Author

Matt Patches
After a few years of working behind the scenes on movies and TV shows (and earning an IMDb page for bragging rights), Movies Editor Matt Patches made a hard right into the world of entertainment journalism. In 2009, Patches became the Associate Movies Editor of UGO.com, departing in 2010 to go rogue as a writer-for-hire. Patches covered movies and festivals for a number of outlets, including Movieline, MTV NextMovie, CinemaBlend, and Film School Rejects, before joining Hollywood.com as Movies Editor in 2011. He proudly names "Groundhog Day" as his favorite movie of all time.
  • Seth Rogen's 'This Is the End' Can't Fit All It's Famous Faces in One Place — POSTER
    By: Matt Patches Dec 28, 2012
    Well, the December 21st apocalypse didn't happen. While all the Mayans may have been wrong about the end of the world, movie fans still got a taste of 2013's global destruction with the trailer for Seth Rogen's directorial debut, This Is the End. Co-directed with his writing partner Evan Goldberg (Superbad), Rogen rounded up every last one of his movie star friends (including James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Jay Baruchel — all playing themselves) for a catastrophic comedy of egos. What causes the demise of the planet? Last week's first look hinted at an otherworldly source for Earth's problems, but judging from the poster, throwing the stars into one room may be enough to cause a meltdown. Check out the first one-sheet for the movie below, and prepare for the second apocalypse, arriving June 14, 2013.   [Photo Credit: Sony Pictures] Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More:   'This Is the End': Seth Rogen and James Franco Ride Out the Apocalypse — RED BAND TRAILER   2012: The Year in Apocalyptic Movies, TV, and Books   'This Is 40': Judd Apatow on Staying Relevant and P.T. Anderson's Love of 'Heavyweights' You Might Also Like:   20 Hottest Bikini Bodies of 2012: Kim Kardashian and More!         Best Movie & TV Ugly Criers of 2012: PICS
  • 'The Avengers' Money Shot: See How the Effects Team Pulled It Off — VIDEO
    By: Matt Patches Dec 28, 2012
    The Avengers was a dream come true for any comic book or action movie fan: after years of introductions, six larger than life heroes were (Hulk) smashed together for one epic blockbuster. Beyond its unprecedented promise, writer/director Joss Whedon managed to turn The Avengers into a fulfilling piece of cinema. A smart script, thrilling direction, themes that got under the skin — calling it a "superhero movie" almost doesn't do it justice. There's one shot in the movie that encompasses everything Whedon did right in The Avengers. Over this single prolonged shot, audiences race by each of the Avengers as they zip through the streets of New York City, battling invading aliens. The sequence is kinetic, but never jarring, as the relationships of the characters end up being just as important as the punching, kicking, and energy blasting. The team works together for the first time — Iron Man gliding past Black Widow, Hawkeye taking out an alien in his path, Thor and Hulk sharing the stage for a dance of clobbering — all like a series of alley-oops. That is gratification. In the video below, Industrial Light & Magic, the legendary special effects company behind movies like Star Wars, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and the Transformers films, walk us through how they brought The Avengers' most important shot to life. As you'll see, it was no easy task, from planning, to shooting, to piecing it all together with the help of computers. But the work obviously paid off. [Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures] Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: Which Superheroes Should Be Added to the 'Avengers' Sequel? A History of 'Avengers' Rumors: The True, the False and the Bizarre 'Avengers': A Spoilery Ode to a Fallen Soldier You Might Also Like: Britney Spears to Be Fired From ‘X Factor’: Report 20 Hot (and Horrifying) TV Nude Scenes
  • 'Django Unchained' Unraveled: See Christoph Waltz in Action — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
    By: Matt Patches Dec 28, 2012
