donderdag 28 februari 2013

Don't miss Les Mis!

Last sunday was the Academy Award Ceremony, also known as The Oscars. Even though I've not seen all the pictures I wanted to see, I did see a couple. Like Argo, Life of Pi and Les Misérables. And man, that movie should win a whole lotta Awards!!!! This movie deserves to be named in the same list of other musicals that have won Best Picture. And here's why (at the time I first wrote this, the Oscars hadn't happened yet, so bare with me people).

Miserable people
Like the title says, it's a story about people in misery. And that is not an understatement. I can tell you one thing, after seeing this movie, you won't feel bad about your own life. But man, are their stories beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. To give the cliffnotes version of a couple of characters: 

Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) did 20 years time for stealing a loaf of bread, when he finally gets released noone wants to hire him. He's a criminal after all. He changes his name and skips parole, which causes Javert (Russel Crowe) to come after him again. 
Fantine (Anne Hathaway), is there a more heartbreaking story then hers? She got pregnant and the father left, which leads to her working and sending the caretakers of her daughter money. A letter is found, she's called a whore and fired. After this she sells everything she has (including her hair, teeth and body) for her little baby, Cosette (as a teenager played by Amanda Seyfried). Jean finds Cosette and rescues her from her caretakers, who also have a daughter called Eponine (Samantha Barks). When they are all grown up, Eponine falls in love with Marius, but he falls in love with Cosette from the minute he meets her. And that's just a little part of all the stories. As you can see: A lot of heartbreak and misery. All these stories are told beautifully and in the most amazing costumes with incredible sets and decors in the background. 

Beautiful songs sung by an amazing cast
The musical was once created by Schönberg and Boublil in 1980. Before going to the movie, I knew some songs. Like On my own (sad to say, the first time I heard it was on Dawson's Creek... ouch), and I Dreamed a Dream (so beautiful!!!!! This one I first heard on Glee - I know, I watch too many series). But as it turned out, there were a lot of songs that I had heard before, I just didn't know they were from Les Mis. And what makes this musical even better, is the way they are sung. Tom Hooper came with the brilliant idea to let the cast sing them live. So not pre-record it in the studio and let the actors lip-synch, but sing on the set. I still don't really understand how he did it, but it was such a good choice. There is so much more emotion in some of the songs, that you can not help but be drawn in by them. Of course not all songs can be sung live... The opening scene for example, where Jean Valjean and the other prisoners are doing their work, which is bringing in a shipwreck, they are standing in water which gets in their mouth and everything. So obviously, you would have been able to hear something different there. But the solo's are 'live' for sure. Especially the solo's by Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway give you goosebumps. I haven't seen Lincoln yet, but I would love him to get the Oscar. About Anne... No question, she HAS the win the award. If she doesn't, the academy is crazy. They also have to win all the music/sound awards, due to the fact that it's a musical and all of these departments did their work wonderfully. 

Anne Hathaway is the star
You might ask why. She actually plays a little part and - spoiler alert - she dies pretty much in the beginning. But her performance, not to mention her singing, is so incredible. It's like nothing you've EVER seen... One of those moments that you think 'no one is that good. This can't be real.' The story is gripping yes, but Anne gives it all. The way she looks, how broken she plays and the power in her voice, it's all there. She gave the performance of a lifetime and years after people have seen this movie, they will still remember Anne. That's why she's the star and she has to win. Everything combined (sound, music, costumes, production design, cast), I would love it if Les Mis wins Best Picture. I've seen Argo and I would understand it if that movie won (especially since Ben Affleck isn't nominated as a director), but I still pretty much want Les Mis to win it...

Oscars 2013
The Oscars have been won and Les Mis didn't go home empty handed :D.  Of course Anne had to win. She gave a lovely speech and she totally deserved it. Les Mis was nominated for eight Oscars and won three of them (Best Supporting Role for Anne Hathaway, Achievement in Sound Mixing and Make-up and Hairstyling). The other Oscars went to:

