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View Poll Results: Rate " Les Miserables (2012)"
10 1 14.29%
9 2 28.57%
8 2 28.57%
7 1 14.29%
6 1 14.29%
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:10 AM   #1
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Default Les Miserables (2012) - Review Thread



Originally posted at: http://evantvmoviegames.tumblr.com/p...bles2012review

Remember when the Golden Globe nominations come out, and they always have the separate categories for Musical/Comedy and Drama? It always seems like they’re trying to pad out that Musical/Comedy category with films that most of the time, wouldn’t even be on people’s radars. But then, once every couple of years, a true musical comes along and that category somehow ends up being a little bit more validated due to its presence. This year, that musical is Les Misérables.

Set in 19th century France, Les Misérables follows Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) a man who, after breaking parole, is ruthlessly hunted by policeman Javert (Russel Crowe). When Valjean comes across Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a woman in need of help, he does his best to provide a better life for her daughter.

Much has been made about the singing in the film, specifically that almost all of it (save for a few lines) was sung and recorded directly on set as the actors performed. Even if you haven’t seen the countless promotional packages surrounding the film telling you about this, chances are you’d be able to pick up on it by just listening. There’s subtle things that come through really well with this, specifically the inclusion of real emotion flowing through many of the actors while they’re singing. While Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” is worth the price of admission alone, that entire segment of the film is excellent. Hathaway’s emotion comes through here brilliantly, and it could have easily been lost in translation if it was lip-synced.

This piece is followed by the next best song in the film, “The Confrontation”. While Crowe isn’t the singer that Jackman is, he holds his own well, and their back and forth, not just here but throughout the film, is endlessly entertaining. It’s Crow and Jackman’s scenes that keep the second half of the film elevated and save it from falling completely flat. Valjean’s storyline drives the entire film and thankfully all of it works. I was surprised to see that this adaptation of Les Misérables is truly a musical through and through. That is, that there’s singing throughout, rarely ever having any spoken dialogue and having the music never stop. It’s admirable to present the film this way, especially in the medium of film, where not all moviegoers have the chance to see musicals on stage.

With all of the great things happening throughout Les Misérables, the film has some serious issues. The pacing throughout the second half of the movie is particularly bad. The dividing line makes the film feel like two completely different movies. This happens after Valjean and Cosette (Isabelle Allen) escape, and picking up right with the introduction of Eddie Redmayne’s character, Marius. The first half of the film sets up the main storylines so well that when these new characters are ultimately introduced a long while into the movie, they just aren’t as comeplling. As complex or strong as the ideas and plot points might be, it doesn’t hold a candle to the human drama created early on by Hathaway, Jackman and Crowe.

That human drama is specifically elevated due to those performances by Hathaway and Jackman. The two are the highlights of the movie, and though they share only a few minutes of screentime, those few scenes drive the rest of the film. A lot of the time unwanted comic relief, especially in a movie, or a play, can come off as forced. Surprisingly, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Boham Carter’s character’s don’t hurt the film that much. However, that feeling begins to creep up right before they exit the film, and it’s a shame since it happens at one of the most crucial points in the picture.

If Tom Hooper was able to win a best director Oscar for a film like The King’s Speech, there’s no reason for him not be nominated for this. It’s much bigger and scope and it has so many more moving parts that the aforementioned film didn’t posses, and simply put, it’s a much greater display of his talents and a better film. The film was shot in 35mm and it looks gorgeous. The cinematography is beautiful and it’s easily one of the best looking blockbusters of the year. The CGI doesn’t mix as well with the sets as it should, but the scenes that don’t incorporate that take advantage of the scenic surroundings really well.

Tom Hooper’s follow up to his best picture winner The King’s Speech is a lot easier to swallow. He’s taken on a huge challenge in trying to bring one of the most popular musicals ever to the big screen. He does a great job of crafting a film that’s going to be scrutinized endlessly by its hardcore fans, as well as any newcomers. Hooper and screenwriter William Nicholson do a great job of tightening the film as best they could. While it’s second half doesn’t hold a candle to its first, Les Misérables is still an enjoyable experience, if only for the performances by all of the actors, as well as hearing this music that has endured over so many years on the big screen.