    Christoph Waltz won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film, Inglourious Basterds. Since then, Waltz has continued to prove the act of thespian magic wasn't a fluke. With Tarantino's latest, Django Unchained, the actor may have even topped himself. In Hollywood.com's exclusive behind-the-scenes feature on Waltz's work in Django, Samuel L. Jackson calls the actor "a man of many faces." Anyone who has seen the film can attest — this time around, Waltz plays Dr. King Shultz, someone with as much confidence as his Basterds character Hans Landa, albeit with a large heart and a hunger for justice. Star Jamie Foxx also praises his costar — from the sound of it, he spent as much time in character as he did standing in awe of Waltz. Actors praise their costars movie after movie, but rarely with the authenticity that the cast of Django bestows upon Waltz. Tarantino is right there with him, and as you'll see in the video below, Waltz is now in the upper echelon of the director's creative process. Check out the feature below to see Waltz chewing up scenery on set, an interview with the actor himself, and Foxx going all fanboy over the German born Oscar-winner. It's unchained: [Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company] Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: Tarantino's 'Django Unchained' Fact or Fiction: Mandingo Fighting, Bounty Hunters, and More In Honor of 'Django Unchained': The 20 Greatest Spaghetti Westerns Ever Made Frank Ocean Wrote a Song for 'Django Unchained'? — LISTEN You Might Also Like: Britney Spears to Be Fired From ‘X Factor’: Report 20 Hot (and Horrifying) TV Nude Scenes
  • Twitter-Friendly Movie Theaters: New Perk or the Last Straw? — POLL
    By: Matt Patches Dec 27, 2012
    The Guthrie Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, has a special hook for its new show The Servant of Two Masters: "... beginning December 27, the theater will offer its first-ever 'Tweet Seats' during four consecutive Thursday performances of The Servant of Two Masters, allowing social media users an opportunity to interact during the show. A limited number of seats located in a balcony level of the McGuire Proscenium in a section that will not be disruptive to other patrons will be designated as Tweet Seats." Like the Guthrie Theater, the entertainment industry as a whole is feeling the demand of people young and old to integrate cell phone use seamlessly into the public viewing experience. As a staple of everyday communication, smart phones, tablets, and other mobile electronic devices have evolved into another facet of "watching" — not only do you soak in the TV show or the play or the movie or the concert, but you instantly share reactions with friends. The culture of instant broadcasting has turned "live-tweet" into an social event (people from around the globe can gather to watch and chat about Lord of the Rings all from the comfort of their homes). Even movie studios have catered to the concept, creating "Second Screen" applications that provide pop-up informational windows as you watch. At this year's CinemaCon, a conference for movie theater owners and exhibitionists, voices from both the studios and the theaters rallied behind the idea of bringing "cell phone safe" theater sections to multiplexes. For some, it sounded like a brilliant way to keep hold of the younger crowds who only know life with the iPhone. Others were none too pleased. Tim League, owner of the Alamo Drafthouse theater chain, wrote this on the site's blog following a rowdy CinemaCon panel on cell phone use: "Texting is rude to the film creators. It is a slap in the face to every single creative professional who poured their lives into creating the film. When I am carrying on a mere casual conversation and someone whips out a phone to text while I am talking to them, I am offended. Imagine amplifying that to texting during a film, which can take teams of thousands of people years to make. "The notion that all teenagers and twenty-somethings can't sit two hours without texting is condescending. In reading the feedback after my debate regarding in-theater texting at CinemaCon, my favorite comments were those from the alleged 'texting generation' who were offended by the idea that they were being lumped in with the masses." Despite League's insistence that tweeting, texting, and cell phone use on a whole during a movie would kill the experience, there's an obvious opposition — as The Guthrie Theater proves — to the feeling. What do you think? Can those who need to jump on their cell phones during a show be catered to without distraction? Or is the theatrical experience putting another nail in its coffin with this endeavor? Take our poll and leave more thoughts in the comments. Should Movie Theaters Create 'Text/Tweet Friendly' Sections? [Photo Credit: Getty Images] Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: Do 'Django,' 'Les Mis,' and Really Long Movies Need Intermissions? — POLL Downton Abbey' Shocker: How Did You Feel About [Spoiler]!? — POLL 7 Things We Learned from CinemaCon 2012 You Might Also Like: Surprise! Kate Winset Marries Ned Rocknroll: Wedding Details 20 Hot (and Horrifying) TV Nude Scenes
  • Tarantino's 'Django Unchained' Fact or Fiction: Mandingo Fighting, Bounty Hunters, and More
    By: Matt Patches Dec 27, 2012
