Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

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MmeBahorel
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Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:01 am

To keep these separate from the thread of speculations - and from the script thread since these will be based on the actual finished film.

I was lucky enough to have been at a preview on Tuesday. Review with some spoilers here. I don't cover everything - it's impressionistic like my reviews of the show generally are, where things that don't immediately come to mind as I'm typing don't make it in. I am in love with this thing - Tom Hooper was hands-down the best director for this project, and the final product is a huge success to me. I will be seeing this film many times. I will be buying this film the moment it comes out on DVD.

But the important part is this: "Because it did so much right, and it hit my priorities well, I'm not inclined to nitpick because there's no such thing as perfect and I can easily deal with the less-than-perfect aspects. . . . Why should he make a movie that I find perfect? He has to make a movie that he finds perfect. I think his attempt is damned successful and I love him for it."

If you want to ask questions because you want tons of spoilers, go for it. I'm making this a new thread for a reason :)
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:15 am

This is a great review and exactly the sort of thing I've wanted to read! Let's be honest, no film critic is ever going to understand the passions and the angsts of a huge Mis fan!
My one sad face moment was that I did desperately want it to be iconic, to have that one definitive DVD that I can always sit down with and be blown away by without nit picking someone's voice or someone's performance choice or someone's script cuts. I had to sit down today and acknowledge to myself that the only way I was ever going to get what I want was with a time machine to nab my absolute perfect cast in their primes and probably with me involved with directing, so I need to just try and rinse them out of my head. Listening to the soundtrack is helping reassure me. Otherwise, I think this is pretty reassuring for someone who is going more than a little bit crazy at the thought of 3 weeks more to wait, so thank you very much :)
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:20 am

Where in Scotland are you? If you haven't seen Black Watch, get yourself to Glasgow this spring. It hits me emotionally the way very few pieces do, but if you like Barricade Boys, you'll probably love Black Watch because it's about comradeship in danger and how to cope when things go wrong. And I cry at the end every time. And the guys are lovely and talented as hell. So this plug is largely because I'm half in love with all of them.

As to LM, just remember that someone out there cannot stand one of your favourite people. It is literally impossible to make a perfect cast for millions to agree on. And I find that comforting, but I love live theatre for the variation. A film will usually only be done once. A play or musical is meant to be endlessly reinterpreted. So what if a film is made of a stage property? It doesn't end the experimentation with the stage property. I'm in it for the multitude of interpretations, the ways different directors, different actors see and engage with the material and can bring out nuances I hadn't noticed before or even just create an interesting stage picture I haven't seen before.

Sorry the UK has such a late release date! It's really not fair.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:19 pm

Thank you, thank you for this review! My thoughts exactly, based on all what's been going around.

I will never say the film is perfect. I don't even say so to my friends. But I declare that I will watch it more than once (when it comes out in Manila) out of sheer love and appreciation for the subject matter and the work. Far from technically perfect, but enough to move me.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:38 pm

MmeBahorel wrote:Where in Scotland are you? If you haven't seen Black Watch, get yourself to Glasgow this spring. It hits me emotionally the way very few pieces do, but if you like Barricade Boys, you'll probably love Black Watch because it's about comradeship in danger and how to cope when things go wrong. And I cry at the end every time. And the guys are lovely and talented as hell. So this plug is largely because I'm half in love with all of them.

As to LM, just remember that someone out there cannot stand one of your favourite people. It is literally impossible to make a perfect cast for millions to agree on. And I find that comforting, but I love live theatre for the variation. A film will usually only be done once. A play or musical is meant to be endlessly reinterpreted. So what if a film is made of a stage property? It doesn't end the experimentation with the stage property. I'm in it for the multitude of interpretations, the ways different directors, different actors see and engage with the material and can bring out nuances I hadn't noticed before or even just create an interesting stage picture I haven't seen before.

Sorry the UK has such a late release date! It's really not fair.


