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« SAG Carpet Pt 1: Silhouettes and Character Arcs | Main | Luca's Body »
Tuesday
Jan292013

Misérables No More. Les Joking.

You know a depressing drama has achieved deep market penetration when no one can stop joking about it. Is this a communal embarrassment from making ugly cry faces in the movie theater (don't worry, no one can see you.)? Whatever it is, Les Misérables has now joined Brokeback Mountain and Titanic and _____ in the small club of deeply sad dramas that everyone loves to make jokes about.

Have you seen "Les Mean Girls"? The tumblr mashes the musical up with Tina Fey's classic comedy, Amanda Seyfried being the key to all things (no seriously. she's everywhere).


But my favorite current Les Misérables joke is this expert repurposing of the big "I Dreamed a Dream" showstopper as Living FYC Satire. I totally love this even though I think Anne Hathaway is everything in the movie and totally deserves the Oscar.

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Reader Comments (63)

I think that video would be even funnier if Anne didn't have the Oscar practically in the bag, but still, it's pretty brilliant. I particularly love the end of the video in which they wrote "Anne" without the "E" and then added it later (kind of a cheap shot at the Critics Choice Awards, but it was my biggest laugh). I also loved how they made fun of Tom Hooper's constant close-ups. Even though I would have given her the Oscar for Rachel Getting Married, I'm happy she's probably about to win and she does give it her all to this role....

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

I think immaturity and homophobia made the Brokeback jokes so readily popular.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I think she's fantastic too. My only fear is that from now on every single aspiring actress will belt her heart out trying to match her and I'm a less is more kind of person.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

"... and I lost half my body weight, but then they never did a wideshot" and "... and though I had to blow my nose, I did it all in one take bitches!". AMAZING!!
As you said, its pretty hard for a drama to achieve this kind of notoriety.
Lots of PR people would kill to have their movies so deep in the pop culture veins to generate this kind of jokes.
Anne Hathaway will probably LOL when she watch this video.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVictor S

The line referring to the lack of wideshots really made me LOL :D

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

Both the original performance and the parody are terrific. People sometimes act like parodying something is automatically an expression of dislike. Most of the best are having fun with something you like.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

Sean -- agreed. which is why i guess i love jokes about movies i love... unless they're just not clever. There were some really funny brokeback jokes but the bulk were lazy and seemed to just be about people's discomfort with a movie about guys falling in gay love with each other.

January 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Three of my favourite things (Les Mis/Oscars/Parodies) put together just made my day!

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

The hate machine has been out for this beautiful film from the beginning. The way over the top slam fest almost seems to grow in relation to the phenomenal global box office as if all the "smart people" can't stand the fact that a wonderful work of art is being appreciated by millions around the globe. The snark quotient is only equalled by the ignorance of those who don't have a clue about the book, the musical that has never left the stage in almost 30 years or the audience that has come to love and appreciate this interpretation of acting through song that finally puts them on the stage for a full appreciation of the power of the message of freedom, equality, and redemption through love. I truly feel sorry for those who can't join us in those feelings and that understanding of this forever film for the decades.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

OMG, is that Eddie Redmayne playing Anne playing Fantine?? Brilliant!

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRic

I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority, but I didn't LOVE Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables and don't really want her to win. I mean she's totally going to, and is probably the best out of who's nominated, but yeah, overall I'm very "eh" about it.

That parody really made me chuckle at the closeup line!

And when it comes to Mean Girls, I can't get over Tina Fey saying she's working on making it into a musical. Umm, yes please!

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKeelay!

I saw Les Miserables when it first came out and wrote in this blog that it was magnificent....

I saw it again this past week with a friend who had not seen it ... he is not into musicals, but enjoyed the movie.

This time around, I did not care for it that much ... I don't see it as a joke, but i also do not see it holding up. I should have not revisited it!!!

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Well, IMO Hathaway doesn't deserve her Oscar and this movie shows it perfectly. If Hathaway deserves it - than this girl deserves it too.
I liked Jackman and Redmayne more in "Les Miserables"!