    Quentin Tarantino loves history. Sometimes it's personal history: flashbacks and forwards allow movies like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill to fluidly bounce around time, the juxtaposition of the "then" and "now" creating illuminating collisions. Sometimes it's grander history: Inglorious Basterds and his new film, Django Unchained, unveil the grimmer truths of World War II and the slave-owning American South, respectively. But it's hard to call Tarantino a historian, as the film-buff-turned-filmmaker filters his explorations through exploitations. This is the guy who had his violent Jewish band of brothers tommy gun Hitler in a burning movie theater. Tarantino loves history, but offers his own imaginative version of it. Tarantino has taken liberties once again with Django, prioritizing the magic of cinema over striving for truth, while never driving the film into unbelievable territory. Obviously, it's enraging a few choice people — Spike Lee won't even see the movie, which depicts a slave-turned-bounty-hunter blasting his way to his enslaved wife — but Tarantino sticks to his guns. As he writes in an essay for the New York Times, "Any of the Western directors who had something to say created their own version of the West ... When you learn of the rules and practices of slavery, it was as violent as anything I could do — and absurd and bizarre. You can’t believe it’s happening, which is the nature of true surrealism." One of the movie's major quick-call-the-fact-checker moments is a brutal scene involving "Mandingo Fighting." A gambling pastime of the wicked plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the sequence boils down to a wrestling match to the death, with two slaves punching, kicking, and slamming each other until there's a victor. The sequence prompted historians to speak up about the troubling sport. David Blight, the director of Yale’s center for the study of slavery, explained to Slate that sending slaves to fight didn't make monetary sense. Edna Greene Medford, chairperson of the history department of Howard University, told NextMovie that after years of studying slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, she had never encountered anything resembling "Mandingo Fighting." Knowing these facts only plays to Tarantino's intentions with the scenes: they may not factually true, but they feel like they could be in the frightening world of the Antebellum South. Tarantino's inclusion of the wrestling match is likely born from his enjoyment of the 1975 blaxploitation film Mandingo, which he cites the book Quentin Tarantino: Interviews as one of his favorites. Tarantino shaped a career out of paying homage to the films he deems classics, using them as seeds for his own wild concoctions rather than spoofing them sloppily. Following the Western genre's basis of truth (the West was truly wild after the 1873 Supreme Court Case Taylor vs. Taintor expanded the roles of bail bondsmen and bounty hunters), Tarantino had freedom to collage Spaghetti Westerns, specifically the works of original Django director Sergio Corbucci, with iconography of the South. Django also takes its cues from other blaxploitation — from camera zooms to the anachronistic music cues, Tarantino lays on a level of badassery common the '70s into into his period film. Many cineastes see a connection to 1972's The Legend of Nigger Charley, which made similar attempts to blend gunslinging and blaxploitation. One of the most fascinating and divisive characters in the film is Samuel L. Jackson's Stephen, an older house slave who acts as a puppeteer to DiCaprio's Candie. Stephen doesn't pull any punches with his fellow slaves, more master than companion to the "lower class" that worked on Candie's plantation. As mind-boggling as Stephen's relationships might seem (Jackson's quotes in interviews acknowledging his study of the film slavery exploitation film Goodbye Uncle Tom as a reference for the character), it's Tarantino exaggerating an actual social ladder that actually existed at the time. Ira Berlin's 2003 book Generations of Captivity, the author elaborates on the lives of black slaveholders and their general emergence into slave-owning culture. As he puts it, "In slave societies, nearly everyone – free and slave – aspired to enter the slaveholding class, and upon occasion some former slaves rose into slaveholders’ ranks." Django's aggressive campaign to win back his wife without any bloodshed also speaks to this established hierarchy. While it does end in a big Western shootout, the setup calls back to the history books. In the end, going through Django Unchained with a fine-toothed comb looking for authenticity is a fleeting effort. In some places it's there, but Tarantino is a cowboy when it comes to working with "facts." He'll take them when he needs them, but his real goal is finding an emotional core and crafting great cinema. If that means Django's wife Broomhilda is written as a sexually abused runaway slave (which has historical accuracy), then in the world of Tarantino, she can also be the distant relative of blaxploitation icon Shaft (and she is). Anything goes in the in the Wild West world of Tarantino. [Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company] Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: In Honor of 'Django Unchained': The 20 Greatest Spaghetti Westerns Ever Made Frank Ocean Wrote a Song for 'Django Unchained'? — LISTEN Do 'Django,' 'Les Mis,' and Really Long Movies Need Intermissions? — POLL You Might Also Like: Britney Spears to Be Fired From 'X Factor': Report 20 Hot (and Horrifying) TV Nude Scenes
