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Saturday, August 31, 2013

30 Songs {#17}

This song is one of the saddest songs in Les Miserables (and that's saying a lot).  Marius, who was once so caught up in the cause (at least in the musical - in the book, he just goes to barricades to die because he can't marry Cosette), has had all his friends killed by the National Guards and, thanks to some guy that he doesn't even know the identity of, he survived.  Hence, this song.  I never really cried during this song (as in sobbed), until I watched the film.  Eddie Redmayne puts so much passionate heartbreak and despair into this my opinion, it's the only song in the movie that rivals I Dreamed A Dream in terms of raw emotion.

From the table in the corner,
They could see a world reborn.
And they rose with voices ringing,
And I can hear them now.
The very words that they had sung,
Became their last communion.
On this lonely barricade,
At dawn.

I can never decide whose version of the song I like best (Michael Ball vs. Eddie Redmayne) because they're both so good.  I kind of wish that the ghosts of Marius' friends' had come back in the film, but it was not to be :(  Of course, the best 'ghosts-of-the-barricade-boys-returning' moment is in the 25th ;) but since Nick Jonas was Marius (although that song was his best moment, IMO), is sort of ruins it.

What is your favorite version of this song?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

30 Songs {#18}

Of all the songs in Les Miserables, this one tugs at my heartstrings the most.  Maybe it's because, after his long, arduous and almost miraculous (at times) journey, Valjean dies.  Maybe it's because Fantine, Eponine, Enjolras and all the other barricade boys come back for one final song.  Maybe it's because there are so many reprises, both melodic and vocal (Bring Him Home, Do You Hear The People Sing?, Fantine's Death/On My Own).  Whatever it is, it's the one song that really pulls at me and doesn't let go.  The entire beauty of Les Miserables is there for all to see with the reprise of Do You Hear The People Sing?

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that we bring when tomorrow comes.
Tomorrow comes!

I'm getting chills just typing out those lyrics.  No kidding.  Now, I have this little theory about the movie's version of the finale.  As you all probably know, Eponine wasn't with Fantine during the little duet near the end ("Take my hand...") and most of the fans (me included) were pretty upset with Tom Hooper's decision to cut her out.  But I think that, in a way, it was right.  It was right to just have Fantine and bring the bishop back.  In the brick, when Valjean is asked if he wants a priest as he's dying, Victor Hugo says something to the effect of "Who could not doubt that the bishop was there during his final moments?" (disclaimer: I do not agree with Hugo/Les Miserables' view of theology.  This is just something I found interesting :) ) and Valjean finally tells Cosette her mother's name so it was like Fantine was 'there' as well. 

What do you think of my theory?  Where does the Epilogue rank in your list of favorite songs?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

30 Songs {#19}

This song is one of my favorites in A Tale of Two Cities: The Musical because it's an ensemble number that's full of energy and anger, not unlike At The End Of The Day and Madame Guillotine.  There's also a line or two for Sydney in this song ("What if he dies?  What if she turns to me?") so that also helps the song on to this list :)  This song always gives me chills at the end and I think that it's a song that really highlights the feelings and furies of the people in revolutionary France.

The time is upon us.
We fight now or never.
We're lighting a fire,
They'll remember forever.
We go to the Bastille,
The symbol of terror.
We'll swing the gates open, we'll lead them to freedom, we'll show them the way!

One of my favorite songs and one of my favorite musicals.

What is your favorite song from this musical?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Becoming The Chateran: A Pre-Review

Image taken from here.
When Princess Rhea inadvertently condemns two people to almost certain death, due to her escapades, she is horrified.  She vows to help the two - a knight, Paladin and a Griffin, Zephen - in the quest: to slay the two Dragons that are terrorizing the land.  They journey to meet the Dragons with the help of some friends and along the way discover new things about their lives, their hopes and each other.  But will they be able to face the great challenge unscathed?


I was given the chance to beta-read Becoming The Chateran about a week ago.  At first, I didn't plan to because I had so much going on already that I didn't think I could handle another project but I decided to give it a go.  It would be my first fantasy novel and I was a little wary about whether or not I would like it.  I hate science-fiction so I figured I wouldn't like fantasy either.

