Busy Fracking Sewing Day

28 07 2013

I worked at the second job yesterday, and then came home and had a date night with my husband (we had some quality time together, watched Les Miserables, visited a friend at her work, and then got very late night McDonald’s breakfast at 3:00 AM). So, sewing wasn’t happening so much on Saturday.

Before I get into the gritty of the sewing I did today, however, I just need to ponder the recent movie adaptation of Les Miserables, featuring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and other Hollywood notables.

My first introduction to the musical was a PBS airing of the tenth anniversary production of that musical, performed and filmed Royal Albert Hall. Considering that I was living at home, and watched the production with my father, I couldn’t have been over seventeen.

To this day, Les Miserables remains the musical guaranteed to bring me to tears, so long as the performances are by accomplished vocalists.

Unfortunately, of the cast in this recent movie adaptation, the only big name performer to raise goose bumps, and to draw me into their character’s circumstances, was Hugh Jackman. This should be unsurprising, considering his varied experience on stage. Anna Hathaway is talented, and a capable singer, but I was not drawn in by her Fantine. Amanda Seyfried as Cosette made me want to rip her face off. I’ve never appreciated the character – she is a MacGuffin, a plot device to move the stories of Jean Valjean and Marius forward, with no real personality to recommend her, or to explain the bone-deep devotion given to her by both Valjean and Marius. But hearing Seyfried’s (self-admitted) weak soprano voice trilling every word – I wanted to cut her larynx out. I cannot emphasize enough that I wanted to be violent every time Seyfried opened her mouth.

Russell Crowe’s Javert was a disappointment, through and through. Not only is Crowe’s vocal range limited, he was far too flat for the character of Javert. For all of his dramatic talent, he failed at conveying the obsession Javert had with Valjean, fueling his pursuit of Valjean through the years. Part of this was due to the limitations of the adaptation, but much of it was due to how unvaried his performance was. I feel that viewers were wholly unable to comprehend the why of his obsession: to Javert, Valjean was the dark mirror to his strict law-abiding ways and morality. He hated that only a series of decisions separated him from what he saw as Valjean’s inherent criminal nature, and, in order to justify his existence, needed to see Valjean brought back to justice. His inability to reconcile the rigid intolerance of his legal code with the moral rightness of Valjean’s actions are what drive him to throw himself into the Seine. I think that this is not at all conveyed to the viewer, leaving them questioning his suicide.

Also, I’m sick of Helena Bonham Carter being in everything (I blame her marriage to Tim Burton for perpetuating the myth of her employability). Her presence, with that of Sasha Baron Cohen, made the scenes with the Thénardiers thoroughly unwatchable. I do not want to watch Carter play exactly the same character she’s played in practically everything, complete with frizzy, huge hair, in yet another movie. It’s like she simply elected to transplant her extremely poor Mrs. Lovett (from Sweeney Todd) to Les Miserables. A production such as this deserved so much more. At least Cohen attempted a French accent every once in a while.

The character with whom I’d identified with most as a seventeen year old, Eponine (on the strength of On My Own), proved to be another disappointment. Again, I’d cut my teeth on the 10th anniversary production of Les Miserables. Lea Salonga delivered a strong performance that drew me in. Samantha Barks is a talented and beautiful vocalist whom I’ve enjoyed in the past. Unfortunately, I detested the arrangement of On My Own in the movie adaption. My interpretation of the song has always been that as Eponine sings On My Own, she is, perhaps for the first time in her short life, making a decision purely for herself – taking into her own hands her womanhood, by running the gamut of the emotions that Marius evokes in her. By acknowledging the futility of her unrequited love, Eponine makes the choice to be honest with herself, the first step of self-realization. Through the course of the song, Eponine comes to the determination to make as much of her destiny as she can, considering her limited means and hardscrabble upbringing. It makes her death on the barricade a short while later all the more bittersweet, as she sacrifices her life for Marius’ and gives him the note left by Cosette, giving him the hope of there being a tomorrow.

In listening to the arrangement presented in the movie adaptation, I was thoroughly disappointed as the entirety of the scene was designed to wring every drop of utter despair from Eponine, reducing her to a thoughtless chit unable to live without Marius in her life. The pacing was so off, and Eponine rendered so helpless, rather than empowering herself. If I had not been so near the end, I probably would have ceased watching at this point.

I was, however, delighted by the performances of those young men playing the students manning the barricade, drawn in by their charisma and skilled vocalizations. Eddie Redmayne was a treat, a pleasure to listen to, though I was far more drawn to Aaron Tveit’s compelling performance as Enjolras. I look forward to watching the careers of these young men as they develop as performers.

I think, in the end, I will not re-watch the movie adaption of the musical. The delights of this film are far outweighed by the negatives that I found in it. I am more than content to return to viewing recordings of stage performances of Les Miserables.

And, now that I’ve bored you by over-analyzing an adaptation of an adaptation, I bring you my efforts from sewing today. Actually, I bring you my layout first. I finally reinstalled EQ7 today, and decided on how to set out my blocks:

Sunsets and White Beaches

It’s a seven by seven block layout, which should come to 79″ square, with the very traditional sashing. Granny blocks seem very well served by sashing, and I want the space between the blocks. I want the punch of the white between the shocks of color.

Lots o' Blocks1. Granny Blocks for Me 24, 2. Granny Blocks for Me 25, 3. Granny Blocks for Me 26, 4. Granny Blocks for Me 27, 5. Granny Blocks for Me 28, 6. Granny Blocks for Me 29, 7. Granny Blocks for Me 30, 8. Granny Blocks for Me 31, 9. Granny Blocks for Me 32, 10. Granny Blocks for Me 33, 11. Granny Blocks for Me 34, 12. Granny Blocks for Me 35, 13. Granny Blocks for Me 36, 14. Granny Blocks for Me 37, 15. Granny Blocks for Me 3816. Not available

Fifteen blocks later, I’m very close to my goal of forty-nine total blocks. I need to make a few more blocks with orange in the outer ring, and then a batch of blocks with gray in the outer ring. Once those are done (hopefully tomorrow evening), I can begin the process of sashing the blocks together. We’ll see how far I get.

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3 responses

28 07 2013
Carla

I had never seen the show, only heard about it so I took my Mom. During the opening scene, I thought to myself, ” oh no. This is going to be a long night” I understand its a musical, but every word? In the end I did enjoy it, but I wouldn’t watch it again. Your granny squares are lovely. I like them with sashing too.

29 07 2013
Grey Cat Quilts

The movie adaptation probably would have been a lot better if they hadn’t been so determined to make the audience miserable along with the characters.

I’m enjoying the granny squares for their simplicity – it’s nice to be able to turn off my brain while I make them 🙂

29 07 2013
Grey Cat Quilts

The movie adaptation probably would have been a lot better if they hadn’t been so determined to make the audience miserable along with the characters.

I’m enjoying the granny squares for their simplicity – it’s nice to be able to turn off my brain while I make them 🙂

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