Les Misrables: So, what did you think?

Mattbrain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/23/05
And of course, goldenboy, you'll be repeating your review verbatim whenever you're given the opportunity.
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Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
My favorite reviews are "I didn't like it. I mean, I didn't hate it but it wasn't very good. I'm seeing again tonight and again tomorrow and then over the weekend but it wasn't my kind of movie"
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My Oh My
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/07
Wow, what a great review, Michelle, touching on the various aspects. Love your thought on the orchestrations and, even if I am very happy with what I've heard so far of the new work done for the film, I did immediately notice the bizarre absence of 90% of the percussion. I am still very happy that it follows the original orchestrations to the point I am truly surprised John Cameron isn't credited, but like you've pointed out, a great deal of instrumentation isn't there and sounds like a big string fest. I know that in itself could actually bring it down for the lack of variety of colors and textures. They've been obsessed with cutting out every last hint of anything not deemed "orchestral" which is so strange because the original orchestration had great variety and a huge orchestral group of musicians. Not to mention, the sound was very, very exciting.

There is a trend as of late to avoid anything deemed "stagey" into movie musicals. The orchestrations being toned down could be because of that. I'm still on the fence about that whole approach overall (not just the orchs) in this film version, as I can certainly see why, but am not completely convinced our own discomfort at seeing stagey elements on screen is due to it actually not working. I've considered the possibility we are just worrying too much about what non-musical theatre people are going to think. I've never been one to be preoccupied with what others think, but I do want this film to be a success, and maybe the worry is coming from that.

Maybe that's why I'm avoiding seeing the film at theatres ASAP. I want to enjoy it as much as possible and being around people who are harshly judgmental of musicals on screen brings down the joy for me because I want to slap them silly, lol.
Recreation of original John Cameron orchestration to "On My Own" by yours truly. Click player below to hear.
Plum
Broadway Legend
joined:3/4/04
My Oh My, the sold-out audience I watched with was just fine - quiet, rapt, and without a single electronic interruption. Go ahead and watch in the next few days.
jasonf
Broadway Legend
joined:12/26/03
Maybe the avoidance of "staginess" in movies is a blowback from The Producers which many (including me) felt was TOO stagey. Lane and Broderick played the whole movie like they were on stage and it looked ridiculous for much of it. I don't blame people from shying away from that style.
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michellek45
Leading Actor
joined:5/20/11
My Oh My- Thanks! Yeah, I noticed the percussion quickly, too, probably because that's what I play. Also there was a complete absence of the iconic keyboards, which I've never loved, so I didn't miss them at first...but then after 2.5 hours of hearing 70% strings, I did. You're pretty much right about Hooper wanting to avoid seeming "stagey"- Barks' "but he never saw me THERE" and Redmayne's "oh my friends, my FRIENDS" are pretty much the only huge belting moments left in the show, other than big ensemble numbers. It also seemed like everyone was instructed not to a) sing too loudly and b) hold notes to their full length.

And I have to echo what Plum said- although there was certainly a lot of sniffling.
Jane2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/13/04
Saw it this morning in a theater which reported the first three shows as sold out.

Anyway, I liked it very much. I was experiencing the pleasure of watching a stunning film, and hearing the voices of some really strong singers who make it seem easy as talking when all of a sudden - SPLAT- Russell Crowe arrives, straining to sing on key with a not so pleasant voice, completely out of league with the rest. Each time he had a song or a scene, I was throttled back to Earth.

And as a former fan of Crowe's acting (my fav was Gladiator), here I thought he was too weak for the role. Miscast, IMO.

Hugh Jackman should win an award for his magnificent performance in a huge, demanding role. And Hathaway too. In the short amout of time we see her, she was strong enough for the entirety of the film.

Loved the closeups.



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Updated On: 12/25/12 at 08:05 PM
qolbinau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
Hugh Grant??? lol
My Oh My
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/07
Jasonf, I saw the film version of The Producers at the theatre and must agree that I was at times jarred disturbingly at all the uber stagey elements. In the end, it had a very sneaky way of making me appreciate the stage even more. Not only did the shameless song over the credits about musicals being awesome help, it all had a certain charm to it with the aggressive way it shoved all those things we avoid like the plague in film musicals these days.