I was wrong.  It was an amazing read and I'm so happy that I offered to read it and thus add BTC to my list of 'epic books I've read' ('cause I always like adding to that list...)  My favorite part of the book was probably the characters.  Rhea was fun, but she wasn't my favorite character (I never like the main characters as much as I do the secondary characters, for some reason).  My favorite character was Zephen - he was funny, loyal, courageous, and just all around awesome; followed by Paladin - Ze Great Hero; Hiyliena - Rhea's girl friend and loyal companion; and Quavarelle, because she was so funny and spirited.  She always made me smile.

I can't pick my favorite part (as in scene) of the book, although I can tell you exactly what my least favorite part was - the whole time the little travelling group spent in Leveaus, a really, really, really weird city.  It was almost like they were all in a dream and I hate it when characters think they're dreaming in books.  But one they got out of there and advanced toward Dragon territory, it was fine :)  One of my favorite parts was actually the whole fight with the Dragons because that was really exciting and adrenaline fueled.  And realistic.  The way they fought the Dragons was totally realistic.

I cried quite a bit during this book (which is always a plus.  As a friend of mine once said, "Sad is happy for deep people") especially when I thought that a certain character had died.  *SPOILERS* And when Rhea reunited with her family. *SPOILERS ENDED*  Overall, Becoming The Chateran is a great story.  It's really long but I read it in less than two days (I couldn't keep away from it for too long).  Oh, and it has an ambigous ending which leaves it open for a sequel (and the author assures me that several will be forthcoming).

The end.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hugo (2011)

Hugo is an orphan boy living in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris. He learned to fix clocks and other gadgets from his father and uncle which he puts to use keeping the train station clocks running. The only thing that he has left that connects him to his dead father is an automaton (mechanical man) that doesn't work without a special key. Hugo needs to find the key to unlock the secret he believes it contains. On his adventures, he meets George Melies, a shopkeeper, who works in the train station, and his adventure-seeking god-daughter. Hugo finds that they have a surprising connection to his father and the automaton, and he discovers it unlocks some memories the old man has buried inside regarding his past. 


I have a love/hate relationship with this film.  I love it because the 3D imagery is gorgeous, and it's set in France and the girl in here (who's my favorite character) mentions Sydney Carton and Jean Valjean and Robin Hood.  I hate the plot and I dislike almost all of the characters (including Hugo himself).  The first time I watched it, I found nothing to like about it (I didn't catch the Les Mis reference and I thought the 3D film was weird) but the second time around (just today, actually), I caught a few things that made me like it.

I mentioned jokingly to one of my siblings that perhaps this movie should be sold as a companion to Les Miserables (2012).  The main character's name is Hugo (the dad of one of my friends thought the movie was the life of Victor Hugo when he first heard the title), it's set in France, Isabelle mentions Valjean and Sacha Baron Cohen (Thenardier in the Les Mis movie, in case you didn't know) is the station inspector.  So it's pretty well connected to Les Mis :)

The biggest problem I had with the plot was that they discovered the secret of the automaton too soon.  I believe that the movie would have been better had the driving point of it all been what the secret was.  Instead, it's discovered relatively quickly and the rest of the film is actually sort of pointless, in my opinion.  It's almost entirely reminisces about Meleis film-making, which I found interesting, but didn't make for a very intriguing plot line.

But enough of my movie snobbery :P  Would I watch Hugo again?  Definitely.  Aesthetically, it's a beautiful film and I love all the little subplots, especially the one between Lisette and Gustave - their friendship/romance was really sweet and I loved the little touches throughout the movie.  Hugo had its moments of humor, charm, sadness and romance.  Although it's not the best film I've watched, I did enjoy it and I'll watch it again, I'm sure.

