Les Miserables

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ArchAngel
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Les Miserables

Postby ArchAngel » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:22 pm

Alright, I think it's time for a thread on this.

Now let me start by saying I'm not a fan of musicals and I mostly find the newer ones distasteful...

But Les Miserables was a literary masterpieces and one of the best movies ever made. I mean, seriously. Every bit masterfully written. I'm still a bit stunned how good it was. The themes it explored and how it paralleled them against each other, just wonderful. A work of art, in the highest degree.


So, have any of you else seen it, and if so, what did you think?
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby ChickenSoup » Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:27 am

Planning on seeing it soon. Only complaints I've heard have been about Russel Crowe's voice from a few people but I'll see (hear? :P ) for myself.
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby TripExistence » Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:53 pm

I saw it on Christmas Day.

I really loved it, but to me it was far from flawless:

- The aforementioned performance of Russell Crowe leaves quite a bit to be desired. I'm also biased because I'm a huge fan of Geoffrey Rush's Javert in that adaptation of the novel.
- I wasn't fond of the girl who played Eponine either, I wish I could give more of a concrete reason, but there.
- Some of the directing choices were questionable to me, it got tiresome having extreme close-ups (it also didn't help that my sister and I were in the first two rows of the theater) for every single song. It worked for I Dreamed A Dream, but a lot of times it just got exhausting.

However, the quality overall is just amazing. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers? Genius. And Anne Hathaway has done quite a bit of proving herself lately.

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Re: Les Miserables

Postby ArchAngel » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:52 pm

Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter WERE great as the Thenadiers. I actually thought Eponine was done very well; the actress who portrayed her was pulled from the musical, where she also portrayed Eponine.
Russell Crowe's singing took a little getting used to, but I kind of liked it, it seemed to work with Javert's strict character. I would need to see Geoffrey Rush as Javert, though. The man's one fine actor.

Cinematically, the close ups were maybe not as interesting, but it did serve a couple purposes. Namely, it centerd the viewers on the character's emotions and dilemma, and it exhibited the actor's singing. All the actors were doing their own singing, on set, and largely uncut. When you see those close ups, you're seeing full on singing and acting. I felt all of this brought an emotional realism to it which I often find lacking in other musicals.
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby ArcticFox » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:38 pm

I hated Geoffrey Rush as Javert, but then I hated that whole movie from start to finish so it is what it is. (Uma Thurman as Fantine? Are you freakin' kidding me?!?!?!?!?)

I'm very much looking forward to seeing this one. A few years ago I said "You know who they should cast as Javert if they do another Les Mis? Russel Crowe."

They were apparently listening... :mrgreen:
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby ArchAngel » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:13 pm

They should give you royalties for that idea.

And Uma Thurman as Fantine sounds terrible.
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby TripExistence » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:35 pm

I hated Geoffrey Rush as Javert, but then I hated that whole movie from start to finish so it is what it is. (Uma Thurman as Fantine? Are you freakin' kidding me?!?!?!?!?)

I'm very much looking forward to seeing this one. A few years ago I said "You know who they should cast as Javert if they do another Les Mis? Russel Crowe."

They were apparently listening... :mrgreen:
Oh man. I think you're so wrong. :P

What did you find so wrong with that particular version? I've never read the original novel, but I've watched that movie since I was a kid and have always loved it.

Also, I think the reason that I didn't care as much for Eponine is exactly for the reason that she was the same as the stage actress - she seemed to have just a little too much of that stage glamour + flair for me to really feel for her character. She was good, I just felt like they could have done better.

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Re: Les Miserables

Postby ScotchRobbins » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:27 pm

The one person in my history class that had saw it said that she enjoyed it. I myself am not a musical kind of guy, so I think I'll put it off for now.
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby ArcticFox » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:27 pm

Oh man. I think you're so wrong. :P

What did you find so wrong with that particular version? I've never read the original novel, but I've watched that movie since I was a kid and have always loved it.

Also, I think the reason that I didn't care as much for Eponine is exactly for the reason that she was the same as the stage actress - she seemed to have just a little too much of that stage glamour + flair for me to really feel for her character. She was good, I just felt like they could have done better.
Hah I'm never wrong. :mrgreen:

What I had a problem with in that particular movie was mainly the casting, I suppose. Uma Thurman was the worst choice imaginable to play Fantine. Fantine is a character that needs to steal your heart fast, because she doesn't live long into the story. She has to be sympathetic, and you have to find her likeable enough that it matters when things go badly for her and ultimately, when she dies. Uma Thurman is very bad at that. I've seen a number of movies with her in them and she's just not good at playing that sort of role. She's annoying and I found myself looking forward to her being gone from the movie.

Liam Neeson was "meh" as Valjean. He's a competent actor and can do what he's asked to do, but when I think of Jean Valjean I never think of him.

And I definitely will have to beg to differ with you on Geoffrey Rush as Javert. Geoffrey Rush is a fine actor and all that, but as Javert... No. Javert was a man whose flaw was that he was so utterly consumed with upholding the law and obsessing over Valjean that he's only a villain in the sense that he's the main foil for Valjean. He's a character who takes law and justice to the coldest extreme and isn't at all evil... just not one for letting compassion enter into his thinking. Geoffrey Rush plays him like a villain who's motivated by darker factors like spite. He broke the character, IMHO.
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby ArchAngel » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:45 pm

On your note about Javert, Russell Crowe captured that perfectly. He's the antagonist, but no villain.
I went a head and watched the trailers for the old one, and I'm seeing what you're saying, Arctic.