The only serious reservation I had was it also did a great job at giving people COMPLETELY stereotypical ideas of what musical theatre and musical theatre people are all about. I thought maybe people aren't so dumb and can see it's a satire but I'm not so sure. :S

Jane2...Hugh Grant?
Recreation of original John Cameron orchestration to "On My Own" by yours truly. Click player below to hear.
Jane2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/13/04
Don't drop your pearls folks, human error!
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bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
I just got back. I am in the minority here in that I was pretty disappointed.
THE BAD
-Neither Hugh Jackman or Russell Crowe did anything for me, and I did not care for their voices at all.
-I thought the orchestrations were way too quiet, and the sound itself was just not that great. I definitely agree with those that there were way too many closeup shots. I thought it worked well for I Dreamed a Dream and On My Own, but other than those scenes I felt like there were way too many of them.
-The changes made to lyrics, songs, and the order of songs and scenes did nothing to enhance the story or the film.
THE GOOD
-Anne Hathaway was the saving grace of the film, and I really do hope she wins the Oscar because she deserves it. She was sensational. She ripped my heart out, gave me goosebumps, and had me on the verge of tears.
-Samantha Barks blew me away with On My Own. I also loved how they filmed this scene with her walking through the empty streets in the pouring rain. Very effective.
-Master of the House was very well done. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen were great.
It was nowhere near as big of a disappointment as Nine was, but I just feel like this could have been a lot better and "epic".
"Heck anyone with a ticket stub is qualified to have an opinion." - Dramamama
americanboy99
Broadway Legend
joined:7/27/06
I thought Hathaway was the film's biggest asset while simultaneously being the film's biggest problem.

She's simply too good. Those first 45 minutes of the film are so intense, raw and exciting that the jump to Paris (and the love story side of the film) pales in comparison and comes off as a little silly. Felt a bit like two different films.

Hooper really brought it together by the end though. I am definitely a fan of the film and have only a few minor quibbles (many of which are these ridiculous camerawork choices, which I also found distracting in "The King's Speech").

All of the big solos are stunning. I actually quite liked Crowe. I thought his vocals were a nice relief from the sometimes painfully shrill singing done by Jackman, who I thought was excellent in a dog of a role.

I will say that the Thenardiers never registered as even mildly sinister, which I think is unfortunate.
"Years from now when you talk about this- and you will- be kind."
My Oh My
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/07
Don't know how I missed your review Best12bars, but I really dug your insight.

The sound mixing...oh dear. It's the one thing I haven't liked at all from what I've heard. Even the soundtrack album is mixed that way. Nothing is more painful than to watch a musical film where the music AND vocals are mixed in a distracting fashion. It's not horrendous from what I've heard but, again, it seems they worried people wouldn't believe it was sung live if they did any significant mixing typically done of regular, non-singing films, and felt they had to make it sound as unprocessed as possible.

I keep wondering how amazing it could have sounded had they done a thorough mixing job. It sounds like they, like you said, restricted vocals to the center channel and the orchestra floating around like a ghost. Not only am I an orchestration nutcase, I'm an audiophile! I don't say that proudly, it's hard being so picky! LOL. Ah, well, we'll see.

Recreation of original John Cameron orchestration to "On My Own" by yours truly. Click player below to hear.
sabrelady
Broadway Legend
joined:5/16/03
My showing also was quiet & rapt tho there was one cell phone that went off.
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bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
She's simply too good. Those first 45 minutes of the film are so intense, raw and exciting that the jump to Paris (and the love story side of the film) pales in comparison and comes off as a little silly. Felt a bit like two different films.

