Les Miserables

jawajohnnyjawajohnny Website User Posts: 143
edited May 2012 in General
In the "Baz Luhrman's THE GREAT GATSBY" topic, Andrew said, "There goes Best Picture."
I counter... with Tom Hooper's Les Miserables.

Now this is how you edit a movie trailer. This looks absolutely amazing. Having seen the musical live twice before, this was already one of my most anticipated films of the year... but trailer just gave me chills. More so than The Great Gatsby, this is the movie that will have to do a lot to fail. The cast alone is freaking fantastic: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, and newcomer Samantha Barks. Big props to Tom Hooper and the casting directors here... as it sure looks like each actor is spot-on for their role.
Now I know the trailer features only a short snippet of her big powerhouse song... but Anne Hathaway just erased any doubts I had in her singing ability. Seriously... she sounds that good. It's been reported that all the songs featured in the film were filmed live on set... and will not be dubbed in with any studio-recorded or digitally altered takes. You can definitely hear it in Hathaway's track... just listen to that raw emotional power. The live singing is really going to make the film, I think.
Visually, this looks just like the sweeping epic it should be. Excellent, excellent stuff.
Now I'm not the biggest fan of musical theater, but I've seen Les Mis twice in Boston... and it's easily my favorite musical. The songs are ridiculously powerful --- putting most other musicals to shame. If Tom Hooper and cast do their jobs... my eyes won't be dry by the end of this one.
I'm going to call it now: Best Picture. Best Actress. And possibly a Best Actor for Hugh Jackman... although we haven't heard him sing yet. Still, a nomination is a given... and I think he's a very safe bet to win.


  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited May 2012
    Meh, from me.
    While I can appreciate musicals on the stage, and think its a fantastic artform, (one of my dear friends and an actress in a few of our projects, Elizabeth Judd, is actually starring as Mary Jane in the Broadway production 'Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, and headlined the lead role in the Broadway tour of Spring Awakening last year- very proud to know her!) I find it limiting and lacking in bravado and 'power' to me in the film medium- and have never understood why the likes of Chicago garnered such Oscar worth. Anne Hathaway is spectacular in this trailer, alone, obviously- but it seems otherwise like a generic period piece/musical genre-blend to me.
    I'm familiar with the original material, and think Tom Hooper was an astute choice to direct- but something about the cinematic language feels sloppy to me. Like its lacking in an economy of shots- or maybe too many shits are just too close-in and fisheye-low on the actors.
    Either way, I was sort of disappointed by the trailer. I have high-praise for the cast involved- and I really am happy Hugh Jackman can bring his musical theatrics and voice to the big screen finally- but that doesn't quite make it 'huge anticipation movie' material for me.
    Looks so-so. We'll see. I've been fooled by musicals with grandeur and big promise before (see below), watched anticipations drop nearing the release of others (does anyone remember the initial Best a picture talk surrounding a Meryl Streep/Pierce Brosnan version of Mama Mia? 'It HAD to win!' and how quickly did that sentiment sour?), and just plain not understood the hooplah between others. (I'm looking at you, Chicago.)

    And while we're on the subject- did anyone else remember that American Idol loser Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar? What a trip. Musicals: Fantastic and powerful in the right setting. Utterly perplexing and maddening elsewhere.
  • SketchWorkSketchWork Website User Posts: 127
    I too am really looking forward to this - I've seen the stage show about 4 times at London's West End and I love it.
    Fingers crossed - don't let me down :)
  • AculagAculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    edited May 2012
    I've see the stage show numerous times, and for me, this was really good until Hathaway gets to the word "seems", which she just fizzles out on. That line ought to be belted. Kinda loses some steam knowing that we pretty much heard the extent of her range in that trailer. Not very impressed, honestly. I'm also really not sold on Jackman as Valjean...
    I dunno, it looks nice, and I'm sure it'll be fine, but nothing about it is that appealing to me. Meh. Plus, we've seen this film already, like 10 years ago, it just wasn't a musical.
  • jawajohnnyjawajohnny Website User Posts: 143
    edited January 2013
    Best movie I've seen so far this year.
    It's a sweeping, epic, and powerful adaptation of the stage verison... and it easily ranks as one of, if not the most emotional experiences I've had at the theater. I'm not going to lie... I was in tears throughout the movie. I've seen the stage version twice, but I honestly think the film surpasses it.