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

Nathaniel I'm glad you are ok with this clip, even laughing at it/with it. I thought you'd be a bit mad about it, after all, its mocking Anne (with an E) endless very "in your face" campaign which is starting to turn people against her. She is very very very overexposed, the constant talking about how wonderful and perfect and amazing her husband is can be very tireing and not everybody is buying her "suprised little girl Oh I CANT believe I won" act during award shows. Who is she, Taylor Swift?

And her speeches have been really devisive as well.very rehearsed, with fake surprise and faux humility going on. She really tries to come off as humble and suprised and not at all full of herself but it sounds and looks fake every time.

She will win the Oscar for sure, but her image wont come out of it without some scars. Just like happened to Portman. She will win, but will have to work hard afterwards to get the audience and general public back to her sido and Make then forgive and forget her "real life rachel berry" act which is really turning people against her.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

How much of this "overexposure" is due to the non-stop whining and vilification on the net about her being the front runner? I don't think it helped that Universal chose her scene for the major advertising campaign rather than mixing in other performances. I actually think that hurt the award chances for the movie itself particularly those of Hugh Jackman who is the actual star of the film. If you look at official sites, there is nothing more of Hathaway than other film casts have done this whole season. The same about of late shows, Q & A, three award show appearances etc.

Certainly she hasn't done anything more than Jennifer Lawrence with all her bubbly bouncy all over the countryside with only a tiny amount of the vitriol leveled in her direction.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Jaime, its not just the official promotion of the movie and the events they all have to attend. Hathaway is in every single magazine cover, newspaper, website and talk show known to mankind. Its about her endless, non stop statements about how her husband is the greatest Man on Earth, how hopeless, head over heels in love with him she is and all their marital bliss, her haircut, her mother and her weight loss and how she risked her healrh and almost died "for her art". She is following Natalie Portman's campaign strategy to a T, adding the whole "little girl ingenue" thing that Natalie didnt do- Natalie is Too arrogant and "intelectual" for that.

Her always acting suprised when accepting awards sounds and looks fake. Her speeches, the whole "Oh my god I CANT believe this is really happening" is fake. She knows she is the frontrunner and has campaigned more and harder than anyone this year. Her faux modesty and faux humility are working against her. Her speeches are forced, fake, overrehearsed and she tries to pass as humble but its impossible to buy such act. Look at the thread above this one (red carpet one) and read the comments.

As for Jennifer Lawrence, she doesnt come across as fake as Hathaway. She is eight years younger and sounds less like a "big eyed surprise Taylor Swift-esque little girl" than Hathaway does. And sounds a LOT less pretentious. Lawrence doesnt go around talking about her "craft" and how she starved herself and put her health in danger and almost "died for her art" (as if). Lawrence does fart jokes on interviews. She declined to go on Inside the Actor's studio. She projects and sells a very diferent image. In fact, many people deslike her because they thing she is silly, shallow, ignorant, too clownish and goofy. Its the opposite of "serious thespian" Hathaway.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Truly disagree. Hathaway doesn't control what the publicists for the movie do. Every movie star has standard stories they tell or are told about them and for the most part answer the questions that are asked by interviewers. If the interviewers ask the same questions:

You sung live on set
Your mother was in Les Miserables
You cut your hair and lost weight for the role
Didn't you just get married

blah, blah, blah. If you follow a particular film then you get to hear the same stuff over and over. The best interview I saw for variety and reality was Charlie Rose with the whole cast. They all came across as decent, genuinely nice people for the simple reason that Rose didn't sound like a robot question machine.

As I said, the internet hate machine has been out for this film and Hathaway from almost the beginning before the movie had even been released. You can actually watch the progress of some of the crap on IMDb and the Gold Derby forums as it degenerated into non-stop filth. That isn't Anne Hathaway's fault. It is just the nature of the net trolls (paid and unpaid).

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Truly disagree. Hathaway doesn't control what the publicists for the movie do. Every movie star has standard stories they tell or are told about them and for the most part answer the questions that are asked by interviewers. If the interviewers ask the same questions:

You sung live on set
Your mother was in Les Miserables
You cut your hair and lost weight for the role
Didn't you just get married

blah, blah, blah. If you follow a particular film then you get to hear the same stuff over and over. The best interview I saw for variety and reality was Charlie Rose with the whole cast. They all came across as decent, genuinely nice people for the simple reason that Rose didn't sound like a robot question machine.