Agreed. Anne Hathaway made Fantine real, heartbreaking, and striking. The last time I felt that way about a character in a movie was Natalie Portman in Black Swan. I will definitely be seeing the film again just for Anne Hathaway. She was THAT good.
"Heck anyone with a ticket stub is qualified to have an opinion." - Dramamama
Auggie27
Broadway Legend
joined:10/13/03
Anyone else bothered/shocked by something technical and seemingly small: the image ratio? (1.85:1)

I couldn't believe the narrowness of the image when it began, and we were staring at that GWTW-sized square (and I saw it on a very big screen). I believe many of the problems people have with the preponderance of close-ups are in part due to the decision to shoot the film in a traditional ratio. The absence of sweeping panoramic vistas doubles the sense of claustrophobia. We don't get a really vivid establishing shot (one with moving human beings) until the second act, the exterior sequence following "One Day More" with the military parade and students (singing "Do You Hear the People Sing," moved until later, yes?) also the first genuine daylight in the film. The absence of a real sky and real light, coupled with this slivered view of the story, contributes to the artifice, which crescendos during "Stars," (which looks like something cut from MOULIN ROUGE).

This narrow ratio makes the characters sit literally in our faces, often cut-off mid-forehead (an annoying choice). We long for neutral space around these singing heads, shrouded in studio lit chiaroscuro, and there's precious little room. And so this boxed in feeling doesn't help the overall cause. If the goal is to present a minimalist epic, we get the minimalism with too little epic in design, alas. No dig at the art direction, which is solid (if again, artificial in places; the central portion of Paris kept reminding me of the sets for VICTOR/VICTORIA).

A small thing, but with a running time of nearly 2 hours and 40 minutes, a contributing factor. And while we're on the subject of irritating technical issues: Hugh's final deathbed makes-up, which looked like Wolverine aged to age 70, was ghastly. It took me out of the sequence, despite the actor giving solid work (as he does throughout).

One more thought: Is Anne Hathaway's work over-rated? No. Well, not yet. Poll people three weeks from now. I think we're already weary of hearing how the movie dips after her number (didn't happen for me, but I get it). She is remarkable, and Hooper shoots the number brilliantly. But I expect a backlash to the performance's praise. Hugh carries this movie, and Eddie is his partner. They do yeoman's work, and as much as I appreciate Hathaways's impact, she's on screen about 15 minutes.



"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Gary Shandling
Updated On: 12/25/12 at 08:58 PM
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
I mostly liked. I found that it dragged a good deal at around the midpoint, leading up to "One Day More". But then, it was the third movie I saw today so I could've just been on sensory overload. Some of the repositioning made a good deal of it seem so superfluous.


And I liked all of the cast. Yes. Even Russell Crowe. Hathaway steals the film and is indeed the highlight. She suffers beautifully.

I don't know what the fuss is about the sound mixing. I thought it was fine. But then I don't fuss over the minute audio and music details.

I thought Javert's actual suicide was... excessive. Really, Hooper? You tease the audience with his suicide twice in that song, and then go with "let's see him break his spine"? In fact, I'd say the film succeeded despite Hooper. It felt like he kept trying to make the film very small- except when he decided to make it unnecessarily huge to show that he could do that, too. And then, "hey, let's do a shaky handheld camera shot when they're fighting!" It felt like Hooper was dumping out a bag of tricks.

It'll rack up some Oscar nods for Hathaway, Best Picture, and creative awards. Hathaway is its best bet for a win. But otherwise, this doesn't compare to the other Best Picture hopefuls. But I have no doubt, judging by the copious tears and applause at the end, that it'll do good business.
Wishing Only Wounds
Broadway Star
joined:4/27/10
Also saw it at 10 PM last night. I loved it. I was skeptical, but I really, really enjoyed it. The standouts for me were Eddie Redmayne, Anne Hathaway, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone, and to my surprise, Hugh Jackman.

Thinking more about it, I think the direction hurt Russell Crowe's performance, more so than him just being "weak." He has a loud, rough voice, and the instant closeups and quick lead in to songs did nothing for his voice. I don't know, maybe I'm being too nice.

Did anyone else laugh during (SPOILER if you know nothing about Les Mis) Javert's suicide with the very audible "cracking" of the spine? My friend and I lost it.

I also saw it in IMAX. If you have the chance, go in IMAX. I'm not a big fan of it, in general, but the sound was amazing.

Formerly: WishingOnlyWounds2 - Broadway Legend - Joined: 9/25/08
Updated On: 12/25/12 at 09:09 PM
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Anyone else bothered/shocked by something techical and seemingly so small: the image ratio? (1.85:1)

Yes, I was surprised that they used the standard widescreen ratio instead of the wider 2.35:1. It did make the film feel smaller, and I don't know why Hooper made this decision.