  • 'Les Mis' Star Samantha Barks on Singing in the Rain: 'Leave That Vocal Vanity at the Door'
    By: Matt Patches Dec 27, 2012
    Before Samantha Barks was singing in West End productions of Les Miserables or appearing in Hollywood's movie adaptation of the show, she was a lot like the millions of people who caught the movie on Christmas Day: a fan. In 2008, 22-year-old Barks took home third place at the UK singing competition, I'd Do Anything. Missing the top prize worked out just fine, as the singer's standout work caught the eye of legendary theater producer Cameron Mackintosh, who cast her in the West End's Oliver! and eventually, Les Miserables. Having been a young girl dreaming of performing the show (and eventually a regular player who'd knock Eponine's "On My Own," out of the park night after night), Barks had reservations when it came to tinkering with the sacred text on its way to the screen. "Les Mis is such a huge part of musical theater history. It's iconic and beloved," Barks tells Hollywood.com. "So, it's sort of scary to see how it's going to be done." Luckily, Barks had Tom Hooper overseeing the translation, a director who she believes can "do no wrong," and one who got to the core of the musical. "He has managed to infuse the heart and soul of the West End production with this incredible world of truth and intimacy. To create something, to a Les Mis fan, that's not just as good... it incorporates every level." For Barks, the movie demanded a whole new level of Eponine. "The camera is so close — intimacies can be shown. You can play the emotional truth of this woman," Barks says. "In the musical there are details you can skim by, but in this, you can't leave any loose ends. So the novel, by Victor Hugo, was fantastic to tie up loose ends. Eponine spent two months in prison. To add details like that into your mind, it gives you a better idea where she comes from." The realism meant Barks also had to deal with the harsh world that plagued the citizens of 19th Century Paris. "I wasn't used to the conditions. I was singing in the rain, bare feet. I had splinters in my feet. I had a tight corset on. I had rain in my eyes, a sniffy nose. My teeth had teeth guards on painted brown... a lot to contend with." But contending with it only honed her performance. "[It helped] leave that vocal vanity at the door. You have to allow those conditions into your voice to create something that's raw and real." To hear Barks tell it like it was and describe her successful journey from reality show contestant to star performer (a feat rarely pulled off), watch the full interview below: [Photo Credit: Universal Pictures] Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: 'Les Misérables' Star Hugh Jackman Admits Singing in the Alps Is Harder Than 'Wolverine' Stunts Anne Hathaway Reveals She Was the Cosette to Her Mother's Fantine Les Mis' Star Eddie Redmayne on Singing Professionally: 'Fear Drove This Entire Process' You Might Also Like: 20 Hottest Bikini Bodies of 2012: Kim Kardashian and More! Spoiler! Spider-Man Comic’s INSANE Ending
  • Amazing Spider-Man #700's Crazy Ending: We Need Comic Movies This Insane
    By: Matt Patches Dec 26, 2012
    This Wednesday morning saw the release of The Amazing Spider-Man #700, the last issue of Marvel's long-running series that has followed the friendly neighborhood webslinger since 1962. The lead-up is absolutely bonkers (in the way the best comic arcs are): after swapping bodies with Doctor Octopus, Peter Parker must assemble the classic villain's gang of costumed baddies and reverse the physical damage — before Doc Ock uses Spider-Man's powers and life to destroy him forever. Written by fan favorite Dan Slott, the book weaves in Spidey's vast ensemble — from Mary Jane to now-Mayor J. Jonah Jameson to Aunt May and even a few characters from the past — while keeping the action dangerous and colorful. The book, only a few hours after release, is making people lose their minds — and in a way that rarely happens on the big screen. This summer's The Amazing Spider-Man movie had a tough battle in the summer of 2012. Not only was it a reboot of a successful franchise that concluded a mere five years ago (2007's Spider-Man 3), it rubbed shoulders with the maximized fun of The Avengers and the triumphant trilogy-ender The Dark Knight Rises. As it turns out, the comic book movie was also far from perfect. Andrew Garfield made a great Peter Parker: sharp, caring, and