News Column

DVD / Blu-ray releases

May 11, 2013

YellowBrix

les miserables (12) 5/5 tom Hooper, Oscar-winning director of The King's Speech, dreamed a dream. He wanted to immortalise Claude- Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil's powerhouse musical without the conventional safety net of lip-synching.

That audacious gamble - asking the actors to sing live in every take - pays off handsomely, teasing out the heartbreaking emotion in an adaptation of a stage show which has become a global phenomenon.

The London production of Les Miserables, which opened in 1985 to lukewarm reviews, is the longestrunning musical in West End history. Hooper's terrific film embraces the Schonberg and Boublil songbook with bold directorial flourishes and powerful performances, including a cri de coeur from Anne Hathaway that won her an Oscar for best supporting actress.

Hugh Jackman also richly deserved his Oscar nomination for his fearless portrayal of a convict, which required the Australian actor to shed 30 pounds to convincingly portray his emaciated hero.

The film begins with a thrilling overture in a dockyard where Valjean (Jackman) and his fellow prisoners haul a ship out of the frothing water under the watchful eye of Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe).

Valjean is granted parole and leaves behind his tormentor but cannot secure employment because of his shameful past.

Only the kindness of a bishop saves him from starvation.

Eight years later, Valjean has reinvented himself as a revered factory owner in Montreuil-sur-Mer, where one of his workers, Fantine (Hathaway), is cruelly cast out when the foreman learns she has an illegitimate daughter, Cosette (Isabelle Allen).

Determined to raise the money to keep her child under the roof of villainous Thenardier (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his wife (Helena Bonham Carter), Fantine sells her hair and then her body as she sobs I Dreamed A Dream.

Valjean discovers Fantine close to death and agrees to raise Cosette as his own.

So the story moves on a further nine years with revolutionary fervour sloshing through the grimy streets of Paris, inflamed by students Enjolras (Aaron Tveit) and Marius (Eddie Redmayne).

The latter falls under the spell of Cosette (now played by Amanda Seyfried), unaware that Thenardier's daughter, Eponine (Samantha Barks), adores him from afar...

Les Miserables is a towering achievement in front of and behind the camera. With the benefit of live singing, Hooper doesn't have to photograph set pieces from afar, capturing the political turmoil as actors sing their hearts out in lip-quivering close-up.

The cast is superb - Barks breaks hearts with her knockout rendition of On My Own and Redmayne matches her note for soaring note. Only Crowe is miscast. His soft, sweet vocals render Javert somewhat impotent next to Jackman's booming delivery.

Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen provide stomach-churning comic relief.

Animal-lovers should avert their eyes when the Thenardiers grind meat for their pies during a rumbustious singalong to Master Of The House. But overall... magnifique!

hors satan (15) 4/5 bruno Dumont's wild-hearted Hors Satan is undoubtedly an acquired taste and the uncompromising French director will enthral as many viewers as he infuriates with this unsettling character study.

An enigmatic drifter known as The Guy (David Dewaele) lives in the woods of the Cote d'Opale, on the coast of north-west France, where sand dunes are protected by order of the government.

He lives off the land and sleeps beneath the stars, poaching wildlife and building fires while keeping an eye on The Girl (Alexandra Lematre), who lives in a nearby farmhouse. She kneels alongside The Guy in prayer, eventually confessing the horrors she suffers at the hands of her father.

The Guy kills to protect her and they embark on a strange odyssey across the weather-beaten landscape in search of inner peace. En route, The Girl makes romantic overtures to her protector but he rebuffs her, sating his sexual desires instead with strangers including a comatose young woman.

Cinematographer Yves Cape, who has worked with Dumont since his award-winning 1999 feature Humanity, captures the wild splendour of Boulogne, juxtaposing striking coastal landscapes with close-ups of the actors as they wrestle with the conflicted emotions that drive their characters to extreme actions.

Dumont's script steadfastly avoids convention, meditating on the endurance of the human spirit and the evil that festers beneath the surface of a close-knit community.

bringing up bobby (15) 2/5 actress Famke Janssen directs and co- writes this gently-paced, criticallymauled road movie about a mother's relationship with her young son.

Scam artist Olive (Milla Jovovich) needs a place to lay low with her boy Bobby (Spencer List) after a series of car thefts.

She makes contact with her friend Walt (Rory Cochrane) and he arranges a safe house. Soon after, Bobby is run over by businessman Kent (Bill Pullman) and Olive scents an opportunity to fleece the driver. However, the past catches up with Olive sooner than expected and she is sentenced to eight months in prison.

Meanwhile, Kent and his wife Mary (Marcia Cross) generously offer Bobby a home and when Olive eventually returns to the outside, she faces a tough decision about wrenching the boy away from his loving surrogate family.

foyle's war - the complete series seven (12) 4/5 now the Second World War is over, Detective Chief Superintendent Foyle (Leicester's Michael Kitchen) should be looking forward to a well-deserved retirement. However, a new war comes to the home shores and Foyle is reluctantly drawn into the shady world of MI5, where he becomes entangled in a web of secrets and lies. Meanwhile, Foyle's driver Sam (Honeysuckle Weeks) faces relationship woes.

The DVD includes the episodes The Eternity Ring, The Cage and Sunflower. A 25-disc box set comprising all seven series is also available. ? .M:

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