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Wednesday
Jan162013

Proof Positive That Not All of 'Les Miz' is Shot in Close-up

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Reader Comments (36)

Not all of it, but enough to make it incredibly uncomfortable (and this is coming from someone who really liked the film and has most of the score stuck in his head)....

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

I see that you've changed your grade from A to A-. Does that mean that you think it is not perfect after all??? Shocking.

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

^bitches be hatin'

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

omg, I didn't know Jessica Chastain was in this too lol

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterG.ShaQ

@Jan: Wasn't the grade always an A-?

Why DO all the seamstresses hate Fantine? (I'm surprised no one has jumped on that as a potential plot-hole.)

Perhaps, weirdly, this bit is my favourite part of Anne's performance. I love how wispy she is during those "At the End of the Day" early shots (before the letter theft).

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

You can almost see their legs in that shot!

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTim

I wish I could agree with you Nat, but unfortunately I hated the directing choices. I'd still give the movie an "A", but it's definitely not without fault.

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Anna -- i didn't say i loved the directorial choices or that it's without fault

Jan -- never once claimed it was perfect and never once said that the haters didn't have a point with some of their attacks on Hooper -- just that they tend to be misdirecting it (the closeups in the big setpiece scenes are BRILLIANT... that he uses the same tactic too often and doesn't vary enough in other scenes is the problem) and being silly about i'worst movie ever' blurbwhoring.

January 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

In my mind, it's a B. In my heart, it's an A. I like to lead with my heart when possible.

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVince Smetana

Sure, the ensemble songs are shot from the hips up. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables and On My Own are the only solos where the singers have torsos, let alone legs. The scene at the factory might be my favorite moment in the film. You see the action, know who is singing, and there's a visible set. Lovely Ladies does the same thing. Then it's a long slog through close-up town--including a closeup from the neck-up sung sword fight--before you hit Master of the House with wider shots.

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Rather it is proof of the over and often inappropriate use of that damn wide angle lens that he also over and inappropriately uses in The King's Speech. Seriously, I like wide angle lenses and when they're used appropriately in films, but Hooper just exploits their effect until it feels cheap and lazy. Skate videos have better usage of wide angle lenses than this guy.

Look Down! Look Down! At all the other amazing, expensive lenses you could use to tell your story ...if only you knew how...

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHoopla

This was the worst sequence in the whole film. Sloppy, off-pitch, and stagnent.

January 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJWPSBK

My previous comment came off crankier than I intended... But I feel that you're so overprotective of that movie that you've labeled everyone who doesn't like it "haters", which I don't think is right.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

There's something about that pose that makes me always think of Gollum when I see it. Just photoshop an oscar in her hand and caption her "My precious" and there you have it.

Or maybe it's just me.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAR

Jan
It's think it's because most of the people who didn't like it proceed to rip it to shreds. Only now do I hear people coming out to say "I didn't love the direction, but I still enjoyed the movie.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean

I would love to see a debate on this blog between Nathaniel and Nick Davis over this movie. It's a bit intimidating here to be just some random commenter who didn't like the film. While there are a lot of things that I could say about this shot or this scene that I think were problematic, there is no way for me to do so without appearing like a bitter troll sippin' on that haterade. Coming from someone like Nick though, I think a lot of the frustration could be avoided, and there could be a valuable dialogue coming from both sides about the film, which is something that I haven't really seen anywhere else. I'd much rather see you talk about the things that you think are really positive about the film than continue to get posts like these, which feel pretty unfriendly and which only address a mindless backlash, rather than the film itself.

Love the site, hope this post doesn't come off poorly. I wouldn't be commenting if I didn't value your opinions and your criticism.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

well i intended this as a playful joke rather than 'take that haters' but i guess 'intention' is a hard thing to get across in silent blogposts

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Oh this is a self concious badly directed scene,Poor Anne never for 1 minute did I believe she was Fantine but will say that her I dreamed a dream scene was very good but the rest too self aware,only Jackman seemed to know what he was in a helter skelter version of a stage musical.

I can think of a lot of far worthier supporting performances that were more real esp hunt in the Sessions,when me n the b/f sat don to se compliance half way through he said "is this a documentary"

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

Forget Anne and closeups and haters and ratings ... can we talk (again) about how the dreamy Eddie Redmayne and the super dreamy Aaron Tveit make the entire second half of the movie kinda great, close-ups or no close-ups (and this is coming from someone who would rather have ebola than sit through a production of Les Mis)? They even made me forget how much I hate Gavroche (stupid little punk ass kid!). Also, they made me realize that Cosette has basically no role. That is good because those scenes in the trailer of Amanda Seyfried singing made me cringe. Vive Eddie & Aaron!