As I said, the internet hate machine has been out for this film and Hathaway from almost the beginning before the movie had even been released. You can actually watch the progress of some of the crap on IMDb and the Gold Derby forums as it degenerated into non-stop filth. That isn't Anne Hathaway's fault. It is just the nature of the net trolls (paid and unpaid).

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Truly disagree. Hathaway doesn't control what the publicists for the movie do. Every movie star has standard stories they tell or are told about them and for the most part answer the questions that are asked by interviewers. If the interviewers ask the same questions:

You sung live on set
Your mother was in Les Miserables
You cut your hair and lost weight for the role
Didn't you just get married

blah, blah, blah. If you follow a particular film then you get to hear the same stuff over and over. The best interview I saw for variety and reality was Charlie Rose with the whole cast. They all came across as decent, genuinely nice people for the simple reason that Rose didn't sound like a robot question machine.

As I said, the internet hate machine has been out for this film and Hathaway from almost the beginning before the movie had even been released. You can actually watch the progress of some of the crap on IMDb and the Gold Derby forums as it degenerated into non-stop filth. That isn't Anne Hathaway's fault. It is just the nature of the net trolls (paid and unpaid).

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Truly disagree. Hathaway doesn't control what the publicists for the movie do. Every movie star has standard stories they tell or are told about them and for the most part answer the questions that are asked by interviewers. If the interviewers ask the same questions:

You sung live on set
Your mother was in Les Miserables
You cut your hair and lost weight for the role
Didn't you just get married

blah, blah, blah. If you follow a particular film then you get to hear the same stuff over and over. The best interview I saw for variety and reality was Charlie Rose with the whole cast. They all came across as decent, genuinely nice people for the simple reason that Rose didn't sound like a robot question machine.

As I said, the internet hate machine has been out for this film and Hathaway from almost the beginning before the movie had even been released. You can actually watch the progress of some of the crap on IMDb and the Gold Derby forums as it degenerated into non-stop filth. That isn't Anne Hathaway's fault. It is just the nature of the net trolls (paid and unpaid).

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

I know that she will win - but for me it will be the less deserved Oscar for acting since Sandra Bullock.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

Amanda -- i think you're perception of all of this is seriously distorted by your general loathing of Anne Hathaway. You attack her every time we discuss her. She's not any more exposed than Jessica or Jennifer right now.

Jamie -- I agree that Hathaway hasn't done anything more in terms of ubiquity than Jennifer Lawrence but the difference is it's cool to love Jennifer Lawrence and Anne hathaway has always been a geeky actor. If this were high school, Jennifer Lawrence would be the homecoming queen and Anne Hathaway the needy theater kid. It doesn't make Anne Hathaway any lesser than Jennifer L (I far prefer Hathaway myself) but it just means Hathaway is an easier target.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternathanielr

Nathaniel, Hathaway has never been a favorite of mine, but this is not just me. Go to other movie sites. Go to "celeb" sites, other movie blogs, entertainment sites in general. Hey, read the comments on your SAG Fashion/red carpet thread. This is a general perception that is growing. Many people are turned off by her now. Many people see her as a try-hard. Her speeches are not being well received. Maybe its hard for you to see it since you worship her but not everybody feels the same way and many many people deslike her and are not buying her right now. The truth is out there. ;-)

I dont particularly care for Lawrence. I'm usually indiferent towards her. Doesnt bother me, dont love her. Dont really have an opinion on her yet.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

The "this is really happening" dig from the Globes speech was my favorite part. Hehe.

Chin up, "Les Miz" fanboys. Isn't parody the sincerest form of flattery? Or is that imitation? Either way, Annie's winning that Oscar for all of posterity. She'll give a speech that'll rival batshit crazy Melissa Leo's. We'll share a laugh or two, drink some wine, and throw shade in gay heaven over the ridiculousness of her incessant need for attention and acceptance. Good times indeed.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOrion

From the standpoint of overdoing it, the constant Silver Linings Playbook shove it in your face you must love it Weinstein promotion is making me start to hate a movie that upon viewing I found to be a pleasant, entertaining film ... As Good As It Gets was a better movie, but SLP was acceptable. This is at the heart of a lot of the backlash against both Les Mis, SLP, Hathaway and Lawrence. There really can be too much of a good thing and these over the top campaigns are about as good an example of the condition as you can find anywhere.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

I have been a Hathaway fan since Brokeback when she surprised the hell out of me.