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Old 12-15-2012, 12:04 PM   #2
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This is my 2nd most anticipated release for the rest of the year. Good review.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:52 PM   #3
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Can't wait! Read the book. Gonna be a busy Christmas.
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I've been meaning to see this, really amped for it.
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Old 12-21-2012, 11:21 PM   #4
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Not a big musical lover. I know there is another adaptation of this movie. I may rent it some day. The cast is impressive but think will go see Django
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:36 PM   #5
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Totally agree with the review. Everyone delivered amazing performances. Russell Crowe cannot sing to save his life though. About the only thing i didn't like about the movie. He doesn't have a very strong voice and almost sounded like he had a cold.
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:53 PM   #6
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Choosing either or, I'll choose "Les Miserables" over "Django Unchained" everytime. I'm a huge musicals fan.
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:56 PM   #7
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I choose both.
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:58 PM   #8
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For someone who hasn't seen the Play or read the book... Would you say it's worth it?
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Old 12-26-2012, 10:31 PM   #9
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Really want to see this. I watched the Liam Neeson version the other day, which was pretty good.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:10 PM   #10
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Wow.

As someone who's not particularly big on musicals, I have to say, this movie REALLY impressed me.

First, the songs are great, ranging from sad, beautiful and happy. I think the decision to have the actors sing the songs on-camera, rather than record them ahead of time, paid off. This is especially obvious during songs such as "I Dreamed A Dream" and "On My Own", which really require a more restrained and emotional approach rather than the showiness we would've gotten if the film had been done like all other movie musicals. In fact, that whole approach to each of the songs lends the film a really palpable sense of intimacy that fits well with the overall tone of the story. There are a lot of genuinely moving moments in the film, which is a result of that emotional intimacy, along with the strength of the performances.

Hugh Jackman gives his best performance yet, and yes, believe the hype about Anne Hathaway and "I Dreamed A Dream" -- both are fantastic. Russell Crowe starts off shaky with his singing, but I felt he got a little better as the film went on. Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks are also excellent, along with Amanda Seyfried. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen provide welcome comic relief, but really, they're still pretty much playing variations of past characters.

As for Tom Hooper, he impressed me here. Oh, he still loves those shots where the actors are at the corners of the screen with a bunch of negative space behind them, but what I'm getting at here is his sense of scope. This is definitely a lot more sprawling than The King's Speech, and it feels like Hooper is having fun showing off the production values. The climatic fights near the end of the movie are filmed with a good amount of intensity, proving that Tom Hooper is capable of more than the confined sensibilities on display in The King's Speech.

Also, I found this movie very well-paced. Out of a 155-minute movie, the first time I checked my watch was the 100-minute mark, then again at 130. I chalk this up to because this movie is 95% singing, everything flows so well as a result.

Definitely one of the year's best, IMO.

****/****
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Old 12-29-2012, 12:59 PM   #11
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This year's "trying desperately and obviously to win Oscars and won't win any of the relevant categories" film.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:48 PM   #12
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Les Misérables(1/5/2012)
I can’t say that I’ve ever found time in my schedule to read all 1500 pages of Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Misérables” and I’ve also never seen a performance of the musical “Les Misérables,” or any other Broadway musical for that matter. That said, Claude-Michel Schönberg’s musical has held a strange place on the periphery of pop culture that few stage productions have ever held. All my life I’ve seen cartoon parodies of the play which almost certainly went straight over the heads of every kid who watched them, I’ve laughed as George Costanza stumbled through an entire episode of Seinfeld with “Master of the House” stuck in his head, and I’ve read Patrick Bateman psychotically musing about its apparently obnoxious publicity campaign that saturated New York in the 80s. I’ve also heard innumerable people refer to the play by the obnoxious nick-name “Les Miz” because they want to sound sophisticated without going through the trouble of learning the pronunciation of a single French word. That Hollywood finally got in on this brand name and made an all-star, huge budget adaptation of the musical kind of feels like the finale to a very long pop culture sensation that grew way bigger than its creators possibly could have dreamed.

