Sunday, 27 January 2013

Les Misérables - the movie

Ever since the announcement for the movie was made I've been excited about it. Then I was annoyed. Annoyed with Sweden. The movie premiered on Christmas Day in the UK. Here it premiered on January 18th. It's funny. If it's a grand movie like Harry Potter we can have the premiere at the same time as the rest of the world without any trouble. But if it's not then it takes weeks or months before it shows up here. My country is retarded -.-

I had watched the trailers beforehand and I knew it would be grand. Still I was kind of worried that they somehow might ruin it. But I loved it! I'm definitely going to see it again!

The casting
  • Russell Crowe was obviously just cast to be a headliner. He could do the stern face of Javert, but the singing was bad. Very bad. 
  • Hugh Jackman impressed me. He managed to balance the book version of Valjean with the musical version very well, the acting was great and the singing better than anticipated. 
  • Anne Hathaway was definitely the star of the film. Impeccable. My pet peeve with every casting I've seen of any version of Les Mis is that they never seem able to find a blond Fantine. She's blond in the book. Actually she looks a lot like Cosette. 
  • Marius was cute, but he only managed to make weird faces on every close-up of him. 
  • Enjolras was exactly like I pictured him in the book. 
  • Gavroche was the star of the revolution. That little boy was amazing and he did my favourite character extreme justice. 
  • Samantha Barks was great as Éponine. So glad they chose her instead of friggin' Taylor Swift. 
  • I love that they had cast Colm Wilkinson as the role of the Bishop of Digne. The first West End Valjean as the Bishop in the movie. How very fitting. 
  • I also noticed that one of the background students was one of the students from 25th. 
  • I had heard both good and bad about Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen as Mrs and Mr Thénardier, but I really liked them. Helena Bonham Carter was perfect as always (can she do no wrong?) and Sasha Baron Cohen had his own take on his role, which worked really well according to me. 
  • Little Cosette was impressive. 
  • Amanda Seyfried did the best of her role I think. Adult Cosette is such a bland character in my opinion. 
The scenography. No real complaints there. Just pet peeves from the book. The monastery isn't really in Paris. But otherwise everything looked like I might picture early 19th century France. Not that I'm an expert at 19th century masonry. I laughed out loud during the scene when people throw out furniture to help build the barricade. BANG! A piano comes flying. WTH?! xD And why is there a cow in the middle of the road?

The songs. I love the setting of the Prologue, Lovely Ladies, I Dreamed a Dream, Master of the House, Look Down, Little People and Do You Hear the People Sing. (25th Anniversary musical versions) They pretty much got all my favourite songs right. I was a little disappointed by how they did Red and Black, but I can't really pinpoint what was wrong with it... Do You Hear the People Sing is my absolute favourite song off the entire musical and how they did that song in the movie was amazing. Totally did the song justice! It was hard not to start singing along out loud xD

The story. I love how they incorporated some elements from the book that weren't in the musical. Those elements tie up some loose ends from the musical. For example they show the doll that Valjean buy to Cosette. The very lovely and expensive doll that every girl in that village wants. In the book it's in a more in-your-face manner towards Éponine, but still. Cosette's song Castle on a Cloud is called Poupée dans la Vitrine in French, which means Doll in the Window. I like how they show that Valjean and Cosette end up at the monastery with M. Fauchelevent, which gives the audience a hint as to how and where Cosette grows up. And the man Valjean saves from under the carriage isn't just some random guy, but actually important later on. I like that they show how Fantine sells her two front teeth for 40 francs (although she still has her front teeth later on... pet peeve). I also like that they add Marius' grandfather. I was just waiting for them to tell us about Gavroche being Éponine's little brother and that they had a sister and two more brothers too. (They didn't). Or tell us Cosette's real name: Euphrasie. (They didn't). The love story between Marius and Cosette is still too incredible in its shortened form. In the book they have months apart only thinking about each other and when they meet they have several nights together when Valjean is out of town. In the musical and movie their love story lasts for two days, then Marius is recovering from injuries and then they get married. I was kind of hoping they'd drag it out in the movie and show the true nature of their love story, but no :(

But all in all I think it was a great movie. A must-buy when it's released on DVD. Absolutely love it.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Love Never Dies - Australian version

I bought the DVD recording of the Australian version of Love Never Dies ages ago, but I never got around to watching it - until yesterday. The original London version never was a big success, but they released a soundtrack album from the show, which I've looped some songs from since I got my hands on it (hey, I had to - Ramin is the Phantom). I loved the album version of 'Til I Hear You Sing, Beneath a Moonless Sky, The Beauty Underneath and Devil Take the Hindmost.