I find it funny that she is being criticized for doing a press junket to support her film. She strikes me as a professional. Articulate, intelligent, funny and well deserving of all praise that comes her way.

Not to mention she gives an EXCEPTIONAL performance which should be taught in schools on how to ACT a song. I took several years of a musical theater acting class that was as brutal as any method acting or physical theater acting class and I get very very picky on pop singers, musical theater singers and opera singers' delivery of songs.

Anne crafts a scene that has a beginning, middle and an end and none of the Fantines I've seen since LuPone have been able to do that with this song. Many are content to belt the shit out of it Whitney style (a plague that invades the rest of Les Miz and love or hate the singing, I think Hooper's insistence on keeping it RAW helped cut a lot of what would have been insufferable . . . imagine Adam Lambert as Enjolras for example). I felt like I was hearing this song for the first time and it rivals LuPone for me (which is saying a lot because LuPone's version has been the gold standard not just for this song but all musical theater singing, period.

I think you just don't see this kind of work all that often in musicals. Even on Broadway (where once a season you get a Raul Esparza or a Alice Ripley giving a balls to the wall fully invested performance). The fact that she's the front runner and being lauded makes me feel hopeful for upcoming musicals (particularly Into the Woods) that there will be a way to marry music and drama in a way is unlike any other kind of storytelling there is.

For the record, I'm a die hard Sondheimite and I generally detest poperetta shclock and wish we had more new musicals that continue the intelligence and fire of shows like Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George, but Hathaway's performance in this film (and Jackman's incredible "Soliloquy" and Redmayne's "Empty Chairs") made me excited at what can be achieved with acting while singing.

Bring on the Oscar!

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlejandro

The problem with Ann(e) is that she seems to be trying all the time, maybe that's because she's indeed a geeky theater kid trying to overcompensate but everytime i see her i just want her to tell her to relax. She really is the new Sally Field, everything about her screams "LIKE ME, PLEASE" It doesn't make her a bad person, just a really off-putting one.

As for Lawrence, i think she's dumb as a box of rocks, but she comes off as a lot less insecure than Anne and therefore her public persona is also less "try-hard".

For the record i like Anne a lot more than i do Jennifer, but i also happens to see why people think she's so damn annoying.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Hey Amanda - I'm more with you than I am with Jamie, Nathaniel and Alejandro and I wanted you to know there are others out here that agree with you. I am finding Anne Hathaway very difficult to watch for many of the reasons you state. However, I'm not particularly impressed by Jennifer Lawrence either but, to be fair, at least as "personalities" promoting their films this year, they are distinctive.. However, I do find it disappointing that Les Mis is encouraging everyone to believe huge emotional displays on screen are impressive accomplishments in acting but then, of course, that prejudice goes way back too. I do want to remind people who are using the world wide box office of LES MIS as proof that it's "good" that they need to embrace MAMMA MIA in the same way. I'm fine if you want to say the box office proves it's popular but I strongly argue that great box office does NOT necessarily indicate it's a good film.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbillybil

there´s this comment from someone who goes by the name "Phantom" on awards daily that I thinks puts it nicely:

let’s not pretend that Hathaway wasn’t superaware that Fantine is her Oscar-ticket if she plays the game right. Long before anyobody saw Les Misérables, she made a big fuss about cutting her long hair and losing weight for the role, she talked about it EVERYWHERE during the summer (TDKR press tour) and then a few months later like a broken record started again (LesMis press tour), so basically she didn’t even give a chance to anyone NOT being fully aware of her sacrafices for the role, and what was really interesting, that in tiny snippets it became obvious that nobody expected her to do those things, especially not Tom Hooper, the director, which makes perfect sense since she started LesMis after playing (and training) for Catwoman so it’s not like she wasn’t particularly slender to begin with and the short hair required for maybe 10 minutes of screentime could have been EASILY covered by the hair and makeup people…but then it wouldn’t have made an Oscar-story worth talking about for months. She probably did those because a) she was committed to nailing the role b) she knew it will make a damn strong textbook Oscar-story. Once the film started the industry screenings, then it was released worldwide and the acceptance speeches started, I think she went a little overboard with the taylorswiftesque ‘ohmygodyouguysicantbelieveiwoneventhoughihavebeenTHEfrontrunnersinceMaythefirsttrailer’ approach, but again, it was probably part of her campaign strategy.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Oh, thanks BillybIll! :-)

