21 January 2013

Heaven Knows Les Miserables Now



I might not know any French people and I've never been to France but because I'm British, I just know I can't stand them. I'm actually not into this whole ‘national pride’ thing. I don't like our Royal Family and when I see the Union Jack blowing in the wind, all I notice is the traditionally crappy weather. However I do still live here and I suppose we've all got to do our bit. If I have to display any British patriotism then an ignorant and arbitrary disliking of the arrogant French is the one I'll go for! I was forced to learn their language in school and so did my best to remain as dumb to it as possible. As I'd walk towards those classrooms, I'd find myself suddenly surrounded by their flags and photographs of Paris as though I'd accidentally entered the French fucking Embassy. People say they have a beautiful language but they don't- it just sounds gormless and as though they're constantly about to puke. Every word they say starts with a 'blurgh' noise which isn't surprising thanks to the shite they eat. I genuinely think horse racing is an abhorrent sport due to the unnecessary injuries and deaths of the animals involved, however where I see a tragedy, the French see a running buffet. Not only can they eat the horse but they can keep its hooves as a frog-squishing tool for dessert. It might be a cliché to joke about the weird shit that they eat but sod it, it's saving time.  I could start moaning about their pathetic surrender of Paris back in 1940 but I'd hate to genuinely risk hurting the feelings of a valued member of The Big Four'.

So with all that in mind, this week I ended up seeing Tom Hooper's adaptation of Les Miserables. For anybody who doesn't know, it's basically a musical about a bunch of 19th century, dirty, depressed, fucking losers who didn't get the best start in life. So it's about your average French person then. The film begins with Hugh Jackman serving his last day in custody under the watchful guise of Russell Crowe. It turns out that Jackman has been imprisoned for nineteen years after stealing a loaf of bread and Crowe has become all fascist and started deep throating the veiny shaft of the law. It turns out that the ex-Gladiator has no tolerance for anyone caught doing anything illegal whilst conveniently forgetting the time he twatted a hotel employee with a telephone. In general, I find Russell Crowe to be a hard chap to judge because on the one hand he's quite rough looking but on the other he writes poetry. It's almost as though he'd be a great bloke to chat to down the pub if he wasn't such a pretentious arsehole. Not that it matters as I'm yet to see a film of his that I didn't enjoy and that includes 2010's Robin Hood: Where The Fuck Am I From?

"Mother warned me about getting into cars with strange men"
Anyway, so Jackman is released from prison but fails to stick to the terms of his parole. Apparently nineteen years of hard labour actually isn't enough to teach this thieving fucker right from wrong. Instead he goes on the run and becomes a well liked businessman who owns a factory that employs Anne Hathaway and a gang of pain in the arse bitches. Sadly though, the mass of screeching tarts are in the majority and very jealous of Batman's latest gimped-up squeeze. To teach her a lesson for being so good looking, they have her fired on the grounds that she's a single Mum. As you can tell, the French are a sympathetic people. Anyway, so the newly unemployed Catwoman takes a step-down off the career ladder which naturally leads to the inevitability of prostitution. I guess the morale is that you don't need A-Levels to earn a wage so long as you've got a semi-workable minge. The last bit of this paragraph is a spoiler, so if you've not seen the film, skip to the next one now... Anyway so despite jobs being scarce Hathaway refuses to fucking smile making her a very ungrateful slice of hump meat. Not that it matters I guess seems as her career is cut embarrassingly short when she randomly decides to die. I'm not sure what kills her because it just kind of happens so I'll assume that she simply died of ‘whore’.

Because of Jackman's involvement in turning Catwoman into a frowning clunge dispenser, he vows to take care of her child. From what I hear, parenting isn't easy but I imagine it's made even harder when you're a convict on the run from Crowe's obsessed Romper Stomper. Also for the record I really think the way Jackman talks to the young girl is hugely inappropriate. He meets the child whilst she's fetching water alone in the woods and the first thing he asks her is if she needs any help with her bucket. I guess he just presumes that it's a case of ‘like-mother, like-daughter’. So, basically the film from here just follows Jackman and the little girl over the years as they spend it on the run. Meanwhile even the French are getting sick of themselves and so attempt to start a revolution. If I have to watch a film set in France then I guess the only way I'll enjoy it is if they all sound like cockneys and conclude the story by shooting the living shit out of each other. As a result, I did thoroughly enjoy Les Miserables.

"I dreamed a dream in time gone by..."
Although it's probably obvious from my outburst of unjustified racism in the first paragraph, I had never previously seen any version of this story. I obviously knew it was going to be a musical but what did surprise me was just how much of the film is sung. Whereas most musicals I've seen would punctuate their warbling's with some spoken chitter chatter, Les Mis is pretty much non-stop bellowing throughout. Everybody delivers their lines to a tune and generally at the top of their lungs as though this is the missing link between performing an operatic ballad and a Fiddy Diddy rap. Unfortunately though this constant bursting into song is too easy to take the piss out of with knob-heads everywhere claiming that because people don't do that in real life it's unbelievable and stupid. However this is a bollocks thing to say because firstly; we're not watching real life and secondly, people do perform impromptu tunes to express themselves all the time. I've seen loads of people singing made up songs about their emotions whilst walking down the street they just tend to be either nutters, tramps or bladdered. If The Invention of Lying takes place in an alternate world where everybody has to tell the truth, then just imagine that this film takes place in an alternate world where everybody is a fucking loud, self-centred attention seeker... a distant, lonely world called France.

