Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Les Miserables Movie Review & Teaser Tuesday + RMQ

Quick Announcement
If you've signed up for the My Favorite Martian blogfest, be advised that it got pushed back by one week. One of the hosts ended up having a scheduling conflict. So, still post about your favorite alien, but do it on January 21st instead of 14th!!!

Les Miserables Movie Review

source: imdb.com
So I finally got around to seeing the most recent rendition of Les Miserables in the movie theater. It was freakin' awesome! It's such a timeless story of war and trial and redemption. The characters are so wonderfully human and flawed, and the timeless music just adds to the effect. Each song centers on the character's central conflict and captures it with perfect efficiency and emotion.

 I had heard that lots of people weren't impressed with Russel Crowe's or even Hugh Jackman's singing, but I thought they were fine. Perhaps it was obvious that Russel Crowe isn't a classically-trained singer, but we all knew that didn't we? Given everything, I thought he did an excellent job. There was a lot of talk about how the actors performed the music live, rather than lip-syncing and using a pre-recorded voice-over for the film track, which is the norm when making musicals. Everyone who was part of the decision to do it that way said it was because there was just more emotion and realism when it was done live. I don't doubt that, but the unfortunate fact is that the score isn't going to sound as perfect that way. Just reality folks. That's why they usually use a pre-recorded track. It didn't bother me either way, but while I was watching, that's what occurred to me.

source: imdb.com
Despite any musical short-comings, I thought all the actors did wonderfully in their roles. As you all know, I just finished reading the book and loved it. My first Les Miz experience was actually the 1998 version starring Liam Neeson. I liked that version very much as it was the first time I'd heard the story (and I happen to love my buddy Liam). That version, though, depicted Javier as thoroughly sinister. I thought Geoffrey Rush did an excellent job in the role (another actor I'm always impressed with) but I actually liked the musical's portrayal of Javier better. My sister and I discussed it at length after seeing the film. The musical's handling of the character was closer to the book. Javier was not inherently evil. He was absolutely just. His major flaw was that he had no mercy. The laws that convicted Valjean in the first place were corrupt, but Javier only saw or cared for the strong arm of the law. *minor spoilers ahead*. When he realized how wrong he might have been for so long, he couldn't handle it. It was almost like social shock. Without getting too spoilery, let me also say that his final scene (you know the one I mean?) was kind of gross in the film. I didn't particularly appreciate the THUNK. Kinda made me shudder.

source: usatoday.com
Another actor I really loved in the film was Eddie Redmayne. He's not well-known in the states, but as someone who watches way too much t.v., both British and American, I've seen him in a few things, and I've never seen him in anything but I've been very impressed. I thought he had a beautiful voice (I hadn't heard him sing before) and the passion with which he inhabits the characters he portrays can't help but draw you too him. Even though he didn't come into the film until half-way through (as per the story), he became the heart and soul of the film during the second half.

Ann Hathaway, as always, did a wonderful job. She's got a sweet, beautiful voice and portrayed the ridiculously tragic Fantine with such heart and finesse that a lover of the book couldn't ask for better.

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen were perfect as the irritating Thernardiers and I really liked Samantha Barks who was a perfect Eponine.

source: zimbio.com
I was also very impressed with the two child-singers in the film. There was Isabelle Allen who portrayed Cosette as a half-pint, and little, loveable Gavroche, played by Daniel Huttlestone. Both kids belted out their songs with wonderful control of their notes. So you have two children, both poor and abused, both very sympathetic to audience, and then they open their mouths and out comes this beautiful, sweet song. It tugs at the heartstrings.

If I had one complaint about the film (and I'll admit it's a bit random and nit-picky) I wasn't a huge fan of the way they did the cinematography. (I think that's the right term. Cinematography just means the actual camera shots.) There were entire songs sung by a single actor, such as Hugh Jackman, and because this is a musical, the scene with the song would last four or five full minutes. I noticed that during these long sequences, often the camera would stay four inches from the actor's face during the entire scene. It's a weird thing, and I never would have thought of it if the shot wasn't so weird and if they hadn't kept doing it, but I found myself wanting a wider shot. I wanted to see the detailed scenery or observe body language and hand motions other than from the neck up. I don't know if this to be sure they were capturing every nuance of the actor's face-performance (I might just have to coin that term! :D) or what, but I got a little annoyed with it after awhile. It's not like it ruined the movie for me or anything, but I would have appreciated a little cinematic variety. Just sayin.'

