Category Archives: entertainment

Les Mis: Epic story brings tears

I have been a sucker for musicals since my family took me to New York at age five, and I saw my first Broadway performance of Beauty and the Beast. So, when I heard that Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Les Miserables, was being made into a movie, I knew that I had to see it. Better known as Les Miz, the film was mesmerizing.
Taking place in France about 25 years after the French Revolution, Les Miserables is a tale about political injustice, redemption, unrequited love, and lost dreams. The story centers on Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a downtrodden man, who is paroled after serving a 19-year prison sentence for stealing a loaf of  bread. The film chronicles his trials and triumphs as he works toward redemption. Along the way, he encounters characters such as Javert (Russell Crowe) the relentless police inspector, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) an unwed mother, and the Thenardiers, played by Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen. Needless to say, director Tom Hooper pulled together an A-List cast. Anne Hathaway shocked me with her amazing vulnerability, and the raunchy comedian, Sasha Baron Cohen, has redeemed himself.
The film’s soundtrack is sure to please. The classics, “I Dreamed a Dream” and “On My Own,” are sure to provide chills to listeners. These songs have been stripped down of the usual theatrics, and the lyrics truly resonate, so that the audience can fully empathize with the characters. You’re definitely going to want to bring tissues. There are also campy tunes, such as “Master of the House,” which was stuck in my head for days. This song provided some much needed comic relief.
Another thing that I enjoyed was the spectacular costumes and make-up artistry. I felt like I was sitting in the middle of the students’ revolution. Because the film covers a large span of time, all of the characters had to age realistically; Hugh Jackman is virtually unrecognizable at times. I would not be surprised if there is an Oscar nomination in the costume designers’ future.
Les Miserables is a truly epic production. It was heart-wrenching, touching, uplifting, and an all-around emotional roller coaster. Thematically, the film offers a powerful portrayal of the poor and the wretched during a pivotal point in French history.  I give Les Miz four stars, and rate it as quite possibly the best movie of 2012.
~Jordyn Elliott, associate editor
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“Red”: Fourth album sells Swiftly

“YES!! FINALLY!!” I screamed, when Taylor Swift’s new album, Red, hit stores on Oct 22. And, yes, the album is spectacular. T-Swift maintains the “I hate you, you loser!” aspect to her break-up songs, and it’s perfectly displayed in her hit single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” If you’ve been in a toxic relationship you just couldn’t escape, it’s the perfect song to blast from the radio with the windows down while screaming lyrics at the top of your lungs… but I digress.

However, the majority of the break-up songs on Red to posses a new quality that has not been seen before in T-Swift’s music: maturity. There is an element of somber acceptance in the tunes, including my personal favorite, “All Too Well,” which recounts particularly pleasant memories of a past relationship and how she remembers them… all too well. Yes, I was brought to tears.

Although the album has plenty of break-up anthems that will leave listeners crying and laughing (but mostly crying), there are also quite happy tunes to jam to. “Starlight,” was inspired by Ethel and Bobby Kennedy and describes a night back in ’45 when they snuck into a yacht party and had a blast. Dancing with the ones you love is a popular theme in Red; “22” is about a night Swift and friends went out for a night on the town.

Red is good because it displays a wide range of topics, which isn’t always seen in T-Swift’s albums. Usually her lyrics are about how she loves a boy or how she hates a boy- black and white. This time, however, Swift expresses the fragile vulnerability that comes with the pain of heartbreak in her lyrics, and in her vocals.

Swift writes her own music and often hides messages about other celebrities in her lyrics. When I listened to the album for the first time, I kept wondering who the songs were about.  Well, luckily Swift leaves a code in the album guide that helps fans make educated guesses as to who the songs are about. Speculation says some songs are about Love and Other Drugs actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who reportedly dated the singer for a few months. Others may be about Connor Kennedy, which makes sense considering she wrote a song for his grandmother. But unfortunately Swift keeps her songs on a “you know who you are” basis and leaves the rest of us wondering.

What is important, however, is that T-Swift’s songs are easy for teens to relate to. It feels good to hear a song that expresses a feeling you didn’t know how to put into words or that captures a situation you’ve experienced perfectly. Does Swift play it a little middle school when she calls out all of her exes in song? Sure. But that doesn’t make blasting her anthems in your room, or car, or headphones any less fun. I loved this album, and you should too.

~Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director