Les Miserables Movie Review

It is hard to imagine seeing the Les Miserable on screen when you have seen the famed musical on stage. You will wonder how the untrained voices compare to those magnificent vocal chords that played the part on stage. Can you imagine stars that played the Wolverine, a Princess, and a Roman General singing?

The latest Les Miserables movie will change your mind a few minutes into the film. It features a great performance from Anne Hathaway as a struggling single parent, Fantine. Her acting was quite expansive.

Her face was framed for several minutes with all the hopelessness, distress, and regret as she sings I Dreamed a Dream.

Movie director, Tom Hooper had the actors perform the songs live on camera and only had an ear set to guide them with the timing. The musical score was later inserted.

Les Miserable is based on the novel written by Victor Hugo in the late 19th century. It is about the struggles of Jean Valjean portrated by Hugh Jackman. The character is of extraordinary strength who was incarcerated for stealing some bread.

Jean Valjean was able to escape from authorities, became financially able and powerful, and later on had to fulfill a promise to take care of Cosette, the child of Fantine. The fugitive was constantly haunted and hunted by Javert, a police inspector played by Rusell Crowe.

The story and so is the film is littered with a ton of suffering with comedic reliefs from the characters of the innkeepers portrayed y Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron.

The original stage production of the musical was done in Paris back in 1980 followed by the West End production in 1985.

Les Miserables is all about losses, loves, struggles, and triumphs. It sure does provide a very captivating experience that enriches the human spirit.

The Voice is Back in Flanders!

The Voice is a popular tv show (much like Idols or X-Factor, but obviously with a different angle) all over the world, but here in cold Belgium, we’re gearing up for the second season, and I for one cannot wait! Coaches Natalia, Koen, Jasper and Alex battle with their teams, and try to come out on top. Glenn Claes ended up on top last year, and I cannot wait to see who’s going to be making it deep this year.

For the real The Voice fans there’s even a whole online team headed by Steffi Vertriest and Fabrice Chan. They’ll be back this year to cover all the action on Facebook and Twitter!

Below are a couple snapshots of what The Voice feels like in Belgium – and a YouTube video of last year’s winner Glenn!

Steffi Vertriest & Fabrice Chan Steffi Vertriest The Voice

James Bond Skyfall review

Sam Mendes, the director of American Beauty was tapped to do the latest installment of James Bond. Quite an interesting move for the production actually. What did the new director bring into the equation. Will we see the spy wearing a cardigan and contemplating about his failed relationships? Will his spy gadgets be disguised as high-tech home appliances? Will he order a different drink, this time?

Good thing we have a no for an answer to all of the questions above. James Bond Skyfall is the twenty-third film of the franchise. The new director did not alter the so much about Bond but just made a few tweaks to make the spy more modern.

He made certain adjustments that makes this film an excellent James Bond movie. It is one of the darkest of the spy series. It reveals quite a chunk of the psyche of James Bond. Some critics say it can be among the best Bond flicks.

The storyline is simple. James Bond was left for dead when a mission disastrously takes a wrong turn. Played again by Daniel Craig, the superspy tries to recover and confront a fiend from the past. This enemy of the British spy agency knowns the ins and outs of the group. It is quite a presentation as Bond tries to figure out his relevance. He looks into his past and current situation, and tries to check if the agency is already obsolete.

The cinematography of Skyfall is also hauntingly gorgeous. Excellent job by Roger Deakins.

The director was able to extract the best out of the actors. Aside from the lead, he was able to get strong performances from Judi Dench (as M), Javier Bardem (nemesis), Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, and the rest of the cast.

Skyfall is a great film that dissects James Bond to let us know what makes Bond himself. It will be quite an exploration but still even with the sandpaper edge, James Bond has guns, dons a tux, and orders the same drink.

The Boy and the Zombies: A review of ParaNorman

ParaNorman is a heartfelt, sleek-looking 3-D animation that is all about a boy who sees ghosts everywhere he goes. The 11-year old has a ton of frightening experiences stemming from his relatives, teachers, and bullies in his life. Norman, voiced by Kodi Sit-McPhee, seems to be in alarm constantly with his hair standing in attention. The boy just does not see the dead people but also spends some good amount of time with them.