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

@Andrew K. It's not so much a plothole as a few more details from Hugo's gargantuan novel that didn't make it into the musical (like the fact that Gavroche is the Thenardiers' son!). They resent her because the foreman has been showing some clear favoritism towards her in an attempt to get her to sleep with him, and they don't really steal the letter as much as find it after Fantine accidentally drops it. In the end it's really the foreman's fault, as revenge for Fantine's refusal of his advances.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

Has Anne become the go to girl to smack down,now we are seeing her more the more people dislike her,a bit Jennifer Connelly 2001.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

Second the motion for a battle of the blogs about Les Miz from Nathaniel and Nick. That would be AMAZING.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I Dreamed A Dream was really really good but the entire time I kept thinking wow, 'Anne Hathaway' is good but never did I go 'oh dear, poor Fantine', the star never became the character for me sadly, I was much more moved by Redmayne's and Bark's performances because I was not as familiar with them as celebrities probably plus I think they both nailed their big songs.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrami (ramification)

I still don't understand the closeup haterade.

I was able to see all the actors ACT their way through those songs, which was breathtaking. I think it was a smart move with something potentially Spielbergian in Les Miz. It could have been a big sugary trifle and I think the closeups helped to cut down on what could have been excessive.

Maybe it's me--I'm a stage guy (but love film)--and what I focus on is writing/storytelling/acting/beautiful pictures. I got plenty of those in Les Miz.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAle-Alejandro

In fact I love how harsh critics have been to this movie, specially Ebert. Hopefully it'll end Hooper career, like it happened to Rob Marshall after Geisha.

I wish they hired good directors to musicals, not these Adam Shankmans, Susan Something or Chris Columbus!!!

Musicals were more respected when they had great directors. Even today, when Luhrmann or Lars von Trier or Christophe Honoré make musicals, they are respected. Because they have a point. And because they are filmusicals, cinema movies, and not adaptations from a not so suitable source of material to movies.

You always complain about movies to Broadway adaptations. I say vice-versa.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Critics who hate the film hate Les Miz. Same as they did on Broadway.

It's not a masterpiece of a musical like most of Sondheim's work, but despite all its structural flaws (wonky lyrics, completely sloppy use of leitmotifs in the score) it has an incredible amount of heart that none of the other British mega musicals had (most theater snobs will grudgingly admit to liking this . . . even in an ironic way). I had to laugh when David Denby was like "see Rigoletto instead" because as an opera lover I have to put up with a lot worse in terms of plot, character development (and often stagecraft) . . . but the rewards when you hear the star soprano nail an aria (similar to Anne Hathaway nailing I Dreamed a Dream) are worth it.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAle-Alejandro

It's interesting that someone mentioned "Master of the House" as an example when Hooper didn't over-indulge close-ups when that song, to me, was one of the worst in the movie. Good god, could the man not back up even 5 feet? Give us at least 1 or 2 establishing shots, maybe from above or from the doorway, so we could see the two crowds confronting each other at the end? It's such a fun song and yet I had no sense of space or action due to the camera being so close to everyone all the time. All I saw were elbows and jackets and the occassional giant faces of SBC and HBC.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I don't think with the massive box office for Les Mis (which matters more than prestige, at the end of the day!) and the eight Oscar nominations including Best Picture (not to mention the success of the King's Speech) that Tom Hooper's career is in any danger ;)

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrami (ramification)

Truly mystified by the firestorm conversations about this film. I enjoyed it. It's not perfect but I don't expect films to be perfect. I expect them to entertain and move me...mission accomplished. And, as someone who knows the stage version very well, I was very impressed by the screenplay...the movement and editing of the songs was 90% an improvement, made me understand some plot points better, made me actually like older Cosette for the first time and upended my expectations about the "revolt"...it IS such a tiny horribly misguided affair and not the epic it feels on stage. Good stuff which Hooper clearly had a hand in.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom M

Everything Tom M says, I agree with.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAle-Alejandro

Ale-Alejandro, I didn't hate Les Mis on Broadway because I could see what was happening, appreciate the choreography and staging, and enjoy really beautiful music direction that didn't turn every single song into arrhythmic melodrama. It's not my favorite show in the world, but I love the score and really enjoyed the staging and set design. The film, not so much.

My favorite part of the film was the restructuring of the story to tell a clearer narrative. Fantine's I Dreamed a Dream makes a whole lot more sense when she's actually been destroyed by the world rather than when there was still a chance for hope. Other little tweaks like that were great. It's the lack of music direction to bring out the nuance of the score and close-ups on every song that drove me insane. Actors should use their whole bodies to convey character and emotion. I can't tell what they're doing when they're squirting Visine down their cheeks and screaming at me.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

@ Caroline I was actually commenting on the plot-hole merely in jest (every film seems to get a "there will be plot-holes" video dedicated to it, so I just imagine that would an easy one for persons to indict the film for if they wanted it).

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrewK.

I'm sick of the hate. Its Oscar chances at BP are pretty lifeless. Why kick a dog when it's down. Nat loves the film. And he's been completely transparent with his biases and the film's shortcomings.

That the vastly inferior (last two hours of) django unchained has gotten through its run virtually unscathed on the Internet is beyond me.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVince Smetana

PS. I really like TB's idea.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVince Smetana

I don't have time to hate on Hathaway.

I understand she's a bit try hard theater queen, but I think she's a smashing actress and hope she takes the Oscar.

January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean

Oh, god, I read all this hate and it sounds the same. Especially the attacks against The King's Speech, which is so old.

Despite its flaws I liked Les Miz enough that I think I'm going to see the film in IMAX this Sunday.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGabriel Oak

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