emotional in a way that's all too familiar for anyone who survived high school. Where the movie fell flat was in the big picture. It repeated Parker's origin story, tinkered with it to add in mysterious overtones, and padded it with an over-the-top villain who had little connection to Peter's life. A muddled story without any of the flare seen in the source material. The Avengers is evidence that comic book movies don't have to lose much of their weird and wild qualities in the transition to the big screen. This endeavor takes hard work and a vivid vision, but it's not impossible. Joss Whedon, a lover and occasional writer of comics, drew language and tone from modern Avengers books, and it made a team of silly costumed heroes fighting aliens palatable. The Amazing Spider-Man opted for a darker, realistic tone. Reading The Amazing Spider-Man #700, that feels like the wrong choice. Beware: spoilers of The Amazing Spider-Man #700 to follow. Along with Slott's snappy writing is dazzling artwork from the team of Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, and Edgar Delgado. Their mutated Doc Ock looks like an I Am Legend zombie on steroids. Spider-Man (with an internal monologue of Doctor Octopus) finds fluidity in still illustrations against an exaggeratedly humungous Scorpion. Everything pops, even the quiet moments when the real Peter Parker momentarily dies in the lifeless shell body of Doc Ock and "crosses over" to see Gwen Stacey, his parents, and Uncle Ben. It's emotional material that reappears as Peter Parker's memories begin to flood the mind of Doctor-Octopus-as-Spider-Man. This could be tricky to follow, but not when in the hands of Slott, who paces the story evenly until its radical conclusion. "Peter Parker" dies, but Spider-Man lives on with a now reformed Doctor Octopus, who can't help but feel the weight of great power and great responsibility. Ock, believing his vast scientific intellect combined with Peter Parker's physical powers, declares himself a new hero: the Superior Spider-Man! Sure, it took Spider-Man 700 issues to get to this moment — although the character also died last year, in 2011's outside continuity series Ultimate Spider-Man — but Avengers is the perfect example of how to build right. Whedon's film couldn't have been as bright and loony without Thor establishing the larger than life God, Captain America playing up its pulp fiction roots, or Iron Man letting Robert Downey Jr. go bananas with humor. The Amazing Spider-Man could be as amazing as daring as its comic book counterpart if it was ready to take chances. Fans would throw up their arms at the insanity of it all as they do with the books, but that's part of the fun too. Comic book fans don't want the expected, they want the adventure that only comic books can get away with. Movies have that potential too. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is currently in the works with Garfield returning, alongside the villains Electro (Jamie Foxx) and high school friend (or foe?) Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan). Will it take a cue from Slott and let things a bit "comic booky"? We're crossing our webslingers. [Photo Credit: Marvel Comics] Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: 'Venom' Movie May Tie into 'Amazing Spider-Man' Avengers-Style — EXCLUSIVE Green Lantern Is DC Comics Gay Superhero (But Not THAT Green Lantern) 'Star Trek' Director J.J. Abrams: No to 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Offer — The Right Move? You Might Also Like: 20 Hottest Bikini Bodies of 2012: Miley and More! ’The Hobbit’: Making Sense of Kili, the Hot Dwarf
  • Do 'Django,' 'Les Mis,' and Really Long Movies Need Intermissions? — POLL
    By: Matt Patches Dec 26, 2012
    The sprawling musical drama Les Miserables clocks in at two hours and 38 minutes. Quentin Tarantino's bloody new Western Django Unchained gallops in at two hours and 45. This month's The Hobbit bests them both with a run time of two hours and 50 minutes. In January, the award-buzz friendly thriller Zero Dark Thirty will open wide and tell the tale of a decade-long hunt in two hours and 39 minutes. That's a lot of movie. In a time when studios are looking to get audiences in and out, cramming as many showings into a given day as they can (and optimizing the amount of money they make), Hollywood's blockbusters are longer than ever. And it's not just the end-of-the-year prestige pictures — this past summer's biggest hits are meaty, too: The Avengers ran 143 minutes, The Dark Knight Rises went 165, and even Battleship found enough in its shallow plot to deliver 131 minutes. The trend shows studios playing ball with filmmaker elites: cult favorite Tarantino, Oscar-winners Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) and Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), and franchise heroes Peter Jackson and Christopher