Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas Movies!

That's right. Time for my review of Christmas movies. Wait. No. I already did that. You can find that here and the Christmas Special of the Cinemasters Podcast that we recorded here. Why don't I talk about the movies that came out this Christmas, well the ones that I've seen (Les Miserables, and Django Unchained.)

First I'll do Les Mis. Before I get into the film, let me go into my past a bit. My Junior Year of High School in 2007 I went with the school's production of Twelfth Night to the Illinois Highs School Theatre Festival which had the all state musical as Les Mis. I fell asleep as I was quite bored with the show. That being said, I was not at all excited when I first heard this movie musical version was coming out this winter. Then as the months went by and the cast was announced I was vaguely interested as I like all the actors in the movie. Finally when I heard that the singing was being recorded live I got super excited as the normal lip syncing tends to leave out subtle emotions in the performances of the music. At this point I decided I would have to see the movie to see the new recording and to see if I had grown as an audience member and if I had just been a young kid who wasn't really into musicals.

So I saw the movie. I first was not impressed by the sound mixing, but that was they recorded the boat pulling scene actually in the ocean and as such were unable to get a good live recording of the vocals. Anyways, the story didn't interest me any more than it did almost 6 years ago and the music, while good was not enough to keep me interested for the almost 3 full hours. That being said I will try to comment only on how the film was made and not the story itself.

The biggest complaint I had about the show was how static the shots were. Through most of the solo scenes the camera was merely a close up of the actor singing and either didn't change or only changed very little. This worked in Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream"as her emotions were spot on and her vocal and video performance were synced due to the live recording of the songs. This lack of editing was essentially caused by the live recording since the audio take couldn't be cut and pasted, it had to be one single audio take. Therefore they didn't have the extra footage from other takes to insert into the final. This could have been avoided and improved by having one or two more cameras on set that they could record with simultaneously and get some different angles on the very, very static scenes.

As I said, "I dreamed a dream" is the only song that didn't suffer from this camera restriction as it was one shot of Hathaway singing for four minutes with a close up of her intense emotions to become one of the strongest scenes. The other best part of the movie for me was the kid who played Gavroche. He isn't on screen a ton, but it was a joy every minute. His singing was cute, and pretty good and he had one of the best songs.

In short, I don't love this move and I would be hard pressed to even say I like it, but it is very pretty and technically is pretty well done. I would give it a 4 out of 10.

Next up, Django Unchained. Quentin Tarantino's 8th big movie release. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this at first since I knew I would enjoy it. As the months got closer, the anticipation rose. I was able to see this the day after Christmas and it was fantastic. It has all the staples of a Tarantino movie, from the language (wouldn't be surprised if it set a record of number of n-words said in a movie.), the Mexican standoffs (the movie starts off with a tense scene as Christoph Waltz uses his overly professional attitude to try to conduct a business transaction to get Django to help him out. The first of many great tension building moments.), and the fantastic, bloody fight scenes (a great shoot out where most everyone dies.)

The best part of this movie are the performances by... well everyone. I don't think there's any scene with a poor performance, including a great cameo that I will not ruin for you. Christoph Waltz plays a similar character as his Inglourious Basterds character, but that's okay since it's fantastic as always. Jamie Foxx transforms from the run down slave to the free, badass fighting expert. Leo DiCaprio does not disappoint as the slaveowner who owns Django's wife that they are trying to get back. Walter Goggins plays one of DiCaprio's men who has a rivalry with Django as he is a black man on a horse. His character reminded me of his character in Justified which everyone should be watching. I will be re-watching that soon as the new season comes out n the 8th! His interactions with Django are really intense and great and sort of serve as comic relief.

The plot is great! The action is great. A lot of great kills. Classic Tarantino. A bit on the long end, but hardly noticeable and not at all detrimental to the film. Very little could have been done to make this movie better for me. Definitely gets a 9 out of 10.

Fun videos to go with these movies!!!

Those are the only movies I've seen that were released on Christmas so next post will be reflection on 2012 I think. As always, thanks for reading. See you later. 

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