Les Miserables vs. Django Unchained

Kenny D December 25, 2012 1
Les Miserables vs. Django Unchained

Well Merry Christmas everyone! You know, nothing brings sweet feelings and the true meaning of what Christmas is truly about more than depression and slavery. The funny thing is, the other movie coming out with these is the Bette Midler and Billy Crystal “comedy” Parental Guidance, but to include it among the company of these two films is insulting. And it’s strangely the most offensive movie among the three. Seriously, who decided a movie like that should be made. So instead, we have two movies that cater to very different crowds: Les Miserables and Django Unchained.

Les Miserables
les miserables movie, french revolution, les mis, le mis, les miz, hugh jackman
How many different ways can you sing ‘Surrender’ in French?

I have always avoided the classic book (the unabridged) because I couldn’t care less about reading 60 pages about the sewers of Paris. I also avoid the televised stage play that I catch while channel surfing PBS every time they have a telethon. I’m not saying it’s terrible to watch, but it’s just so bloody emotional and it unnerves me when actors stand on the stage, facing the audience and sing their guts out.

Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) directs this version and has adapted it from the play, rather than from other iterations. It is the classic redemption and integrity story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman). After serving 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread, he changes his identity and becomes a wealthy man. But his past, and a former jailer by the name of Javert (Russell Crowe), is always one step behind him. His path crosses with reluctant prostitute, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), who has to do whatever it takes to support her daughter Cosette. It is a decades long story that ends with a mini French Revolution.

Most of you who are fans of Les Mis already have your tickets, so there’s nothing I can say that will change your mind one way or another. And not to worry, this is a very solid adaptation. Fans of the music will automatically sob when Hathaway sings “I dreamed a dream.” I am not a big musical guy, but I was pleased with this movie. Even sitting at over 2 1/2 hours, I was not bored.

The performances were great. The standouts were Jackman, Hathaway, and Eddie Redmayne. I didn’t even hate Crowe and Amanda (Bug-eyed) Seyfried, but their vocal flaws were more apparent. That brings me to the singing. This movie claims to be revolutionary with its recorded live vocals (Normally the voices are dubbed over in musicals). Oftentimes, songs in this movie sound more rusty, but it seems much more believable because to have a sense of reality, you wouldn’t buy it if every prisoner at death’s door was a Broadway star. I appreciated its lack of polish.

Hooper does a great job with the visuals, with one exception. He is crazy about close-ups. Once again, it feels a little awkward having Jackman’s face singing at you in the movie theater. I wanted to see more of the set and environment. But once again, this flaw is not enough to turn away fans.

This is not the be-all-end-all musical that many tout it to be, but it is great to watch. See this one in the theater and bring tissues for the ladies and pansies sensitive souls.

Django Unchained
django, slave wester, jamie foxx, christoph waltz, dicaprio, slave movie, tarantino

Slavery is a dicey subject to tackle in film. But who better to tackle such a sensitive issue than one of the least sensitive auteurs in Hollywood. You either love Quentin Tarantino or you hate him. There is little room for fence-sitters here. He has created some of the bloodiest movies ever, but man, his dialogue is fantastic. Let’s be real here, so is the cinematography, the soundtrack, his choices of actors, and yes, the blood too.

Django (Jamie Foxx) is a recently freed slave, who is helping Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) track down bounties, so he can eventually free his wife from her slaver (Leonardo Dicaprio).

There is not much you need to know about the plot, because it is mayhem. These two make plenty of stops along the way as Django perfects the craft of a bounty hunter. Some of the best moments happen when Django and Schultz make stops, specifically when they rile up the local KKK. Jonah Hill and Don Johnson are in a scene that ranks among the funniest of the year.

When comparing it to other QT flicks, this one matches closest to 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. It somehow has a lighter tone, but still keeps up with its violence. I loved this movie, but at the same time, want QT to make a movie closer to Pulp Fiction, style wise. This and Basterds are wish-fulfillment movies, with Hitler getting his just rewards and now slave owners getting what they deserve.

Leonardo Dicaprio as Calvin Candie is surprisingly understated and allows other actors to outshine him, specifically Samuel L. Jackson as his loyal house slave, Stephen. I felt he was the bigger villain than Candie. The movie belongs to Waltz as the German bounty hunter. He is so overconfident and apathetic, so far he and QT have a great track record together. Jamie Foxx as Django is good but overshadowed for the majority of the flick, until the last 20 minutes, when he gets his chance to shine.

Anyone who knows QT’s other films, knows what to expect. Don’t go to this one if you’re offended by gun violence, blood, and well…..slavery. This movie has a surprisingly low amount of F-bombs, but QT instead replaces every single one of them with the N word. It’s shocking at first, but you get use to it due to Unchained’s time period and the subject matter.

This is a dude movie. And it’s a great one. QT has fulfilled his promise of making a Southern (A Western in the slavery era) and knocked it out of the park. It’s not as tight as Basterds, it can be cut by at least 20 minutes, but I was along for the ride. See it.

One Comment »

  1. Sarah December 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm -

    To be honest with you, I was a little wary when I heard that the Broadway version of Les Miserables was going to be made into a movie. I blame that trepidation on the poor movie adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera (super lousy lip syncing on that one). However, when I heard that Hugh Jackman was going to play Jean Valjean, I knew that they had done at least one thing right. I saw the version of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma starring Hugh Jackman and he was fantastic. So, I won’t lie. I don’t have super high expectations for Les Miserables, but I am looking forward to seeing Hugh Jackman’s performance.

Leave A Response »

You must be logged in to post a comment.