Nolan. Although this format allows for fewer screens to open up for multiple viewings, it gives the movies an ere of clout. They're long, they're epic, they must be seen. If a movie has the girth, it's either the biggest of blockbuster events or worthy of sweeping awards. At least at first glance of the run time. Decades ago, a lengthy film was pretty standard. Highly-regarded classics like Gone with the Wind and Lawrence of Arabia run nearly four hours, but the audiences who caught those in theaters were treated to an intermission akin to those found in the theater. Is it time to bring back the halfway break? With major outlets like Variety speaking out against the handful of marathon movies flooding theaters, the solution might be as simple as an intermission. With a trek to the theater becoming an increasingly difficult sell, allowing audiences to break for the bathroom or grab an extra snack all at once could create a more comforting environment. The segmented approach may not help the creators of RunPee, an app designed to alert a viewer when a movie is hitting a slow point and its best to run out for a break, but for user experience, it could be a hook to get people back to the multiplex. A recent survey by Fandango of over 1,000 ticket buyers reports that 78% of respondents think they get more for their money with a longer movie. People appear to like the "epic" nature Hollywood is taking. Do you? Do we need intermissions to make the lengthy films more digestible? Answer in our poll below and respond with your own feelings in the comments. Do lengthy blockbusters need intermissions? [Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company] Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: In Honor of 'Django Unchained': The 20 Greatest Spaghetti Westerns Ever Made Calling All 'Les Misérables' Fans: Let's Get Geeky About Screen vs. Stage 'The Hobbit': Making Sense of Kili, the Hot Dwarf You Might Also Like: Jessica Simpson Announces Pregnancy With Adorable Photo 20 Hot (and Horrifying) TV Nude Scenes
  • Lady Gaga to Take Little Monsters Under the Costumes with 'ARTPOP' Doc
    By: Matt Patches Dec 26, 2012
    Four years after exploding onto the scene, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta aka Lady Gaga has continued to amass a following using social media and viral music video releases, while remaining somewhat of a mystery (as in, you still never know what to expect when Gaga steps out on stage). Now, thanks to the pop star herself, fans may finally get an inside look at how the magic of a Gaga production comes together. As a Christmas present to her followers, the Mother Monster announced via Twitter that a documentary is in the works that will chronicle everything under the Gaga banner: Merry Christmas little monsters! Terry Richardson @terry_world is making a #LadyGagaMOVIE documenting my life, the creation of ARTPOP + you!— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) December 25, 2012 Gaga previously collaborated with fashion photographer Terry Richardson on the 2011 book Lady Gaga x Terry Richardson, a collection of Gaga snapshots taken by Richardson over a period of 10 months. The hardcover photo journal landed at No. 5 on the New York Times Bestseller list of advice/miscellaneous books, and was met with critical praise for exposing Gaga's creative side. From the singer's brief tweet, the documentary aims for the same revelatory content. Unknown is where or how the movie will play in front of audiences when it is complete. HBO played host to the star's previous concert movie, Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden, although Gaga has obvious interests in conquering the theatrical world with an upcoming role in Machete Kills. The ambitious and secretive project follows suit with the singer's contemporaries; Justin Bieber and Katy Perry have both released highly successful 3D concert films, and Gaga's "Telephone" partner Beyonce is directing a doc on her own life and career. The Gaga documentary isn't a given for theatrical release — as a powerhouse in the Internet sphere (after all, she can announce news on her own Twitter to millions of eyes), there's a possibility of the Louis C.K. approach. If the film is indeed a revealing portrait aimed at fans, online distribution is a possible (and lucrative) option. With a Lady Gaga documentary in the works, fans may finally have an answer to one of the pop star's lingering questions: was she really Born This Way? [Photo Credit: Twitter] Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches More: Lady Gaga Goes from Mother Monster to Wolf Mother in 'Machete Kills' — PIC Lady Gaga: 3 Music Videos That Could Inspire Her Movie Roles Beyoncé Documentary Reveals a Lot of Dancing, But What Else? — TRAILER You Might Also Like: Kim Kardashian Is Pregnant! How Kanye Broke the Surprising News 20 Hottest Bikini Bodies of 2012: Miley and More!
