Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

[Saturday] Les Mis // Southland Tales [2007-11-03]

I was vaguely aware that North Station was getting renovated, but when I walked in on Saturday I was taken aback to find that it had become really fucking swanky.

The Hub Express has a bar, but no vegetarian hot sandwiches.  (They do have a couple vegetarian cold sandwiches.) The McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts are still there, so I got an egg and cheese sandwich and a strawberry banana smoothie at Dunkin's.  The smoothie tasted less sticky sweet processed than the strawberry smoothie I got at ABP once, but still not as good as the real fruit smoothies one can get at Harvard T.

As I sat on a bench and ate, a woman with a shaved head, probably in her twenties, was sitting on a nearby bench talking on a cell phone.
Overheard: "My grandfather punched me when I was 11 for wearing lipstick.  I'll never make that mistake again."

The train ride out to Beverly was uneventful.  There's a restaurant right at the station, but it's all meat (incl. lots of seafood).  Leaving aside drinks and dessert, my options were literally 2-3 Appetizers (Tomato and Mozzarella, French Onion Soup Gratinee, Soup of the Season), and 3 "A La Carte Accompaniments" (Roasted garlic smashed potatoes, Vegetable of the day, Fresh sauteed mushrooms) I could have eaten.  It's apparently only open for dinner anyway, so I called Beverly City Taxi and they picked us up promptly.  The theatre's literally in the woods -- though not terribly deep in the woods.

We got the "cheap" seats (Upper Circle is K-P, and we were L, seats 3 and 4) but dude, they were great seats.  The actors played to our side most of the time.  It's a small enough theatre that there aren't really "bad" seats.

The performance was solid, though I wasn't blown away.

I own the Les Mis Original Broadway Cast Recording soundtrack but have only watched the show twice -- a video of a production in 9th grade, and a video of NHS's production near the end of my time in college.  Watching it this time, I was reminded that though I love parts of it, there are a lot of parts I'm not really into. 

There are basically 3 separate storylines:
Valjean (and Javert)
The French Revolution
Marius-and-Cosette

I never really cared about Marius and Cosette's True Wub (and I hate the love-at-first-sight concept -- instant attraction I can certainly understand, but "this is a chain that will never break?," come on) and in watching this time I noticed how the French Revolution gets some of the best songs but is just kind of wedged in there between other stuff.
     We get "Red and Black," with, and Marius agrees to join and it seems like the scene is over but then they sing "Do You Hear the People Sing?"  That's one of my favorite songs, but since it had felt like the scene was already over, it felt kind of pasted on, like "We have so many great songs for this plot arc/theme, we must fit them all in."  This was possibly the fault of the production, though.
     Then there's the barricade, which basically functions to further other people's plotlines -- Marius and Cosette are tragically separated (okay, Valjean had already said they should leave, since people are after them), Valjean protects Marius, Valjean gives Javert existential angst,  Eponine gets shot (while I'm not thrilled with unrequited love narratives, since they'd already set that up I was glad she got actual closure in her own story -- sidebar: her songs are so much better than Fantine's and Cosette's; "Castle on a Cloud" works because she's a little girl singing it).
     The students are slaughtered, and Marius laments this ("Empty Chairs at Empty Tables"), but other than that the plotline is basically dropped.  A reprise of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" ends the show, but it seems to be about how "all men will have their reward" in heaven ("They will live again in freedom / In the garden of the Lord.") which seems a bit of a cop-out.  It's also a little bit weird.  The Bishop buys Valjean's soul for God, but the the opening song has stuff like "Sweet Jesus, hear my prayer!" / "Sweet Jesus doesn't care," and Javert frequently invokes both law and Lord.  Fantine's ghost reminds Valjean of the "truth" that "to love another person is to see the face of God."

Sidebar: When Gavroche got shot, the whole theatre went silent, and that was the one time the whole show that I cried.

I'd forgotten that Eponine is the Thendardiers' daughter.

Besides the obvious fact that the melodies of songs are often reused in interesting ways, the very juxtaposition of songs was interesting at times.  After "I Dreamed a Dream," for example, we "Lovely Ladies."  I also found it interesting (dunno if this is typical in productions) that when Fantine first appears after having agreed to whore, she's in clown makeup and is drinking; I really liked that unspoken indicator of how she's trying to distance herself from her actions.

"Confrontation" totally had me thinking of HIMYM.

While the song is titled "Javert's Suicide," I feel like the actual action is unclear.

Valjean says he has to leave, and he's not at the wedding, but then they're able to find him before he dies.  The logistics of this confuse me.

