afterallthistime: (grammaphone)
[personal profile] afterallthistime
I got up late (10:30) and took a walk to buy a paper. It's very nearly 50 degrees and sunny out, and even though they were sold out of papers, it was a lovely walk. I put a pot of coffee on before I'd left, and when I came back I filled up my ridiculously huge TARDIS mug and hopped online. I've got a short to-do list today, The Bod of Avon tonight, and the day off tomorrow, and I feel good.

I finally got around to seeing Les Miserables last night, with my mom, Joce, and Melissa. For those of you who don't know, Les Mis is... kind of a big deal to me. And that's kind of a huge understatement. Les Mis is what got me into musical theatre. Les Mis was the first fandom for which I had Real Life fan friends, and Les Mis got my involved in online fandom for real, beyond reading fic -- it got me writing fic, making art, posting on message boards. I met penpals that I kept for years via Les Mis message boards. My cousin, sister, and I recorded (as in, video recorded, on my uncle's camcorder) renditions of the songs, re-enacted scenes, interpretations, long debates of the merits of various cast members (we would set the camera up in the kitchen, sit at the table, and -- over giant mugs of tea -- have these huge meta-debates/discussions over the show. I feel like it was super-late at night, too -- it was definitely after midnight, but at fourteen, that in and of itself felt "super late.") My sister's one and only foray into writing was Les Mis fanfic, and to this day, my longest completed piece of writing is a 35k Les Mis fanfic called "The Skeptic's Account" (still accessible via The WayBack Machine... if you know where to look). My point is, for several year, Les Mis sort of consumed my life, and I cannot see it or hear it now without also seeing and hearing all that tangential ephemera -- without reliving sleepless night and huge mugs of tea; nights spent in the yard sharing a set of headphones with my sister as we listened to "Stars;" endless, ENDLESS rewatching of the 10th Anniversary Concert, analyzing every detail, watching every performers mannerisms, keeping an eye on what they were doing when they were not at the mics (oh my God, I got to know Jérôme Pradon through the TAC as Fish Pants, don't even ask). So, yeah. Kind of a big deal.

I really, really loved the movie. I was incredibly impressed with Hugh Jackman's performance; to know he was singing live, accompanied by only a piano, and that he was capable of the physicality of his role, the level of emotion he conveyed, all the while maintaining a very impressive, very Valjean, vocal performance made me respect him hardcore (I like him anyway, but... you know what I mean).

Anne Hathaway was just as good as everyone had been saying. Also, Anne Hathaway has the biggest eyes I've ever seen. She's basically an anime character (this is not a criticism, I think she's gorgeous, it's just an observation). Part of it may have been all the weight she had to lose, throwing that in even sharper relief, but seriously, her eyes are like 65% of her face, I swear to Christ. But anyway. I admit I may judge Fantine's vocal performance by a slightly lower standard than some other characters (i.e., Javert, but more on that later) and if that's the case, it's because of precedent. I owned, at the height of my Les Mis obsession, seven cast recordings. At the outset, though, as the obsession was still blossoming, I owned three, and only one of them had a Fantine that I would describe as a vocal powerhouse, and that was Ruthie Henshall. I worship Ruthie Henshall's Fantine. The other two, Patti LuPone and Debbie Byrne, weren't as vocally impressive (to ME. I make it a point to say that, to ME they weren't as impressive. And I know that Patti LuPone is like, a musical theatre treasure, and I've liked her when I've SEEN her performer, and I don't DISLIKE her voice, I just don't think it's spectacular). Anne Hathaway gave a good, solid vocal performance, but more importantly, her acting was amazing. "I Dreamed a Dream" is not a song during which I normally get emotional, but I got teary when she performed it.

Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne were the NOT obnoxious Cosette and Marius. I normally feel towards them (the characters) the same way I feel toward Raoul in Phantom of the Opera -- "sure, you sing pretty, but why should I give a shit about you?" Toss into the mix the fact that the last most recent Les Mis adaptation (the 1997 one, which was an pretty loose adaptation of the book, not the musical) portrayed Claire Danes's Cosette as an absolute fucking BRAT, and I was actually quite surprised and pleased that I like both characters. It didn't hurt (on a shallow note), that Eddie Redmayne is adorable (next viewing, I'mma try to count all his freckles <3 lol yaaaay), or that I've loved Amanda Seyfried since Mean Girls (and that she has a very sweet voice, which I felt was appropriate for Cosette -- the other Cosette's I grew up with were good singers, but always sounded too old (Judy Kuhn) or too shrill (Tracy Shayne). The OLC had my favorite Cosette, Rebecca Caine, who had a gorgeous, like... floaty, ethereal voice).

