Tag Archive: tom hooper


les-miserables-hathaway

Dir. Tom Hooper
(2012, PG-13, 157 minutes)

I had never seen any version of Les Miserables on stage or screen, though the stage musical, which opened on Broadway in 1987 and ran for 16 years, is so famous I have inevitably heard selections from its song score. Tom Hooper‘s film version is my first complete experience of the musical, so I come not only to evaluate the director’s approach, but to consider for the first time the material itself.

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There came a moment early during the evening when I, and I’m sure many other close Oscar watchers, thought the foregone conclusion of The King’s Speech winning Best Picture might not have been so foregone after all. At the beginning of the show, Tom Hanks presented the first two categories, Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography, mentioning an odd, mostly irrelevant statistic: no film had won those two categories as well as Best Picture since Titanic. The first envelope opened and Art Direction went to Alice in Wonderland. Then Cinematography went to Inception. So much for that.

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Dir. Tom Hooper
(2010, R, 118 min)
★ ★ ★

The King’s Speech is burdened with self-ascribed import. It tells the story of King George VI, who ascended to the British throne in the years leading up to the Second World War. He suffered from a stammer that, at the dawn of the age of radio, crippled him as a leader. But of course by then the British monarch was a figurehead who, as George himself admits at a moment of self-doubt, appoints no government and makes no command decisions. As the symbolic representative of the British people at a time of crisis, his words had meaning, but the film almost gives us the impression that George’s improved speech all but won the war. As he steps out onto his balcony, received by his adoring subjects, the film seems to say, “Problem solved! War’s over! He successfully read a prepared statement!” (The specific words chosen for that statement seem irrelevant to the story; all we’re told before it’s put in the King’s hands is that the speech was approved, by someone or lots of someones who presumably know about such things as proper word selection at a time of war.)

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Dir. Tom Hooper
(2009, R, 97 min)
★ ★ ★ ½

Most sports movies feature a team of Bad Guys and a team of Good Guys. You know the Bad Guys are bad because they always win. They have glowering expressions. Wear dark colors. They leave poor victim teams bloody and ravaged on the field, and the soundtrack cues up music to indicate the arrival of the Sith Lords. You know the Good Guys are good because they have dialogue. They’re underdogs with hopes and dreams, unbreakable spirits, and a devoted coach who delivers a stirring speech at halftime to whip his boys into shape to come from behind and win it all … Read the rest of my review at Culturazzi.org.