Monday, January 14, 2013

Movie Reviews, Four out of Five

 No, I'm not referring to a movie rating, rather, I'm telling you I saw four movies out of the last five days.  That's gotta be a record I believe.  Going on several movie dates this past week seemed to us to be the last big hurrah of the Christmas season, I guess.

Here's my report:

First we went to see "Les Miserables," and that movie set a pretty high standard for all of the movies that followed it.  "Les Mis" is the screen adaptation of one of the best loved musicals of all time.  A French policeman Javert (played aptly by Russell Crowe) spends his life searching for ex-convict Jean Valjean, who has skipped parole.

Hugh Jackman, playing the part of Valjean, surprised me with his singing voice and the range and depth of emotions he exhibited throughout the film.  He was simply amazing.

Other cast members included Fantine (Anne Hathaway) and her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried).  In the story line Valjean vows to the dying Fantine that he will care for her daughter Cosette, and he spends the remainder of his life fathering her.

This movie examines the contrasting natures of law and grace.  Containing history, romance, and music we can all recognize, this flick deserves to be recognized at awards time.  I give it five stars out of five.

Next we saw "Life of Pi," a multi-layered story of survival.  A zoo-keeping family and their collection of animals is traveling across the ocean to make a new life for themselves, when a terrible storm hits and the ship sinks.

For the majority of the movie, we see survivor Pi's struggle to stay alive, as he shares his small boat with a Siberian tiger who also survived.  Pi creatively and sometimes comically finds ways to keep his mind active while he figures out how to obtain food and water to keep both himself and the tiger alive.

By the end of the show I found myself hoping for a good outcome for both the boy and the tiger, until I was suddenly slammed with another layer of the story.  I won't tell, as I don't want to spoil the enjoyment for you.  I would definitely add this movie to your "must see" list.  It's a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars in my book.

Of a completely different genre, my next movie, "The Sessions," challenged my thinking in a different way.  This movie is a true story, based on the struggles of a man who was immobilized by polio since the age of six.  Although he lives most of his day in an iron lung,  Mark O'Brien lives a full life.

However, as he is nearing his "use by" date, as he calls it, he decides he does not want his life to be over until he is no longer a virgin.  He consults with his priest, who uncertainly speculates that perhaps God will give him a "free pass" on this issue.

Then we see the sessions, as Mark embarks on clinical meetings with a certified sex surrogate, played with sensitivity by Helen Hunt.  Yes, he loses his virginity, but the movie is so much more than sex.

Though his physical limitations are sad, this movie is a joyous testament to his life, to the caregivers making sure his needs are met, and to the climax of the human spirit.

I give this movie four stars out of five.

And finally, yesterday we took a road trip to the nearest theater showing "Cirque du Soleil:  Worlds Away."  This movie is basically a love story of a girl hunting for the boy who has captured her heart.  Along the way, she sees him, but they slip into another place, and she encounters all sorts of characters, some helpful to her in finding him and some not.

This 3-D movie is a compilation of parts from seven of Cirque's stage shows.  Because the husband and I had just seen three of the Cirque shows a year ago in Las Vegas, I found the movie to lack some of the thrill that we had experienced seeing the acrobats and aerialists live.  Although I enjoyed the movie, really it just made me want to go and see those other Cirque shows that I haven't yet seen.  Perhaps that is the real objective of this movie.

At the price we paid for the tickets - $11 (are we nuts?), I'd probably recommend saving that money and putting it toward seeing a live show.  Even so, we were entertained, and I'll give it 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Whew!  No more popcorn for me for a while!

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