Cry with Les Miserables


Les Miserables is the tear jerking update to the classic musical based off the novel with the same name by Victor Hugo.  It is also Tom Hooper’s follow up to his best picture winning King’s Speech, so it is safe to say that this film had some high expectations, and it mostly lives up to them.

Most people know the story by now, but as a refresher:  The movie is about Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) trying to redeem himself for past sins, while taking care of Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) child because he accidently put Fantine on the street, and dodging the unforgiving and obsessed law, Javert (Russell Crowe), and as a spoiler: They are all sad.

Tom Hooper does a great job directing this film.  Every frame is steady and in place, and allowing the actors to record the songs while acting on set gives the film more life, and bridges the gap from to the stage to the screen.  This film is quite a change from the King’s Speech, but he nails it.

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are tremendous in this film.  Their previous work in musicals really pays off, and the emotion they carry through song is amazing.  The rest of the cast for the most part are very good as well, with one notable exception.  Russell Crowe almost ruins this film.  He can’t sing, and I am not sure that he is obsessed. He mostly just seems annoyed whenever he sees Jean Valjean like “oh yeah I hate that guy”.  Since everyone else is great it is a shame that they didn’t cast someone better.  I love Russell Crowe and applaud his willingness to try new things, but they should have found someone else.

This is a good movie and one that should be seen, but with a simple casting change it would have been a classic.  Tom Hooper is really proving himself to be one of the great directors and I can’t wait to see what he does next, and I am calling it for Anne Hathaway, she deserves that shiny bald dude.

Meet President Lincoln


Lincoln is a movie about the 16th President by Steven Spielberg.  This a rare movie from the award wining director: it is a small personal picture instead of a grand sweeping epic.  I think the change of pace was good for this prolific director.

Lincoln is about the last few months of the President’s life as he was trying to push through the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, and win the war with the south, but this movie is about backroom politics, not the Blue vs. the Gray, so while there are a couple of war scenes, this movie is mainly a bunch of meetings.

Don’t let the thought of a bunch of old dudes arguing keep you from watching this movie.  This movie is riveting in much the same way that 12 Angry Men is: as you watch the President use all his power and influence and his cunning to get his amendment to pass.  It is amazing to watch the political process work, and the kind of shenanigans they were willing to pull off to make this bill pass. Sadly we all know this movie ends in tragedy.

It was great to see Spielberg take a break from making big movie, and do a stripped down human interest political drama.  This movie has three main sets it would be very easy to convert to a play.  It proves that he can direct anything, and should not just be thought of for his big budget epic blockbusters.

The casting of this movie was spot on.  Daniel Day-Lewis gives another award worthy performance, as do Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field.  They really bring this movie and time period to life.

Lincoln is a great movie, and one that everyone involved in will be remembered for.  Spielberg adds another gem to his collection of films, and this is definitely a movie everyone should watch.

It is not a Good Day to Die Hard


Finally after five movies the Die Hard franchise appears to have lost its steam.  Bruce Willis still looks the part of John McClane, but they have run out of interesting stories for him to dispatch bad guys in.

The movie is setup when John McClane finds out that his son, Jack, is in prison in Russia, and he decides to go check it out.  He then gets in the way of his son rescuing a Russian national with dirt on a top Russian official, and then they shoot pretty much everything in Russia.

The main problem with this movie is that they seemed to forget what makes the Die Hard movies great.  It is not the hard core action, which this movie did have, but the witty dialog.  Bruce Willis is a good comedic actor, so his delivery on one-liners is probably the best in movies, but for some reason in this movie they decided to replace that with him and his son talking about how crappy of a father he was.  Absentee fathers make some interesting movie stories, but they kind of drag down what is supposed to be fun shoot-em-up.

Another problem is that they decided to make John McClane pretty much invincible in this movie.  I started to think that maybe we were watching another Terminator movie where the robots sent back a John McClane look alike to repair his relationship with his son.  In the first Die Hard movie he was barely standing at the end of that movie.  In this one he seemed to be doing alright, and the stuff he lived through was much worse, so I guess he is getting tougher with age or something.

Not to give anything away, but now that John and Jack have made up if they make another Die Hard I hope they get back to having it be fun again, and not a story about two moping dudes murdering Russians.  There are worse action movies, and the action itself is still good, but everything in between the fighting was a let down.