Beneath all the bombast, this is indeed a retelling of Victor Hugo’s story of obsession and revolution in early 19th century Paris. The central storyline is a duel of wills between an ex-con named Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) and a soldier/police-inspector named Javert (Russell Crowe). Javert spends much of the story trying to track down Valjean for having broken his parole, even after Valjean has cleaned up his life and become a successful businessman under a different name. Javert finally catches up to Valjean only after Valjean has sworn to protect Cosette (Isabelle Allen), the daughter of a fallen woman named Fantine (Anne Hathaway), who has been adopted by a pair of cruel and unscrupulous innkeepers called the Thénardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter). Valjean eventually escapes with Cosette, but all of these character’s lives will eventually come to a head years later during the failed June Rebellion.

You can tell why someone looking to make an epic musical would look to a story which is as big and operatic as “Les Misérables,” but the film does occasionally struggle to bring all of Hugo’s elaborate story into a commercially viable running time while still having time for all the music. For one thing, all the characters seem to coincidentally bump into each other way too often. That might have seemed more reasonable within the confines of a stage production or within the context of a long novel in which the passage of time seems more slow, but in a film it kind of feels like a cheat to have everyone in the cast cross paths this many times as if the city of Paris were some kind of tiny village. The film also doesn’t really do a great job of explain why Javert is so fixated on catching this one particular convict. I get that he’s a man who sees things in black and white and would never forgive a criminal, but surely there have been convicts in the French prison system more deserving of all this trouble. A scene or two explaining why he’s made such a personal vendetta out of his pursuit would have been helpful.

Those who hear “musical” and think of giddy light-hearted vaudeville-inspired sequences filled with smiling people dancing may be either disappointed or pleasantly surprised by what they get out of Les Misérables. The music in this film is loud and omnipresent. Very few lines of dialogue are spoken rather than sung and the music doesn’t really take the form of “numbers.” There are some sequences that can be called full-on songs but there are also a number of moments where the characters sing lines that are clearly meant to be expository dialogue to each other rather than speak them, and it’s in these sequences that the film’s music is at its most awkward. The main songs, to my layman ears, sound like they’re sung quite well. There have been many critics who have put on their Simon Cowell hats and criticized some of the performer’s voices, but none of the singing I heard really affected my enjoyment at all so I’m not going to nit-pick any of that. That said, I can’t say that the film’s much-publicized use of live recording made much of an impression on me at all and if you’d told me that this music was recorded in the sound-booth like any other musical I probably wouldn’t have known the difference.

This is of course director Tom Hooper’s follow-up to his undeservedly Academy Award winning The King’s Speech and it is kind of interesting to see what he can do when making a large scale period piece while armed with a substantial budget. The main stylistic trick that Hooper featured in The King’s Speech was a tendency towards concise but deliberately off-center framing, and anyone who’s seen his work on the “John Adams” miniseries knows that the guy is kind of obsessed with Dutch angles, and he uses both of these tricks extensively in Les Misérables with mostly successful results. He also employs a technique in which the actors sing while directly facing the camera while in extreme close-up, a trick which was perhaps meant to replicate the aesthetics of an actor facing his or her audience from the stage. The guy is clearly not a master, but he does have an eye for the occasional interesting shot and he also seems to have rallied his production crew pretty effectively here because the film’s set decoration, cinematography, editing, etc. are all very strong in the film.