Speaking of the songs, I did really quite enjoy them although I think it'll be more fun on second viewing now that they're a little more familiar. Since watching the film I actually can't get their version of 'One day more' out of my head. I don't know if constantly humming musicals is the first sign of turning gay but if a mate invites me to go camping on a mountain I might turn it down just to be on the safe side. It goes without saying that the cast are all pretty good at hitting the right notes with only one or two exceptions. Eddie Redmayne, who is the toff that looks like a lesbian, sounded a bit odd- as though he was literally singing out of his nose. But even if he was like a Whale trying to attract a mate, that didn't quite compare to whatever Russell Crowe was doing. It's not that Crowe was bad, it's just that he's clearly not in the same ball park as anybody else here. From what I know, someone like Hugh Jackman is very experienced in musical theatre whereas Crowe is in a band called '30 Odd Foot Of Grunts' which kind of tells you all you need to know. So it's not that he can't sing it's just that when he does, it sounds a bit like somebodies just kicked Bono up the arse and then killed an African in front of him.
FAB Javert

However hitting the right notes really isn't as important to this film as having the cast deliver the emotion. People keep banging on about how the singing was recorded live on set which was impressive at first but I've heard about it so much now that I just don't care. However the transition into song was much smoother when done this way. By sheer coincidence, I recently saw Rock of Ages and the dubbing in that was so bloody awful that it was like listening to people who have only read about music but never experienced it. Beyond anything else, they'd been proper auto-tuned into oblivion with one character actually sounding like one of the fucking Chipmunks. So in contrast, I really didn't mind Crowe doing his pub-band thing. In fact he was probably my favourite character because firstly; I like it when he's in hard bastard mode and secondly, I liked his Thunderbirds fancy dress costume at the start.

Story wise, this was clearly quite the epic with it spreading over several decades however the only real constant to it was Crowe chasing Jackman. As such, the whole world was made to seem rather small with the same two people bumping into one another over and over again. Not just those two, but Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter had a bizarre habit of just turning up too. Either this film relied a lot on coincidence, that country is a lot smaller than I thought it'd be or Hugh Jackman is really lazy with how far he'll go to hide. Although, speaking of SBC and HBC I'm not saying that they weren't brilliant but they were clearly out of place and from a different film. For the most part, Les Miserables looked like it was from the director of The Kings Speech but then every so often we were randomly treated to deleted scenes from Sweeney Todd. Even the set those two lived in was suitably gothic and Burton-esque with so many holes in the walls that it was like a pervert’s paradise.

"You complete me!"
So like I say, I did genuinely enjoy this film but if there's one thing that really bugged me, it was just how quickly the characters of Marius and Cosette fell in love. All they did was glance at each other and suddenly they were head-over-heels. I know those deluded types who believe in it won't pay any attention, but the concept of love at first sight is clearly complete bullshit. The only way people can fall in love that quickly is if one of them is tied up with their ear cut off and Stockholm syndrome quickly starts to kick in. Also the film was really, really long. I didn't get bored or anything but there were a few false ends where I thought it was about to start winding down. The most obvious one was probably when the projector fucked up and everything just cut to black for like five minutes. It was worth it though just for the moment when a man returned from the toilet to discover the film had restarted. Because he briefly blocked the screen, an oldish sounding woman behind proper hissed at him to “Ssssssit down!” I know that's nothing to do with the film but knowing the evil gypsy from Drag Me to Hell was in the same audience really added to the experience.

Speaking of the screening that I was at, there was a box of tissues available to the audience on the way in. I was told that this film was going to be a weepy but I can honestly say it didn't upset me once. I'm not trying to sound like one of those knob-heads who laddishly claims to be devoid of emotion and I'm happy to admit crying during films in the past. I was balling my eyes out during Transformers 3 but only because I was ashamed of myself for paying to see it. In the end though the free tissues were certainly useful if not for the heartache then definitely the few scenes in which Anne Hathaway became a prostitute. Just because her character wasn't having a good time doesn't mean I can't. In fact I would say her performance was so good that I could continue masturbating even while I was being reminded of the existence of Susan Boyle.

"Five hours of photoshopping and puss holes are barely visible"
So yeah, all-in-all it was a good film. Good songs, strong performances and nice images of my least favourite nation tearing itself apart. I'm not sure what the title Les Miserables is referring to but I assume it's probably just that gut feeling you get whenever you hear their sickly, French accent.
After both this and The Kings Speech, director Tom Hooper is really doing well to keep me as a fan. I hate the Royal Family and as you've by now probably gathered, I don't have much love for our snotty, froggy cousins. If he continues this trend of using things I can't stand as the primary subject then I look forward to his next film which will presumably be a biopic of Piers Morgan. I don't know what it might be called- not because I can't think of anything, but because I think somebody already owns the rights to The Creature From The Black Lagoon.


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