Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Go on about how awful the movie adaptations were here.
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Gervais
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Gervais » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:59 pm

That's true, I guess. :wink: And agreed. They didn't even try to make her a dirty street girl there, and her version of OMO in the film fits parts of her character much better than the concert version, I agree.
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Acaila
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:29 pm

I just realised today.....Éponine actually taking a bullet for Marius isn't in the stage show :shock:
(sometimes I can be very dim!)
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:53 pm

A properly-fitting corset shouldn't do too much to restrict your rib cage - really shouldn't have any ill effect on breathing and may actually assist in diaphragm support. What it should do is round out your waist and push your belly fat into your hips.

I think it looks the way it does because Sam is skinny as heck and they're not really putting anything on top of the corset - between undergarments and petticoats and dress, you'll add some noticeable bulk over the top (this is part of why you'll usually see a bunch of hip padding or hoops or something - adding the illusion of an even smaller waist since you're putting at least two more layers of fabric over the top of that corset).
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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That-Poor-Tyrant
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby That-Poor-Tyrant » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:21 am

*slinks into the forum

Apologies in advance for a lot of unstructured rambling. I saw the film about a month ago, and I guess it’s been sort of stewing about in my brain and now I have to get some of this out of my system.

Personally, I find that one of the chief characteristics of both the book and the musical is the tendency towards abstraction. In the book this results from Victor Hugo’s presence as the narrator and his ability to weave historical and philosophical digressions into the narrative, even using these to replace time and space. The musical, while unable to embrace this particular mode of abstraction, approaches the possibility of creating a comparable sentiment. Consider the example of Valjean’s flight from the Bishop’s house. The scene is a monologue in which Valjean totters along the fourth wall- it is a retrospective that has been also dislocated from its reflective context and retuned to the moment of the object of its reflection. The theatrical space, which has been maintained according to a minimalist aesthetic, allows not only for the proliferation of a multitude of spaces- whether physical, temporal, or psychological- but also permits the audience to freely project onto the scene its own varied understandings and immediate interpretations of the text playing out before it.

I understand that the cinema aims more for realism, but I was worried that the realism would clash with the musical medium- the mode of singing is so unrealistic and stands contrary to what one might expect of a film. That is not to say that a film should necessarily mimic reality, but oftentimes the medium is used to disguise its own limits and so neglects the potential for abstraction. Vertov, as a very simple and classic example, challenges such notions of cinema. Feeling it to be too restricted by storytelling, he seeks to show its capabilities when it is divorced from storytelling. Obviously, one cannot divorce Les Misérables from storytelling, but the clash of the two media seems a means by which all of the tensions will be fully manifested and magnified.

While watching the film, I felt that the sort of Dutch angles and excessive use of close-ups was Hooper’s way of trying to enforce some mode of abstraction on us. In so many films the spectator expects an immersive experience in which the self is forgotten and the images and story combined can momentarily replace reality. Normal angles and sweeping views help the spectator imagine the realistic potential of the film. The use of disorienting angles and the prevention of the spectator from seeing the full scope of the world he created allowed Hooper to forcefully separate the viewer from the images and the music. The result is that the viewer must remain hyper-aware of his state as such, in the way that viewers are aware of their separation from a painting or a sculpture. This invites the viewer to treat the film as an art object to be subjected to analysis and criticism similar to that which would be given to any other art object.

Taking this into consideration, I move to the idea of the close-ups. Given the spectator’s distance from the action, it happens that the director then relies very heavily upon the showstoppers. That is to say that numbers such as "At the End of the Day" and "Look Down" are there to move the plot along, but not to be appreciated in and of themselves. As a result, these felt rushed to the point of being almost disorienting. However, in the end it seemed that they existed almost only as a means of establishing a hypothetical circumstance in which the true experiences of the human condition can be evoked and put on display. These experiences are of course the big numbers, like "I Dreamed a Dream" or "Bring Him Home". The focus on the face is an extra layer of establishing some sense of humanity and trying to reconcile the abstraction state of human emotion with a visual motif.

Ultimately Hooper is relying on the viewer’s ability to critically observe the scene and to consider it in relation to the poetry of the lyrics.

I must say that I admire Hooper's strategy of making the film an “art piece” rather than an immersive experience: it creates a level of abstraction analogous to both the book and musical. However, I have always had some reservations about Kretzmer’s lyrics. I am sad to say it, but somehow the songs like “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Stars” never really did it for me- they don’t capture the intense and complex nature of the characters and their situations. However I personally find that the sort of strange self-referential moments like the Soliloquy or Valjean’s part in the finale seem to better capture that those aspects. Thus, by stripping it down to poetry (and removing those self-referential moments) it felt less satisfactory to me. I wonder if the James Fenton lyrics had prevailed, would the film have worked better?

It was a very good effort overall, but one that did not quite work for me. I admire the attempt to present us with a work that was thoroughly human and psychological in nature, but personally I love Les Misérables best for its political, social, and philosophical contexts, which were largely absent from the film. For a number of other reasons that I shall not detail here, the film did not feel entirely like Les Misérables to me.

On a positive note, Eddie Redmayne totally rocked as Marius and Hadley Fraser was a total scene-stealer. Some of the Brick nods were also quite nice. The Bishop at the end got a tear out of me.

