“Les Miz” filled with singing and singing and singing. Tarantino’s Mom and Wilt Chamberlain? And Apollo Robbins, the world’s bet pickpocket

Les Miserables

Even though I’ve never seen the Broadway show, I always loved the music of “Les Miserables,” especially the haunting song “I Dreamed a Dream.”

So when my beloved asked if I’d see the new movie with her last weekend, I said “sure, what could be better than nearly three hours of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, hanging out in 19th century France, singing their hearts out on the big screen?”

OK, so that’s not exactly what I said. But I went, with the hopes that I’d like the movie and get swept up in its grandeur.

And for about the first 45 minutes, I did. I loved Anne Hathaway’s performance, and I was getting interested in the mano-a-mano battle between ex-criminal Jean Valjean (Jackman) and the nefarious policeman, Inspector Javert (Crowe).

But then the singing, and the movie, just went in wildly different directions and I had trouble keeping up, and the more I tried to keep up, the more confused I got. The movie felt like five different stories all at once; there was the Fantine and her daughter stuff, then the Javert-Valjean stuff, then there was a whole new set of characters fighting in another battle against the French government, and then (spoiler alert) we get a dramatic death scene from Valjean, and it just had me dizzy.

I thought the performances were really good, especially Hathaway and Crowe, and the music was terrific, but I got really lost in the story, and that killed the enjoyment for me.

But if you saw the musical, I’m sure you’ll love the movie, and as I looked around the theater at the end, many people were dabbing at their eyes with tissues.

I was the only one shaking his head going, “What the heck just happened?”

And now, a few minutes with the world’s greatest pickpocket, Apollo Robbins. I was just reading about him on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, and found this video of him. Pretty terrifying and pretty awesome, watching him work.

I’d hate to be sitting next to him on a train though, you know?

**Finally, from the category of “headlines I never thought I’d see,” comes this from one of the great movie directors of our time: Apparently Quentin Tarantino was giving an interview on NPR last week, talking about his new movie “Django Unchained” (which sounds amazing; I can’t wait to see it) and he got to talking about how he was influenced by African-American culture as a kid.

And then he told NPR that his mom dated Wilt Chamberlain in the ’70s, and that she probably was one of the 20,000 women Wilt claimed to have had, in the words of Sheldon Cooper, “coitus” with.

I mean, wow. Tarantino, as a kid, seeing Wilt with his Mom? No wonder he’s got such a vivid imagination. Reality must’ve freaked him out quite a bit.

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