    Tom Hooper shot the movie in the absolute perfect way --- the singing was captured live on set and framed in continuous tight close ups. Most of the solos are presented in single takes, with hardly any cutting. The results are nothing short of breathtaking. There is no studio dubbing, autotune, awkward choreography, or otherwise any sort of artificial "stitching together" that plague virtually all other musicals. No... every second, every frame of Les Misérables feels completely genuine. Okay... to be fair, there is apparently a bit of ADR used in the opening scene because the salt water wreaked havoc on the actors' microphones... but that's it.
    As for the acting/singing... all I have to say is... wow. Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Samantha Barks all give some of the greatest performances I have ever, ever seen on screen.
    Jackman literally is Jean Valjean, physically and thematically. He might not be as pure a singer as Colm Wilkinson (the original stage Valjean --- and the bishop in the film), but he lives and breathes the role. Well deserving of a Best Actor nomination.
    Anne Hathaway’s solo, “I Dreamed a Dream”, is sung over a single four minute close-up, and she completely knocks it out of the park. It’s quite possibly the most emotionally powerful performance I’ve ever seen. Actually, I dare to say that it’s the best performance I’ve seen in any movie, period. Best Supporting Actress is a one-woman race this year.
    Almost as captivating, is Samantha Barks, in her film debut as Eponine. She’s definitely a scene-stealer in the second half of the film. Her rendition of “On My Own” is easily the best I’ve seen, vocally and emotionally. I really think she deserves an Oscar nomination along with Hathaway (who is a given).
    Everyone else performs admirably as well. A quick rundown:
    Russell Crowe is the weakest singer in the cast, but I really dig his overall “performance” as Inspector Javert. He brings this raw power and gravitas that no one on stage has come close to matching. Just look at his eyes throughout the entire film. He’s not a bad singer, either… in fact I think his singing style perfectly fits the character.
    Amanda Seyfried is a fine singer, but she’s given the least to do. I’ve always thought of the adult Cosette as a plot point, rather than an actual character. She’s just there.
    Eddie Redmayne is excellent as Marius… although I think his big solo “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” lacks the emotional punch it has on stage. This isn’t his fault… it’s the absence of any visual callback to the people he’s singing to. On stage, all of his dead friends come out and silently fill the room he’s singing in. In the film, he’s literally singing to an empty room. I would have liked to see a brief flashback of his friends… or something to pack a bit more emotional punch. That’s probably my biggest complaint of the movie.
    Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are perfect as Mr. and Mrs. Thenardiér… providing the much-needed comic relief. I’ve noticed some people complaining that they don’t do enough with their roles… but I’m actually glad they didn’t go maniacally over-the-top Tim Burton-style. That would have been a major distraction, I think.
    Finally, I was also blown away by the two youngsters, Isabelle Allen (child Cosette) and Daniel Huttlestone (Gavroche). Both are scene-stealers.
    Finally, I really liked all of the changes Hooper made in adapting from stage to film. I was incredibly pissed when the Café “Red and Black” scene ended without transitioning into the showstopper (and my personal favorite) “Do You Hear the People Sing”… but saving it for Lamarque’s funeral was a stroke of genius. It works really well in setting up for the rebellion that begins immediately after. Yes, it comes right after the other showstopper, “One Day More”, but they’re staged differently enough so it doesn’t feel redundant at all.
    So yeah... Les Mis lives up to and surpasses the hype. It's a stunningly epic movie that does complete and utter justice to the stage version, while also breaking musical and cinematic ground. It’s not like any other movie musical. It never feels staged, hokey, or gimmicky in any way. It’s just a **** good movie filled with amazing performances, production design… and of course, great, memorable music.
    I don't care if you don't like musicals. I dare you to go see it and NOT like it. I dare you to go see it and NOT like it. I dare you to go see it and not be moved.
    I’ve yet to see Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook (not yet playing in my area), but so far, Les Misérables is my pick for Best Movie of the Year. 10/10.
  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
    I'm still looking forward to seeing this, but I'm not really a fan of the original musical. It has a few great songs, but most of the score for Les Miserables, to me, feels like the music and the lyrics were written by two separate people who didn't communicate at all, and then once finished, they took their separate results and wedged them together to try make it work. Most of the time it feels less like songs than it does like someone trying to cram a bunch of words in while some music plays.
    That being said, I do still enjoy watching it from time to time, and am really looking forward to the movie. The story is brilliant, and I quite enjoyed the book. But as a musical, it just doesn't rank that high, as far as I'm concerned. Though to be honest, there aren't a lot of stage musicals I've seen, probably less than a dozen altogether.
  • AculagAculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    edited January 2013
    Most of the time it feels less like songs than it does like someone trying to cram a bunch of words in while some music plays.