Reason why the Australian version was recorded and not the original? Apparantly the Australian version was more the way Andrew Lloyd Webber had intended it to be. But really I can't understand why this musical got such poor reviews, accusing it of having to memorable songs... I think the problem is that it's a sequel, and not just any sequel, but the sequel to Phantom of the Opera (which in 2013 is going on its 27th consequtive year in West End), and thus people expected another fantastic timeless masterpiece like that. Unreasonable expectations ruined it, pretty much. But let's get on with it.

The scenography. I liked the dark setting and despite having exchanged most (if not all) the candles for electricity the general atmosphere was still darkness and night. I liked the three freaks Gangle, Fleck and Squelch. How can a person be as tiny as Fleck?

The Phantom. We all know I have a huge fangirl crush on Ramin's voice (not as much him as his voice) and the Phantom himself is one of my favourite fictitious characters of all time. So I'm quite picky. But Ben Lewis was great. His voice was dark, which is a great plus for someone playing Phantom in my book, not quite as powerful as Ramin's but still suitable for the role. I liked his take on the Phantom as someone less psychotic and hurt and someone stronger and more confident. Simply, the Phantom seemed to have grown up a bit. Ben Lewis' version of 'Til I Hear You Sing is not as powerful as Ramin's and you need to see the film to actually sense the feelings, while in Ramin's version all the feelings of anger, sadness and frustration are easily heard.

Christine. I liked Sierra in the 25th Anniversary, but not so much on the soundtrack to Love Never Dies. Her voice felt a bit flat on the soundtrack. Anna O'Byrne, however, made a stunning Christine. The most beautiful one I have ever seen and her version of the title song gave me goosebumps. It's one of the best songs in the Australian version. The title song is very operatic, but I still love it - which is a great compliment from me since real classic opera has a tendency to give me headaches and the more operatic the worse. But this song is just stunning.

Raoul. I like that Raoul has a bigger role and more of a character in Love Never Dies. Still I've always hated Raoul. In Phantom of the Opera he was a spoiled, stupid, arse, and in Love Never Dies he's an angry drunken gambler with sky-high debts, and a neglecting father and husband. Raoul, however, did get a solo in this musical: Why Does She Love Me?. Still I prefer his duet with the Phantom:

The score. The only thing I don't like about the music are the vaudeville parts (Bathing Beauty for example). Other than that the entire score is beautiful. Dark, mellow, symphonic, beautiful. I like how, just as in the Phantom of the Opera, the melodies are always present. For example, the melody from Devil Takes the Hindmost shows up several times, as well as the melody from Beautiful and Once Upon Another Time, and the one from the title song. Beneath a Moonless Sky is beautiful in the Australian version too. But my absolute favourite song of this musical, London and Sydney alike, is The Beauty Underneath:

I can't understand why this musical got such bad reviews. I can't understand what people can dislike about it. It's beautiful and mysterious and heartwarming and heartbreaking, all at the same time. 

Other Phan-girling escapades:

Monday, 21 January 2013

Skyrim, cinema, games and drinks

Lots have happened since last time.

Monday and Tuesday were regular days for me, meaning I pretty much spent them playing Skyrim on the computer (while Toni was working). Bothers me to pieces that I've come across a bug with the Companions that seem to be unsolveable :( Anyway some time ago I started playing Skyrim at the 360 as well. At the 360 I'm a Nord warrior (on the computer I'm a Dark elf (Dunmer) mage). It's interesting comparing the different treatments my characters recieve. The dark elf is a foreigner: foreign culture, foreign language, foreign customs, foreign looks, and is treated thereafter by the Nords - which sometimes mean really bad behaviour. While the Nord is well-treated in most cities, but sometimes met with suspicion from elves, Khajiit and Argonians. Anyway I've been practicing archery with my dark elf and I've passed level 90 in Archery by now. I'm just going to level my Sneak skill as well and then I'll give the main quest a try again.