Heh I know Black Watch very well! One of the shows I did my masters thesis on! Had no chance of seeing the very first run of it at the Fringe but caught one of the very first performances of it on the first tour afterwards. They filmed the DVD of it within sight of my house and my mum, theatre people I've worked with and my friend and his family are all on the DVD. I have a signed programme from that week when my parents went for a drink in the pub across the road, found the entire cast in there post-show and started chatting to them (esp as I was currently studying under a particularly noted critic who they were loving for giving them a 5 star review at that stage). Also it's very much influenced by John McGrath who is just the best person in the history of theatre <3. Nice to know it's being appreciated outside of Scotland though. I'm a Highlander, but my other half is a Fifer, so it's very local for him.

Alas, appealing to other people's opinions doesn't always work for my terribly illogical brain. Curse of being a theatre director, you invariably believe your vision of a particular is always more right than anyone else's! :roll: :lol: One thing I'm trying to do is listen to recordings without my favourites right now e.g. I actually made myself listen to the OBC version of Stars the other night, which I loathe, and Russel Crowe seems a hundred times more listenable, even if he would otherwise commit the cardinal sin of Not Being Philip Quast. That said, I'm a lot more open minded about it after having seen the 25 anniversary tour. Up until that point, any variation from the original staging seemed blasphemous folly. Hated most of the changes they made for the tour, but it at least got me thinking of different ways to achieve things. Wish I'd got to see the other non-replica productions in the US that you mention, they sound really interesting!
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Mlle Patria » Tue Dec 25, 2012 8:22 pm

I saw the midnight showing of the movie last night and I was so thrilled! Naturally, there were some things that I didn't like, like Bring Him Home, but that's beside the point. I was so thrilled that they put in so much from the book that normally does not appear in the musical. Some of my favorites: Marius nearly blowing up the barricade, Marius's grandfather, and of course Enjolras and Grantaire's deaths. I loved how they did so much with the barricades from the book. I kept leaning over and poking my sister when I was particularly excited about something they included. I already have plans with a friend to see it again and as many more times as my (lack of) budget will allow!
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Taelin » Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:58 pm

I thought it was a pretty good marriage between the Brick and the musical. Some of the transitions were a bit awkward, but since I'm blinded by my Les Mis love right now, I'll let it slide. :lol:

Will write something more coherent when I've seen it more than once.

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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby AndrewShatterhand » Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:24 am

Haven't posted here in five years but I figure now is as good of a time as any. I'm assuming that we can discuss spoilers in this thread?

I'm about to go on a stream of conscience here...

On a whole, I loved it. I think they got a lot of things right. I have some complaints but nothing to really bring down the quality of the movie.

The performances were pretty good, in terms of movie musicals. I was worried about Crowe based off of clips beforehand but he did a fine job, in the context of the film. He still came off a bit flat or overmatched at times. I probably still would've preferred a more classical singer; perhaps Alan Rickman or some one who performed the role on stage (my favorite Javert, Roger Allam, is probably too old now).

Jackman did a good job with it. He struggled on a few of the parts more than I expected him to but on a whole he handed in a solid performance. Just wish they aged him a little bit more in the second act.

Hathaway was perfect; absolutely no complaints there. I thought Seyfried did a fine job. Barks was great but that is to be expected. I thought Eddie Redmayne and Aaron Tveit stole the show though. The scenes with them were pretty fantastic. The barricade section as a whole was perfect, with some great Hugo influences.

Some of the lyric changes and exclusions were a bit annoying and didn't make much sense. I think the new lyrics in some parts killed the flow and were a bit clunky and unnecessary...but that may be because I'm so used to the libretto. I won't pretend to be unbiased though, because some of my favorite little bits were left out. I may be crazy but I think they could've used the stage script close to word for word and it would still work. That being said, I don't mind them moving the songs around as their new spots made some sense.

"Suddenly" was pretty forgettable.