  • Calling All 'Les Misérables' Fans: Let's Get Geeky About Screen vs. Stage
    By: Matt Patches Dec 25, 2012
    This article contains major spoilers for Les Misérables. If you're like me and grew up listening to and watching Les Misérables, you're likely bringing a lot baggage to this week's movie adaptation. Shedding expectations is key to watching something you treasure evolve into new media, and it's the same with the time-honored musical. Legend or not, to work as a movie, it had to be tinkered with, had to be pushed and challenged more than in any of its theatrical stagings. So how did it fare? Prepare to geek out beat by beat to Les Misérables. 2012 will go down as a year of cinematic innovation, starting with Peter Jackson's divisive "48 frames per second" filming technique, used to make the fantasy worlds of The Hobbit more realistic. Tom Hooper attempted the same feat in Les Misérables, stripping away the expected glossy exteriors of a movie musical by recording all of the songs live on set. Like the high frame rate projection, the purposefully imperfect style is instantly noticeable and hard to swallow after decades of big screen musicals training our ears. In the film's opening number, "Look Down," we see the imprisoned Jean Valjean and his fellow chain gang inmates pulling ships into the docks. It doesn't get much worse. The number booms like the show, but in its strive for reality, the voices of the singers are overwhelmed by the orchestra. Turns out, it's not easy to sing when waves are splashing in your face and you're pulling an enormous ship to harbor. The number sets the stage for the rest of the picture: in the theatrical version, the instruments and voices work as one. Here, they're at battle. It's hard to fully enjoy "Look Down" because the number works as a testing ground for the style. As is the case in the stage show, Les Mis works best when the focus is on Valjean. Every character gets a big, memorable song, but each one of Valjean's beats packs an especially emotional punch (which explains why the second half of nearly every incarnation tapers off until the final moments). My biggest fear going into the film was Hugh Jackman. The diehard Colm Wilkinsonian that I am worried that the Wolverine star was too young, too Hollywood, for the role. Unlike many of the men who have played Valjean on stage, Jackman's voice is airer and under strain from the harsh conditions (as he mentioned in Hollywood.com's interview, the scenes in the beginning of the film were shot at the top of a mountain in freezing weather — not exactly the ideal setting for a Broadway musical). Jackman makes the part of Valjean his own, and I fought my brain's urge to yearn for the phrasing established by the show. That's the whole point of on-set singing — let the actors perform the songs, not simply regurgitate them like they're on stage at the 10th Anniversary Concert. Jackman discovers a broken version of Valjean that's never been accomplished on stage in numbers like the prologue and "Valjean's Soliloquy." Plus, it's nice they threw Wilkinson a bone and brought him in to play the Bishop of Digne. Floating with the ripped up parole papers eight years into the future, Tom Hooper's vision for the factory of Montreuil-sur-Mer is stunning and stark. "At the End of the Day" sticks mostly to the theatrical orchestration, albeit with fewer voices (logical, as there aren't that many people working at the factory). It's simultaneously fresh and familiar, the catty torturing of Fantine even more terrifying when depicted in the "real world." After the number, every Les Mis fan discovered a bit of a shocker: the blueprints had been tinkered with. Fantine's firing leads into new glimpses of Javert arriving to town, conversing with Valjean, the runaway cart that leads to a suspicious act of strength, and the raunchy "Lovely Ladies." These were necessary improvements — only in seeing the movie does one realize how silly it is to feature Fantine's big number, "I Dreamed a Dream," before her descent into hell. Beefing up Valjean and Javert's intertwined relationship is also key, although clunky, with the cacophonous spoken/sung dialogue written for the film never quite fitting in with the previously penned material. Though with the gentlemen out of the way, it's Anne Hathaway's show to steal. "Lovely Ladies" is less of a showstopper than it is on stage, but it paves the way for the tremendous "I Dreamed a Dream," a one-shot, close-up rendition that shatters any known recording. We've never seen a Fantine who had to sing through tears and a runny nose. It all adds to the impact of the song. STORY: 'Les Mis' Movie Stars: Better Than Broadway? Les Misérables lost me a bit around "Who Am I?," a number that needs just as much oomph as "I Dreamed a Dream." A song of redemption, Valjean's second introspective soliloquy ends with him closing his conversation with God and shouting to the masses. The film version plays it surprisingly one-note, once again featuring Valjean in one room, speak-singing until he finally walks over to the court to reveal his true identity. Hooper and Jackman side with realism over theatrical, but the number needed the boost. It needed a note that could resonate with the reveal of Valjean's scarlet letter, the "24601" prison tattoo. We didn't even get that reveal! Hooper has an amazing eye for bold framing, but where this number falls short — and where the movie does as a whole — is in innovative staging. Though as soon as Les Mis inspires talk of