"There's nothing wrong with crying. Sydney Carton cries. Heathcliff too. In books they cry all the time." ~ Isabelle, Hugo (2011)

30 Songs {#20}

When I first heard that a new song was going to be added to the original musical for the movie, I was thrilled.  Especially since I had already memorized all the other songs (minus LL and MOTH) and it's always great to get new singing material ;)  The first time I listened to Suddenly, it touched my heart and made me cry.  Valjean was so alone before and now he has Cosette by his side and, yeah, I loved it.  It's a sweet little song and I'm so glad that it was added to the world we call Les Mis (although so many fans are bashing it - I have no idea why).

Suddenly, you're here.
Suddenly, it starts.
Can two anxious hearts beat as one?
Yesterday, I was alone.
Today, you are beside me.
Something still unclear,
Something not yet here,
Has begun.

And I hate to be repetitive, but the reprise of this song is perfect (perfectly heartwrenching, that is).  It comes right after Valjean's Confession, and Marius is comforting Cosette about her father leaving.  It was a nice little throwback to the brick where Marius makes her forget her father (ugh.  I hate Marius right there.) and as someone pointed out, it really balances out their relationship - first Cosette is comforting Marius after the loss of his friends and then the situation is reversed.  Perfect, right?

What did you think of the new addition to the movie?  How do you view Marius encouraging Cosette to forget her father?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

30 Songs {#21}

When Will My Life Begin? is the heroine song in Tangled.  The first time I watched this movie, I loved this song (and I still love it).  It's fun and exciting and energetic and just...Rapunzelish :)  She gets so much done during the day!  Basic chores, plus painting, candle making, sculpting, ballet and so much more.  It's rather crazy, really.

Then after lunch it's puzzles and darts and baking,
Paper mache, a bit of ballet and chess.
Pottery and ventriloquy,
Candle making.
Then I'll stretch, maybe sketch,
Take a climb, sew a dress!

Yep.  I love it :)

What's your favorite song in Tangled?  Is Rapunzel your favorite Disney heroine?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bunches of Random

Robin Hood --bbc series I recently got sucked into. The first episode was so cheesy but it got better and I was hooked in no time :)

I don't have anything in my head that would make a long post (besides the 30 Songs post series which I don't feel like doing right now) so I'm just going to talk about a bunch of different things with no rhyme or reason :)
  • As you may or may not have guessed from the above picture, I'm sort of obsessed with BBC's Robin Hood at the moment.  I finished watching Season 1 yesterday and I'm debating about whether or not to review each season individually or all in one shot (thoughts?).  Now, unfortunately I know all the spoiler bits (like who dies and who leaves and who lives) but it isn't really spoiling the series that much for me (and some of the more minor deaths like Roy and Allan's brother did catch me by surprise).  My top three favorite characters are Will Scarlet, Robin himself, and Sir Guy (please don't judge - I find that he's an extremely complex character and I love studying him and trying to figure out what he's going to do next).  In that order :)  Oh, let me direct you to this exquisitely beautiful little fan-video.  It's really sad but if you're a fan, you'll love it.
  • And my siblings are constantly saying "A clue: no" and "Look, I'm not tryin' to be funny, but..." =)
  • My writing is going really well.  I've got over 45,000 words in my novel now which means I'm about three-fourths done (approximately).  The story is really flying along and I'm just hanging on - I haven't been working in it very much these past few days because of sickness and life in general but I'm planning on getting back to it this week.  I'm going to be participating in NaNoWriMo this year and I'm going to finish Torn Hopes sometime in September, plot and plan my NaNo novel, write that one in November and then starting revisions on TH in December.  And I have another project that I'm collaborating on with Sierra that's based on the 'what if the main character of a book fell in love with the reader' thingy.  It's really fun to write but it's been on the back burner for a bit because I have so much other things to do.
  • I just want to give a general shout-out to my followers/commenters.  Your comments truly make my day and even if I don't respond to every comment, I always read them  Thanks, guys :)
  • Oh, and speaking of comments, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the Combeferre, Gavroche and Marius from the amazing high school production of Les Mis that I reviewed commented on that review!  It was so thrilling.
  • I've been reading a lot lately.  Some of the books I've been enjoying (or not...) are Tess of the d'Urbervilles (amazing book but so heartwrenching), Wuthering Heights (ugh, ugh, ugh.  The worst classic book I've ever read), Harvest of Rubies (a novel I've been wanting to read for a long time - it was excellent) and the Bible.  Now, I read my Bible every day but today I finished reading it through in exactly one month.  It was very intensive, interesting and just all around amazing.  Would I do it again?  Definitely.  But not in the near future because I've got so much going on right now.
What have you been doing lately?  Do you have any ideas for future posts I could write?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