Scotch, I'm not one for musicals either, so when I say this movie was amazing, it really is. One of the elements that separate it from other musicals is that the musicality was done to fit the movie, and not the movie to fit the songs. The actors did it "live" and uncut in front of the camera and acted through it, instead of performing the songs. Even though there's a long of singing, all of it plays the purpose of the story and the character. If musicals don't actively bother you, than you can still enjoy the film. It's a movie first.
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby ScotchRobbins » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:12 am

That does sound drastically better. Most musicals strike me as smarmy, but I've never been one to see very classy musicals either. I'll take your word for it, that does sound like a seriously needed step in the right direction.

However, I can't think of any logical excuse to see it, or plain reason to for that matter currently. Nah.
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby TripExistence » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:56 pm

the destruction of my childhood
IMO, Rush didn't 'break' anything, he was just able to offer a slightly different interpretation than previously offered. I found him more compelling and highly preferable to Crowe because he was able to add more of a sense of pathos to a character that was so propelled by upholding moral law that Valjean became a near megalomaniacal obsession. It's not that he's inherently evil, he's so dedicated to following the law to the extent that it appears villainous. Those darker factors that you're talking about do exist, but they exist in the form of pure obsession. Barring any references to how the actors interpreted the character, in my opinion Rush simply has a more powerful presence than Crowe. Crowe was stiff and gruff, which is fine for the type of character that he was playing, but there was absolutely no emotional dynamism to his performance, something I felt that Rush had. I disagree about Javert being purely a foil for Valjean, to me that negates what I see as equal footing. Valjean is an unlawful man trying to atone for his past mistakes, while Javert is the law, but he uses that law for ends that we may see as wrong.

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Spoiler:
Javert's suicide scene in the 2012 film was completely bereft of power, and in my opinion, one of the weakest scenes in the film. They tried to play it up with the cinematic backdrop and all, but I just didn't feel it. And it may be that I was just determined to not like Crowe from the start, but there's something about the quiet recognition in Rush's Javert's suicide that I found far more resonating.
I'm very aware that my rose-tinted glasses are on (I haven't seen the 1998 version in several years), but I just think you're heavily shortchanging a film that deserves way more credit than you're giving it. I can mostly agree with you about Liam Neeson, but I've always really liked him so I have to give him a pass. :P

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Re: Les Miserables

Postby ArchAngel » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:34 pm

I'll say this, had Javert been more emotional and more "hot headed" about it, much of the themes, metaphors, and the statements being made about justice and forgiveness would be lost. The whole thing really can be viewed as an allegory of Christianity, if you want.
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby ArcticFox » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:51 pm

IMO, Rush didn't 'break' anything, he was just able to offer a slightly different interpretation than previously offered. I found him more compelling and highly preferable to Crowe because he was able to add more of a sense of pathos to a character that was so propelled by upholding moral law that Valjean became a near megalomaniacal obsession. It's not that he's inherently evil, he's so dedicated to following the law to the extent that it appears villainous. Those darker factors that you're talking about do exist, but they exist in the form of pure obsession. Barring any references to how the actors interpreted the character, in my opinion Rush simply has a more powerful presence than Crowe. Crowe was stiff and gruff, which is fine for the type of character that he was playing, but there was absolutely no emotional dynamism to his performance, something I felt that Rush had. I disagree about Javert being purely a foil for Valjean, to me that negates what I see as equal footing. Valjean is an unlawful man trying to atone for his past mistakes, while Javert is the law, but he uses that law for ends that we may see as wrong.
I haven't seen Crowe's Javert yet so I can't comment on it. I do think it's interesting how our different perspectives see things in such different ways.

Javert is obsessed because he truly believes that Valjean is evil... and sees himself as the force of law that will crush it. NOthing sinister or spiteful there, IMHO and that's why I didn't like Rush's interpretation. Ultimately, it's because Javert is able to see the good in Valjean that he's destroyed... he has no coping mechanism for having his worldview so completely shattered.

"Is he from Heaven or from Hell? And does he know that granting me my life today, this man has killed me even so."

Javert feels betrayed by his own beliefs so completely that it destroys him. He's a good man but has no ability to adapt or to see things from any other perspective... The conflict is more than he can cope with.

IMHO, that conflict can't be muddied by a spiteful Javert who has a personal grudge. That sort of thing is beneath him precisely because the only thing that motivates him is the law and his desire to obtain justice. If he had room in his heart for things like spite, then maybe he could have survived on that... but he doesn't, and so he didn't.
I'm very aware that my rose-tinted glasses are on (I haven't seen the 1998 version in several years), but I just think you're heavily shortchanging a film that deserves way more credit than you're giving it. I can mostly agree with you about Liam Neeson, but I've always really liked him so I have to give him a pass. :P
Well I wouldn't refuse to watch it again, so who knows? Maybe next time I see it I'll have a different take. Still haven't seen the new one yet, but I hope to go tomorrow night.
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Re: Les Miserables

Postby TripExistence » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:43 am

Arch, I think you misunderstood my post, I never said anything about being more emotional or hotheaded. I think the reason that I liked Rush as Javert so much was that as a force of the law his presence was so commanding. In the 2012 version (and I know, I'm comparing the two instead of defending my point) Crowe's Javert was too much of a slave to the law to feel like a real threat. I don't know if that even makes sense, but I can definitely now more clearly see where you guys are coming from.

Arctic, I think if you revisited it, you wouldn't necessarily be wrong, but I still hold that it's a pretty well put together piece of cinema. It's been so long since I've seen it; I'd be interested in going to watch it again in light of what you've said. You have to let me know what you think of the musical! It really is phenomenal, despite some of the things that I've said. :P


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