Classics retold

Les Misérables: A Diamond of the First Water

Les Miserable movie poster featuring Anne Hathaway

Taking Victor Hugo's novel, Les Misérables, and transforming it first into a play and then into a movie is like selecting from among the finest of crown jewels and crafting them into a beautiful brooch.  Having seen the stage play many years ago and having read the book many, many years ago, I found the movie eminently satisfying, indeed beautifully done.

I had misgivings.  They had, I thought, studded it with Hollywood stars just to draw the audiences.  Nevertheless, it is very well cast.  It was some time before I recognized Hugh Jackman since his first appearance was as the imprisoned Jean Valjean with grubby face and closely-cropped hair.  It was not until he emerged as the respectable Mayor and beneficent factory owner that he was easily recognizable.  Valjean's crimes had been the stealing of a loaf of bread and the subsequent breaking of his parole for which he is relentlessly pursued by the dogged Inspector Javert, played by Russell Crowe. 

The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas Carol

What a wonderful introduction to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for the young (or a reminder of the message for the young at heart) to receive by watching A Muppet Christmas Carol with friends and family this holiday season.  Muppet Gonzo the Great, as author Charles Dickens, and his friend Rizzo the Rat, as himself, narrate and add some Muppet mayhem to this classic tale.  With music by Paul Williams and Michael Caine as a bemused Scrooge, this movie is sweet, funny, and heartwarming. I am a lifelong Muppet fan, and, like Jason Segal in his new Muppet Movie this year, want to save the Muppets from being forgotten. So suspend your disbelief and enjoy Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy as the Cratchits!

Jacob and Robert Marley (Muppets Statler and Waldorf) are the ghosts who haunt and heckle Scrooge in song about his avarice and greed. The chains Marley & Marley show Scrooge, which he has forged in his life, rattle his black soul and he starts his journey of self-discovery.  Scrooge, of course, is haunted by Muppet ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Gonzo and Rizzo go along for the ride and add a little slapstick humor. Mixing the classic Muppet repertoire with Charles Dickens’ story is done seamlessly, such as the party at Fozziwig’s (played by Fozzie Bear) Rubber Chicken Factory with Animal jamming on the drums--a delight.