Saw a Takashi Miike picture called The Great Yokai War. "Yokai" is a Japanese term for monsters from folklore, as opposed to the more familiar kaiju. It's a kids' picture, about a young boy from Tokyo sent out to live in the countryside with his older sister and his intermittently senile grandfather. When a vengeful spirit appears, the boy gets caught up in a war between warring groups of yokai and must find his courage to become the "Kirin Rider", the hero who will set everything to rights. It's not a bad picture - nothing deep, but an amusing story. Some of the yokai are really trippy, Japanese folklore can get pretty "out there", apparently.

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My Blog post on Les Miserables...

 

So, last night I went with the older boy to watch the film version of Les Miserables.  Where do you start with this film, where do you start?

Well, let's get one simple thing out of the way - it is quite simply one of the best film musicals I have ever had the privilege to attend.  It made me laugh, it made me cry (three times) it made me gasp - and that was in the first 40 minutes.  From the first opening shot to the closing moments, the theatre I was in sat in complete and total silence.  In fact, want to know how much they were watching it?  One person decided to shine their cell phone light around, and everyone - EVERYONE - turned and looked at them.  Rarely have I seen such a convincing impression of a dormouse as that person in the seat.

You will have read much of how this was filmed "Sung through," so that the actors could act the emotion as well as sing it.   It was a master stroke on the part of the director - and yes, most of the big songs are in close up, but it means you feel the confusion of Valjean at the start, the pain of Fantine (and Anne Hathaway should work away with every single award going for her part), the love of Marius, and even the confusion and total disintegration of Javert.

Ah, Javert - I actually think the critics were very harsh on Russell Crowe.  Yes, he's not the strongest singer on the cast - and it's not Hugh Jackman who gets that honour - but he does a good job, and watch his face - he gets the emotion over so well.

Jackman does a wonderful job of a man who goes from tortured prisoner, to someone trying to do the right thing, to his ultimate reward, and his voice is clear and strong.  The standout to me, however, was not Jackman or Hathaway, brilliant as they are, but Eddie Redmayne - he has the most amazing voice, and uses it to full effect.  Kudos also to Samantha Barks, who deserves a long and glittering career.

Yes, some of the songs are changed or shortened - mostly, it has to be said, for the Thernadiers - and yes there is a new song, but it fits in seamlessly.  For fans like me of the stage musical, everything is more or less there - the barricade, the sacrifice, the loss.

I also need to note that inviting Colm Wilkinson to play the Bishop of Dijon was a masterstroke - when he hands the silver over, it really is a handing over of the role.  

There is one other change from the musical at  Valjean's death scene, when instead of Fantine and Eponine signing, it's - ah, but that would be telling.  Let's just say it makes perfect sense, and is all the more powerful for it.

The older boy had never seen the show, but he was gripped, and he confessed to crying twice.  Me, I was in tears when Fantine died, and when Marius sang Empty Chairs at Empty tables - as well as at the end, when Heaven is revealed.

So, my advice - go and see it.  Take your friends to see it.  If you love the musical, you'll love this.  IF you don't like musicals, give it a try.

You won't be disappointed.

Ah, Javert - I actually think the critics were very harsh on Russell Crowe.

I agree. Whatever faults he had singing he more than made up for them in his performance.

I am annoyed every time I hear it, but many people insist on referring to the story being set "during the French Revolution." At the beginning of the movie it attempts to clarify that this is 40-something years after the French Revolution. The country has gone through the Revolution and its Reign of Terror, followed by the Napoleonic Wars, and a reestablishment of a monarchy.

It is set druing the 1820 Paris Revolution, but I agree - it is not the French Revolution of 1779

Last night in the Cinemark Classic Series was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Man , I love that movie. Definitely the one I've seen the most out of the ones I have been to so far. Great humor, great action, and great acting. In the world of movies there are few things better than a well made Western.

...Also I guess in a " special night " series at a chain theater like what Travis saw BCATSC , I saw a documentary/clipfest called TV IN ACIDLAND last night , a selection of oddball/likeably cornball " old-fashioned showbiz "/entertaining clips and excerpts mostly from TV of the post-WWII into the 70s epoch...........Johnny Legend put it together/made it !

The film was not as oriented towards psychedelic/hippie era stuff as the title may suggest , I think was trying for an all-purpose umbreaal phrase like " psycotronic " or similar for his own particular looks back...

...One clip in particular in TIA might ( I was going to be subtle and bury this - but , fuggit :-) . ) garner the Commandor and MSA's attention - an Ann-Margret's screen test !!!!!!!!!

  Modestly but fetchingly dressed in a sweater and long slacks , she , with only a piano accompanying , vamps/come-hithers through " Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey "...........

I, THE JURY  (1953)


"BLAM!"
"Good bye, baby."
"How COULD you???"

"It was easy."

KISS ME DEADLY  (1955)

"What did they pay you?  I'll top it."

"You can't top this. They said they'd let me BREATHE."

(This was one of the "nicer" scenes in this film.)

2 days ago...  MY GUN IS QUICK

Last night...  THE GIRL HUNTERS

"I never hit dames."

"No?"

"Nah. I usually KICK 'em!"

The last movie in the classic movie block was Saturday Night Fever. Still a decent flick I think.  I completely forgot that Fran Drescher was in it.

"I completely forgot that Fran Drescher was in it."

There was a stretch there where it seemed every old movie I'd watch again years later, I'd discover that Fran Drescher was in it... but I'd never really taken note of her or her name until I saw THE NANNY.  Two of my favorites with her are UHF (where she plays the news reporter with the dwarf camerman who gets attacked by members of the other TV station's news team), and DR. DETROIT (where she plays one of the hookers-- specifically, the one Dan Ayckroyd winds up marrying at the end!).

Flipping thru the channels, I once ran across the very beginning of a movie I hadn't seen before.  Some family was sitting down to Christmas dinner, and there he was, I actually recognized "Chester", Fran's dog.  And there she was, too-- along with James Caan.  Then "Santa" showed up,. who turned out to be a homicidal maniac, and he killed BOTH of them-- before the opening credits!  And I'm laughing my ass off, wondering, what the HELL kind of movie is this?  So you could say she got me to watch the film, even though she was only in the first 2 minutes of it.

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