The opening sequence was awesome, I thought. I love what they did with the ship and Valjean carrying the flag, which tied into the cart segment (which I wish they left more of the original lines in).

The Thenardiers were fine. They played their roles well, although I think they overpowered Valjean a little bit when he arrives to pick up Cosette, which is a shame because I love the IDAD reprise Valjean does.

The end was absolutely amazing. I loved the inclusion of the Bishop. I always thought the finale would be tough to put on film but they did it.

Another little thing I loved was Javert tenderly pinning the medal onto Gavroche's body. A great inclusion to add to what should be a complicated, layered character.

The atmosphere and cinematography of the film was perfect. The grit and realism really fit. I was unsure going in about how the long closeups would work (I was worried it may come off as awkward) but they worked extremely well I thought (especially in IDAD). I also liked the dutch angles, which have been scrutinized a bit.

My main concern, and this may have just been my theater, was that the score was WAY too low. The actors' voices and sound effects overpowered it. Sometimes when the music was supposed to swell, it didn't. I guess it could be a director decision but I would think that would assist some of the untrained voices. Was this only my theater or have others noticed this?

It is a good companion of the stage production. Those that are expecting the same as the show are bound to be disappointed. It's a different flavor. I'm sure there will be times when I'll want to watch the film on DVD and then some times when I'd rather watch the TAC or 25th concerts.

Not that my opinion matters much but I'll give it 4.5 out of 5, although closer to a 5 then a 4.

Of course these are just my initial impressions; I maybe completely change my mind next time :P
Last edited by AndrewShatterhand on Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Mlle Patria » Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:31 am

Just a random question or two. What did you guys think of Valjean's new song, "Suddenly"? Personally I thought it was an interesting idea and really captured how much being responsible for Cosette and loving her changed Valjean. Also, how did you guys feel about some of the cuts made to the songs/ how some of the songs were rearranged? I had a minor freak out when they cut a huge part of ABC Cafe/Red and Black, but then I realized that it did help it flow better. However, I was not at all pleased with the huge cuts made to Drink With Me. I have always thought that was one of the most powerful songs and cutting out Grantaire singing the first verse took away a lot of the tension between him and Enjolras that would have made their deaths ten times better. Yet, I guess I understand that cuts must be made for time's sake and such. I'm just wondering if you guys had opinions on any cuts in particular.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby The Bricklayer » Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:27 am

Taelin wrote:I thought it was a pretty good marriage between the Brick and the musical. Some of the transitions were a bit awkward, but since I'm blinded by my Les Mis love right now, I'll let it slide. :lol:

Will write something more coherent when I've seen it more than once.
Agreed. I did love the way Javert put the medal on Gavroche. (It was the only part I almost cried during)
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby abbyreads » Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:33 am

Suddenly seemed pretty insignificant, which I think comes from the fact that because it's a new song, its melody (as far as I'm aware) isn't really present elsewhere. It could have been interesting if they had had Marius reprise it later, juxtaposing his and Cosette's relationship with Valjean and Cosette's relationship, like the whole In My Life/A Heart Full of Love thing.

Because I'm pretty familiar with the musical, the cuts/changes did kind of detract from my ability to appreciate the movie. I said to the people I saw it with that I would need to see it again to enjoy the film, being fully cognizant of the changes. In particular, moving Do You Hear the People Sing really got me. While it ended up being very powerful as they had it, because they had cut so much from Red and Black, I honestly was worried that they had cut the song entirely. I know it's irrelevant and dilatory to complain now because it was in there, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I agree with the previous poster re: Drink with Me. With the inclusion of Enjolras's and Grantaire's death, I was disappointed that they all but completely removed the significance of the song. (And if they wanted comic relief, why'd they take out the witty girls line?)

There were several little changes that just rubbed me the wrong way, it was generally because they didn't need to change them. A few times, they changed one lyric and not another, which is more a continuity issue than anything. I know they changed it because they thought it would work better on film, but it seemed unbalanced and clunky to me.