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Billlybil

Love the folks who bring up Mama Mia as a comparison. Mama Mia is giddy long gone broadway musical based on a strung together story of a bunch of ABBA popular songs. It is fun even with Streep's outrageous finger grabbing yowling (why they didn't get Glenn Close who can actually sing is beyond me).

Les Mis is based on a 150 year old masterwork about redemption through love during an important period of French history that has never been out of print that was converted to a sung through opera of a stage show that has not left the professional stage in almost 30 years and now converted to a movie that finally lets you feel all the drama of the original work by putting you up close and personal with the central characters. You may find fault with the filming choices but it definitely IS NOT Mama Mia.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

There's something wrong with huge emotional displays on screen? Hello, she's playing a woman who was abandoned by her lover, gave birth to a child out of wedlock, sexually harassed, fired, sold her hair and her teeth and forced to prostitute herself. I would be a mess too!

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlejandro

Jamie - I was not saying Les Mis was like Mamma Mia. I was saying that you can't claim the simple fact that Les Mis is making a lot of money worldwide as proof that it is a good film. Les Mis is NOT a good film. As for the source of the material - if you've seen the play onstage you certainly understand why it's been playing for 30 years - it is an amazing evening of theatre (when it is sung and acted well). Surely you agree that there are many instances of great works of art being screwed up in a movie.

Alejandro - I was not saying that Anne Hathaway didn't play the role effectively - I was saying that an actress who can get all emotional and over wrought singing a song that beautiful and well written is NOT proving that they are a great actress. Living in New York as I do I can assure you that there are hundreds of actresses who could lose weight, cut their hair, and sing that song with emotional expression JUST LIKE ANNE HATHAWAY did. Year after year certain roles performed by certain actors occur at the right time so that they get an Oscar and I'm fine if this is Hathaway's year with this role. It's fine - not inspired in my opinion - but fine. But I do agree with Amanda that Anne Hathaway is really over-selling herself in her "look at me" "gee whiz you love me" "oh how I almost died" antics. I find it unseemly and embarrassing.

I understand and love truly energetic and emotionally committed fans so I salute both of you and Nathaniel as well. But I also reserve the right to not be a fan of the movie or of Anne Hathaway's blatant self-promotion.

btw Jamie - anyone who would slam the way Meryl Streep sang in Mamma Mia better not be admiring the disappointing singing done by Hugh Jackman in Les Mis. He acted the role beautifully but he did NOT SING it beautifully. If you've ever heard those songs sung by a true singer with the range and vocal skills to do it justice, I believe you couldn't help but agree. I'm glad they went for actor over singer but I sure wish they could have found someone with the skills to do both as well as Jackman acted it.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbillybil

billybil

I've seen the stage musical three times, the first being out of town in DC before its first Broadway run. I've now seen the movie three times. I firmly believe that the film has strengths not present in the show and vice versa. The flaws I see in the film are the result of cuts made for running time that make it feel choppy or lacking in development in parts, but the "acting through singing" is just beautiful and simply another interpretation of the material. The book is different from the stage that is different from the movie and all of them are each great in their own way. Jackman is a wonderful singer as his stylized version of "Who Am I" with the Philadelphia Orchestra just proved not to mention his stage awards on three continents. That he and Hooper chose another delivery is just that ... a choice. Check out the video. Who Am I

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

@billybil


I usually have similar opinions with Jamie's .... but in this cast I support most of what you said.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Oops! Case... not cast

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Actually rick - I liked the "cast" slip up. lol

