Thoughts on Les Miserables

On the last Sunday of 2012, La Familia and I hit the Midvalley Golden Screen Cinemas to watch Les Miserables. They had already seen The Hobbit (I hadn’t) so I let them choose between Life of Pi (which I didn’t mind watching again) and Les Mis (which I had wanted to watch ever since I saw it on the list of upcoming GSC movies last October).

Les Mis won, thus our final 2012 Sunday was a very musical one.

While my brother bought us snacks and refreshments, I gave my Dad fair warning. “This is going to be a musical, Pa. Expect the actors to break out into song every now and again.”

I should have done more research because it turned out that “every now and again” would equate into the length of the entire film. Which isn’t exactly bad.

For my thoughts:

  1. BE WARNED THAT THIS IS A MUSICAL. When you enter the cinema or hit play in your computer, you should already condition your mind that the whole cast will be singing and there would be no speaking. Okay, there were perhaps five or six spoken lines in the movie. But all other lines were sang out loud so don’t go holding your breath while waiting for them to cease singing. Some lines seemed to be awkwardly sung (and it would have been better if they were simply spoken out), but again, Les Mis is a MUSICAL.
  2. Mind you, the singing was SUPERB. Who would have thought Wolverine — err, Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) — could sing like that? Crowe, who plays Inspector Javert, could have put in more emotion (I felt his singing was rather flat) but Anne Hathaway (Fantine) more than made up for it with her very emotional performance.
  3. I liked how the film added a deeper dimension to the musical by giving the viewers close ups thereby magnifying the characters’ emotions. What I mean is, when you watch a show on Broadway or on any stage, you only get to see the characters from afar. Yes, you feel their voices. Yes, you are moved by their actions. But seeing their anguished faces up close — so close you can already see their nostrils flaring — WOW. This was probably one of the reasons why watching Hathaway’s “I dreamed a dream” was so chilling.
  4. The movie is deep. I read somewhere that Victor Hugo’s book was less Valjean-centric and that the other characters had more opportunities to shine, but I like how his quest was wrapped up in the end. As Hathaway sang, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
  5. And while Les Mis is a drama (what would you expect from a film with the word “miserables” in the title?) I am thankful for the comedic relief that Sacha Baron Cohen (Thenardier) and Helena Bonham Carter (Madame Thenardier) brought into the film. I found it hilarious how the “loving father” kept messing up his precious “Colette’s” name! Fun!

So even though one of my officemates confessed that he walked out of the movie theatre after one of the more dramatic scenes played out (he grew bored) I’ll watch Les Mis again, if I could. After all, it made my parents cry. You can get insights on fathering, love, and dying for a cause there, too.

Les Miserables is next on my reading list this coming February. Let’s see how the book plays out and if the movie indeed did Hugo’s masterpiece justice. I’d like to dig deeper into the characters and see how social and religious issues are tackled in the text.

How about you? Have you seen the movie? Hated it or loved it? Share you thoughts!

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Thoughts on One Short Year

20130115-160814.jpgAuthor: Diane Dunning
Genre: Fiction, Short Story Anthology
Purchase: Amazon, B&N, Smashwords (free for a limited time)

Summary: College student Greta endures a shattered attempt at sophistication through wine class; teen surfer Kai struggles to find meaning as he copes with his father’s death; Andy, a wanna-be corporate climber, fumbles his image makeover before he even makes it into the office. Through a series of haiku-like vignettes, One Short Year takes you to the lives of 10 characters coping with a variety of poignant, sometimes funny, situations. (via http://www.dianedunning.com/)

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I read One Short Year in one short sitting. I’ve been challenging myself to expand my reading horizons lately so I scoured through the internet and found this short story collection in smashwords.com. I’m glad this book has put that challenge off to a great start.

According to the author, One Short Year is actually a selection of posts from a previous blog of hers — ones which have generated the most reader interest. I found that noteworthy. I have a couple of stories here and there in this lil’ ol’ blog right here and — oops. I’m supposed to be writing a review, aren’t I?

Dunning’s collection reminded me of O. Henry. There were surprising “twists” at the end of certain stories (I liked the one about Andrew/Andy) but there were ones that I had to go back to just so that I could understand what really went on. Her prose wasn’t too wordy and I liked how she introduced sections with descriptions of the different seasons in that short year — fall, winter, spring, and summer. These really set the scene for the series of stories that followed.