I do think these little changes really could've negatively impacted some parts. For example, I thought Aaron Tveit did a great job, but because Red and Black was cut nearly in half (no "Lamarque is Dead!") and Do You Hear the People Sing was made into an ensemble number, he and his character were significantly truncated.

Really, my only complaint beyond that is Russell Crowe. From the reviews I've read, people love his Javert or hate it, and I'm in the latter camp. His Stars wasn't enjoyable at all--the director wanted emotion, and I didn't really hear or see much of anything beyond Crowe hitting most of the notes in that or in his Soliloquy.

Hugh Jackman wasn't my favorite either, especially his Bring Him Home, but his redeeming moments managed to outweigh that which left me at times uneasy.

Anne Hathaway was great, and I think the best part about her performance was that she, unlike some of the other big names in the production, understood that acting and singing, and emphasizing the live singing did not necessitate randomly whispered/spoken words. While she did this, I feel as though she did it right whereas others did it simply in order to look like they were acting, to cover up a lack of emotion.

I think my favorite parts were the song Look Down--Gavroche's stanza about how they got rid of a king and now there's a king again was really striking, and Marius and Enjolras's part was really well done--and the part in the finale when the Bishop showed up. At first I wondered where Éponine was, and then I was psyched because seeing Colm Wilkinson's Bishop show up again was infinitely better.

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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Taelin » Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:40 am

I personally liked Suddenly, but it didn't make or break anything for me. We really got to see way Valjean was feeling at that time, which isn't apparent in the original musical.

Crowe's performance was sometimes made okay because of his acting, but other times, he just falls flat. In Stars, for example; it's one of my favourite songs and the cinematography was beautiful, but he just doesn't have the emotion. I really wished they found someone else to play this role, as Javert is one of my favourites.

I agree with the random lyric changes just for the sake of changing it were a bad choice. Some changes were good (cutting out the "they were schoolboys/never held a gun" because that's untrue), but some were just random.

I'm devestated that they cut out Grantaire's verse in Drink with Me. It was my favourite part of the song, and I personally felt that they could have cut into a bit of Marius' part to have time to sing Grantaire's part.

The Bishop coming back to bring Valjean to Heaven just broke me. I literally died in that moment. This was a change that I liked, as it never made any sense for Éponine to bring Valjean to Heaven. Sad that my favourite harmony part was cut out though. And then adding Éponine to the barricade at the end...my heart was just ripped out and stomped on!

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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Charlette-Ollie » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:16 am

I really need to see the film again before I make my mind up, but these are a couple of my first impressions:

First of all, put me in the Crowe-love camp. I completely was not expecting that, but from the moment he asked Valjean to remove him from his post, through Confrontation and taking off in Stars, I decided his Javert really worked for me. Maybe that's why I also didn't mind the medal-pinning scene. While I disagree with his comments about Javert's sadness at the students' deaths, I can believe Valjean's actions could have set Javert to thinking about the death of a little boy, especially one as lovable, smart and honest as Gavroche (Huttlestone is PERFECT). So it's taking liberties with Hugo's character, but I think Russell handles it well.

Speaking of good actors: Anne Hathaway. Completely believable. I had reservations about her pink dress before, because I thought it was just a lazy way to signpost her as a lead character, but in the absence of blonde hair it suggests her vanity and sets her further in opposition to the other factory women, whom I'd always found inexplicably cruel.

The runaway cart scene was a hundred times better. No "Look out, it's a runaway cart!" and awkward slow motion. Then bringing back Fauchelevent after the chase through Paris and the convent was enough to make me very happy with the film.

Do You Hear The People Sing? at the funeral was thrilling, I'm so glad they moved it. Actually, they did a great job rearranging the structure of the musical.