Jamie - again I never tried to indicate that Hugh Jackman is not a great stylist and a great musical theater performer - but he did not sing his role in LES MIS well. Over and over again Jackman is straining to hit the high notes and the sound he produces in that upper register - which is required for much of his songs - is not a sound that conveys much beyond tension. If you've seen the show then I hope you've heard someone who can really sing the role - who has the power and vocal flexibility to provide subtlety and beauty in those highs notes and not just tension and intensity. The haunting sounds an appropriately skilled singer can bring to those moments is breathtaking and very moving and provides wonderful counterpoint to the other parts of the music that do require tension and strain. Again - Hugh Jackman is a great actor in the role and he does bring charisma and appeal to the part - but he does not sing it well - not all of it, at any rate. I just hope you've been fortunate enough to see (hear) some really good productions of Les Mis so that you can have an idea of what I'm describing.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbillybil

billybil

As I indicated I have seen Colm Wilkinson twice and Alfie Boe once backed by original broadway cast and touring A company. What I am saying is that these are different mediums requiring different talents. The main reason most stage people can't make the switch to film and vice versa is they don't have a clue how to break the habits of one for the skills of the other.

Hooper said his biggest problem with the stage people in the cast was getting them to treat the camera as another actor. We simply disagree about this issue. I think Jackman sang well for what he was trying to achieve ... a man aging over 30 years in all sorts of weather and harsh conditions (while actually in those conditions singing live) with phrasing that went from suffering anguish to resolve to lullaby to prayer to dying confession and make it believable in a way that a purist belting to the balcony could not. Yes I love stage musicals. I also love film. Each has strengths and weaknesses not shared by the other which is why it is hard to translate shows to film. I happen to believe this time except for the flaws in editing I mentioned, the result was magnificent.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

BTW - I'm not being argumentative here. I'm truly enjoying the conversation about a difference in opinion.

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Jamie - i'm enjoying reading the conversation too and i really appreciate your comments. I think Jackman is MAGNIFICENT in the role and I've seen it on stage a few times with different casts. I just absolutely love him in the role... though i'll admit that his voice is not as strong as it's been in other work. He just kills me in Oklahoma his voice is so swoony there. Different role, but still.

And...

Alejandro -- what you said about Hathaway! Whenever I try to calm down about the savagery that greeted Les Miz online what brings me back to anger is seeing this incredible performance reduced to "overacting".

Here's a truth about melodrama and musicals and any other "heightened" genre from sci-fi to horror: If you don't want to feel it. If you raise up your defences, if you refuse to "believe a man can fly" you will generally do a good job of not feeling it and it will look silly to you. But it's your loss. This is an absolutely inspired performance. I have heard this song a million zillion times and now I don't want any other version. None.

she gives you this woman's ENTIRE LIFE STORY in those intense alternately soft, furious, bewildered flourishes, She lends specificity to sometimes vague lyrics merely by living inside the character. and she treats this big scene like it's the whole movie, and it is Fantine's whole biopic (beginning middle and end for sure)

I haven't seen a film actor understand acting through song this well since maybe even Liza Minnelli in Cabaret. Not joking. Hathaway deserves the comparisons she does often seek with Old Hollywood (I get why people think she tries too hard).

But it's okay to try too hard when you actually succeed. Hathaway is the real deal. She delivers in film after film (i can think of one failure of a performance in her adult resume - alice in wonderland - and almost everyone was bad in that movie so whatever) If people don't like her personality and aren't enjoying her acting because of it it's truly their loss.

January 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel, right on!

I do have to say the discussion about Jackman is very challenging for me. I recognize that vocal beauty was sacrificed in his acting choices (I saw Jackman on stage singing Curly in Oklahoma! which is a role that demands a glorious lyric tenor/baritone sound and he delivered in spades) . . . but I gave him a lot of slack because EVERY Jean Valjean I've seen tried to sound like Colm Wilkinson. Les Miz's score lends itself to a lot of overvocalizing and I respected Hooper going for something a little less American Idol-ish.

I think Russel Crowe was the biggest misstep here. His Javert didn't need to sound beautiful, but the singing felt half-assed to me and lacking in power.

