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December 11, 2012

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Tony Dayoub

My wife and I just watched it. She loved it as much as she loved TITANIC (which should tell you something right there). I liked it just a bit more than you did (but decidedly less than her). The cinematography didn't bother me as all of the movement seemed to "open it up" from its stage incarnation. Hathaway's performance is the first I've ever seen where an actor sews up an Oscar win in one unedited take. She really sang the shit out of "I Dream a Dream."

But Crowe was as wooden as you said, and like you, I prefer musicals of the Donen/Minnelli kind. I just don't see how poverty and revolution can successfully fuel a musical, but hey, it's LES MIS, so what do I know?

c.t.c.h.

"the music is by Claude-Michel Schönberg, no relation whatsoever to the 12-tone guy."

Maybe just my taste, but one of your funniest jokes.

David Ehrenstein

"Will you join in our crusade?" may well win a LOT of converts. Fascinating that your wife compared it to "Titanic," Tony, as I thought the very same thing. This is Epic Emotional Cinema at its most shamelessly overwhelming. Being an Orthodox Sondheimian I've never much cared for this show either. But when its put across with such insistent force and flair there's no point in trying to put up any form of resistence.

Supreme Numbers-Cruncher Nate Silver has just declared it the front-runner for the Oscar, and I think he's right. High school history teachers love "Lincoln" -- but few other mortals. "Zero Dark Thirty," "Argo," and "Silver Linings Playbook" are highly likely to be recognized. But the Academy always ranks "The Heart" above "The Head."

lazarus

...except when they don't.

No Country For Old Men wasn't a "heart" movie, esp. compared to its some of its competitors.

Nor was The Hurt Locker.

Nor was The Departed.

LondonLee

'The Departed' win was definitely a "heart" vote for Scorsese.

Olaf

Whatever one thinks of "Les Miz", it should be recognized as one of the bravest films to be released this year; brave, because it dares to combine and to be sincere about the two film genres that are most easily ridiculed: the film musical and the melodrama.

Both thrive on open emotionalism and because of that and because both are persistently as well as haughtily categorized as 'female' (and, by extension, as 'gay')genres, they seem to make a lot of critics, especially male ones, really uncomfortable. They can deal with the satirical "Hairspray" or the cynical "Chicago", but the we-are-not-apologizing-for-singing-our-hearts-out sincerity of "Les Miz" is clearly one step too far: it is "uncool'.

That the film dares not to water down that emotionalism (most of which actually comes out of Hugo's novel, which uses melodrama in the same way as Dickens' "Oliver Twist" or "David Copperfield", to make social commentary palatable) partly explains those harsh, clever-clever, I-am-so-witty reviews the film has received: its oversized emotions, so easy to laugh off anyway, are denigrated as "pompous", "a bad case of grandiosity", etc.

It's also instructive to compare this critical reaction to the inevitable cheers for "Django Unchained":
You won't find many sneery reviews that make fun of that movie - like all of Tarantino's films, it carries its postmodern ironic detachment like a protective shield that makes taking the piss ouf of it rather difficult. And god, it's 'cool' - and critics want to be 'cool' as well, so they spend hours looking for shots that Tarantino might have ripped off from "Beach Bimbos from Mars" or other "cult films" to be in on the joke. It's rather dispiriting how many critics freely admit that they have never read the novel "Les Misérables". None of these reviewers would dare write about "Django Unchained" without first checking out the original "Django".

Another explanation why especially US reviewers don't know what to make of "Les Miz" is that it doesn't have any use for the kind of sophisticated wit the best American musicals have in abundance. In that respect it is very much a French/British musical; yet it doesn't try to beat Cole Porter or Stephen Sondheim at their own game and then fails - it's simply an entirely different understanding of the form "musical theatre". (And no, Americans did neither invent nor perfect the musical, not even the film musical - all they did was invent and perfect certain sub-genres.)

P.S.: David - Sondheim himself has admitted several times that he is a big "Les Miz" fan; he may think it's a bad musical (how could he not? The show ignores most of the conventions he himself so fervently follows), but he still loves it...

Pete Apruzzese

This tri-state area resident recognizes the inspiration for your headline - top marks! Now you need to figure out how to incorporate "His prices are in...sane!" in your headline for "Django Unchained."

Tony Dayoub

@Olaf

Bad form to take down a movie based on "inevitable cheers" vs. actual ones in order to prop another film up. Especially since I hear that even the coolcritz have some problems with QT this time.

@David E.

No argument from me. I predict LES MIS is the one to beat this year too since ZDT ran into some controversy. Doesn't matter to me since my top three thus far--AMOUR, HOLY MOTORS and THE MASTER--aren't even in the running.

Olaf

@Tony
My "take down" (if you want to call it that) of "Django Unchained" w a s based on "actual cheers" (by the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, The Guardian among others) that merely confirmed what I had expected to happen all along.

David Ehrenstein

"they seem to make a lot of critics, especially male ones, really uncomfortable."

Especially STRAIGHT male ones.

"It's also instructive to compare this critical reaction to the inevitable cheers for "Django Unchained":
You won't find many sneery reviews that make fun of that movie - like all of Tarantino's films, it carries its postmodern ironic detachment like a protective shield that makes taking the piss ouf of it rather difficult."

Oh not really. It's just more "postmodern" retro nonsense, revamping 70's blackspoitation flicks for the delectation of "hip" fanboys (QTs primary audience.)

If your looking for a serious film about slavery see "Mandingo."

Bettencourt

I don't think it's fair to say that "few other mortals" besides high school history teachers love LINCOLN, considering it's already made $108 million in the U.S. and during the weekend just ending it had slightly higher grosses than SKYFALL.

However, I do think LES MIS has a better shot at Best Picture right now than LINCOLN, unless it tanks at the box-office which seems unlikely.

I wasn't bothered so much by Tom Hooper's camera style as by the editing, which was frequently much too fast and at a rhythm which totally ignored the rhythm of the music, which seems an odd stylistic choice for a through-sung musical.

Partisan

Norman Jewison and Sidney Lumet aren't the most admired directors of the day, but having seen LES MISERABLES last night, I respect JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and THE WIZ a lot more.

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