Hooper’s cast is also pretty solid here, especially in the film’s first half. Hugh Jackman’s affinity for musical theater is pretty well documented he works well here in part because, as fans of his work as Wolverine in the X-Men films will attest, he is also fully capable of being a badass. This means he can sing effectively and also be believable as a former criminal. Russell Crowe isn’t an effete thespian either and he brings a strong physical presence to his role as a police inspector. Crowe has received a lot of criticism for his singing voice, but I (again, speaking as a layman) thought he did well enough and would also suggest that part of the problem is that Crowe’s character is given a lot of the musical’s clunkier moments of “exposition in song form.” Anne Hathaway is also good in the film, but the film’s advertising has greatly exaggerated how big her role in the film is. Her character has a big role in the film’s first act, but she’s written out of the film shortly thereafter. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (who are having something of a Sweeny Todd reunion) do good work as the film’s comic relief, but a little bit of them goes a long way and their presence in the film gets a little awhile as they keep on coming back over and over again in the film’s second half.

It’s that second half where the film really started to lose me. (minor Spoiler alert here, I guess). At a certain point the film flashes forward and swaps generations. Here the film turns into a teenage love triangle between a now older Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), a young revolutionary named Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne), and one of Cosette’s childhood friends named Éponine (Samantha Barks) which leads into a largish battle scene. It’s kind of like Titanic in miniature but with characters you don’t care about and unfamiliar actors who don’t make you care. To say that this is a weak second half is an understatement, this is more like a nosedive, and it’s also where the film’s generally long length really started to make itself known. It also has the most false endings since Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and by the time it finally reaches its lengthy and mostly needless coda I was very ready to finally leave the theater.

That’s a shame, because this is definitely a film that “has its moments.” There’s a solid 70-80 minutes of the movie that really had me interested, but the other 78 minutes really killed the movie for me. It’s tempting to give the film a pass for the moments that work and out of a certain respect for the film’s production elements, but I can’t really recommend something in good conscience when it had me looking at my watch for its last forty-five minutes. Fans of the original musical or of musicals in general will likely be more impressed, but I don’t think this is really one for the cross-over audience when all is said and done.
**1/2 out of Four
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:33 PM   #13
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A week ago, PG Cooper and I did a joint review on this film for PG's blog, so I thought I'd go ahead and post it here:

PG Cooper: Since Moviebuff and I each had distinctly different reactions to Les Miserables, we thought it would be fun to work together on a review. The general format will be similar to how Siskel and Ebert formatted their reviews on their TV program. We’ll provide some background information, a plot synopsis, reveal our opinions, and then debate the merits back and forth.

In 2010, a film called The King’s Speech opened to warm reception from both critics and audiences and went on to become a sizeable hit. People loved it and the film was showered with Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for relative newcomer Tom Hooper. The film put Hooper on the map and led to his next work being hotly anticipated. That, coupled with the great cast and the awards consideration has given Hooper’s Les Miserables a lot to live up to.

Moviebuff801: An adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel, as well as the enormously popular Broadway musical that it spawned, Les Miserables is perhaps one of the most high-profile and eagerly-anticipated films of the Holiday Season. It stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, a man who was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread and served a nineteen-year sentence for it. Released on parole by prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe), Valjean decides to create a new life for himself, but consequently skips his parole in the process. Flash forward to France, eight years later, where Valjean has created a new identity for himself while also becoming mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. One day, he crosses paths with factory worker Fantine (Anne Hathaway), who, in addition to just being kicked out of her job, has a young girl named Cosette to provide for. Fantine does this by becoming a prostitute to earn money, but tragic circumstances force Valjean to become Cosette’s new care-giver instead. Meanwhile, Javert, now an Inspector, has re-entered the picture, hellbent on capturing Valjean. Then, flash forward ANOTHER nine years, where young adult Marius (Eddie Redmayne), a fervent supporter of a brewing revolution against the French government, has just caught the eye of the now grown-up Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and decides to try and capture her heart as well. Meanwhile, Valjean and Javert are still continuing their game of cat-and-mouse amidst the Revolution.