30 Songs {#22}

Where do I begin?  (I honestly don't know how to begin this post)

Of all my favorite songs from A Tale Of Two Cities, this is is one of my top favorites.  The first time I watched the musical, the whole thing sort of passed in an unrecognizable blur thanks to lots of tears and stress (I had to watch it in chunks throughout the afternoon and for someone like me - who likes to watch everything in one go - it was stressful) and I didn't really remember a lot of specific songs and certainly not any lyrics.  I told my mom once I was finished it that there were 'three or four songs were Sydney does nothing but sings about how alone and worthless he is'.

I can't really believe I said that.  He only has two solos (right?  That's all I can remember right now, at least).  One is him moping about how worthless he is and how Lucie will never fall in love with him ('Reflection').  But 'I Can't Recall' is about him turning his life around in hopes of winning Lucie.  It's a gorgeous song (as most of them are) and I love listening to it.

The choice is mine.
Tomorrow's at my feet.
All yesterdays a haze,
I pray that I will not repeat.

I can't recall a night so clear.
The heavens seem an inch away.
And not unfriendly after all,
After all.
If life was ever quite this sweet,
I can't recall!

And, of course the super-emotional ending is a reprise of this song.  I have this theory about reprises in musicals - sometimes they can be more emotional than the original song (actually most of the time they are) because they subconsciously pull your mind back to the original song and...I can't really explain it.  But it's true that the reprise of DYHTPS? is wayyyyyy more emotional than the original version.  And all the melodies that are repeated in Les Mis and AToTC are amazing as well.

What is your opinion on reprises?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

30 Songs {#23}

I had heard about the musical Newsies before but the premise didn't really interest me (not that I really tried to be interested) so I basically ignored it - even when people started comparing the barricade boys to the news boys (which I don't agree with although I can see where they would get the idea).  Then, I was talking to one of my friends about different musicals (other than Les Miserables) that we've heard of/watched and she mentioned Newsies.  She sent me a link to the Wikipedia article on what the musical was based on and and to a couple of the songs on Youtube (the Disney version).
The song that really stuck out to me was Seize the Day mostly because it reminded me of why I love old movie musicals so much.  Lots of color, action, fun lyrics and great singing (I still can't get over the fact that all the old musicals were lip-synced.  It's so hard to tell!).
Now is the time to seize the day.
Send out the call and join the fray .
Wrongs will be righted,
If we're united. 
Let us seize the day.

Friends of the friendless, seize the day.
Raise up the torch and light the way.
Proud and defiant,
We'll slay the giant.
Let us seize the day.

I listen to this song quite a bit.  I love the rhythm of it and it always makes me smile.
Have you listened to any more songs from Newsies?  Do you think that there is a good parrellel between the news boys and barricade boys?

Monday, August 12, 2013

30 Songs {#24}

Though you may think it a tad macabre to have Javert's Suicide on my list of favorite songs, you simply can't have Les Mis songs on your list and not have at least one 'death song' (just so you know, the Epilogue and A Little Fall of Rain are also on this list).  And this song is beautiful.  In a tragic sort of way.  I watched a Les Mis cast interview a few days ago and Anne Hathaway said that the power and poetry of the lyrics in Javert's Suicide really spoke to her.  The lines she used for an example were...

I am reaching,
But I fall.
And the stars are black and cold.
As I stare into the void,
Of a world that cannot hold.

When I watched Les Mis for the first time (the 10th, you know), I didn't understand the story one little bit and I didn't even really understand that Javert committed suicide (I didn't know any of them had died except Eponine).  But I figured it out after a while, of course.  My favorite version of this song is Norm Lewis' (surprising, really, since he's my least favorite Javert), followed by Russell Crowe (his version was the first that made me really cry) with Phillip Quast at the bottom (sorry, guys).

