7:00 PM, 23rd March, 2013
Norman is a young lad who can see and talk to ghosts, much to his parents’ horror. The whole town of Blithe Hollow thinks he is crazy, but Norman doesn’t mind.
In the lead up to an annual celebration of a legendary witch burning, Norman discovers his ‘gift’ is in fact a family curse when his crazy uncle warns him that he will soon have to take over his legacy. Alas, Norman doesn’t manage to find out how exactly he has to take over that legacy before finding out the family curse is one small part of a bigger curse on the town. A curse that has brought zombies forth from the grave. Zombies that only Norman has the skills to defeat.
ParaNorman is the latest movie from Laika Entertainment, the stop-motion animation company behind macabre family classics such as The Corpse Bride and Coraline. It fits right into that oeuvre, but is perhaps a little more accessible than Laika’s past efforts, as it successfully marries its spoof of B-movies of the 40s and 50s with a familiar family comedy formula. Though it sounds like something you’ve seen before, you’ve rarely seen it done as well as this. ParaNorman is a modern classic.
8:48 PM, 23rd March, 2013
Jean Valjean (Jackman) is released from prison after a twenty year sentence, embittered and angry. A sudden good deed changes his perspective, and sees him breaking parole to live another life. But Javert (Crowe), a policeman, is dedicated to tracking him down, through eighteen years filled with tragedy, love and redemption. And a lot of songs.
This is the long awaited musical version – finally a film. There are only small changes from the stage version, which clarify the plot (one new verse in particular clarifies France’s complicated 19th century history for anybody who’s not sure how many revolutions France had). But the general approach focuses on the personal story – how one man’s decision to change his life affects other people along the way – and how he’s confronted with the choice between personal safety and his wider social responsibility. The familiar songs are not performed as loud technical exercises of bravura singing – they’re intimate confessions of inner turmoil. There’s been criticism amongst fans that they’re not singing the songs ‘properly’. I don’t agree in the slightest.
Even as a novel, “Les Misérables” was never universally embraced – it’s a sentimental story reliant on coincidences to keep the plot moving (it sometimes seems like 19th Century poor people had GPS so they knew exactly where everybody was and could find them immediately), but it appeals to the heart and the soul, not to the brain. I hope your heart and soul enjoy it as much as mine did.