PG Cooper: On the whole, there are a lot of elements worthy of admiration. There’s some great acting, particularly Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway who deserve awards consideration and I like that Hooper stretched his visual style even if he still has a lot to learn. But at the same time, I ultimately am left cold by the film. It feels like it’s rushing through to pack as much of the story into the film as possible and as I result I could’t connect with the material. Not a bad film really, but not one I can recommend either.

Moviebuff801: Well, right there, I have to respectfully disagree with you about the lack of emotional resonance. I thought there were plenty genuinely moving moments throughout the film, all of them a result of the strength of the performances coupled with the way the songs are sung, which in itself is a very intimate and emotional fashion. Whereas you seem to feel like the film was rushed, I think it was very well-paced for a 2 1/2-hour film. Now, that said, I DO happen to agree with you on Jackman, Hathaway and Hooper. All of them bring their A-game here, and it definitely shows. Jackman in particular gives his best performance so far, and what Hathaway does with such limited screen time is nothing short of amazing.

PG Cooper: I will agree that there were moments of emotional resonance, several in fact. I’d also say Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” is one of the most moving scenes on film this year. I just never felt all the scenes come together to form a moving narrative. Also, speaking of the pacing, Les Miserables is one of the most paradoxical films I’ve seen recently in that I find it too short and too long. Too short in that not enough time is given for the ideas and stories to be fully developed, and too long in that because I didn’t care I found myself bored for large stretches. Since we do agree on Jackman and Hathaway, how did you feel about the rest of the cast?

Moviebuff801: Starting with Russell Crowe, it took me a while to warm up to his performance, much in the same way it felt like Crowe himself took some time to really feel comfortable with all the singing; in essence, I grew to like his performance more as th film went on. I think he really started hitting his stride during his big musical number, “Stars.” Eddie Redmayne did just fine, I thought, as he got me involved in the more important parts of his character’s journey. In terms of the minor characters, I was most impressed by Samantha Barks. Maybe it’s because she’s played the very same role on stage, but she clearly had a tight grasp on her character, and “On My Own” is probably one of my favorite songs from the film. Amanda Seyfried…she was good, but at the same time, I thought she could’ve been better. And as for Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, they get their job done, which is to provide comic relief, but really, they’re just playing variations of a few of their past characters. All in all, I’d say the cast was solid, but Jackman and Hathaway clearly come out on top. Now, what about the songs? Were there any that stood out to you? “I Dreamed A Dream” is fantastically-done, and I love how it’s all done as one shot, but the film also has a few other stand-outs. What say you?

PG Cooper: Like you, it took me time to warm to Crowe. I don’t think he’s a particularly strong singer, but he’s a damn good actor, and it helps him to overcome his vocal limitations. I liked Redmayne well enough, and that’s saying something considering I strongly disliked him in My Week with Marilyn. I liked Barks and Seyfried fine, but I should point out that their love triangle was the film’s weakest story. Most of the subplots I saw potential in even if I didn’t respond to them personally, but there story just seemed lame. Of course I’m never a fan of the old “I saw her across the room and knew she was the one” type romance. You’re spot on about Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. Carter especially looked like she came right off the set of Sweeney Todd. Personally I could have done without their comedic relief. Didn’t match the drama.

As for stand out songs. Well, “I Dreamed A Dream” is the obvious answer everyone says, but it deserves to be. Besides that, I thought “Look Down”, “Valjean’s Soliloquy”, “Lovely Ladies”, “Who am I”, and “The Confrontation” all stood out.

Moviebuff801: I make no illusions about the fact that I’m a romantic at heart, so the love triangle subplot didn’t bother me as much as it did you. Maybe that also explains my liking of “On My Own.” And yeah, I should mention that pretty much every time Bonham Carter was on-screen, I kept thinking, “Hey! It’s Mrs. Lovett!” But I’ll step up to the bat for the comic relief and say that when you have as solemn a story as Les Miserables, then you need a good laugh every now and then. And hey, at least the comedic stuff was there in the right doses, and never threatened to overpower the drama.

