Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reviewing Les Mis And Les Year

Ever since Roger Ebert called one of TigerBlog's all-time favorite movies "the worst-acted movie of all-time" and another reviewer gave it zero stars out of five, TB has taken critics with a big grain of salt.

After all, "Point Break" was a great movie.

He thought back to that when he read the review for "Les Miserables," the movie version that is, the one that was released on Christmas Day.

TigerBlog is among the many who has already seen the movie in its first two days of release. He also read a bunch of reviews for the movie, and they were about 50-50 between "it was great" and "it was trying too hard and missed the mark."

To the second 50 of that group, TB asks this question: "What were you watching?"

The movie is ridiculously good.

It's really hard to translate an epic musical that has played for more than a quarter-century on the stage into a movie. It lacks the intimacy, and it has to be more than just a movie version of the show.

It also needs to have some star power to attract an audience, which is something that the stage version doesn't need to do. In fact, the stage version creates stars, rather than the other way around.

To that end, the movie version of "Les Mis" features Russell Crowe as Javert and Anne Hathaway as Fantine, not to mention Broadway-veteran Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean.

One of the unique parts of this movie is that the performers all sang their songs live during filming, as opposed to in a studio separately after lip-syncing during filming. It's even more impressive considering that many of the leads - like Crowe, Hathaway, Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter - are not known for their singing.

And yet it works. In a very big way.

There are some others in supporting roles who are also tremendous. And of course there is the music itself, which is obviously can't-miss stuff. And, somewhat uniquely, is a rare show that doesn't have at least one great romantic ballad. In fact, it's most famous song is a bunch of guys singing about a revolution.

If you know the music, you'll love it. If you don't know the music, you'll probably go get the music after you see the movie.

Unless you're a critic.

"Les Miserables" will still end up on most year-end Top 10 lists and such.

This time of year, the week between Christmas and New Year's, is famous for its Top 10 lists, year in review-oriented content and such.

So why not look at the year 2012 in Princeton athletics.

By any standards, it was a ridiculously successful one.

Princeton had four national champions in 2012, two individuals (Jonathan Yergler in fencing and Donn Cabral in track and field) and two teams (field hockey, men's squash). The fencing team was the NCAA runner-up.

There were 11 Ivy League championship teams in 2012 - women's basketball, men's swimming and diving, men's indoor track and field, men's outdoor track and field, men's cross country, men's lacrosse, women's soccer, men's fencing, women's fencing, men's squash and field hockey.

In other words, if you were making a list of the top three stories in Princeton athletics in 2012, then you'd have to leave out a national champion. Actually, at least one. As well as multiple league champions.

Beyond just those accomplishments, you have to add in what is arguably the best football game Princeton has played in, oh, a long, long time, its 39-34 comeback win over Harvard. Even though Princeton didn't win the league championship in football, it's possible that that moment would be in the top three.

TigerBlog still isn't sure what order he'd put everything in or what he would select as the No. 1 story for Princeton in the last 12 months.

In fact, he's going to take "One Day More" to think about it.

1 comment:

B.McD. '83 said...

Tough year to pick a #1 but, with apologies to the individual champions and to Women's FH, who all deserve huge praise, I'd have to go with Men's Squash and Bob Callahan as the combined top story - winning the National Championship, stopping the epic Trinity run, coming back from down 4-2 and then learning a week later that one of Princeton's greatest coaches and people of all time, Bob Callahan, has brain cancer, which he continues to fight with hope, dignity and a remarkably positive attitude - I think that combination may be the top story of the 21st century for Princeton athletics. Not to compare it to Les Miz, or any other movie, but I can't imagine a greater swing of emotions and a transcendent struggle like Bob's that hits so close to home for the tiger family.