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAle-Alejandro

Nathaniel - I certainly hope you're not assuming I'm someone who doesn't appreciate "heightened" performances or who doesn't allow themselves to be open to "feeling" ibecause you couldn't be more wrong. I am absolutely a man who embraces emotional involvement in watching movies. I LOVE it and I'm always eager to be moved. As I wrote a week or so ago - I went into LES MIS with high hopes and dreams to be moved and transported. (Perhaps that was the problem).

And - again - it's great that you are such a fan of Hathaway in this role. And I have never suggested she isn't the real thing. Ever. But from someone who has seen many, many, many musical films from all periods of movie history, I strongly disagree with your statement about acting through song being at some sort of pinacle in Hathaway's performance.

We have a very strong difference of opinion here. Please don't try to reduce my opinion by claiming that you have a wider range of experience watching movie musicals OR a greater appreciation of sensivity with regard to acting through song. You are not THE expert in the field. Please remember you are stating your opinion here which happens to differ from one of your readers. You can feel it as strongly as you wish but to try and imply that you know "better" or "more" than me is disrespectful and self-serving. Especially since you don't have any idea what I do for a living or what sort of experience I have in the actual musical theatre world.

Thanks Jamie - I've been enjoying this opportunity to put my thoughts/feelings into words. Of course I understand your appreciation of Hugh Jackman's acting of the role. I just wish he could have sung it as well as he acted it. I also understand the challenge of stage actors working in films but I also know that this is an 'easy' out and a very comfortable 'reason' people 'in the business' use to explain issues that are actually more complicated and subtle.

But since you brought it up, one of the problems I have with Hathaway's performance is that I think it's a little too stagey - a little too self-aware - a little too carefully crafted to cover every point from beginning to end. I do think movie acting does require a little more spontaniety in the performing - something that I didn't experience in watching Hathaway's performance. I think it was very carefully figured out and, therefore, I felt I was being manipulated rather than experiencing something being discovered in the moment. I agree - that is something Liza did really well in CABARET. Streisand could do it really well too sometimes - unfortunately not all the time. I think I reacted to Hathaway's performance here in the way many people react to Streep. Too self aware, too carefully modulated, too "acted" rather than lived. I do NOT fault Jackman in this way at all. He is a wonderful film actor. It's just - sometimes I was distracted by the sound of his voice trying to sing in a register that was really just a little too high for his voice. Some people agree and obviously many do not. I think it's so great the way you give this so much thought and attention. I really appreciate and respect your care.

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbillybil

Nathaniel, did she "deliver" in Bride Wars? Becoming Jane? One Day? (embarassing accent on both films)

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I´m not saying she is not good. I´m saying she can be hit-and-miss just like most actors. Hardly anyone delivers "every single time". Not even Streep. Not even Day - Lewis - God, he has that horrific "Nine" performance in his cv. Probably not even Brando delivered "every time". De Niro didnt. Denzel didnt. Nicholson didnt. And Hathaway certainly doesnt as well.

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

billybil -- it's certainly not my intention to belittle other people's opinions and I realize i've been defensive about this one.... but it's hard not to state your case boldly when you feel it boldly and the whole world seems to be out to belittle >your own opinion... I've just linked up to a piece in the New York Times that tries to work out why people who hate Les Miz have been so cruel with condescencion to its fans. My friend Nick keeps berating me about how I've responded to attacks on this movie but I get the sense that people who think people have been fair to it have just not read some of the key pieces that aim to decimate it and embarass those who love it. Those pieces are out there.

I get that a lot of people who love musicals and who have musical experience (i can play piano but i don't really have other musical skills) didn't love this interpretation of this musical -- I have several friends who definitely love musicals who didn't like it -- but I'm just shocked that people have been so dismissive of it calling it "empty" and "shallow" --- honestly i'd accept all sorts of adjectives but shallow just can't be one of them because she is doing so much more in terms of working with this woman's psychology than most singers who attempt the song and just go for beauty (i'm entirely grossed out by the world's fascination with whatshername over in London... and I'm so sick of the Idolization of music where it's just one big note after another but no feeling for the text)

anyway. beauty is in the eye of the beholder. obviously.

I feel like i'm going to be working out my issues with response to this movie (including my own) for along time. haha.

