Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Les Mis Rountable

Quentin, Jason, and Jake sat down to hash out how they really felt about the musical extravaganza, Les Miserables.

Jake McAlister: Who’s running this thing?

Quentin Walsh: I am.

Jason Walsh: Says who?

Quentin: Says Brad. Since I already wrote a review for The Hobbit, he told me I’m in charge. Besides, everyone knows I’m his favorite.

Jason: That is so not true.

Jake: Would you two stop it? We’re here to talk about a movie.

Jason: Yeah. I saw that dude’s comment about Lincoln. He kind of schooled you, Q.

Quentin: I enjoy a healthy debate. Let’s start with general reactions. Jake, you go first, since you’re the resident filmmaker.

Jake: I had problems with it. I don’t know what happened, but the first part was so boring. And I didn’t have that reaction when my mom and dad took me to see the stage version. Hugh Jackman was overwrought. And why did he look like the homeless guys who live under I-35? They had trench coats back in Valjean’s day? But then, when we got to Marius and his bros, my whole attitude changed. I thought Eddie Redmayne was perfect.

Jason: Neh. I thought he could have butched it up.

Jake: What?

Jason: Just a little. And the guy who played Enjolras needed to be hotter.

Jake: Well, I agree with that. But you’re wrong about Eddie. He nailed it.

Jason: Do you have a boy crush on him?

Jake: No. I have a boy crush on you.

Quentin: Jesus, would you two take it off camera, please?

Jason: Can I go next?

Quentin: Yes.

Jason: I had fewer problems than Jake. Anne Hathaway was not boring. Her take on “I Dreamed a Dream” broke my heart. And Hugh Jackman totally delivered vocally. That is not an easy role to sing, and you have to give him props for pulling it off.

Jake: But physically, he was all wrong.

Quentin: I agree. When we saw it in New York, the guy who played Valjean was like five-foot nine and weighed two hundred pounds. That’s Valjean to me. He’s a mule. But Jackman is too much of a unicorn.

Jason: That is so offensive.

Quentin: Why? A unicorn is a prissy horse. The analogy is appropriate. You can put all the mud and shit you want on top of his head, but he’s still a little on the light side.

Jason: Seriously? He’s Wolverine, for Christ’s sake.

Quentin: For Valjean. He’s a little on the light side for Valjean. That’s all I’m saying. Don’t get all soapboxy on me.

Jason: My biggest problem with the movie was the constant shift in tone. On stage, it was all theatrical. It worked. It made sense. But Tom Hooper insists on these moments of almost slice-of-life realism, and then he has to pull back the camera for a big splashy chorus number. I mean, how do you reconcile Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter’s performances in the same movie? They are from completely different worlds.

Quentin: That’s postmodernism.

Jason: Then I’m a modernist, I guess.

Quentin: That’s okay. Dad was a modernist, too.

Jake: I really hated the way Hooper shot all the solo numbers in close up. I kept thinking, “Pull back the camera and let me see the whole performance.” Especially with “On My Own.” God, I wanted to see her sing the shit out of that song.

Jason: Okay, Q. It’s time for your general impressions.

Quentin: I’m the straight guy here. You know what I’m going to say.

Jake: Oh no, you’re not.

Jason: Yes, he is.

Quentin: Why are they singing?

Jason and Jake: <groaning sounds>

Quentin: I’m sorry, but I can’t get past it. Not in a movie. Do I forget about it sometimes when the story gets good? Sure. And I agree with Jason. It works on stage. I missed the revolving turntable. I wanted them to come off the screen and tell the story right in front of me. That’s what Les Mis is to me. As soon as those prisoners started singing in actual waist-deep water, I said to myself, “I’m in trouble.” And I use Hooper’s style as proof that he has a problem with it, too. He’s constantly trying to bring these songs down to a conversational level. He’s uncomfortable with his own material.

Jake: And great songs got butchered in the process. This was supposed to be the “I Dreamed a Dream” of record. If this was someone’s first exposure to Les Mis, they wouldn’t even know it’s a great show tune. If it’s okay with you guys, I’m adding a link to Patti LuPone’s original version. Just to remind people of what it’s supposed to sound like.

Quentin: I also can’t get past the ridiculous premise. He steals a loaf of bread, serves nineteen years, and then Javert makes it his life purpose to hunt him down because he broke parole? As Travis would say, "Didn't make no sense to me."

Jason and Jake: <looked at each other and smiled>

Quentin: What?

Jason: Javert is in love with Valjean.

Jake: He totally wants to bang him. That’s why the obsession.

Quentin: I’m going to have to process that. In the meantime, let’s talk about what we liked.

Jake: Marius.

Quentin: What about Cosette?

Jason: She sounded like the Good Witch of the North.

Jake: Way too much vibrato.

Jason: Samantha Barks was cookie cutter Eponine, but her sweet death-scene duet with Marius was the first place I cried.

Jake: Her “On My Own” was not one for the ages, but that wasn't her fault. And I have never liked Cosette.

Quentin: Can we all agree we liked the frat boys?

Jason: Yes. “Do You Hear the People Sing?” is still the high point. But the actual battle looked silly.

Jake: Too much like Saving Private Ryan.

Jason: The scene where Jeremy Davies is in that abandoned building?

Jake: Yes.

Jason: That’s what it reminded me of, too.

Jake: Great minds.

Jason: The rest of the time I thought I was watching Oliver. Who knew there was so much Cockney in Paris?

Quentin: Did you notice the woman sitting next to us? She started crying at the beginning, and never stopped.

Jason: It’s that kind of story for some people. And the emotions are literally embedded in those melodies. So as soon as people hear the strings start to play, the waterworks begin.

Jake: It’s just like me and Dead Poets Society. As soon as they walk up to that trophy case and Robin Williams says, “Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary,” well, I break down right there.

Jason: I have such a sensitive boyfriend.  What did Dakota think?

Quentin: She thought it was one of the best movies she’s ever seen.

Jake: We really need to get her to watch more movies.

Quentin: I think we can all probably agree on one more thing. The worst performance by an actor goes to…

All three together: Russell Crowe!

Jake: I could find a better Javert at McCallum High School.

Jason: You know who would make a great Javert?

Quentin: Who?

Jason: Ben.

Jake: He would make a good Marius, too.

Quentin: Does that make Travis Cosette or Eponine?

Jason: Travis is totally Eponine. Can’t you see him up in Alaska, singing “On My Own” on a boat at three in the morning?

Quentin: He’s going to read that, you know.

Jason: Travis doesn’t read this blog.

Quentin: He will now.

"I Dreamed a Dream" sung by Patti LuPone

"Carpe Diem" from Dead Poets Society

NEXT WEEK: The boys take on Django Unchained. Expect a lovefest.

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