Speaking of, one song I particularly enjoyed was “Master of the House,” which is probably the most well-known song from this story. Also, I genuinely feel like Russell Crowe deserves credit for pulling off “Stars” so well, and then there’s the rousing “One Day More” and “Do You Hear The People Sing?” whenever it pops up in the Second and Third Act. I also liked how this film is very much operatic in nature, with barely a regularly-spoken line of dialogue. At first, I feared this would wear thin, but to my delight, this helped the film flow more smoothly, if you ask me.

But, one thing you’ve pointed out as a criticism is something I feel I must defend. You said the film never really delves that deep into any of its storylines. Well, that’s kind of the nature of the beast when it comes to musicals. These kinds of films rely more on the songs to communicate its more important messages and such, and from that point of view, I think Les Miserables succeeds. And through the singing and the subsequent expressions of the characters’ emotions, that’s how I came to be invested so much in this movie, and why I found the end in particular to be pretty powerful.

PG Cooper: I suppose I can see why that would work for you. And I’m not inherently against comedic relief in the film, I just felt there were times when those characters appearances felt out of place. At any rate, I am glad the film worked as well for you as it did. It is possible that musicals just aren’t for me given my own exposure to the genre is limited (I’ve probably seen under ten).

So I feel like if we don’t move on soon, we’ll just start throwing the same points at each other. I know you saw Hooper’s last film, The King’s Speech. What were your thoughts on that, how has Hooper evolved as a director, and what do you see for him in the future?

Moviebuff801: Before I answer your question about Hooper, let me just say this: I’m not THAT big on musicals either, but I found that this one just clicked for me.

This can relate to Hooper, though. In terms of The King’s Speech, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Would I have given it Best Picture, though, over movies like Inception and Black Swan (my Top Two films of 2010)? No. The King’s Speech, while good, was still very much a … I guess you could say “bare bones” movie, and that can apply to Hooper’s direction in that film as well. I definitely feel as if he’s evolved as a filmmaker, based on Les Miserables. His sense of scope has certainly expanded, and he’s starting to show us he can handle bigger productions (I particularly liked the single sweeping shot he opens the movie with). But his trademark “have the actor at the edge of a frame with a bunch of negative space behind them” type of shots are still here, however he pulls back a bit more on them this time. At the very least, I hope to see him continue to expand his horizons as a director. And based on his first two major films, a small British character drama and a lavish musical, he seems set on not doing the same thing over again, but it’s still early, so we’ll see.

PG Cooper: I enjoyed The King’s Speech for what it was, but I ultimately found it, as you said, bare bones and unambitious. Hooper showed no visual sensibilities really. With Les Miserables, I respect that went out of his way to try and do more visually. The production design for example, is phenomenal, and the costumes great too There’s also some great shots. That said, I do think he encountered some hiccups along the way. For one, the sterile computer generated backgrounds clash with the realistic sets and there are times where the camera shakes too much. He clearly needs to tighten these issues up, but I’m glad as taking steps to becoming a more competent visual story teller.

That said, I feel like Les Miserables reveals his limitations as a story teller. He did a competent job with The King’s Speech, but given the simplistic story, it’s easy to see why. But when handling the larger and more epic story of Les Miserables, Hooper floundered. Now I know you and I disagree on that, but that’s how I felt. Ultimately, I’m interested to see where Hooper goes next. I’m not excited, but I’m curious to see if he’ll fix his short comings in the future.

Moviebuff801: DID the camera shake a lot? There were CGI-ed backgrounds? I honestly didn’t notice, seeing as how I was so caught up in the story. And I think THAT’S a mark of how good of a storyteller in general Hooper is. I really don’t mind any shortcomings he may have from a visual standpoint, as long as he can hook me with the story and characters, first and foremost; he did that with this film. Interestingly enough, I think I might compare what Hooper did with this film with what Tim Burton did with Sweeney Todd, and that’s give a musical a very interesting look in its own right. Overall, I’d say I liked Les Miserables more than The King’s Speech, but I get the feeling that it’s the other way around with you.