Okay: my main problems

When cutting down such a massive work, some things are bound to feel rushed (for me, the Bamatabois scene), but then there were moments where it just doesn't work: (1) When Éponine says "You see, I told you so, there's lots of things I know..." but IIRC they cut the "I know a lot of things, I do" line and nothing similar was added (2) Éponine screams, Valjean goes "Cosette!" and then he just stays in his room and assumes it's Javert.

And sometimes writing was in French, but sometimes it was in English?

I feel a little shortchanged by the Amis scenes: obviously a lot of great work was going on, but they just didn't get enough screen time, and Aaron didn't appeal to me as Enjolras. I guess I haven't made up my mind on this front yet, hopefully a second viewing will help.

Oh, and the Epilogue absolutely killed me. I could have drowned the cinema. So thank you, Les Misérables, for ruining my makeup, hahaha.

From MmeBahorel's review: "Sadly, M. Gillenormand is dressed as a bourgeois of 1832, not his crazy self, and he examines no one's ass, but one perhaps shouldn't get into distracting details like that in a film."

Oh, I was already over the moon he was even in the movie, I didn't think how awesome it would be with all the eccentricities he has in the Brick. I agree, it might be a bit much, but it would be fun!

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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:49 am

He's in the 1934 version (Ulkis uses him as an avatar on here). He's interviewing a new cook, makes her turn around for him, leers at her ass, then gives her her new name but pays her more than she was asking. All while dressed like it's still 1790. It is awesome. It would also be distracting as hell in this film - there's just so much to cover that M. Gillenormand as his proper self could never be properly explained (the French audience in 1934 probably understood immediately).

I went again on Christmas, obviously, and I still adore it. The barrel of powder! Fra is Distraught Man!

On Facebook, I'm friends with a lot of former cast members, and opinion is heavily split. I'm not naming names, but I've seen one who loved it, one who absolutely hated it, and one who thinks it was a decent job. And there's a total pile-on of other people who either didn't like it either or are taking that one person's opinion as gospel on the review of the person who hated it, which is kind of annoying me. This person has felt that the original productions dissolved into crap around the time of the 10th anniversary but kept their job for many years after that, so they have a very different perspective than I do, since I saw it only once pre-10th anniversary and with the guy this person considers the worst Marius ever - this may explain a lot.

But my fandom friends have generally been receiving it very favourably, which is a huge relief. At least everyone's being generally polite about it where I can see, but it's getting wanky as hell in theatre professional circles.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Rowerrunner » Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:14 am

You all brought up so many great points! To start off, I would give it somewhere around an A-. It was so, so good but there were definitely parts that could be improved upon. Some of the cuts made no sense to me, and just made the songs sound choppy. Others were fine, but if they made cuts out of time restraints, I don't understand why they added "Suddenly". I get that it gives more depth to the Valjean/Cosette relationship, but it didn't blow me away in the least. My least favorite cuts were those in "The Attack on Rue Plumet", because Montparnasse is my favorite (I internally screamed that one time we saw him in some vague detail) and both of his lines were cut out. That upset me a good bit. Beyond just me not getting to hear my most anticipated two lines of he movie, that song's cuts just seemed to make it so very abrupt. Maybe I was just over thinking it? I did actually like the changes in song order, though. It flowed nicely that way.

I was pleasantly surprised by Russell Crowe as Javert. He was definitely at a level below the other performers, but he held his own. The 25th Anniversary Javert has spoiled me, since he's my favorite (at least in terms of singing). The others were all great. Aaron Tveit and Eddie Redmayne definitely stole the show for me. I honestly don't understand why so much hype was around Anne Hathaway, since her part in the film is limited. She's not in that much of it, but she's magnificent when she is.

I'm not much of a crier, but I was tearing up throughout the film and when Gavroche does was when I cracked. From that point on I was trying SO hard not to sob. And then Enjolras dying with Grantaire and hanging out the window? That KILLED me. I need to see it again when I get a chance, but this was my preliminary reaction.


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