source: 1080hdwallpaper.com
So...I'm a crier. To quote Jude Law in the film The Holiday, "I'm a major weeper!" (*try to hear that said with a heavy English accent*). I was sure I'd bawl through this entire film. It wasn't near as bad as I thought. But during Hathaway's rendition of I Dreamed a Dream I was a bit of a basket case. And then the ending wasn't a dry-eyed affair for me either. It was done so wonderfully, so beautifully. This is why I love historical fiction! This is why I love life- and generation-spanning stories! There's just nothing like them!

As a writer, I love to contemplate on the fact that Victor Hugo was a writer, an educated man, and a religious one (as evidenced in the story) and that two of his stories (the other being The Hunchback of Notre Dame--also fabulous!) have survived for almost 200 years. It gives a girl a reason to hope.

What do you think? Has anyone else seen the film?

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser is from Veronica Roth's Divergent, page 76.

"We believe that preparation eradicates cowardice, which we define as the failure to act in the midst of fear," says Four. "Therefore each stage of initiation is intended to prepare you in a different way. The first stage is primarily physical; the second, primarily emotional; the third, primarily mental."
"But what..." Peter yawns through his words. "What does firing a gun have to do with...bravery?"
Four flips the gun in his hand, presses the barrel to Peter's forehead, and clicks the bullet into place. Peter freezes with his lips parted, the yawn dead in his mouth.
"Wake. Up." Four snaps. "You are holding a loaded gun, you idiot. Act like it."

Random Movie Quotes (RMQ)!

Last weeks RMQ was:

Father: No! You can't do this to me! Give up the throne? The kingdom? For some, some nobody? By Harry I won't have it! You're a prince! And you're going to marry a princess!

source: chocolateandcreamcake.blogspot.com
Son: Now Father, you're living in the past. This is the fourteenth century!

This was said by Prince Phillip and his father King Hubert in Disney's Sleeping Beauty--still one of my favorite Disney cartoons, but you probably could have guessed that, right? :D This was guessed by Emily from In Which Ems Review Books. Great job, Emily!

Today's RMQ is:

"Are you sure it isn't time for another colorful metaphor?"

One point for actor, character, and film. For this one, either you'll know it or you won't. One of the most quotable movies ever! :D


  1. Star Trek V: The Voyage Home, said by Spock!!! That one was easy.
    Haven't seen the movie, but I've seen the original play production in London many years ago.
    And got the email about the Martian blogfest being moved.

  2. *hides under her desk because she has yet to see EITHER of these movies*

    But I'm going to see Les Mis very soon and I've been slowly working on rectifying my Disney deprivation.

    (I might have a Teaser Tuesday here sometime today, but I'm not sure.)

  3. Yes! I saw it and I loved it! Though I did hate Hugh Jackman's voice, but that's because I've seen the musical on stage and listened to the recording so many times AND I knew he was stage-trained so I had really high expectations. You should read my review and compare!


    Also, I agree about the camera while they're singing. So stinking annoying. I understand their desire to capture the emotion, and it was very effective. But I found it...awkward.

  4. I have divergent and insurgent but i have not started them. Do you like Divergent? is it good?

    Check out my Teaser Tuesday

  5. Loved reading your thoughts on the film! I pretty much agree with everything, especially about the multitude of close ups! I do really wish they had cast a better singer for Javert though, his voice took me out of the emotion sometimes. And Hugh Jackman was a surprise - I think they should have lowered the songs or something for him. My fave moment though is when Javert puts a badge on Gavroche. Ugh, so much crying. :)

  6. Nice tease!! Enjoyed that one! Still need to read the sequel! Loooooove Sleeping Beauty too!

    Here's my Teaser

    Have a GREAT day!

    Old Follower :)

  7. I think Javert is such a complex and compelling villain! :)

  8. Thanks for the great review. I have not seen the movie because I have to read the book first. It is the chunkster book that I hope to read this year.

  9. I saw Les Mis and thought the movie was amazingly well done, but the length of it was too much for me. By the end I was getting antsy. Everyone else in the group I was with loved it.

    Samantha @ Reading-AndCoffee