Time/place: 3:15pm showing on Tuesday at Aliso Viejo 20 with Korkie (w/Tex!!)
First of all, this is a delayed post because I was dealing with health troubles. I started having a hard time breathing in the theater (nothing scary, just a heavier dose of my usual issues), and it’s just zonked me out for a few days.
Second of all, and in happier news, for those of you who’ve been around these parts for a while, I finally saw my favorite movie theater worker, again – Tex! I used to work with Tex at Blockbuster, and he used to work at the Ocean Ranch movie theater… but I haven’t seen him since it closed down. I’d totally forgotten that someone mentioned he might’ve transferred to Aliso, but when we walked in on Tuesday, there he was – taking tickets as always. I was very excited :). He didn’t remember us at first, until I jogged his memory, and then he laughed his Tex laugh and asked if KB and I were “going together now.” Oh, that Tex ;).
But, yes.. onward to the movie review! I’d never seen any version of Les Miserables before, and all I knew about the story was that some dude stole a loaf of bread and was put in prison for it. Oh, and I knew the song “I Dreamed a Dream”. So, yeah, I went into the theater completely unaware of what to expect, and it made for a fun viewing. KB was able to compare it to previous versions, so she had some mixed-emotion commentary after it was over, but this is the only version I know, and I can say that I enjoyed it :).
Musicals aren’t really my cup o’tea. I love Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but that’s one of the very rare exceptions. In Les Miserables there is very little spoken dialogue, which I think actually helped my perception of it; the entire thing was lifted to an unreal place where I could embrace it easier than a regular movie that’s just peppered with people randomly singing. Basically, I could excuse all of the singing, because that’s pretty much all there was ;). The one song I DID know, came earlier in the movie than I expected, but my favorite song wrapped up the movie (more on that later). Not that the single take of Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” wasn’t amazing and heart-wrenching to watch, my goodness. The variety of voices in this movie was really varied, but I think my favorite belonged to the head of the rebel forces – an ideal medium between nasal and classical.
From a movie-making standpoint, I thought the movie was grand. There were a few moments I wished were a bit steadier than others, but the camerawork and framing were, more often than not, wonderful. Actors were often pushed to one side of the screen, painting a beautiful picture of character and scenery, but there were also a lot of single-character close-ups that lost the background nearly entirely in tight focus on the person’s face. That was my favorite stuff :). The focus was sometimes so shallow that even the actors’ ears started to blur. Also, for how much of the movie is filled with music, at a couple of emotional parts it cuts out entirely.. and the effect is jarring, but wonderfully heavy.
I don’t enjoy reading, or I’d delve into the classic novel, because the story ended on such a grand note and seemed to be about something so lovely. Through the emotional gutters of despair, love triangles that meant nothing to me, and a bunch of characters who lose more often than they win, the final scene and its reprise of a song used earlier (though with different lyrics) drove home the central theme of love. I wasn’t expecting that to be the story’s conclusion, and as the faint echoes of the chorus came in at the very end, a big smile of appreciation lit across my face.
Les Miserables is a movie that I may not have enjoyed every second of (singing.. so much singing), but still really liked. I’m not big on awards, but if Anne Hathaway gets herself an Oscar tonight (or Hugh), it’s well-earned in my book. The whole movie was an emotional ride of lows and highs, with plenty of storytelling in-between, but the culmination of it all was a tale of the value of love and compassion – and that’s always gonna be a big plus for me :).