My personal favourites would have to be Love, Mark (one of the longer and more emotional ones), Cellphone Conversation (one of the shorter ones), and A Career in Politics (the Andy story — one of the more humorous ones). Love, Mark was told from a young girl’s point of view. There was a lot of sibling rivalry, a big surprise at the end — it was rather heartbreaking, actually. Cellphone Conversation was a witty breaking-up exchange — who breaks up through phone anyway? A Career in Politics, meanwhile, was just something that made me laugh aloud. Go, Andrew!

I’m not really one to give ratings. If it makes it to my blog, it is because I believe it’s very read-worthy.

Read more about Diane Dunning here.

Did you enjoy this review? I plan to read more books this year – classics, bestsellers, and ones by independent self-publishers to mix it all up. Expect more posts under this category. I still believe in the profound effect that books — fiction and nonfiction — have on us, even in this tech-savy, fast-paced, internet-loving, film-consuming world. Here’s to more book reading!

Thoughts on Life of Pi

A young man. A boat. A tiger. An unbelievable journey. An ending that will keep the wheels of your mind turning.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you MUST see it – watch “Life of Pi” folks. You will not regret it. And watch it in 3D if you can.

This is a slightly overdue review. Well, it’s not really a review. It’s more of my thoughts concerning the movie since I don’t really write formal critiques. But I shall be writing more pieces like this this year so as to challenge myself to think more critically.

I saw this movie last year with some friends. It was our pre-Christmas treat and what a treat it was!

“Life of Pi” is a film directed by Ang Lee based on a book by Yann Martel with the same title. It tells the story of — what else? The life of Pi. Or Piscine Molitor Patel, to be exact. The first part of the film paints a portrait of his childhood — his evolution from Pissing Patel to Pi 3.1416, his encounters with different religions, and his life living with a zoo as his playground and backyard. The second (and major) part documents the 227 days in which he is shipwrecked in a lifeboat with none other than Richard Parker — the tiger. And the third part —

Well, the third part I shall leave it for you to discover. All I can say is that it involves Japanese men and a thought-provoking final question.

So what are my thoughts regarding the movie?

  1. The cinematography was EYE CANDY. I found the opening scene a bit too slow for my liking but it did paint a picture of the easy and serene life Pi had pre-shipwreck. And the animals were great. And the scenery made me want to go to India. Fast forward to his 227-day stay in a lifeboat — can a shipwreck be any more breathtaking? The reflections of the sunset, the glowing undersea creatures, the HUMPBACK WHALE. Oh. My. I’d consider being lost at sea if it weren’t for all the danger and battle for survival involved.
  2. Suraj Sharma, the Indian actor who portrays the teenage Pi, deserves a standing ovation. Considering most of his scenes involved “just” himself and a CGI tiger (monologue anyone?) — let me just say that Suraj Sharma is one actor to watch out for.
  3. The film had just the right mixture of drama and laughs. I guess we’ll have to hand that to Martel because most of the humorous lines came from the book itself (I am still halfway through the book — yes, I am reading it because I still can’t get Richard Parker out of my mind).
  4. ************************ WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD **********************

    The ending. At first I thought the film was just about an adventure. I thought it was just about surviving with at tiger in a lifeboat. But no. It was more than that. It will really make you think. It will make you think about what Pi’s father had said to his son — how animals have no souls and what we see in their eyes is a mere reflection of our own emotions. But then it will make you think of what Pi himself said in the end, “And so it is with God.” Well, reading other reviews, I found out the final question also wasn’t just about Richard Parker and Richard Parker alone. It also questioned Truth as Truth, considering all the different religions Pi had involved himself in. That’s why I’m reading the book. Knowing the ending sort of spoils the “surprise” experience, but going over the pages with the twist in mind now allows me analyse all the different encounters and lets me see beyond their face values. So which truth is truth? Does it matter? For me it does. But in the end, it’s all up to us to decide for ourselves.  
    ***************************** SPOILERS END HERE ******************************

What about you? Have you seen the movie? What were your thoughts about it? Any favorite scene? (Make sure to add a spoiler alert for the sake of those who haven’t seen it yet! ^_~) Do you plan on seeing it after reading this impression-slash-review? Share your thoughts in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!