Mizzerable About Les Mis
Another David Denby gem in The New Yorker blasts the movie version to hell and beyond:
I came to the material fresh, without preconception, and throughout the entire hundred and fifty-seven minutes I sat cowering in my seat, lost in shame and chagrin. This movie is not just bad ('bombast,' as Anthony Lane characterized it in a wonderful review in the current issue of the magazine). It’s terrible; it’s dreadful. Overbearing, pretentious, madly repetitive.
I was doubly embarrassed because all around me, in a very large theatre, people were sitting rapt, awed, absolutely silent, only to burst into applause after some of the numbers, and I couldn’t help wondering what in the world had happened to the taste of my countrymen — the Americans (Americans!) who created and loved almost all the greatest musicals ever made.
Didn’t any of my neighbors notice how absurdly gloomy and dolorous the story was? How the dominant blue-gray coloring was like a pall hanging over the material? How the absence of dancing concentrated all the audience’s pleasure on the threadbare songs? How tiresome a reverse fashion show the movie provided in rags, carbuncles, gimpy legs, and bad teeth? How awkward the staging was? How strange to have actors singing right into the camera, a normally benign recording instrument, which seems, in scene after scene, bent on performing a tonsillectomy?"
And of the music:
The music is juvenile stuff — tonic-dominant, without harmonic richness or surprise. Listen to any score by Richard Rodgers or Leonard Bernstein or Fritz Loewe if you want to hear genuine melodic invention. I was so upset by the banality of the music that I felt like hiring a hall and staging a nationalist rally.
My fellow-countrymen, we are the people of Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin! Cole Porter and George Gershwin, Frank Loesser and Burton Lane! We taught the world what popular melody was! What rhythmic inventiveness was! Let us unite to overthrow the banality of these French hacks!" (And the British hacks, too, for that matter.) Alas, the hall is filled with people weeping over Les Mis.
Included in: Music News: Jan. 8, 2013
- Wed May 29, 2013 8:00pm
- Sat June 1, 2013 8:00pm
- Wed June 5, 2013 (All day)