    This is actually one of the things I love about the show. It's sort of like an opera, where you have characters conversing melodically, but their singing isn't necessarily a "song". For example, any time Valjean is confronted by Javert, it's very conversational.
    I'm planning on seeing it, but aside from Johnny here, I haven't heard any positive praise from folks who are familiar with the stage production. The casting still baffles me entirely, and as a singer, and a fan of the show (it's actually part of the reason I started singing in the first place), I know the singing is going to bother me a lot in places. Trepidation.
  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
    Why does the casting baffle you entirely? I can see some of the choices baffling you, perhaps, but Jackman spent years on the stage singing before he ever got into film, and is a fantastic actor, Samantha Barks is coming straight from the stage version, and Anne Hathaway is both an excellent actress and an amazing singer. Why does the casting baffle you?
    I get the concept behind the conversational style, but I'm of the thought that if you aren't going to actually make it a song, why bother having it be a musical? It just ends up feeling like they had a song in mind when they started, but opted to sacrifice the melody and rhythm to get the lyrics in. But still, while its not an artistic decision I would have made, I do understand and appreciate the thought behind it.
  • AculagAculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    edited January 2013
    It baffles me because I don't think Anne Hathaway is an amazing singer, nor Russel Crowe, nor Hugh Jackman. It seems like they were chosen because people know who they are, and not because they were perfect for the parts. I'd rather see complete nobodies who can 100% nail the music than established actors who can do it 90%, but that's not going to draw an audience to a movie theater.
    I suppose I shouldn't have said "entirely", since there are some good casting choices. It's mostly those three. Just based on the singing in the trailer, it seems to me that these were not the right people for the job. This is of course just based on the trailer, so I could be completely blown away by the performances, but like I said, since I know the production, and know how it sounds at its absolute best, I know I'll be disappointed, even if it's just bias. I'm sure the acting is just fine, as they're all fine actors, but for me, the singing is going to be what I judge the performances on. Maybe I'll be blown away. No idea.
  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
    edited January 2013
    Yeah, fair enough. I'd imagine that having experienced film actors would be somewhat critical with the approach they took, though, as the long takes make being familiar with cameras and hitting your marks pretty important. And of course stage acting and acting for camera are very different things. So while the singing is very important, there are other equally important things to consider when casting for a film. I think being perfect for the part on stage and on film require different skill sets, but like you, I'm waiting to see it to judge how well they actually do. And I'm not familiar enough with the stage version to be attached to any particular performance of the songs, so I'll be judging the performances on their own merit, rather than holding them up to a previous standard, like you will since you are more familiar with the production.
    Though the casting that most baffles me is Amanda Seyfried, who I've never seen in anything where I didn't leave with the feeling that another actress could have done better.
    EDIT: After posting this, I realized it could come off sounding like an "I'm looking at it with an open mind, while you aren't" type attitude, which isn't what I meant. I just meant we will have different perspectives when watching it and evaluating the performances.
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    I don't think Hugh Jackman ever gets the credit he deserves for his abilities when it comes to acting or singing.
    @Aculag... complete nobodies have to be beyond amazing to sell even close to the same tickets. Big name actors sell seats.
  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
    I think that's the point Aculag was making, Michael; that the actors involved were chosen as much for their famousness as they were for their ability to deliver the roles. Which is a shame.
  • jawajohnnyjawajohnny Website User Posts: 143
    edited January 2013
    Guys... this is a movie. The actors not only have to embody their roles vocally... but emotionally and physically as well. The people who play Jean Valjean on stage are not "actors". They are "singers". Sure they can sing the songs wonderfully, but none of them have the physicality or the acting ability required for the screen. On stage, it's all about projecting the emotions and belting out the songs so they'll reach to the back of the theater. And physically, all they have to do is throw on a costume and some makeup. On film, actors have to emote with a certain level of subtlety... and they have to look 100% believable in the part. This is where someone like Hugh Jackman comes in. He can act, he can sing, and being Wolverine, he is appropriately built for the role. Is he as great a singer as say... Colm Wilkinson (the original stage Valjean, who plays the Bishop in the movie)? No, of course not, but he's still a very good singer. His takes on the songs aren't the definitive versions by any means (again, that would be Colm Wilkinson).. but I don't think anyone could have played Valjean better on film.
    Anne Hathaway wasn't cast just because she was "famous", either. In fact, the producers were extremely reluctant to cast her in the film at all... because they thought she was too young to be Fantine, and too old to be Eponine or Cosette. She practically had to beg to get an audition, and she ultimately won everyone over. Now about her version of "I Dreamed a Dream". It's not the theater version. She's not belting out every verse to the back row. No, she's singing it within the context of the film. Her character is beaten and broken down, so she sings it as such... through pain and tears. The performance is a thing of beauty, and unbelievably moving. It's not the "pretty" stage version though, be warned.
