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Browsing: Tom Hooper
All the highlights of the news from yesterday with stories on Suicide Squad cast announced including Jared Leto, Will Smith, Tom Hardy, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, and Cara Delevingne and HBO announces plans for HD release of The Wire on HBO Go, streaming, and Blu-ray.
Reviewing a work as massive and as beloved as Les Misérables is a daunting task for anyone to undertake, regardless of familiarity with the source material. Between the massive Victor Hugo novel, the bladder-busting musical that’s been equally beloved and despised for over 25 years, and now Tom Hooper’s follow up to his Oscar winning The King’s Speech, there are a dozen ways to skin this cat and none of them are easy and pretty. As someone whose never read the book or saw the original stage production but grew up with the 2-disc soundtrack on constant rotation thanks to my parents, this was one of my most anticipated films of the year, let alone this winter. Add going in knowing the equal amounts of praise and scorn the film had received, as well as me not being a big fan of Hooper’s previous film but loving his John Adams miniseries, and while the film doesn’t walk away completely unscathed, for the most part I genuinely enjoyed it.
Despite the novel, the world-famous, long running stage phenomenon and countless film adaptations, I had no idea what Les Misérables was actually about. So naive was I that going in to this latest film version, it didn’t click as to what the title referred to. Of course now, I realise it is as bad as not knowing what Snakes On A Plane is about. Had I been more on the ball, the opening 20 minutes in which characters who are 19th century society’s mud on the slummy streets of France are forced into stealing and prostitution to survive, might not have come as such a shock. This is some heavy stuff. Now I know why they gave us a chocolate bar at the preview.
As we ascend from the depths of the ocean, a murmur becomes a workman’s chant lamenting years wasted in prison, a lack of sympathy, and the disparity between the bourgeoisie and the poverty-stricken. The ocean churns, the sea water floods the base of the ship, and Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) – among a hundred others – strains to pull tree-trunk-like cords of rope to right the ship. Watching over is Javert (Russell Crowe), an inspector akin to Measure for Measure’s Angelo. His strict attention to law and order both vilifies and lauds him. He toes the line strictly, dismissing any empathy – even though, like Valjean, he “comes from the gutter too.”
In response to the already polarizing critical reaction to Les Misérables, allow me to discuss my own polarized reaction. Tom Hooper’s follow-up to Oscar winner The King’s Speech is ambitious—far more ambitious than his anointed 2010 entry—and this is both its success and its failure. The result is an ambivalent experience that wants simultaneously to be intimate and grandiose; the music often reaches extraordinary crescendos, yet the camera rarely pulls wide enough to show more than the singer’s head and shoulders. Odder still, it’s not as though one particular stylistic effort works better than the other: both the intimate scenes and the epic scenes have their peaks and valleys. Sequences filmed in hyper close-up work if the intimacy is intense but become myopic and boring if the tone of the song stays stagnant. Epic sequences only pop up when Hooper can’t work around it, and though opening the music to the full scope of the narrative is a welcome change of pace, Hooper’s interpretation of the material doesn’t jibe with expansive staging and choreography. It’s like he wants to be a revolutionary but still clings to tradition, and neither discipline is fully functional.
An adaptation of the successful stage musical based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel set in…
The Damned United (2009) is English filmmaker Tom Hooper’s debut feature film, based on David Peace’s novel The Damned Utd (published in 2006). The novel is a fictionalised account of a particular moment in the legendary football career of Brian Clough (1935-2004), who began as a footballer but due to an injury re-channeled his energies towards management. The novel focuses on his stormy, it-should-not-have-been-in-retrospect stint as manager of Leeds United in 1974. During his time there, Clough managed to put the reigning English club at the time at its worst state in years, after being the era’s top club managed with tough love by Don Revie (1927-1989). As a result, Clough and Leeds parted ways after only forty-four days. While sticking closely to the novel, with The Damned United Hooper presents a highly spirited and altogether noteworthy work that examines the interlocking themes of football, film, fiction, history, and male friendship/rivalry.