"Beggars at the Feast" is something of a strange song.
     If you killed someone, would you really carry their corpse through the sewers rather than just dumping it in the sewers?
     The line about it being the night the barricades fell seems extraneous.  Marius already knows the "corpse" was his own body because of the ring, and it's not like it being that night makes it any more or less likely for Valjean to have been a murderer.
     And the Thenardiers' have triumphed in a way.  They're still standing, while so many others are dead.  And I don't think any viewer actually admires them, but it is a little weird.

+

At 5:03pm I called for a taxi and was told 15 minutes.  A couple taxis showed up for other people.  5:32 I called, and the woman said she was under the understanding that I had already been picked up, so she'd send someone right over.  5:46, she said he should be there "any second."  5:57, "Sweet Jesus, I'll call them" -- she gets back to me and says they driver's "on Dunham Road, which is the road the theatre's on."  I was willing to give them another 5 minutes before I called back, and they just barely made that.
The trains back to North Station were at 5:45 and 6:16 (and 8:05).  We got to the Depot at 6:12; the train ended up not arriving until 6:25.

+

We went to Uno's in Harvard Square for dinner.  I got Farmer's Market deep dish pizza and a Chocolate Monkey -- and a sip of Cate's pomegranate margarita.

+

I asked for a student ticket and showed my Harvard ID, like I do.  She asked if I was a student or staff ('cause my ID just says "Harvard University").  Harvard students get in free, while staff pay $6.  I considered lying, but I just wasn't feeling it.  Besides, do I really wanna say that I'm a Harvard student?  (Present company excluded from withering remarks about Harvard students, of course.)

Much like after Donnie Darko, I was left thinking "... and the point of that was?"

I did enjoy watching The Rock on my screen, though :)  I was surprised at how many actors I recognized  -- a slew of SNL cast members as well as John Larroquette, Bai Ling, and plenty of big names I recognized on IMDb but didn't recognize onscreen.

I decided to lj-cut all my commentary on this, even though it doesn't really spoil plot points beyond what you get in the trailer, because apparently various flisters are planning to see the film, and I don't know what all your spoiler policies are.  (towards has a link to download an mp3 of "Teen Horniness is not a Crime.") 

I think part of my problem with the film is that while it's initially somewhat believable -- a terrorist attack on U.S. soil leads to a serious curtailment of civil liberties, and we have a serious fuel shortage -- it becomes this surrealist thing.

I'm totally willing to go along with "The future is playing out just as it happens in this screenplay you wrote" (plus the amnesia) but it's never unclear exactly how much it follows the screenplay, which is frustrating in a number of ways.  And people are playing each other and double-crossing and taking advantage and all that, and I'm often unclear as to how much different parties know and what their goals are and suchlike.  Boxer tells Serpentine it ends with a handshake, and he knows what the result of that handshake would be, but I'm still not entirely sure what he's aiming to do in those final scenes.

And if this is the story of how the world ends, how is there anyone alive to be narrating?  I'm also confused by the concept of this being the story of "the road not taken" since, kind of by definition, the road not taken is the story that doesn't happen.  Am I supposed to just understand it to be the story of how things could play out in our world?

The dance near the end is beautiful.  (And SMG has dark hair in it.)

I loved the usage of passages from Revelations, because I'm a big dork like that, and would have loved more of that.  I did love that Death on a white horse was a guy selling munitions out of an ice cream truck.

IMDb says:
In addition to the feature film, an expanded version of Southland Tales will be presented as a six-part interactive experience with the prequel saga to be published as three separate 90-130 page graphic novels, each written by Kelly. The graphic novels will be released over a six month period early in 2007 leading up to the film's release with the feature film comprised of the story's final three chapters. In addition, the film's official website will be one of the largest and most elaborate ever designed for a feature film. Richard Kelly describes the graphic novels as a "work in tandem with the website, creating a more epic multimedia experience for those interested in taking the plunge."
The first one is up on the website, but you have to squint to read it.  Yeah, not bothering.  My brother and I read the "book" that was an extra feature on the Donnie Darko DVD, and that was hard to read and unhelpful, so I'm not feeling especially motivated here.  (Though apparently MLN has Book 1, so I did put in a request for that.  Supposedly it's about how amnesiac-Boxer first meets Krysta, which is actually a story I'm really interested in.  At one point in the movie she says, "He's not who you think he is," and I'm never clear just what she knows -- though I do believe that she loves him.)
Tags: food, food: boston area, got gender?, movies: southland tales, movies: watched, musicals: les mis, plays: attended
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