ONE MORE THING - billybil since you don't think anne hathaway is doing great acting througn song, just for context i'm curious if you might list some examples of people who you think are great at it. To me the be all and end all in acting while singing is Judy Garland and many other people have done a good job of it over the years but i'm curious to hear your opinion on who. especially recently.

January 31, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Given our discussion, these clips from an upcoming Actors Studio. http://www.bravotv.com/inside-the-actors-studio/season-18/videos/hugh-jackman-wolverine The second clip is where Hugh Jackman discusses his musical choices in the Soliloquy and "cry not cry" elements in the song

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Great acting through song examples off the top of my head:

1. Judy Garland singing "A Foggy Day" on her TV show. And of course "The Man That Got Away" in A Star is Born

2. Liza singing "Maybe This Time" in Cabaret

3. John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch

4. Shirley MacLaine in all of Sweet Charity

5. Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge (textbook!)

6. Madonna in her videos for "Take a Bow" and "You'll See" and "Live to Tell"

7. I detest this movie but Nicole brought the only thing worth seeing in NINE in the entire "Unusual Way" sequence

8. JHud certainly brought it in Dreamgirls, which was the only thing worth seeing in that movie

And of course, if you get the chance to watch video footage of Audra McDonald, Patti LuPone, Maria Callas or Natalie Dessay tearing it up on the Broadway Stage or on the opera stage (all available on YouTube . .. Dessay's Lucia di Lammermoor Mad Scene is a master class on how to act in opera), please do. Hathaway's performance reminded me of that I love about these ladies and the white hot intensity and commitment they bring to musical storytelling.

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAle-Alejandro

Thanks so much Nathaniel - that's the voice I've come to respect and love.

And I LOVE that you linked to that article in the NY TImes (which I hadn't seen yet and have yet to read).

But I absolutely agree with you - EMPTY and SHALLOW cannot be applied to this film of LES MIS. I even wrote (here, I think) that I was happy to see this film nominated for Best Pic because I think it reflects a huge artistic stand and I do love people who have the guts to go for it. I do think I wanted to love it more than was healthy (:-) ) so my disappointment is also probably extreme (:-) ).

Now I could kick myself because I honestly almost mentioned Judy Garland in my previous post as the best I have seen. She simply inhabited the song and the music and shared it with the audience and, from what I have seen AMANDA - she did it pretty much every damn time sahe sang . I did mention Liza and Stresiand before. A moment I think Streisand did this really well is singing My Man at the end of Funny Girl. It was pretty intense but I felt it was really grounded in the heart of the song as well as Fanny's emotional truth. I do tend to prefer a stiller face during song. Hathaway is very courageous in the way she allows so much to affect her face while singing on screen - but, for me, in this already very emotional world - it's too much. I'm sorry I can't come up with other specific examples right now - oh wait - there's that song sung by Doris Day in LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, I think, and she does a great subtle job of conveying character.

But now that you've got me thinking about this more Nathaniel - Hathaway's job in Les Mis is much harder than most of the songs I've referenced. Judy Garland was never given a song as huge as I DREAMED A DREAM. Interesting...I'm trying to imagine how she would have done it (ignoring the fact that she wasn't physically right for the role but she certainly might have brought a very interesting different sort of fragility to it). Again - Hathaway just didn't do it for me - I was too aware of WHAT she was doing rather than FEELING it. Just a matter of taste. I acknowledge she is a bold, daring, gifted actress (and she did have the vocal range and skills to sing the part) who grabbed hold of an opportunity and chewed it up. Didn't work for me but it obviously worked in huge ways for others.

Wish I had time and energy to be more intelligent here. Thanks for the opportunity and the care you, Jamie, Amanda, Rick have shown me.

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbillybil

My favorite "acting through music" isn't on film, but there sure is a movie in it: Amanda McBroom singing about the relationship of a 42 year old woman with a man of 29.

Crimes of the Heart

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

It's true that her Pollyanna personality is hard to put up with, but all I know is that her phrasing of "I dreamed a dream in time gone by" moved me so deeply. The way she combines the beauty and the ugly in such a short performance is truly admirable.

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

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