PG Cooper: Yeah, I like The King’s Speech a lot more, which is amusing because I was one of the loudest voices of protest when it won Best Picture over a plethora of films I prefer. I’d also argue that Hooper has been lucky enough to work with extremely talented actors that are able to draw the audience in to the point that even when his direction isn’t top-notch the performances are still great. I like the comparison you drew to Sweeney Todd and I felt that as well. Not only in the casting choices, but I get the sense that Hooper either watched Todd for inspiration or subconsciously drew on it.

As far as not noticing the camera shaking and the CGI, I should mention these weren’t excessive problems, just small things I noticed.

Moviebuff801: What I find interesting here is that Les Miserables and Sweeney Todd are the two musicals that I can say I love, along with probably being my favorites, and as we just pointed out, there are a few similarities between the two. Both create very distinctive visual worlds and assemble big-name casts to compensate for any story issues, and in both cases, that didn’t matter all that much to me since the end product was so strong. Of course, for people like you, it may be more of an issue. But this is curious, maybe there’s something about musicals set in the 1800′s that speaks to me.

PG Cooper: Maybe. For what it’s worth, I did really like Sweeney Todd. I had some issues, but ultimately found it a pretty cool movie. And I don’t hate Les Miserables. I respect it a lot, but I couldn’t click with it.

Moviebuff801: And I can respect both of those opinions myself. Musicals certainly aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for me, personally, I’m still surprised at how much this one worked for me. Like you said, Tom Hooper is clearly trying his best to give us something worthwhile, and my opinion is that he pulled it off. One other thing he did so well with Les Miserables is that he managed to create and sustain a very strong atmosphere, and that’s an element of a movie I especially enjoy whenever it’s done right. Even now, a few days after having seen it, there are a lot of things about the movie that have stuck with me.

PG Cooper: The atmosphere was quite strong. You mention the movie sticking with you and it hasn’t really for me, though that might be in part because I’ve seen four or five films between when I saw Les Miserables and now. How does Les Miserables rank among the rest of 2012 for you?

Moviebuff801: I’d definitely put it in my Top Ten for 2012. Right now, it’s among my Top Five, even. I’ve still yet to see films like Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty, but even if those live up to all the hype for me, I’m still confident that Les Miserables will hold a slot on my Best of the Year list when all is said and done. From the songs, to the performances, the production design and its emotional punch, Les Miserables is a movie that basks in everything that makes it so gloriously dramatic, and translates it into a film that may be obvious in how it’s pining for an Oscar, but I’m okay with that, in this movie’s case.

PG Cooper: As a whole, Les Miserables will not rank among my favorites of the year. It’s closer to the lower-middle. That said, certain elements are among the best of the year. Anne Hathaway is guaranteed to receive a Best Supporting Actress nomination from my own personal awards, and the production design will likely be nominated as well. And while I don’t know if I have Jackman’s performance locked in for a nomination, he’s certainly in the running. It’s also the best musical I’ve seen all year. Granted, it’s the only musical I’ve seen all year, but that helps it stand out if nothing else.

PG Cooper’s Score: C-

Moviebuff801′s Score: ****/****
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:46 PM   #14
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Nice review guys, I liked the back and forth.

And that was a great review, Drac. I wanted to ask, what you thought about the musical numbers themselves compared to other films. I ask because unlike other musicals, the numbers in Les Miserables are sung on the spot during filming, and not pre-recorded beforehand. I wanted to know how well they were able to transfer that live-singing aspect into the film. I really want to see this film, but the cinemas all near me already stopped playing them in exchange for new movies, which totally sucks.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:03 PM   #15
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Nice review guys, I liked the back and forth.

And that was a great review, Drac. I wanted to ask, what you thought about the musical numbers themselves compared to other films. I ask because unlike other musicals, the numbers in Les Miserables are sung on the spot during filming, and not pre-recorded beforehand. I wanted to know how well they were able to transfer that live-singing aspect into the film. I really want to see this film, but the cinemas all near me already stopped playing them in exchange for new movies, which totally sucks.
Thanks.