Is Javert's Suicide one of your favorite or least favorite Les Mis songs?

Friday, August 09, 2013

Period Dramas

Little Dorrit, British, 2008

As I've done before with different versions of Les Miserables and Jane Austen films, this is a post listing all the period dramas I've seen that are available on Youtube (for free - you have to pay for some films).  There are six all very, very good and I'm not going to rate them, I'm going to list them in alphabetical order.
  • A Tale Of Two Cities (Musical) - I love this period drama/musical.  I'm going to be featuring several of the songs in the 30 Songs blog series.  The only reason I haven't done any in the series yet is because all my favorites are very high on my list.  The casting is brilliant (the two that stand out the most, IMO, are Sydney and Lucie), the songs are gorgeous (especially the orchestration) doesn't follow the book very well.  I haven't read the full book yet (I'm going to be studying it for English Lit this school year.  YES.) but I've read CliffNotes, two abridged versions, etc, etc, so I have a pretty good understanding of the original plot.  Still, the musical captures the spirit of the book exceptionally well, which, after all, is part of what really counts (think P&P 1995 vs. P&P 2005).  Rating - 10/10
  • Bleak House (2005) - My family just finished watching this miniseries together and I was reminded again of what an expert storyteller Charles Dickens is (it inspired me to go read the book again) and what an amazingly talented scriptwriter Andrew Davies is.  I mean, it makes my head hurt to just think about how hard it must have been to fit everything together into a workable screenplay (ditto for Little Dorrit).  The entire cast is excellent and the only really bad thing about the series I can think of is the music.  The music is...meh.  Except at the wedding (I love, love, love the wedding music).  Rating 9/10
  • Little Dorrit (2008) - Words cannot express how much I love this miniseries.  It tugs at your heart and doesn't let go until you finish watching it (and even then...).  The characters are more than memorable, there are several heart-wrenching, tear-jerking scenes (and some funny ones a.k.a. anything with Sparkler) and the ending is, just, beyond words.  I pretty much spend the whole last episode in some stage of tears because it is so emotional.  I go from sad, to really sad, to heartbroken, to ridiculously happy all in the space of an hour :)  Oh, and the music is gorgeous.  I really wish a soundtrack had been released.  Rating - 10/10 (obviously)
  • North & South (2004) - When I first watched N&S I didn't like it that much but by the second time around, I was hooked.  I haven't read the book yet but I'm planning to (as soon as I tick a few more books off my ever-growing 'to read' list).  My favorite character is Higgins - I like him even more than Mr Thornton - but I like Margaret as well (she's better in the later episodes, I think).  The music is appropriately dark because, while N&S isn't half as dark as Bleak House or Little Dorrit, it still has its moments.  Rating - 8/10
  • Oliver! (musical) - This movie musical is something of a tradition in our family.  Even though we haven't watched it recently, we still quote it a lot (especially when we have sausages - a private joke) and I sometimes sing some of the songs.  It was my introduction to Charles Dickens and while Oliver! doesn't follow the book very well (it leaves out several scenes and characters), I still like it.  Rating - 6/10
  • The Inheritance (1997) - This film usually gets a bad rap among period drama fans for its cheesiness, predictability and general inaccuracy to the book and the time period.  All that is true, but it still remains one of my favorite period dramas (and, yes, I have read the book - if you want cheesy/predictable, go read it).  Edith and James are a cute couple and the whole film is just sweetness and light and relaxation (sometimes you need that after watching something heavy like Bleak House or Les Miserables).  And the music is very pretty :)  Rating - 9/10
Do you agree with my ratings?  How many of these period dramas have you seen?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

30 Songs {#25}

I love this song (well, I love all the songs in this series, but...).  I think one of the reasons I like it so much is because it's set to the tune of One Day More (or, rather, ODM is set to the tune of Who Am I?).  It's the reason I like Valjean's Confession, as well - whenever I hear those opening notes spilling out, I always get chills.  And the lyrics are beautiful.  I think the songwriters did an excellent job of taking all the pages in the brick about Valjean's dilemma and condensing them into one song.
How can I ever face my fellow men?
How can I ever face myself again?
My soul belongs to God, I know,
I made that bargain long ago.
He gave me hope when hope was gone,
He gave me strength to journey on.
Who am I?
Who am I?
I'm Jean Valjean!

