You don't have to believe in my dreams. You just have to believe in me.
Wednesday, January 2
Permalink

A Review of ‘Les Miserables’ (film, 2012).

The sheer size of this production has brought Victor Hugo’s story to life in a way the stage never could. The film opens with hundreds of prisoners pulling an immense ship in to port: just the fractional, gradual movement of the ship creates waves massive enough to crash over the men on the ground level. This summarizes this production, as compared to the stage—it’s simply bigger. The film provides the audience with vision into Valjean’s fully operating factory; the Parisian skyline complete with the Notre Dame cathedral sits behind Javert’s promise to the Stars; we experience intimately the puddles of blood the women wash away after the Second Attack; and The Sewers of Paris become disgustingly real on the big screen. Les Miserables is a story that has deserved a transformation of this magnitude for quite some time now.

The production of Les Miserables into a musical is what catalyzed this story’s popularity and captivated the hearts of millions worldwide. The casts of old have created a lofty bar to which all future casts will (even if unfairly) be measured. The 2012 production accepted a brave undertaking: to film Les Miserables using a live score. Whereas many musicals-turned-movies use a studio-recorded soundtrack, here we have their raw performances. That being said, this film cannot be enjoyed if one expects this cast to out-sing the 10th Anniversary. What the main cast lacks in stellar vocal performances, they make up quite well for in their acting savoir-faire. The combination of Tom Hooper’s direction and the cast’s top-notch acting allows any die-hard originalist fan to—mostly—forgive when the singing falls short. Some numbers, although normally belted out operatically, are adjusted to be naturally said, more true-to-screen performances. 

75/100. 

Some Highlights/Notes:

On Parole/The Bishop
Colm Wilkinson is wonderful in his new role as The Bishop. (cried)

Valjean’s Soliloquy
Great scene. Perfect example of the actor’s acting performances making up for their singing performances, although Hugh Jackman certainly holds his own in this song. (cried) 

At the End of the Day
Great direction in this scene.

I Dreamed a Dream
This may have been the scene I was dreading/fearing the most. I loved it. Purely genius to use one unbroken close-up shot of Fantine’s face. Captured so effectively the despair of the character. (cried)

Castle on a Cloud
Young Cosette is WONDERFUL! Great casting.

Master of the House
Great directing. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen work well together. Provided the right amount of comic relief. This scene is very well done.

Look Down
Gavroche is also another well-casted character!

Stars
Loved the directing. Russel Crowe’s performance is under a lot of heat by some. His singing, even amongst a mediocre group, leaves much to be desired. Acting carried his performance, if only so far.

Red and Black
Enjolras (don’t know his actor’s name) impressed me and so did Marius.

Do You Hear the People Sing?
Perhaps the most well-known song of the musical was done well in the film.

A Heart Full of Love
I have no quarrels with Seyfried (Cosette). She did exactly as well as I expected someone like her to do in a role like that. She was fine.

One Day More
Even if not well-sung, how can you not enjoy this song?

On My Own
Didn’t enjoy Samantha Barks. (Still cried.)

Little Fall of Rain
Well-done scene. Acting.

Bring Him Home
Disappointing.

Javert’s _________ [Not saying it, in case of spoilers]  
Very well-done direction; great parellel to Stars.

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
Well done, Marius.

Finale
Wonderful. (cried)

Again, what this movie has going for it is its directing and its impressive acting cast. Also, the mere story itself is so good, one would find themselves hard-pressed to tell it badly. The music is so well-written as well that, even when sung mediocrely, the sharpest critic can still be moved.

So sleepy now. Wish I could have spent more time on this. Also, first Tumblr Post of the year! And the first post since… September 12, 2012. 


2 notes
Wednesday, September 12
Permalink

Letters to a Christian Nation (1).

-Title taken from Sam Harris’ wonderful book, sold in fine bookstores everywhere.
-Random thoughts and ramblings that come during a Religious Imagination in American Literature class.


I am tolerant of faith and of the faithful. Clearly, tolerance is a virtue, but a clear distinction must be made between understanding and respecting an individual’s right to believe things privately—which should go without saying anyways—and granting an exaggerated sense of respect to those private beliefs. 

In modern society and in our country in particular, faith is certainly a virtue. Isn’t it? Rabbis and nuns are naturally respected positions of the social system; someone studying to take up Holy Orders deserves commendation for their efforts and their piety; when a politician begins a sentence by saying “I’m a man of faith…” the result is that what follows is justified and given respect because of it. But why? Why are we so keen to give faith so much respect? Why is this an automatic reaction? Why do we think it’s a virtue?

What is faith, really? It’s the ability—or the willingness—to believe in something without evidence, or despite evidence (to the contrary). The ability to believe without seeing; to know without reason. This should not be given reactionary and sustained respect. To respect and admire the fact that people can say they “Believe in X because I believe it because I believe it,” is to promote either ignorance or insanity.

What we are in fact doing as a society by accepting the notion that faith is a good reason to believe in something, we are making it very difficult to argue against people who invoke their faith as divine sanction to do horrible things. What case does someone who believes that God has called her to spread the teachings of Christ to Ugandan children have against someone else who believes God has called him to blow up a building by flying a plane into it? Faith discards the only real agency we have at our disposal to understand our universe. It asks us to relinquish the only faculty we have that distinguishes us from, and puts us so far ahead of other primates. Dissociate faith from virtue, now and for good. Expose it for what it is: a servile weakness, a refuge in cowardice, and a willingness to follow—with credulity—people who are, to the highest degree, unscrupulous. 


1 note
Wednesday, August 29
Permalink
There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.

3 notes
Sunday, August 26
Permalink
To me, the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can’t give way is an offer of something not worth having.

Saturday, July 21
Permalink

1 note
Thursday, July 5
Permalink
This is for the 2-year olds who cannot be understood because they speak half English and half God. Shake the dust.

Tuesday, July 3
Permalink

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we wine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?


Friday, June 29
Permalink

Monday, June 18
Permalink
1 note
Wednesday, May 9
Permalink
Heroic is equal to all those who possess the strength to brave the struggles of the world and have the strength remaining to take me with them.