It’s awards season and I’ve seen four films in the last month – two about past presidents, one about [almost too] recent history, and one that has sparked the fiercest of Facebooking from musical theatre lovers and haters. When the critics and critiques get right up to the verge of driving me crazy, I step back and realize that that’s exactly what art does. It sparks conversation and curiosity. It makes you think. It makes you ecstatic or infuriated. It forces you to have an opinion. So here are a few of mine. Because it’s my blog.
Les Miserables was an epic film of an epic musical based on an epic novel. I was nervous to see it for a few reasons: 1) I had read ad nauseum on Facebook how much everyone loved or hated it. 2) Les Mis is so iconic in the musical theatre world that it’s often overdone, easy to make fun of, and ridiculous. 3) I didn’t actually know the story or music terribly well. (I know, for shame!) But despite all my reservations, I was hooked from the first scene and was really very moved. The acting was phenomenal. I will admit to being skeptical about Anne Hathaway. She’s bugged me in everything I’ve seen her in. Until now. “I Dreamed a Dream” was heart wrenching. Hugh Jackman can do no wrong. And yes, please, by all means argue that “Bring Him Home” should use falsetto. True though it may be, I don’t care. I think that singing only has the power to mar a performance if the acting isn’t brilliant. And clearly that was not the case. The Thenardiers were disgusting and amazing, Marius was a dream, and Russell Crowe was just fine. I can’t believe it’s taken this long to make a movie musical with live singing and I hope not a single other is made recorded. This film did the iconic music and the epic story proud.
Hyde Park on Hudson was about the skeazy, weird love life of FDR. Terrific performance by Bill Murray. I think the lessons learned were: historical figures held in high esteem were still just human beings with gross flaws, and early feminism may have looked liked being okay with being one of many mistresses and just keeping your mouth shut about it because you like it. And Eleanor Roosevelt was a bad ass.
Lincoln. Oh, Daniel Day Lewis. Is there any actor better than you? Are you really the same man who gave the milkshake speech in There Will Be Blood? This movie was brilliant and compelling. The history came to life, the politics were fascinating, and seeing it in DC was extra special. Maybe in another 150 years a similar movie will be made about Obama and marriage equality and I’ll be proud to have been on the right side of history.
Zero Dark Thirty was so utterly captivating and terrifying that I absolutely have to see it again, and read every story and article I can find about the real-life operation. It’s sort of surreal to watch a movie about an event that happened so recently, and while it’s not 100% factual, it somehow makes real this world – this CIA intelligence world that I know nothing about. Yet. And the fact that Kathryn Bigelow wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for Best Director discounts the entire category. She is brave and brilliant.
So for whatever it’s worth, there’s my two cents. And that’s a wrap.