And, I know you weren't asking me, but I'll go ahead and give my two cents on the subject: I think they worked. To me, singing the songs that way helped lend the film the right amount of intimacy that Hooper was going for. Like I said initially, this is most evident in songs like "I Dreamed A Dream", where this more simplistic style makes it feel more raw and real. Also, since the movie is mostly in song, it helps everything flow more smoothly.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:59 PM   #16
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As a fan of the stage production I have to respectfully disagree, I don’t think the right decisions were made for this film adaptation and I’ll tell you why. First, the filmmakers wanted to make this an authentic film adaptation of the stage production, and in doing so they gave a product with a noticeable decrease in the quality. Not only were there numerous sketchy notes among Jackman and Crowe but the sound mixing also leaves much to be desired. Many songs especially the ensemble pieces are totally eclipsed by the orchestra and background noise making it sound like you’re listening through a cheap set of headphones.

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me as to why they would want to do the live tracks other than ‘we want to make this the stage production.’ But this isn’t a stage production, it’s a film. If something goes wrong on stage or doesn’t sound good you have to roll through it. If the same thing happens on camera, take two. If they did the traditional recording for this movie I think the product would have been vastly superior. The ‘stage production’ mentality also bleeds into the technical aspects of the film too. With a movie you have to establish things such as setting, mood, and character. You do on stage as well but the main difference is that you’re on a stage. Your resources are pretty limited. However in a movie you can hone in on those. So when Valjean escapes from Javert by jumping out the window and the movie instantly cuts to Castle on a Cloud, it’s a pretty lousy setup, not only because it just cut to something that had never been established and only referenced a couple times but the mood is drastically different. You go from suspense to sympathy. And the whole movie is like that. It’s also obvious in the chase scenes where Valjean is running through a hall and it cuts to him running in some alleys then it cuts to him somewhere completely different. Again, the ideas were there for the stage production, but somewhere along the way they forgot that there are a few things you do differently for a movie.

I enjoyed the movie sure, but it didn’t meet my expectations. It certainly could have been great and there are things about it that are fantastic (Anne Hathaway should expect an Oscar for this) but there was too much on the technical side that keeps it from its potential.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:13 PM   #17
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I understand why they tried to do it. The idea behind them doing live recordings was so the actors could act within the scene, and however they sang would specifically revolve around their acting, just as it does on stage. Their acting dictates their singing. It's the opposite in most movie musicals, where they prerecord before they act, and then they have to base their acting not in the moment, but on the studio recording they did prior.

This meant they also could change the pace as they so saw fit choosing when to pause and when to continue singing at certain parts. The director could then choose to see how the scene looks by having them act different ways, or increasing or decreasing the speed in which they go about it. This results in different takes and multiple different outcomes, both in how the singing sounds and how their acting turned out.

*shrugs* I've heard back and forth, but I felt it did make a big difference compared to other musical adaptions.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:05 PM   #18
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I agree, I understand what they were trying to do, but you're also right in that it made a big difference compared to other musical adaptations. I just don't think the difference was good.
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:54 PM   #19
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Old 01-26-2013, 02:07 AM   #20
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So today I was catching up on Filmspotting's End of the Year Show, and they played a brief segment of one of the songs from Les Mis....and all I'm going to say is I fast-forwarded through a 3 minute preview. That was enough of an indication that if I see it, I'll hate it.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:13 AM   #21
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So today I was catching up on Filmspotting's End of the Year Show, and they played a brief segment of one of the songs from Les Mis....and all I'm going to say is I fast-forwarded through a 3 minute preview. That was enough of an indication that if I see it, I'll hate it.
lol I had pretty much the same experience.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:38 PM   #22
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They kept playing a 3 or 4 minute featurette in theatres and I hated that, so I'm putting this one off until I can download it for free.
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