Movie Review: Le Miserables & A Royal Affair
Director: Tom Hooper
Writers: Claude-Michel Schönberg (book), Alain Boublil (book)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway
Runtime: 157 mins
If you’re not a fan of the musical, keep in mind the title: most of these people are miserable, so expect drama and suffering. There is an occasional flash of spectacle, but the majority of the film’s powerful songs are in close-ups, often one take. The intimate handheld camera adds to the intensity, but sometimes interferes when it’s too jerky or causes shadows on faces. The actors run the gamut from revelatory (Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Lucy Hale) to solid (Hugh Jackman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter) to vocally weak (Russell Crowe). All of the singing is done live, so there’s an intimate, expressive power that’s distinctive. The narrative unfolds with intensity and grandeur, but this is basically opera, so it’s more about emotion than logic or dialogue. Overall, this film is a glorious union of moving moments, beautiful music and powerful performances.
GAY ANGLE: Somebody in casting is gay, because every rebel is attractive.
A ROYAL AFFAIR
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Writers: Bodil Steensen-Leth (novel), Rasmus Heisterberg (screenplay)
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Mads Mikkelsen and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard
Runtime: 137 min
This is based on the true story of a love triangle (King Christian VII, his queen and his doctor) and the changes they brought to Denmark in the age of Enlightenment. The plot unfolds predictably with able performances and gorgeous period richness (esp. the costumes). It’s told in classic historical style with mild passion, intrigue and drama, but nothing about it is special. If you like this sort of thing, you’ll find it solid historical drama.
It’s the first thing I’ve seen in the new Criterion Cinema: There’s a light leak near the screen in Cinema 4, but they said it’ll be fixed. The overall renovation is attractive and the leather seats are comfortable and well-spaced. The screens are surprisingly big for such small cinemas. The biggest problem is that there’s no wall between the giant exterior windows and the doors into the auditoriums. This means light pours into the cinema when the door is open during the matinees. (Of course, it’s also that way at the Byrd and Westhampton.)
GAY ANGLE: One (cute) character is called a fairy, but nothing was shown to prove it.
Jerry Williams reviewed movies for WTVR-TV for 14 years and for Style Weekly for 10 years. When he launched his own website in 1998 at TVJerry.com, he took his reviews to the Internet. Through those hundreds of reviews, Jerry kept his sexual orientation muted. So, he's excited to be adding "gay angles" to his postings for GayRVA.com.
The beauty of this production is that this new resonance is allowed to develop on its own without drawing attention to itself.September 23, 2016
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