For his follow-up to the Oscar-sweeping The King’s Speech, director Tom Hooper has decided to take it easy with a trifle of a project: a mere star-studded, technically daring, long-awaited big-screen version of the world’s longest-running stage musical, Les Misérables. With Victor Hugo’s hulking 1862 source novel in hand, he strives to create a movie musical experience grittily immersive enough to bring non-fans into the Les Mis fold. Not only does the film follow the show’s lead of having the characters talk-singing their lines to smooth the jumps into song, but all its numbers were recorded live on set to up the raw emotion. And they come from some surprising sources. While Hugh Jackman, who plays the story’s hero, escaped prisoner-turned-mayor Jean Valjean, has already shown off his vocal talents in his one-man show and as host of the 2009 Oscars; fellow Aussie Russell Crowe — who plays Valjean’s nemesis Inspector Javert — is, suffice to say, less well known as a song-and-dance man. Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen also star.
The new animation from Disney, Wreck-It Ralph mines videogame nostalgia with a story of a disgruntled arcade-game bad guy (voiced by John C. Reilly) hopping from title to title trying to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero. The movie features cameos from several videogame stars, including Sonic the Hedgehog.
For Woody Allen: A Documentary, the legendary filmmaker allowed Curb Your Enthusiasm director Robert B. Weide to document his life and creative process. Originally made as a three-hour film for the American Masters series on PBS, it has been cut down for this cinema release.
Finally, Beyond the Hills is the new film from Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu, whose 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days won the Palme d’Or in 2007. Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan star in the story of two young women at an Orthodox convent.