Wednesday we decided to take a trip to Stockholm. First stop was the Sci-Fi bookstore where ofc I bought myself two books (The Complete History of Jack the Ripper and The Graveyard Book), "I have never..." card game, and the two first volumes of The Walking Dead comic. Next stop was a sushi restaurant Toni knew of, before we bought the mandatory sweets bag and went to the cinema to watch The Hobbit. I'm not a fan of Lord of the Rings. I think the first movie is boring as hell, the other two are watchable, but the extremely bad main character of Frodo (who would've died within 20 minutes if it wasn't for Sam saving his ass) makes some moments in those two movies really bad. I've tried reading the first book. I really really tried. But about halfway through I wanted to puke on it, burn it and throw it in front of the train. It was so boring. We walk and walk and walk. Frodo is stupid. We walk and walk and walk. Frodo is being more stupid. We walk some more. Frodo is stupid some more. We walk even more. However I did want to see The Hobbit. And I was pleasantly surprised. So much better than Lord of the Rings, along with the safety of some characters I already knew and recognised. The song sung by the dwarves in Bilbo's house was so incredibly powerful in the cinema. And several times throughout the movie I found myself with goosebumps.

Thursday was a not so special day. Mostly staying in, watching a movie and playing games. While Friday we had a friend over and played card games: two versions of Munchkin, Zombie Dice and I have never. All great fun. This clip somehow became a legend during that night:

Saturday started out with sushi in front of the TV watching Big Bang Theory, before going to Stockholm again to watch a show by a band by some of Toni's friends. After the gig we had a great time on the train back. Then we ended up going out to a bar and having some drinks and just having fun for my last evening there.
These were our last drinks - me and two guys xD

Yesterday I pretty much spent going home. I have realised that I prefer aeroplanes rather than trains. Trains are noisy and jittery. Planes are smooth and (compared to trains) very quiet.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Monday, 7 January 2013

Awesome dream and The Walking Dead

I had a dream tonight. A dream I really didn't want to wake up from. I dreamt that I was at an Alice Cooper concert (support: Marilyn Manson). It was outdoors and for some reason in my teeny tiny hometown. I watched the Manson concert and then I went backstage to try and catch a glimpse of Cooper before the show. He saw me and invited me inside. We talked (can't remember about what), I called my friend Zoy and she came over and then he gave us a bunch of merch :) During the show I was still seated backstage and took lots of photos with my camera. When the concert was over I got to take a picture with him, get his autograph and hug him. Then for some reason the backstage area was in the refurnished living room of my parents' house and Cooper asked me where the bathroom was so that he could take a shower. While he took a shower I started talking to Manson (don't remember about what) and got an autograph, photo and hug from him too before I woke up.
Why did I have to wake up? The entire dream felt so real that I first didn't know where I was when I woke up and then my first thought was that I wanted to check my camera for photos.


Since New Years not much has happened. I've played Medieval II: Total War and Skyrim on the computer, and Skyrim and The Walking Dead on Xbox 360. Finished The Walking Dead yesterday night and now I'm just waiting and hoping for a sequel. The feelings towards the end of the game were pretty much like this:

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year

So yeah, the party was a great success and I had a lot of fun :) We were about 15 people, most of them I had met sometime before. Music is always great fun, espeially since we always use YouTube for source of music.

The night went by so very quickly. It was 7pm when the first people showed up, then all of a sudden it was 9pm and then 11.40pm. Where did all that time go?! We all went outside to watch the fireworks and do the countdown. For the first time in my life the New Years kiss felt extremely important, and I was very happy to be able to.

After the fireworks it felt like the party died out pretty quickly but, in fact, it kept going for about 2-3 more hours. We went to bed around 4am.

Some pictures from the evening: