Friday, January 18, 2013

Les Misérables: A Dream That Will Never Die

         I was thinking on how to start this film review but it seems that finding the right words is too hard and it’s most probably because of two things. First, words aren’t enough to describe it since almost everything in Les Mis is sung and second, I’m still at AWE with it that I’m careful on what to put in this post.
            Les Misérables is that film that you would like to see not merely for leisure’s sake but for something much deeper than that. It is that film where you would thank the author, Victor Hugo, for such a magnificent story. It’s that film that you could consider worthy of your penny. And it is definitely that film where you could sing, cry, and laugh all at the same time.
            Ever since I watched the 1998 version during my high school days the film never got out of my head. You may consider that an exaggeration but that’s how it is. That is why when I first heard that it will be revived with the direction of Tom Hooper, I was, by all odds, excited. What’s more exciting is that it’s adapted from the musical play so expect the characters to sing from finish to end. It’s not even to be compared to the first version since that was based from the novel.

What’s more exciting is that it’s adapted from the musical play so expect the characters to sing from finish to end.

           Now, to really begin with the review. Who doesn’t know the story of Jean Valjean and his road to redemption? The film, as stated earlier, is based from Victor Hugo’s masterpiece. It is a story that shows the life during the French Revolution. The film, on the other hand, perfectly captured that era from the costumes to cinematography and everything in between. Every single scene was shot just right, not overdid but also not mediocre. The overall filming was spectacular where you can feel that you were part of that era. The set is reminiscent and not an eyesore. Each costume and makeup brings out the character very well.
        Who would forget songs such as “I Dreamed A Dream” or “On My Own”? Well, not me! When I was younger I would sing these songs for days. While I was watching this film, I relived my childhood. Anyway, the thing about the film is that you could basically sing to every song or when you’re in the cinemas perhaps sing it in your head. Every song literally and figuratively tells a story.

Who would forget songs such as “I Dreamed A Dream” or “On My Own”?
           Of course, some revisions have been made from the 1998 version which came dramatic. Although that’s not something terrible, another thing I liked about this new version is that it has a comic relief (just like the play). The characters are utterly MISERABLE but because of the funniness of some scenes you would not help but laugh.

           Lastly, the actors are WELL-PICKED. I could’ve not chosen another set of actors to play the characters. Hugh Jackman playing Jean Valjean could make him bag the Oscar award for Best Actor. No offense meant, but I think he even made it past Liam Neeson. Anne Hathaway as Fantine was remarkable. Those famous lines from I Dreamed A Dream being sung by her makes the song and everything a lot more emotional. Russell Crowe, who played Javert, was quite promising and his voice was an eargasm. I was looking out for his scenes. J Amanda Seyfried as Cosette is another must-watch. Know for her great singing prowess from Mama Mia she steps up in this film. Helena Bonham Carter is no doubt is in her element as Madame Thenardier. Sacha Baron Cohen (who is popularly known as Borat) was also fun to watch as Thenardier. Eddie Redmayne, who played Marius also stood up to the expectations of the crowd. But the greatest surprise was Samantha Bark who played Eponine as well in the play. She is someone to watch out for (I cried when she sang On My Own). The child actor, Isabelle Allen, who played young Cosette was also remarkable! Plus, the priest who helped Jean Valjean in the beginning was actually the one who played Jean Valjean in The Dream Cast in Concert a.k.a Les Misérables in Concert. Anyway, every single actor played their roles well. Their singing abilities is something that shouldn’t be questioned.
           The only thing that I hate about the film is that it was too short. L I secretly hoped that they could prolong the events so I could enjoy their voices. But to sum it all, I don’t have anything to complain about the film.
         The story has become part of my life a long time ago and I’m sure this film would too. You’d get three things from the film: an education, a song and a tale. You will be thought of the French lives during those days. You will carry the songs forever. And you will tell the eternal tale of Jean Valjean who sought for redemption.
           Now if you’re planning to watch in theaters, make sure you bring your shades with you…so nobody would notice how much the film made you such a crybaby and how it struck you deeply in the heart. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Life Of Pi: One Great Life Story

"Doubt is useful, it keeps faith a living thing."

            If you are seeking God and you feel like He’s out of reach, maybe you’re looking at the wrong places and maybe you have to watch Life of Pi.
            What happens when an award-winning novel is brought to the big screen by an award-winning director? The answer- Life of Pi. No wonder it got 11 nominations in the Oscars.The film is adapted from the Booker Prize-winning novel of Yann Martel that carries the same title and is directed by no less than the great Ang Lee himself.
            Ang Lee, who has directed films from Sense and Sensibility to Brokeback Mountain, has proven that a novel that seems unfilmable can be filmable. The movie is visually stunning with all the graphics and CGI. Cinematography wise I’ll give it a perfect 10. The story can be considered inspirational and the heartfelt performance of Suraj Sharma stirs a whole lot of different emotions.
           Let me give you a short peek of what the film is about. A young Canadian writer goes to an Indian émigré in search of a good story that would make him believe that there’s a God. And so the story kicks off and Pi shares his adventure to the young writer.
            As a kid, Pi had an urge to find God. So in his younger years he was a Hindu, Christian and a Muslim. His father, who believes in reason or science, encourages him to let go of religion and basically everything he believes in but he still believed anyway. He believed that there is a God maybe in the form of Vishnu or Christ or Allah.
        In his teenage years, he and his family had to sell their zoo animals and migrate to Canada. Once aboard the Japanese ship, Pi knew that he had to let go of everything that he had in India including the girl he liked. Along the way they experienced a thunderstorm and needless to say experienced a shipwreck. All but Pi, Richard Parker (the tiger), an Orangutan, a Zebra and a Hyena was buried into the deep. The story revolves on these characters and their struggle to survive until only Pi and Richard Parker was left and the story goes deeper. Lost at sea, Pi finds ways on how he can manage to live without getting eaten by the ravenous tiger and if he can tame it at all.
           The young Pi did a wonderful job of his own. How hard is it to act as if there’s really a tiger in front of you? Real hard I’d say but Saruj Sharma pulled it off. Another thing I like about the film is that my eyes never get tired. With all the colors and visual effects, the film really works wonders in 3D. While the setting is at the middle of nowhere in the ocean, you would get to feed your eyes with an amazing set of creatures that they encountered all throughout the film. The film is also wonderfully scored and as I said earlier the cinematography is beyond astounding.
          Now to the what-I-don’t-like part. The story was poorly paced and I felt it dragged me throughout the film trying to get to the climax. I can’t help but be reminded of Tom Hanks in Castaway and Robin Crusoe since they somehow had the same experience.  The film has that tendency to put aside its real purpose and that is to show God. You’ll realize it for a minute and forget it the next. The film also goes from awe-something to nothing like for instance they would just be flooded by another storm again and something like that.
              In the end, I find Life of Pi most interesting not only for its wondrous spectacle but also for its life story that holds true for everyone. It shows how God proves himself and can change someone even at the most unexpected times. The story defies reality but is definitely something to embrace and it is up to us if we believe or not Pi’s story and his encounter in search of God.