    The casting of Samantha Barks as Eponine is the reason I think they didn't just cast famous people because they're famous. If that were the case, then the part could have gone to any of the famous people who allegedly auditioned: Taylor Swift, Scarlett Johannsson, or Lea Michele, for example. Nope... they gave it to the person who rightfully won the audition.
    Basically the point I'm trying to make here is that I think the casting was perfect. I don't think anyone would have done a better job than any of the actors in the film. Maybe, possibly they could have found someone who could sing better than Russell Crowe... but I still really liked him as Javert. There is absolutely no one in the movie as awful as say... Gerard Butler in Phantom of the Opera or Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia.
  • AculagAculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    edited January 2013
    The people who play Jean Valjean on stage are not "actors". They are "singers". Sure they can sing the songs wonderfully, but none of them have the physicality or the acting ability required for the screen.
    This is so amazingly wrong, I don't even know where to start... Have you actually seen any (good) live theater? Do you not realize that a TON of film actors got their start on the stage, and wouldn't be in film otherwise? To say someone in a musical stage drama is just some singer in a costume is preposterous, unless we're talking about high school/amateur productions. What do you think makes a stage performance powerful? Hint: it has nothing to do with how loudly you can sing.
    Like I said before, I'll definitely wait to see it to give it a judgement, but having not seen it yet, all I can do is speculate.
  • jawajohnnyjawajohnny Website User Posts: 143
    Hmm... not sure I worded that the best possible way. Of course I've seen good live theater. I've seen Les Misérables twice in Boston. I've also seen Wicked, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Jesus Christ Superstar. They're all fantastic. Jesus Christ Superstar was a bit of a letdown, because Ted Neely (the original Jesus) was playing the role in a sort of "last hurrah revival" thing... and his voice was shot. But anyways... I absolutely understand that many actors get their start on stage... in fact Hugh Jackman did, didn't he?
    No, my point here was meant to be more specific to the part of Jean Valjean. What I was trying to say was that none of the current crop of stage Valjeans could have handled the part. The man who most recently played him on stage in London is Alfie Boe... a slender British tenor. Not an actor. Colm Wilkinson, the original Valjean, is much too short (and too old now) to be believable as Valjean on film. See my point? I'm just saying there isn't anyone right now that would have been a better choice than Hugh Jackman to play Valjean in the movie. No one else could do what Jackman does physically, vocally, or emotionally in the film.
    I didn't mean that no stage actors could possibly be able to act in a movie. Heck, I'm in love with Samantha Barks in the movie. She played Eponine on stage, and had never been in a movie before. But she can act, and boy can she sing. So again, my main point is that the producers didn't just cast people because they're famous. They made a calculated effort to cast the best possible person in each role. Had they not, we would have seen Taylor Swift or Scarlett Johannsson... not Samantha Barks as Eponine.
  • DanielGWoodDanielGWood Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,021 Just Starting Out
    I'm intrigued to see this film. Not seen the stage show, but I'm currently about a third of the way through the original book, by Victor Hugo. As to the casting choices, I have to admit Maximus and Wolverine confused me, though I didn't know Jackman had some history in this area, so maybe it'll be alright.
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    In terms of stage actors vs stage singers, it will vary depending on the production and the actor. My sister has performed in a ton of West End musicals and would generally classify herself - if prompted - as a singer first, actor second. She's a decent actor, but her voice is stunning.
    Whereas other performers I'm sure would classify themselves the other way around, as actor first and singer second.
    Given the nature of most musicals, I think either way around can work. Musicals by their very nature are entirely unrealistic and melodramatic, so I'm not sure they even require particularly convincing acting to still be entertaining.
  • fredclipsfredclips Website User Posts: 228

    As to the casting choices, I have to admit Maximus and Wolverine confused me, though I didn't know Jackman had some history in this area, so maybe it'll be alright.
    I remember the concern when Jackman was first cast as Wolverine (at the last minute), I think at that point he was better known for stage shows. (and was a foot taller than Wolverine was supposed to be)
    About Les Miserables... don't really have any interest in seeing it myself. My favorite musicals are Dr Horrible, Buffy and Scrubs!
    However, oldest daughter and a couple of friends (15-16 year old girls) saw it last week and didn't hate it. They went to it not knowing anything about it at all, other than it being a musical and long. The most well known cast member to them was Anne Hathaway. Not big X-Men fans these girls. They did say that the other cinema goers looked 'old'. (that probably means my age)
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