Tarantino and Boublil and Schonberg (oh, my!)

Thanks to an outrageously inaccurate weather forecast, Ron and I cut our holiday visit to Illinois about 18 hours short and drove back from his parents’ house last night instead of this morning.

When the snow and ice didn’t materialize, we took advantage of the day off to go see both of the Christmas film releases we’d been anticipating.

We caught the Circle Cinema’s 10:30 a.m. showing of Django Unchained. It’s pretty typical Quentin Tarantino fare: great dialogue; lots of violence; plenty of f-bombs; dark humor; exceptional badassery; Samuel L. Jackson; and my favorite addition to the Tarantino universe, Christoph Waltz, who is probably going to get another Oscar nomination. Great movie. If you’re fond of Tarantino, Westerns, revenge fantasies, or all of the above, go see it.

We headed down to Riverwalk this afternoon to catch the matinee of Les Miserables. It was magnificent. Anne Hathaway deserves an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Hugh Jackman made a terrific Valjean; Samantha Barks is probably the best Eponine since Lea Salonga; and Amanda Seyfried does a nice job with a relatively thankless role. (Grownup Cosette requires some technical skill and a decent soprano range, but she doesn’t get a real showstopper song like Fantine’s “I Dreamed a Dream” or Eponine’s “On My Own.” Which is too bad, because Seyfried is pretty good. Makes you wonder what she could do with a meatier role.) The little actor playing Gavroche about tore my heart out, too, and the sets and costumes were spectacular.

The weakest link was Russell Crowe’s Javert. Crowe obviously has the acting chops, but vocally, he just sounds like a rock singer who’s strayed way too far from his comfort zone with way too little training to help him over the bumps. That said, I’ve heard far worse vocal performances in movie musicals, and it’s definitely not a dealbreaker; just a little disappointing for a girl who loves both the actor and the role and really wanted them to be right for each other.

Longtime fans: Watch for the Easter egg the casting director left for you early in the film — and if you go with someone who hasn’t been along for the whole 25-year ride, be prepared to explain why you’re suddenly grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

Emily