As far as Hathaway being "too good" and the rest of the actors can't live up to that, i think this is wrong. It's the story of Fantine that is the most compelling, along with the first part of Jean Valjean's story.

Once we jump to the Thenardiers and little Cosette, the story (while still good) slows down quite a bit. Then when the young lovers are introduced, it almost becomes cloying. That's a problem in this particular adaptation of the novel, but it's also a problem of the novel itself.

The most widely known part of Les Miserables prior to the musical was the story of the Bishop's candlesticks, which is right at the beginning. The musical helped to bring out Fantine's story (especially with I Dreamed a Dream). But after that it's downhill ... and Hathaway, as wonderful as she is, can't be blamed for that.

It's really in the writing.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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chrisampm2
Leading Actor
joined:5/26/07
Auggie27, I'm confused by your referring to the 1:85:1 ratio as "narrow." You wish it had been in 2:35:1 which is much more narrow. Also, we're not looking at the Gone With the Wind-sized square. That was made in 1:37:1 and shown in the square 1:33:1.

None of that means you shouldn't be disappointed with what you got. Hooper seems to think the solos are akin to Shakespearean monologues, which are also usually shot in close-up.

For my taste, the film wobbles more when it pulls back than when in close-up. It hasn't been made like a traditional epic (perhaps due to the very fast sched to get the pic ready for this Christmas). Hooper doesn't seem to have the eye for that, coming off of TV. Whenever the solos are shot with wider framing, it looks more like Oliver! and, for better and worse, that's not what they're going for here.
americanboy99
Broadway Legend
joined:7/27/06
best12, I wasn't implying that the other actors don't live up to Hathaway. I actually agree with all that you said completely. Perhaps I should've said that the other actors simply can't live up to her impact-- thanks both to her performance and to the material.
"Years from now when you talk about this- and you will- be kind."
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
2.35:1 ratio (also known as "Cinemascope") is not narrower than 1.85:1 (also known as "Academy flat.")

http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20060423235253/tovid/images/b/bd/Aspect_ratios.png
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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Updated On: 12/25/12 at 09:40 PM
Plum
Broadway Legend
joined:3/4/04
Okay, wow, I thought I was weird for thinking the film loses momentum once it hits 1832 and expands to the younger generation - so many people are all about the love triangle and it does pretty much nothing for me. If Eponine wasn't such a hook for the show I'd say "cut her." It would have left room to establish the ABC crew a bit more, give Cosette a tiny bit of characterization, and maybe even go back to Valjean a bit more, since he's the spine of the thing and he kind of gets lost there for a while.
Auggie27
Broadway Legend
joined:10/13/03
Thank you, chrisampm2, for correcting me. I read the ratio in a review, but it didn't seem right to me. The film looks smaller in width than any film of comparable scope in recent memory. If the ratio is wrong, I apologize.

But I much appreciate what you said about the tighter close-ups providing the more successful material. If I adjust my thinking, I absolutely agree. The OLIVER-ization is where Hooper fails, because the vaster canvases do look somewhat thrown together for the big screen, done on the quick/slash/cheap. I take your point.

It's when we pull back that the slender image fails to help us suspend disbelief. I simply didn't feel in Paris often enough (and stand by my statement about VICTOR/VICTORIA in the central Parisian design.)

But speaking of OLIVER-ization: I'm watching the Albert Finney SCROOGE as I type this (an OLIVER rip-off in tone and style), shot in Panavision, and though studio-built in its studied artifice, the film is more pleasing and oddly enough creates more genuine feeling in its faked approximation of time and place.

Someone please find out: what is the damned ratio?

"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Gary Shandling
Updated On: 12/25/12 at 09:45 PM
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
I had the same thought re: Eponine for the film, Plum.
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
Does anyone know what Fantine and Valjean die from? I've always wondered.
"I think Glee is way too sharp, smart, witty, clever and emotionally confronting for the masses." - Dave19 - "What's next? Snow Black and the 7 Swaggers? Shasquirta and the Beast? 101 Weavematians? Willis in Ghettoland?" - Dave19, in reference to the new ANNIE remake.

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