Now... the clusterfuck that is Russell Crowe's Javert. Let's discuss. This has been a point of contention in the fandom for a little while now, and while -- if I'm being honest -- I don't think he was painfully bad, he was disappointingly and consistently mediocre. It was like he was focusing so much energy on trying to sound good that he forgot to act (and it turns out he can't sing that well, anyway). There's a certain degree of forgiveness I'll allow in the "can't act" department, because you can argue that the entire point of Javert through most of the show is his almost mechanical stoicism, and you'd have a fair point. The problem is, during those scenes where he's supposed to be displaying an emotion -- when Valjean saves Fauchelevant; when he admits to Valjean that he'd filed a report against him; when Valjean spares his life; his fucking SUICIDE, for Christ's sake -- neither his facial expression, his body language, nor the tone and timbre of his voice fucking changes one iota. And that irks me. Also, "Stars." NO. NO, RUSSELL CROWE. RUSSELL, STAAAAAAHP. That's not what "Stars" is supposed to sound like. "Stars" was THE thing that got my sister into musical theatre. It literally took that one song. BECAUSE IT'S AN AWESOME SONG WHEN SUNG CORRECTLY.

Random points:

1. Interesting inclusion of Marius's grandfather. He was a character in the novel and a character in the Original French production, but did next to nothing in the this one. Basically, he told Marius he was a disappointment, disappears for most of the show, and shows up at the end to sing, like, two lines during the reprise of "A Heart Full of Love."
2. Les Amis + Eponine + Gavroche were all perfectly cast. Gavroche was freaking ADORABLE, with a capital A, and Eponine was sympathetic without being pathetic. ALSO, Enjolras and Grantaire's death scene -- SO MANY LES AMIS FEEEEEEELS. I have a major, MAJOR soft spot for Grantiare, born as much of nostalgia and it is of the source material, but suffice it to say, I'm so, so glad they had them stand together atthe end.
3. Changes to song order made a LOT of contextual sense, and the additional sung dialogue was very well done. It WAS weird not being able to sing the libretto straight through, because it's so embedded in my consciousness that it was a little jarring not knowing exactly what was coming next -- but also kind of refreshing, as well.
4. COLM WILKINSON AS THE BISHOP OF DIGNE. I get the feeling Colm would gladly perform in Les Mis for the rest of his natural life if given the chance. He always looks so happy to be performing it.
5. The awkward close-ups, particularly during the solos, make a lot of sense if you think about it from the perspective of musical theatre. in the stage show, these really are "all eyes on me" moments, and they're used to reveal inner feelings and motivations -- conveyed naturally through facial expressions. So it kind of works, once you get used to it.

All in all, I really enjoyed it. and I can't WAIT for the DVD release, so Mel, Joce, and I can analyze every single freakin' detail <3

Date: 2013-01-20 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I loved the movie as well. It's always a great surprise and relief when something you love is remade well!

Date: 2013-01-25 08:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There were about a dozen ways that the movie could have gone wrong, too, but for the most part, it was remarkably well done! :)

Date: 2013-01-21 09:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
One of the main reasons I liked this movie is because they didn't focus on "singing pretty," they focused on singing with emotion (which still sounded incredible!). Anne Hathaway as Fantine was amazing.

About Russell Crowe's performance - I actually really enjoyed it....especially Stars.And I highly dislike Russell Crowe in general (he was the one thing I expected to dislike about the movie). I'm not saying he had the best voice of the cast, I'd even say that they casted someone that couldn't quite keep up with the rest of the cast. But he still really worked for me. I actually thought his acting was rather good, too...probably one of the better actors in general. Maybe it's because I've been in so many freaking versions of this show that I'm used to hearing different elements brought to the characters.

In contrast, I absolutely love Hugh Jackman, and think he is a fantastic singer. However, I think that he was a little out of his league as Jean Valjean. He sounded a little nasally when he was reaching for the high notes and I thought it was really distracting.

I also think that Arron Tviet did a very good job.

Date: 2013-01-25 08:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
One of the main reasons I liked this movie is because they didn't focus on "singing pretty," they focused on singing with emotion

I agree, though since Les Mis is really more of an operetta than a musical and the singing is just... SO pervasive, I think if anyone was truly awful it would have dampened my appreciation, though I was neither expecting, nor did I need anyone to be a really amazing vocal performer. If I had to choose between a beautiful voice and paltry acting and fantastic acting and an average voice, I'd go with the better actor, hands down.

I hear a lot of people defending Russell Crowe's performance, and to each their own :) I just have a very... definite idea of the kind of person I see Javert being, have a very clear idea of how the character operates (and I'm not saying my idea is "right" or that it's "truth" -- just that it's there, and it's not something I can seperate myself from while watching the show) and RC just didn't do it for me. I just felt like there was a woodeness to him that didn't feel like stoicism, it just felt like... disconnect, to me.

The thing that got me about Hugh Jackman's Valjean (on a lighter note) was that the character seemed to be portrayed as much younger than I'm used to, and there was something strange and morbidly amusing about watching, like, a middle-aged Valjean just DIE. Also, the key change in "Bring Him Home" was strange, but overall I was happy with him.

Arron Tviet was very good, as were all the Barricade Boys, but then, I have a soft spot for them anyway.

Date: 2013-01-23 11:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love the movie too!

Date: 2013-01-25 08:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was pleasantly and consistently surprised by how good just about everyone was!


afterallthistime: (Default)
we understand the lights.

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