I realize that I'm unqualified to do what I'm about to do, which is to talk about the musical and cinematic bludgeon that is Les Misérables without having ever seen the actual show, and without ever having listened to the soundtrack. I'm also apparently one of only 13 Americans who did not appear in a production of the original musical while I was in high school, and we’re dying off fast.
(Let me also say that I enjoyed the film, even though I'll never watch another Tom Hooper movie until I'm guaranteed by the producers that his damned camera has been riveted to the floor. For sheer directorial busy-work, Hooper makes Tarantino look like he’s working in Super-8. You get more consistent photographic angles from the Hubble Space Telescope.)
Nevertheless, I rise today in defense of the Pub Voice. This is because the Pub Voice is taking quite a beating these days, most notably at the Browne-Yoshida cyber malt shoppe here last week. The Pub Voice is something we all have. Even actual singers have it. The difference between actual singers and, well, me, is that they have other voices besides the Pub Voice. I have the Pub Voice and nothing else. The only song I've ever sung in any karaoke context is “Mississippi Queen” (if you know what I mean). There are three basic kinds of Pub Voice — loud, louder, and Would You Like to Step Outside? I have all three, as well as a fourth variation that I've kept under wraps since my undergraduate days because, when it's unleashed, it generally results in my having to walk home in the snow.
On Christmas Day, in the year of our Lord 2012, Tom Hooper's film adaptation of the Broadway musical Les MisÚrables arrives in cinemas across the nation. Grantland staffers Rembert Browne and Emily Yoshida chose to open their presents early this year, and have already seen it in special Hollywood-type screenings. You may think that is unfair, but they love Les MisÚrables more than you do. Here's what they thought of the movie:
Rembert Browne: The only appropriate way for both of us to start our discussion of Les MisÚrables the film, is to begin with disclaimers. Mine: I have seen many musicals, am a fan of musicals, participated in musicals, and Les Mis is my favorite of all time. By a landslide. Another disclaimer: After performing the musical in 10th grade, not a single word has left this surprisingly not-steel-trap of a brain I am host to. Final disclaimer: Emotion is a thing I feel. A lot.
OK, your turn, Yoshida. Feel free to make me look less like a freak.
Emily Yoshida: OK, here goes. My lifelong love affair with Les MisÚrables started in 1995 when PBS aired the 10th Anniversary Concert on Great Performances during a pledge drive. Now, this may shock you, Rem, but I was kind of a big musical theater fan around that time. Still, my love of Les Mis is the only part of that I will openly, publicly admit to, if only because it feels actually really important and relevant to who I am now as a person. I wish that were a hyperbolic statement, but I don't think it is.
If you liked The Wire enough during its five uncompromising seasons on HBO but wished it'd had more in common with Anything Goes, I have splendid news! Coming to the Players Theatre, it's The Wire: The Musical! Mr. Omar (Michael K. Williams) won't just whistle, he'll sing and dance! Kima (Sonja Sohn) shows off a little hoofing while getting to know her dissolute colleague McNulty (Not Dominic West)! Bubbles (Andre Royo) details the heart-wrenching details of his struggle with drug addiction in a rousing gospel number that'll bring the house down! Plus: Isn't Faizon Love a better Stringer Bell, when you really think about it? "I'm pretty sure David Simon doesn't know they're doing this," says the New York Times. "But if he did, he'd love it!" And so will you.