Today's DVDs & Blu-rays: A Les Misérables DVD Give-away and Reviews of The Other Son, The Big Picture and Lost Angels
Hugh Jackman stars as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables
UPDATE: Congratulations to John K, the winner of our Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy combo of Les Misérables. Enjoy!
Admittedly Les Misérables was a vehicle for Hugh Jackman (who played Jean Valjean) and Anne Hathaway (Fantine), but there were several other performances that deserved recognition as well, including Samantha Barks (the adult Éponine) and Eddie Redmayne (Marius). Both have wonderful voices and both added some weight to performances that could have easily been lost amid the Jackman/Hathaway buzz. Barks' "On My Own" was captivating and Redmayne's "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" brought a sense of closure to an emotional third act, but the "A Little Fall of Rain" duet they shared after Éponine was wounded was absolutely glorious. (We can't say how disappointed we are it wasn't included in the film's soundtrack, which features only about an hour's worth of music.) Together' Barks and Redmayne deliver a heartfelt performance of a song that neatly sums up all of the themes in Les Misérables - self-sacrifice, love, loss and redemption.
While we're on the subject of redemption, we were pretty happy with Russell Crowe as the heartless policeman Javert. Did he sing as well as Hugh Jackman? Well, no. But then again, Jackman is Mr. Broadway and Crowe is Mr. Gladiator .
Can't wait to get your hands on a copy of the new Les Misérables DVD being released
Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne stole the show with their heartbreaking rendition of A Little Fall of Rain today Friday? Let us help you. We've got a copy of the Oscar-award winning musical up for grabs. All you have to do is send us an e-mail with the words Les Misérables in the subject line. (You must live in the United States to be eligible, because, no we aren't mailing anything overseas.) We'll pick a random winner on Friday and notify the lucky reader by e-mail.
Send your entry to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
The Other Son has been a festival favorite that's been doing the impossible - that is, getting people to see both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Joseph (Jules Sitruk) and Yassin (Mehdi Dehbi) are two teenaged boys living in the Middle East. Joseph is Israeli while Yassin is Palestinian. The two discover they were switched at birth and have been living with the "wrong" family all these years. Director Lorraine Lévy does a good job of keeping the story small; she doesn't tackle the Middle East conflict so much as she investigates the inner conflicts of the boys and their families as they struggle to understand what's happened, and, more importantly, what's next.
We learned two things from Eric Lartigau's The Big Picture. One, at almost 70 years old, Catherine Deneuve is still one of the most beautiful women in the world. And two, if you ever accidentally kill your wife's lover, stuffing his body into a freezer might not be the best plan of action.
Romain Duris and Catherine Deneuve in The Big Picture
Director Eric Lartigau, who also co-wrote, uses Deneuve sparingly. She's only in a few scenes but lights up the screen every time she appears. The bulk of the story falls to Romain Duris who plays Paul, a seemingly successful businessman with an ideal life. Then he finds out his wife is having an affair and in a burst of anger, accidentally kills her lover. He decides not to call the police and report the accident, instead putting a far-fetched plan in action. He'll disappear. He'll take on the dead man's identity. He'll walk away from everyone and everything he's ever known and start again.
The Big Picture has a decidedly The Talented Mr. Ripley tone. Paul entangles himself in an ever-more complicated lie, putting himself and the people he loves at risk. Each decision moves him further and further away from any chance at resolving the situation.
The last film we have for review today is the documentary Lost Angels: Skid Row is My Home. Director Thomas Napper introduces us to several people living on the streets of Los Angeles. Making friends and creating families as they can, they find ways to cope with the constant uncertainty that marks their lives. One older woman, for example, makes it her job to feed the wild cats in her neighborhood.
Scenes of police officers clearing away the homeless people's make-shift cardboard houses and tents without giving them a chance to collect their belongings or an option as to where to go is enraging. But should the city be willing to just turn over large areas to the homeless and let them live on the streets? Napper doesn't give the viewer any easy answers, instead he just raises more questions about the criminalization of homelessness, the lack of a safety net for people who's only crime is being poor and the woeful lack of adequate mental health services that for some, might be the difference between living on the street and having a home.