There will be scenes where you will see Norman’s grandmother, voiced by Elaine Stritch, knitting while on the sofa. No one really knows how the old lady died but the grandma says she is staying to watch over Norman. Maybe it is a good thing since it is only the granny who can help Norman with all his ghouls.

The character of the boy is not really far from the other kid heroes we know off. Norman is withdrawn, misjudged, and diffident. Oh, and he is a nut too.

Everything in the world of Norman is somehow askew. It is hard for the main character to assert his quirks and individuality amid his mother, snappish sister, and big bellied father.

Norman is quite an appealing figure though without the Disney-like good cheer and pluck. He is very wary and watchful, hunched shoulders, and darting gaze. He is a cliché though that you can identify from a lot of American films about a misunderstood hero. The boy has all of his demons, and yes zombies, but he has the looks of his own and a life waiting for a redemptive future. Norman is also a bit of a weirdo with his tics and a monster-headed night light with a pink brain.

Norman’s story though is a fresh tale blended with great images. His adventure starts at home through an old cemetery, and is a journey of discovery of the town’s history. Movie goers will surely be glued to the screen with all the eye candies from the details of his clothes to the adornments of his bedroom wall.

Parental guidance is recommended as there are action-filled frames that maybe too much for the young ones.

Simply irresistible: The Avengers Assemble

The Avengers Assemble is a $220 million marvel (pun intended) and it continues to rake in the money. The film though is not as revolutionary compared to The Cabin, also created by Joss Wheddon, that bagged just $30 million.

The movie is highly commercial billed for the Hollywood branding with a good dose of fun and a climax that will have your jaw drop.

The weakest point of the movie is the premise why Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston) wants to see the downfall of mankind. And yes, the audience might also ask why he wants to do it.

The special effect in the works, the antagonist plus the sidekicks Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skasgard) is not a team of villains that you will not be scared of. Basically when you look at it, it is like a rugby match between anorexics and the selection of the best players the sporting world has known. Well that is just to exaggerate the point.

Even when Loki is not the scariest of villains, this still triggers Nick Fury played by Samuel L. Jackson to activate the team of superheroes to go after him. The team consist of The Avengers namely Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and the Hulk.

What brings the fun into this movie is the conflict between the egos of The Avengers. And this battle of egos bring about the great action scenes. The Hulk in his Bruce Banner state even acknowledged that they are not playing it as a team, and they are timebomb waiting to go boom.

Captain America played the model soldier saying that they should stick to the orders while Tony Stark was the loose cannon, self obsessed, and volatile multi billionaire superhero.

Of course, the Hulk is the perfect candidate for anger management.

Scarlett Johansson, playing the Black Widow, is a real eyecandy.

Once the villain trashed Manhattan, it was time for the protaganists came together and the feel just became irresistible.

Truly Marvel-ous. The Avengers is at par with the best Batman and Spiderman movies.

Movie Review: The Artist

Digital 3D has welcomed Spielberg and Scorsese but at this year’s Oscar, the Best Picture award went to a good reel of black and white which is just like the pioneering films which made people smile the Great Depression.

The Artist is far from revolutionary. It has been done before just like in the Silent Movie of Mel Brooks in 1976. The story line is also not new with a troubled character successfully rekindling a line of communication with the public.

Check out the A Star is Born and Singin in the Rain and you will notice the key references. The Artist starts things off with a premier where George Valentin played by Jean Dujardin screens his newest film to a big reception. The lead character is like the epitome of silent film icons, slick hair, eyebrows fixed, mustache groomed, and a perfect jaw line.

After the premier, George is seen with Peppy Miller portrayed by Berenice Bejo a professional dancer that gets a role for a next project. The presence of of Peppy and Valentin screams amid the silence. Just seeing them is pure pleasure.

Then the talkies come (but of course we do not hear it). It is an innovation that brings his star to stardom. And George, who remains silent, falls out of favor.