The film is my favorite version of this song.  I think Hugh Jackman captured the character of Valjean very well through the whole movie but especially in this scene.  It always brings tears to my eyes and I really do like his different take on the song (except for the whispered 'I'm Jean Valjean').  And if there are some of you who prefer a more traditional version, go watch the 10th's.  It's amazing too.
What is your opinion of Hugh Jackman's Who Am I?  What Les Mis melodies are your favorites?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

30 Songs {#26}

This song is amazing.  Two men - Valjean and Javert -singing at cross purposes, shouting out their lines ("You know nothing of JAVERT!").  While the 10th anniversary concert version of this song is awe-inspiring, the movie is actually better (a sword fight - how epic is that?).  The only thing that could've made it even better was the addition of the end lyrics (which are my favorite part).

And this I swear to you tonight...
There is no place for you to hide...
...your child with live within my care...
...wherever you may hide away...
...and I will raise her to the light.
I swear to you, I will be there.

The first time I watched Les Mis (the 10th), I thought that there was another confrontation when Valjean and Javert are in the sewers (well, there technically is, but I thought they did the same singing-at-the-same-time thing).  I looked up that it again a few days ago and I realized what gave me that idea - there is a small section where the lyrics do overlap.  That was interesting to figure out :)

Is the Confrontation one of your favorite Les Mis songs?  What is your favorite version of it?

Saturday, August 03, 2013

30 Songs {#27}

[Be prepared for a glut of Les Mis songs over the next few days - I think the next four or five are all LM]

In My Life probably wouldn't have made it on to this list a few months ago but after seeing the film's version, I really started to like this song.  Amanda Seyfried is perfect as Cosette, both acting and voice wise, and her portrayal was the first one that really made me like Cosette.  As a certain someone pointed out, Cosette is described as a 'lark' in the brick and Amanda's voice sounds very fluttery and birdlike :)

In my life,
There are so many questions and answers that somehow seem wrong.
In my life,
There are times when I catch in the silence the sigh of a faraway song.
And it sings,
Of a world that I long to see,
Out of reach,
Just a whisper away, waiting for me...

I also like this song because I think it's one of Marius' best parts (any Marius, except for one ;).  His lines are pure poetry ("In my life, she has burst like the music of angels, the light of the sun!") and almost every Marius I've seen during this scene has adorable acting (especially when it comes to swinging Eponine around).  There was this one In My Life video on Youtube (which I can't find now) that had the cutest Marius/Eponine/Cosette ever.   I had a perpetual grin on my face while was watching it :)

Do you like this song?  What is your opinion of Cosette?

Friday, August 02, 2013

30 Songs {#28}

This song comes from a little known Disney movie - The Great Mouse Detective.  The movie itself is about a mouse version of Sherlock Holmes (with snatches of the real Sherlock) and it is my favorite animated movie ever.  No kidding.  I like it even more than Tangled and Robin Hood.  Never thought I'd say that Tangled is not my favorite Disney movie, but after my fifth viewing of TGMD, I realized it really is my favorite.

This song is pure evil/comedic genius.  Usually there are about five songs in a Disney film (heroine song, villain song, funny song, romantic song and reprise of heroine song - I got that list from a book about animation).  But this film only has three - two villain songs and a song that we always skip (takes place in a tavern, FYI).  Both of the villain songs are great but this one is my favorite.  The lyrics are just...perfect.

From the brain that brought you the Big Ben Caper
The head that made headlines in every newspaper
And wondrous things like the Tower Bridge Job
That cunning display that made London a sob

Now comes the real tour de force
Tricky and wicked, of course
My earlier crimes were fine for their times
But now that I'm at it again
An even grimmer plot has been simmering
In my great criminal brain.

I would include more of the lyrics but I told myself that I would only do two verses max. for these posts.  Just go listen to it.

Have you ever watched The Great Mouse Detective?  
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