Best Picture: Argo (Ben Affleck, so no Les Mis)
Best Director: Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Best Actor: Daniel-Day Lewis (for Lincoln, that was expected, sorry Hugh)
Best Actrice: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, which I still have to see)
Best Cinematography: Life of Pi
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained
Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Waltz (Django Unchained, 2nd win)
Best Supporting Actrice: Anne Hathaway!!!!
Best Song: Skyfall by Adele (yeah, I can't actually argue with that one. Too bad about Suddenly from Les Mis though, because it really is a song that gives you goosebumps).
Best Sound Design: Life of Pi
Best Production Design: Lincoln (though Les Mis was nominated)
Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina (Les Mis was beautiful though) 
Best Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty & Skyfall (a tie!!!! :O)
Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi (among the team was the Dutch Erik-Jan de Boer)
Best Editing: Argo
Best Foreign Picture: Amour
Best Animation: Brave 
Best Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man
Best Short Film: Curfew
Best Short Documentary: Inocente
Best Short Animated Film: Paperman

zondag 17 februari 2013

Special friendships

A good friend can last a lifetime,
sharing dreams and telling stories.
It means having a person to talk to,
and a shoulder to cry on.

Whether you're goofing off with each other,
playing games,
having the most silly conversations,
or watching stupid movies.
They are there for everything.

They get you up when you are down,
and lend a hand when you need it.
Whether you ask them to or not,
they are there, 
they care...
and no matter where you are or where you're going,
you can feel their love and genuine concern.

Friendships like that are special.
You don't find them everyday,
but when you do, you know you're a richer person.
Because that friend makes you feel like you can take on the world,
you matter,
and you count for someone.

Be they far or be they near,
they are always close by.
It's heart warming and gives you a sense of safety. 
It provides hope.  

And it's amazing when every day you find out,
that this world is filled with wonderful people like that.

(A little Buffy friendship wallpaper/collage made by me)

zondag 10 februari 2013

The pioneer Oskar Fischinger

Last december I went to the opening of an exhibit about Oskar Fischinger. I didn't really know what to expect but it turned out to be amazing! 

The Exhibition at EYE Film Institute Netherlands 
I didn't know anything about Fischinger when I went to the show, except that he was experimental and a video artist. Which I like. It made me very curious. The website of EYE states that EYE is working together with the Center for Visual Music in L.A. for this exhibition of short films by Fischinger. His work has been of great influence in the development of animated films and his work is still a source of inspiration for artists and designers.

Who is this artist?
The moment I walked into the exhibition room his art reminded me of Fantasia. Turns out, I wasn't that far off. Fischinger (1900-1967) started his career in München (Germany) and went on to work in Berlin. He experimented with projection, color and animation which eventually led to his nickname 'The Wizard of Friedrichstrasse'. He even worked in Hollywood for a bit, but art came first. His work laid the groundwork for computergraphics, animationfilms and visual effects. And as I mentioned, he was part of the creation proces in making Fantasia

(a vid of the soundtrack from Fantasia)

There is no better way to describe Oskar Fischinger or his work than to quote John Canemaker (The New York Times) as he is quoted on the EYE website: "Decades before computer graphics, before music videos, even before Fantasia (the 1940 version), there were the abstract animated films of Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967), master of 'absolute' or nonobjective filmmaking. He was cinema's Kandinsky, an animator who, beginning in the 1920's in Germany, created exquisite 'visual music' using geometric patterns and shapes choreographed tightly to classical music and jazz."

Just check this vid out on Vimeo. 

On the internet?
One of the things that makes Fischinger's work so special - beside the fact that he's a pioneer - is that it is very well protected from ending up on the internet. You can't see it in many places and that way it stays unique. EYE also shows some of his earliest work and never before shown animated drawings. Now, this is truly interesting. To see how he made his films... It's awesome. Fischinger drew each picture frame by frame and recorded it that way. It goes to show how much work is necessary to make an animated film by making animation drawings frame by frame/picture by picture. I think that's craftmanship at it's best and it's so amazing when you get to see the 'behind-the-scenes' - so to speak - of something as beautiful as this. But that's not the only thing to be seen. There are also paintings, musical scores with annotations, pictures and documents. It gives you a chance to see every step taken to create his movies. 

In February there are extra guides through the exhibition and on every Sunday in that month they organize animation workshops for children/families as well as for adults. Another extra thing is a game installation called 'Abstractimation'. In this game geometric figures are the main character. The exhibit Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction is still open to the public and will last until March 17th 2013 from 11.00-18.00. 

Check a vid and a slideshow from the exhibition here. For more information see the EYE website (same link).