Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cinema Babble: I Dreamed A Dream Of Singing For 3 hours

The Flick: Les Miserables

The Peeps: Hugh Jackman (again), Ann Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sascha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, etc, etc.

The Dealio: This is the story of  prisoner Jean Valjean (Jackman) whom we meet on the eve of winning his parole. After serving 20 years.  For stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's sick child. Falling repeatedly under the eye of his guard, the tenacious Inspector Javert (Crowe),  Valjean realises, early on, that Javert is simply waiting for him to violate parole. And eagerly anticipating his return to  Javert's relentless rule. Set against  post-revolutionary France, riddled with poverty, corruption, disrespect for human life and the unrest of the underclasses against what is perceived (and for a reason) as  the squandering of France's finances by the rich, entitled and idle. This story takes us through the many reversals of fortune  of the characters- including the  hapless Fantine, Valjean and even Javert. In almost every instance, the fickleness of their fates  depends on the tiniest of details. So frustrating. 

The Grading Session: 4.72 pengies out of 5. A lot has been written about how horrible Crowe's voice is- which I found to be an exaggeration. His voice was fine. But was a bit dismayed by how good Jackman's voice...wasn't. I've grown to expect more, but perhaps, he was remaining in character, and one can not expect a starving, exhausted prisoner to belt 'em out like Ethel Merman (there's a picture for ya). I also did not cry when Hathaway sang 'I Dreamed A Dream'...although, maybe I shouldn't admit that. I loved the confluence of voices tracking through their separate strands of thought and lyrics. I also felt that Hooper did a magnificent job of keeping all the balls in the sweeping tale, in the air at the same time. Not easy. I confess to growing weary of Bonham Carter's repetitious portrayal of the blowzy, slovenly, weirded out, tarted up harridan. Seen it a time or two too often for me not to feel this is a default setting for her. And finally, I did mow through a half-packet of tissues in the last 20 minutes of the flick. So sue me.

Lessons Learned: Nothing says Les Miz for me like a 15 minute refreshment break in the lobby. Look into it. Next this: if you are looking for a flick where almost every word is NOT sung, but still featuring a strong cast and the same story, you want the Liam Neeson version out a few years back, and available for streaming even as we speak. Lastly this: this is art. It is best to just let it wash over you...and not make such a big noise about Russell Crowe's headgear. It's not as though he picked it out himself, after all. Just let it go.

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