and I wrote my response in sort of a rage and i was typing fast and without doing a spel check, i will not make that mistake again since that is your go to tactic to ignore your own ignorance and try to disect someone else’s points by destroying their credibility by stating they must be morons since they misspell. The reason their was mistakes is simply because A: I was upset and wrote my post very fast not caring what was spelled correctly or incorrectly, B: I was half asleep and I have the flu. Now as far as to reading the rest of your reviews you are right I did not because after reading this one i can tell you have no right writing reviews anyways, you are probaly a guy that has a Superiority complex yea thats right you must use defense mechanisms to conceal your own sad inferior feeling self, I bet you are the “one upper” in your social group, if you have a social group that is, I bet you are always the one to have the story that trumps all your friends because something a little more interesting happened to you. I could be wrong, you could be right but when does anyone ever admit that in this world anymore. The point is you arent a fan of repo! and its style so Devil’s Carnival never had a chance with you and just because this movie isnt in your taste bracket you are going to give a bad review and damage its credibility. I don’t mind you bashing hollywood movies because most people could give a shit less if major studios take a hit over some jackass’s comments but with this movie the writer(genius) and director went out of pocket to make this movie and all the proceeds from their tour and dvd sales fund any future additions because they don’t want studio heads owning their work, they want to be able to give fans future tours of this movie and so much more. These guys actually care about their fans and depend on people coming out to the tours and buying their dvds to continue and just because you have a taste that doesn’t include this kinda film you are going to scare people away from it who may have enjoyed it and referred it to others and why? just because you are jealous you didn’t think of it? I dunno, and when you post back try not to attack my puncuation lets have some real insights here and not another cliche….k?

        P.S. the woman who trusted bad men went to hell because during her life on earth she continually tortured a human being over and over again……HERSELF!

        1. Okay Josh. As per your request, I will not attack your horrible punctuation. I wasn’t aware that one of the side effects of the flu is a complete withering of one’s grasp on the English language. I apologize.

          Boy, that’s an awful lot of assumptions to make about me based on just one brief expression of opinion (i.e. a review). It is sad that nobody admits when they’re wrong anymore but you can set an example by admitting that you’re wrong (or at the very least have no clue) about me. As Claude Rains says in Lawrence of Arabia, “Big things have small beginnings.” Perhaps here we can start a global trend of admitting to wrongdoing. As you pointed out, I do happen to have a big enough impact here to damage a film’s credibility. That’s very kind of you to say but I think you’re greatly exaggerating.

          I really do want to work with you on this whole “bashing” thing so let me make sure I have this correctly. On my personal blog, I’m free to write my opinions of “Hollywood movies” good or bad, but if it’s an independent film, I can give good opinions but must refrain if I didn’t feel positively toward the film. Does that sound right? Please let me know and I will implement your new rules immediately.

          Alright. You got me. I confess. I really am insanely jealous that I didn’t think to make a musical set in hell that retells some of Aesop’s fables. Dammit I really wish I had. Then I could have had people like you to defend me and attack people for having contrary opinions. I don’t really hate the movie, I hate…MYSELF!

          Aw crap. I forgot about your whole flu thing and just drenched my reply in sarcasm. Well, come back when you’re feeling better and maybe you’ll understand what I was going for.

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