lackluster blocking, then comes Fantine's death and "The Confrontation." What could have been rigid feels well-timed and organic, Valjean and Javert swordfighting during their musical duel. Russell Crowe's monotone speak-singing works when he's given meaty drama to tear apart, and "The Confrontation," a literal song fight scene, is magic. The next chunk of Les Mis may have been the biggest surprise. After "Turning," young Cosette's whispy "Castle in the Cloud" is my least favorite song in the show. Forcefully sympathetic, the despairing tune is like nails on a chalkboard. In the film, it's actually quite lovely, with Isabelle Allen owning the song with the perfect touch of sadness. Her whisper of "Cosette, I love you very much," gave me chills — sorry every other girl who had to perform this on stage like a fifth grade recital. Allen was mesmerizing. The other surprise: "Master of the House" as a low point of the film. A much needed injection of comedy falls flat in Hooper's version, with Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter delivering surprisingly low energy as the lovable scumbag pair, the Thénardiers. The number feels entirely rushed, skipping over the drunken debauchery choruses to get on with the rest. It's a causal affair, both Cohen and Bonham (two performers who know how to properly play big and wild) delivering a hushed rendition of the rowdy number; the editing turns it into a jumbled sausage fit for serving at the pair's inn. Like Crowe as Javert, both work better in the intermittent sing-speak pats (like the hilarious "The Bargain"), but in a moment when the film needs a boost, they fizzle out. POLL: Does 'Les Mis' Need an Intermission? As in the show, the random arrival of Javert into Valjean's life never really works, but I appreciate conjuring up a sequence in which our redemptive convict must flee from his pursuer. The chase scene answers the lingering question of how Javert continues to miss Valjean time after time, and how Cosette and her father figure end up in Paris. It also sets up the new number, "Suddenly," a sweet lullaby that fits nicely into Valjean's song book. While it's not a time in the show that needs beefing up (a new song in Act II for Valjean or anything for Older Cosette would have been appreciated), "Suddenly" isn't an egregious addition to the sacred text thanks to Jackman's gentle high range. Thanks to the enhanced escape from Montfermeil, Javert's "Stars" receives the buildup it deserves. Unfortunately, it can't be devoured by Crowe's nasally singing voice. The actor lights up the speak-singing but flatly mumbles "Stars" — another rushed number. Maybe I can't shake memories of Philip Quast, but Javert's songs demand a soldier's ferocity and the gleam from a twitching eye that comes with years of obsession. Crowe looks like he just showed up for work. Hooper and screenwriter William Nicholson take necessary liberties with the fragmented stretch of "Éponine's Errand," "ABC Cafe/ Red and Black," "In My Life," "A Heart Full of Love," "The Attack on Rue Plumet," and "On My Own." Let's face it: the show doesn't handle it smoothly either, Cosette and Marius only crossing paths for the first time in this chance meeting of Valjean, the Thénardiers, Éponine, and Javert. If the movie suffers from weaving all of these moments into one is that it feels as claustrophobic as in a theater. With a rotating stage with sets in motion, we end up traveling more in the stage version than in the movie — a mind-blogging feat. What really works throughout all the confusion is Eddie Redmayne's Marius, Aaron Tevit's Enjolras, Daniel Huttlestone's Gavroche, and the students of the revolution. Truth: Marius never entirely works for me as a character in the stage productions, reduced to a heartthrob who dabbles in political mumbo jumbo in order to be put into the thick of danger when the time is right. Redmaybe brings him to life. He doesn't sound like a formal singer and it allows him to avoid placation by the material. He's a real person! He bonds with his buddies in the bar and it creates a warm atmosphere like real friendships do. And even though Cosette is still just arm candy in the film version of Les Misérables (and extra vibrato-y in the hands of Amanda Seyfried), Marius feels like a man who struggles with his rebellious agenda and love at first sight. "A Heart Full of Love" really plays. I know Les Mis fans love them some Éponine, another latter half character that never amounts to more than a hamfisted emotional pawn. Samantha Barks does not help this matter in the big screen translation — a beautiful voice isn't the only requirement for Les Misérables. She packs one, coy and playful with Marius and cutting loose in her big number "On My Own." Sadly, she's still in stage mode and her style doesn't translate to the intentionally rusty tactics of on-set singing. It's too good, she's too bright. The production cranked up the rain on all of her numbers, and it feels like a tactic to mask her over-the-top crying. The weirdest movie moment of 2012: Jackman's Valjean running to Seyfried's Cosette's aid, bare chest open and exuding sexual tension. The moment creeped me out so much, "One Day More" is a bit of a fuzzy memory. Okay, maybe the awkward scene wasn't that distracting, but Les Misérables' Act I finale is a wildly choppy experience, as loud as the stage version minus the unity. The movie had the impossible task of mimicking the play and the cross-cutting style doesn't bellow in the same way as a full ensemble number.