Friday, December 28, 2012

It was a little . . . Meh! My review of Les Miserables

The number one movie in the US this weekend was Les Miserables. I know many people who loved it, raved about it, and will be seeing it many times in the theater. I am not one of them. I want to give a little background about me before you all think I'm just a heartless critic that 'didn't get it.' I've studied both acting and voice since I was a child. I've gone to a specialty college and been apart of many performance groups over the years. I'm currently studying opera and have studied classical voice for years. Hopefully that will give you a good idea as to why I feel the way I do.

I'll start with what I liked about the film. First the acting was amazing. Anne Hathaway was amazing! Her death scene was so phenomenally done, I did indeed hold back tears. Her delirium was perfect. I loved her acting. Maius was wonderful! His voice was great and he did a wonderful job as a revolutionary. The other revolutionaries were great, vocal ability was fantastic and they all worked very well together.

Now . . . onto the things I didn't like. The vocals of the leads were atrocious. I had hoped for so much more from Hugh Jackman. Having done Broadway and theater all over the world, you would like he would be better. His speak/singing was so annoying. He couldn't go through a single song without dropping away and breathing the lyrics at the end of a phrase. It drove me crazy. Also, he held his sound way to forward, up in his nasal cavity. Anne Hathaway's voice was also extremely disappointing. In the song I Dreamed a Dream it didn't bother me as much as the rest of her vocals, but overall I felt they were lacking in more ways then I can count. Many of the secondary characters in the show had such better vocals then the leads. Because of this, the last 1/3 of the movie was where it actually started to get interesting. The sets all bled together because there was no change in colors or style. Everything had the pallor of one dead or dying; black, brown, tan, cream, coal. Anything that did have color was muted and dull. One other thing really bothered me. The scene of 'Master of the House'. Sasha and Helena were good casts, but that scene was so over the top, so inappropriate and crude that it colored my feelings for those two throughout the rest of the film. I know we aren't supposed to like those two characters, but seriously? A whore having sex with Santa where we see her straddling him shouting 'Oh, Santa!'. Was that really necessary? The whole scene's grotesque action totally put me off for a while afterward. Russell Crows portrayal of Javert while predictable was okay. His singing was mediocre, but that wasn't his fault. He isn't a singer, and he never professed to be.

While I enjoyed the acting of most of characters, overall the film was lacking in so much that I don't think I'll be watching it again. In the theater or not.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Season to be Thankful!

Always around this time of year we become focused on what we are thankful for, even more so then at Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is about the food (mother, I'm only here for the food!) But around December, we all begin to gather with family and friends, we start giving to everyone and everything, saying Merry Christmas to complete strangers, and remembering all the things we have been given. Giving thanks has been prescribed through the years as a way to feel better, extend life, create better health and to even heal terminal illnesses. Surprisingly, with all the benefits of being thankful, we focus more on the negative in our lives then the positive. Today I had a wonderful experience and wanted to share it with you.

Sunday was the ward choir Christmas concert in church. It was what you would expect in a ward choir performance to be. The older woman who has lots of volume, and not much tune blasting the soprano line. The kids choir that is so sweet, and knows only every other line. But it was somehow comforting, an old sign of the Christmas season that always makes me smile. The final song of the program was a joint congregational hymn of Silent Night. An oldie, but a goodie! Sometime during the program, little Michael had fallen asleep and was content in my arms. I was suddenly hit with an overwhelming wave of emotion. I could see Mary holding her sleeping newborn in her arms, looking down into the face of the savior, just as I was with my son then. I imagined her having gone on this taxing journey from her home to Bethlehem and giving birth in a strange place, with Joseph her only help. How exhausted she must have been after that ordeal, and exhilarated to have brought our Savior into the world. By the end of the song, tears were threatening to flow and I could feel the spirit of the Lord strongly in my soul.

Because of this I began to think of how thankful I am for different things in my life. Thing like my child, my husband, my family, living in a place where I can go to church without fear of being attacked for my faith. I am so thankful for the amazing gift from the Lord that is my singing voice. I have been to profoundly changed recently when it comes to my singing voice that I hardly recognize myself. Before, singing was wrought with fear, worry, anger, anxiety and self doubt. After some very revelatory (is that a word?) experiences, I realized that I was looking at singing all wrong and now feel such a deep desire to be good because the Lord wants me to be good. No other reason. He will use me in whatever way he chooses. And on that day I was overcome with gratitude for the Lord that he gave me an outlet for my love of Him and my love of the world around us.

As the Christmas season finishes up, I hope we can all remember what the true meaning of the season is. Remember that all we have has been given to us via our Savior, Jesus Christ. Remember that family is the greatest gift we can have, if it be a family of two or of two hundred.

As always,
          Love from my heart to yours.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fighting just to Fight . . . Never a good idea!

There is an idea moving around the interwebs that has sparked a huge conversation/contention about Mormon feminist and wearing pants to church on Sunday. Normally this wouldn't bother, and in most ways it doesn't. I think people have the agency to choose what to wear on Sunday. What does bother me is that someone has chosen a very sacred time during the week, a time where we recommit ourselves to the savior, into a political rally.

There is a time and place for everything. There is a time to air grievances and to express disagreements. The middle of a sacrament meeting is not one of them. Sunday is a time of worship, a time to remember and express gratitude for the sacrifice of the Savior. It is not a time to single out a group, or segregate yourself by 'taking a stand'. And it is has really bothered me that people who are proponents of this day are saying things like they are fighting the culture, or this is a way to identify others who have the same ideas or it's not political.

1) Fighting the culture of the LDS church is like fighting all of Western culture. It's useless and pointless. You shouldn't wear pants to church because you want to fight against a culture. You should wear pants because that is the best thing you wear. The idea of 'Sunday Best' will always be a suite for men and a nice dress for women. If you don't have that, wear the next best thing. I don't feel like the Mormon culture is perfect, far from it. But making a political stand against wearing dresses is just silly. 

2) Wearing pants to church to help identify others who are like minded so you can band together creates separatism and a us vs. them mentality. You never want to create a group that is separate from the whole. Once that happens, everyone around you, including yourself, segregate this group. 

3) There is no way this isn't political. The feminist movement is a political movement, there is no way to separate them. If you are pushing feminism into a religion, it is political. 

At then end of the day, what we wear to church isn't the matter here. It is a group of people fighting against something that has nothing to do with the doctrine or teaching of the LDS faith. Pushing a protest, a worldwide protest, in the middle of a worship service where covenants are recommitted is inappropriate and a slap in the face of the Lord.