The director Hazanvicius was able to make good use of all conventions of the silent cinema and made use of them well we must say. It is entertaining from start to finish with a good blend of conflicts and comical relief.

The Artist might not be appreciated by everyone but it deals a lot with a good dose of history, art, and cinema. It is a great watch even when in line with the very modern Hugo of Scorsese.

South African Movies are The Bomb!

Ek Lief Jou is a somewhat strange movie starring the somewhat strange Kurt Darren and the lovely Ilse De Vis. I was forced to watch this movie by a friend and I really really didn’t like it at all.

But: if you’re looking for a movie to mock, it’s a great start!

My Movie Review: Cars 2

Cars 2 is the sequel to the 2006 Disney Pixar movie Cars. The movie was set to debut in 2011 and it did just that. A fun energetic movie that keeps adults and children on the edge of their seat from opening scene until the credits roll is what movie-goers can expect with this animated film.

The movie stars Lightning McQueen, who is still the voice of Owen Wilson, and his friend Mater, the tow truck, still voiced by Larry the Cable Guy. McQueen, Mater, and McQueen’s girlfriend Sally Carrera all reside in Radiator Cars 2 LogoSprings. McQueen has just won the Piston Cup and is now urged to race in the World Grand Prix. McQueen is hesitant, but with some urging finally agrees. Sally pleads with McQueen to take Mater with him and he agrees to that as well.

The two set out on a journey to Japan and Europe for the World Grand Prix, but somehow Mater is involved in some international espionage. The movie is fun, light-hearted, and enjoyable for the entire family. The antics of Mater will be sure to crack a few smiles on the older crowd, and the action-packed story will keep the children glued to the screen. Everyone wants to know what happens. Will McQueen win the World Grand Prix?

The storyline is full of surprises as McQueen and Mater learn of a plot set forth by Professor Zundapp to explode cars during the race so that Allinol fuel would be doubted. The end result is to have everyone depend on Zundapp for fuel. Mater is mistakenly provided information, and confusingly reports back to McQueen. This confusion causes McQueen to lose a race and become angry with Mater.

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Dance Festival Extraordinaire: Tomorrowland, Belgium

Tomorrowland 2011 was already the 7th edition of the Belgian dance festival based on its Dutch sister, Mysteryland. This year the festival got prolonged with one extra day: instead of just Saturday and Sunday, Friday got added. Three equal days if you consider the line-up.

This year’s theme was “Alice in Wonderland”, so ID&T made sure everything looked as in a fairy tale. Colorful stages, little sparkling fountains, every corridor decorated and the right atmosphere set. Although the summer hasn’t been particularly great in Belgium, we had 3 days of sunshine at Tomorrowland. During the 3-day festival 60 000 party people passed De Schorre in Boom, and for each and every one of them there was something in the line-up. Whether you like hardstyle, trance, electro or mainstream, there is always a stage to your liking. Same goes for food and drinks, actually.

One of my personal favorites is Avicii. I believe we’ll be hearing a lot from this guy. Great catchy tunes, and he throws in nice vocals too. I enjoyed Basto!’s surprise act too – live piano at a dance festival? Only at Tomorrowland! Classic trance with Cosmic Gate: everybody moving, nice show. They know how to get the audience involved! And Promo is still a master of hardcore. Seamless transition from light hardstyle to heavy hardcore.

There is a reason Tomorrowland gets sold out faster each year. Tomorrowland sets the rules, it raises the bar for dance festivals all around Europe. No wonder it got the “Only for DJ’s” award as “Best Dancefestival”, and it got nominated as “Best Music Event” at the International Dance Music Awards.

I’ll make sure to get my tickets as soon as possible next year!

Jay & Kanye’s Otis

I’ve been in love with Otis Redding since I first heard his voice. I love his Stax Records work. I love Kanye and I can’t get enough of Jigga. Their collabo is absolutely amazing.

Oh and euh — that Maybach is going on sale for charity, consider placing a bid if you’re a multi-millionaire like my favorite commenter, Jason!