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"LES MISÉRABLES (PG-13)
HUGH JACKMAN, RUSSELL CROWE, ANNE HATHAWAY, AMANDA SEYFRIED, EDDIE REDMAYNE, HELENA BONHAM CARTER
With strong acting and singing performances from most of the talented cast, this musical makes a triumphant jump to the big screen.
Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne and especially Anne Hathaway give inspired performances that are accentuated by the fact that the singing was filmed live as the parts were acted.
That, along with director Tom Hooper's approach of filming many of the songs in tight framing gives the film a personal, emotional feel.
Jackman is the key here, playing central character Jean Valjean, a former prisoner.
He's more than up to the task, with his interesting voice and acting range making it all work.
Some not familiar with the popular musical will be surprised that Hathaway's character of Fantine only snags a relatively short amount of screen time.
But what an impact she makes as the mother who ends up paying a brutal price and losing everything in this story set in 19th-century France.
Don't be surprised to see tears shed around you, or feel a few of your own flowing, when she delivers a powerfully melancholy but beautiful tune at the depth of her sadness.
There are scenes large and epic, but strangely, much of this musical feels small, a result of the way Hooper focuses on the more personal moments.
As Javert, the policeman who makes it his mission to find and punish Valjean, Russell Crowe is passable, though both his portrayal and his singing aren't as remarkable as performances turned in by others.
Rated PG-13 for suggestive and sexual material, violence, thematic elements. 158 min. [PV, RA]
"DJANGO UNCHAINED" (R)
JAMIE FOXX, CHRISTOPH WALTZ, LEONARDO DICAPRIO, KERRY WASHINGTON, SAMUEL L. JACKSON
Only an inspired performance by Christoph Waltz and a solid first half-hour make (part of) this movie worth watching.
After that, director Quentin Tarantino gives in to his typical overindulgence in excessively bloody violence, extended repartee and scenes that go on forever.
Maybe the director should shift to shorts, because few others can so quickly snatch an audience's attention or mark an oddly funny moment the way he can.
HOW WE RATE 'EM
H Don't waste your time.
HH Nothing special
HHHH A must-see