Friday, February 15, 2013

Please Don't Give this an Oscar....

So, I saw Tom Hooper's Les Miserables, and I can't understand why anyone loves it.  Wait, no.  Say rather that I can't understand how anyone would want to see it more than once.

The problem is that the poster above is representative of the entire movie... If you want the experience of viewing the 2012 film in your home right now (without pirating a copy), just purchase the soundtrack on iTunes and play it while staring at this poster for 50 minutes.  The movie was made almost entirely of close-ups.

Just stop looking at Anne Hathaway about 1/4 through your experience.

Hooper has done the story a disservice by choosing such an awful visual style.  I don't know if anyone has had the necessary access to the film to try this, but someone needs to perform a quantitative study to see 1) what percentage of the film's total shots were close-ups, and 2)what percentage of the film's total running time was made up of close-ups.

Call me classical, call me old-fashioned, call me stupid, but I have always thought that visual techniques should have meaning.  Only in modern times have we so abused composition, camera movement, and editing that they are rendered meaningless.  But composition was the least abused until this high-profile mess.  When you shoot literally 60% (?) of a movie in close-up, the close-up becomes meaningless.  Whether the characters were happy, sad, loving, spiteful, singing, or silent, they were always filmed from three inches away.  And it was painful to watch.

As a man who made a musical, you would think Hooper would understand the importance of "composition."