Ok. I’m done.
*slinks back into the shadows

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Acaila
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:32 am

Aww, you can stay out if you like Slinky :D Big interesting posts like that are fun!
I do agree with you that one of the big challenges was bringing something quite "abstract" as you put it to a realistic medium. Considering that the film is not a million miles away in its adaptation from the musical, it's been really interesting to see people commenting on how some things appear silly on film that don't appear silly on stage (Marius and Cosette falling in love is one that is often cited). Makes me love theatre all the more personally, but I've always hated naturalism :D. Your point that the stage show is minimalist is also something I think a lot of people forget (and the effectiveness of it is something I really love). I really enjoyed some of the non-realistic movement, things like the letter grabbing in the factory scene. There were little touches here and there that made it seem like it wasn't just realistic staging with singing over the top, but nothing forceful enough that it would disrupt the expectations of a film audience.
I don't know so much about the Dutch angles - some people have said that Hooper's work features them a lot? - not having seen his other work. But I liked his comment that the close ups are a reflection that the soliloquies (not just the two that are called that, I mean all the solos which are in that style) aren't really affected by where they are set, the setting is of little relevance to the actual song. And that once that is realised, what's the point in showing that when you could be focusing on the effect that watching it close up and seeing the detail of the acting can bring. I certainly think this works in some numbers at least - I really rather liked Valjean's Soliloquoy. I also think that those complaining about it have really been conditioned into the way that modern blockbuster cinema is filmed and edited, invariably in the same way with little attempt at a new art or anything non-naturalist. I don't know so much that the effect is to alienate the viewer and get them to view it as art rather than immersing them. Or, if it is, that it is not negated by the rest of the film. I mean....it's still Les Mis and is pretty darn immersive to go by how a new audience sees it or it wouldn't have the same emotional effect. I think anyway...I mean, I've seen people cry over the very memory of Mother Courage, which is obviously pretty alienating.
I think your point about the showstoppers vs the ensemble numbers is probably correct, though I'd also add in the running time factor likely being involved in that decision too.
Though I have to disagree with you on I Dreamed a Dream and Stars, since they are possibly my two favourites. I was just listening to J'Avais Reve D'un Autre Vie the other day and thinking "my goodness the English lyrics are far better!" :D
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"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
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That-Poor-Tyrant
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby That-Poor-Tyrant » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:09 am

Hm. I would just like to clarify that by "alienation of the spectator" I don't mean to imply that that would impede the possibility of an emotional response to the work. On the contrary, I think that immersion and alienation are simply two different means by which one can access a very similar set of possibilities. Certainly, we are very accustomed to having a deeply emotional response when confronted with a Delacroix or a Géricault, for example, (or a play by Brecht as you mentioned) but at the same time we are still aware of our distance from the work- whether that means from the physical reality of the world it portrays or the historical/political/social/etc context it suggests. The difference is only that with alienation, one is somewhat more aware of his/her relationship to the work and is more likely to approach it with a critical eye. Immersion, I feel, is more about the immediacy of the senses- and this would be epitomized by typical blockbuster cinema.
But yeah, the French lyrics can be pretty awkward.
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Acaila
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:49 am

Well some people say that alienation either doesn't stop or even encourages an emotional response to the work. I've only really got the experiences of others to go on for that, because it's not really so much my cup of tea, but I'm certainly not saying it does impede an emotional response. And singing is one technique of alienation. But for me, especially because it's through sung (even if the movie isn't *quite*), you accept that pretty early on and it's just part of the suspension of disbelief. I guess it comes down to what causes the emotional response in Les Mis. And there is a very interesting question :D
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
Abaisse Chief/Chef
"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
Sings Stars "way better than Russel Crowe"

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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Majestic_Picnob » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:20 am

Say, random question, I know, but regarding one of the film's more "interesting" scenes... does anyone here know if Saint Nicholas was commonly referred to as "Santa" back then? The all-knowing Wiki says the oldest known use of the name was from 1774, making its use here technically correct, but that was from America, and I got the impression the name didn't migrate to Europe by and large until well after that.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Trompe-la-Mort » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:07 pm

A bit difficult to answer... Of course, in France, even today nobody would refer to him as "Santa". The French word is "Père Noël" (Literally "Father Christmas") and the first recorded usage of that is 1855 by none other than George Sand. Before, however, one said "Bonhomme de Noël", at least according to wiki. Saint Nicholas bringing presents to children is a much older custom that started in the middle ages, but I don't know how popular it was in France. In Les Mis, it's said that a fairy puts money into children's shoes, not Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas.
The tradition of people dressing up as Santa and children sitting on their laps telling him what they want for Christmas is to my knowledge both newer and inexistent in most non-English-speaking countries.
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ancslove
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby ancslove » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:12 pm

The "Oh, Santa!" was a bit jarring because Tom Hooper wouldn't use Santa naturally, either. And I think his whole creative team were overwhelming British, too, and the actress' accent also sounded British. It was the biggest pandering to America in the movie, and it just seemed off.

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Acaila
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:58 pm

We call him Santa in the UK. It's may not quite so historical, but I always got presents from Santa Claus.
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
Abaisse Chief/Chef
"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
Sings Stars "way better than Russel Crowe"

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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby ancslove » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:43 am

Really? I didn't know that. All my family and friends there say Father Christmas.

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Acaila
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:25 am

Yeah, I think some people will vary due to family tradition, but Santa is more common.
And now all the British folk on my skype contact list are very confused as to why I've just asked them "who is the guy in the red and white suit who brings you presents on the 25th of december?" :lol: (Santa Claus being the unanimous answer so far)
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
Abaisse Chief/Chef
"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
Sings Stars "way better than Russel Crowe"

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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Majestic_Picnob » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:43 am

Did a bit more digging, and apparently people did dress up as St. Nick in France, albeit on his feast day (December 6) rather than Christmas. The costume in the film seems to resemble a Dutch St. Nick costume, but then again I've never seen a French one so it could be accurate for all I know.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Enjolvert » Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:32 am

I don't know my history on Santa in France, but I know that it's common here anyway. The odd person may know him as Father Christmas, but the American influence has caused Santa Claus to be a lot more common now.
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