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164. Cats – This Just In (-#34)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Phil Bagnall, Jenn Gannon and Luke Dunne, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Tom Hooper’s Cats.

Abandoned by her owner in a surreal wasteland of early twentieth century London, the young cat Victoria finds herself drawn towards the neighbourhood’s feline inhabitants on the night of a most special and peculiar celebration.

At time of recording, it was ranked 34th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Les Misérables

It’s hard not to admire Les Misérables. It’s the first honest-to-goodness entirely sincere and mostly unironic big budget musical that we’ve seen released in quite some time. While song and dance will always be a part of the movies (The Muppets, for example, carrying many a dainty tune last year), there’s something quite impressive about seeing a music as epic and as iconic as Les Misérables carried across to the big screen. The stage musical became something of a cultural phenomenon on the West End, and Tom Hooper does an effective job of transitioning from stage to screen – even if he doesn’t consistently capitalise on the format shift.

There are some fundamental problems. The second half is a little too awkwardly paced and too disjointed to come together as well as it should, and Hooper seems to have a great deal pitching the right amount of camp (and humour) for an Oscar-bait musical about the aftermath of the French revolution. However, if you can look past those problems, the opening half is a superbly staged musical and the performances are impressive. Including the much maligned Russell Crowe, who might – hear me out – be the best thing about the film.

Sing when you're winning... or at least nominated...

Sing when you’re winning… or at least nominated…

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Watch! Live Singing in Les Misérables…

Universal Pictures Ireland just sent over this behind-the-scenes look at Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables. The film is opening here in January 2013, and I’m actually quite curious to see how it pans out. We’ve had juke box musicals, and modern movies like The Muppets incorporating songs, but there really haven’t been too many legitimate old-school-style musicals in the past number of years. Even Sweeney Todd seemed remarkably subversive. I’m fascinated with this attempt to play the genre straight, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a musical in a cinema. I can’t remember a large-scale musical like this, with a lot of pundits suggesting the genre has been relegated to history.

I actually find this snippet quite insightful, because I would have assumed – for purely practical purposes – the film would have been shot with actors recording the songs separately to filming the scenes. It also illustrates just how skilfully Hooper has put all this together – even offering an off-hand reference to a tune from the musical, Hugh Jackman has a fantastic singing voice. Anyway, check it out below.

Les Miserables Trailer

Just a quick one. The guys at Universal Pictures Ireland just sent on this trailer for Les Miserables, the next film from the Tom Hooper, the director of The King’s Speech. It features Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman… and Hugh Jackman’s great big bushy beard. All joking aside, I’m amazed that Hollywood hasn’t been quicker to adapt more of the more vintage or “classical” stage musicals. Sure, occasionally you end up with Phantom of the Opera, but I really enjoyed Sweeney Todd.

With films like Hairspray proving you can adapt a musical in a fun and sharp (and engaging) manner, there’s no reason to be afraid of the genre – if done right. And Hooper, I think, definitely has the elegant style necessary to transition a work like this from stage to screen. I’m quite curious about this one, and I like that it’s up front about being a musical – unlike the infamous Sweeney Todd trailer that made a point of cutting around the singing.

Non-Review Review: The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech seems like the perfect storm of awards buzz. Released as we enter the year of a big royal wedding, featuring a lead actor who was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar last year, it seems to have an edge. In fact, my inner cynic went into the cinema listing off all the standard stereotypical Oscar bait criteria that the movie met: person overcoming adversity; unlikely friendship across social class; beautiful period costumes; hint of class; historical true story; tied in some way to the Second World War; a cast of respected and veteran character actors. I don’t think it would have been possible to plan a movie that so perfectly designed to win prestigious awards. I guess we should be thankful that it’s really very good.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown... but it does have great hair, though...

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