Tonight, I went with a friend to see Les Miserables. I hadn't gotten a chance to see it when it first came out, and had resolved to just purchase the DVD when it comes out in a few weeks. My friend insisted I see it on the big screen, and I'm glad she did. It was totally worth it.
Let me first say, tonight I realized how very lucky I am to have known this story via musical for 26 years. I remember watching the 1987 Tony Awards. I went to our record store in our local mall to pick up the cassette of the cast recording. I got to travel to Denver to see one of the first tours. I picked up the complete cast recording when it came out. I had a VHS documentary about the production. I've watched the concert version and the 25th anniversary. So on the occasion of his birthday, I would like to thank Mr. Hugo for an amazing story that has touched many hearts. And to the creators of the musical, I applaud you. Thank you for tender strains of music and beautiful lyrics.
All that to say, I'd like to give my thoughts on the movie. Perhaps touching a bit on each actor would be the best way to do it. As I watched, I made mental notes...so I will try to keep those in mind, too.
Hugh Jackman got me right away. While I didn't like the camera-in-the-face close-ups (way too many for my taste), I loved the emotion he showed after the bishop saves him from the authorities. It was a powerful and beautiful reaction to redemption, and I think it demonstrates why Valjean chose to change his life for the better. I did miss the lovely falsetto that most actors who play Valjean flip into during "Bring Him Home." I felt like Jackman was straining to reach those notes in his chest voice. If you've not heard it, check out Alfie Boe singing that song. Fabulous!
Russell Crowe - I was disappointed. I had decided not to make a judgment based solely on the song Stars. I wanted to see how he handed Javert's suicide. I thought he was deadpan in his acting. His singing fell flat (not in pitch, but in emotion). Javert is such a complex character, and I think he'd best served with an underlying anger. Sadly, that did not come across in anyway. There was one moment that is not found in the stage version that I found to be quite powerful. Javert pins his medal on young Gavroche's dead body. That moment alone said so much.
Another credit to Hugo - he created a villain of circumstance in Javert. There is nothing bad about Javert. Valjean sings it a couple of times - he's done nothing more than his duty. And yet, you fear him like a villain. You loathe him as a bad guy. He would be an intense character study.
And another note about the characters: I find it interesting that Valjean and Javert were both presented with similar situations and chose very different paths. Valjean pursued a better life, while Javert chose to end his. Brilliant, Mr. Hugo. Absolutely brilliant.
Anne Hathaway surprised me. I wasn't expecting to like her, but her "I Dreamed a Dream" blew me away. I loved the emotion that fueled that song. In the stage version, of course, you don't see a person's face, unless you're in the front row. Emotion is conveyed in body language. With the cinematic choice of a facial close-up (again, way too many, but I can deal with it), the song was riveting. I now understand why she won the Oscar.
Amanda Seyfried bothered me. I can't see past her performance in Mean Girls. But when I mentally try to put that aside, I thought her voice was thin and weak. Reminded me of Disney's Snow White. She didn't hang onto the notes. Yes, she was lovely. Yes, she acted the character fairly well, but blah on her voice.
I am not a Sasha Baron Cohen fan, and I was leery of his Thenardier...but he did a bang-up job! He provided the humor and the smarminess required of the character. I also liked the partnership in crime with his wife. Helena Bonham Carter is solid and pulled off Madam Thenardier perfectly. The only thing I didn't appreciate was the unnecessarily lewd moment in "Master of the House", but it was over as soon as it started.
Samantha Barks was amazing, but I would have liked to see more Eponine. And I loved the students. I noticed a lot of edits in their scenes...and I don't usually notice edits. I really hope the studio will put out an extended version on DVD. The camaraderie between the students wasn't nearly as pronounced as it could have been. I missed Enjolras proudly swinging the big red flag from atop the huge barricade that came in from both sides of the stage...and then his body dramatically strewn across the top of the barricade. Although the film version did give a good answer to that one.
The end was gorgeous, of course, but Eponine was noticeably lacking. Along with Fantine, she helps ease Valjean into passing with a beautiful trio. I did like the presence of the bishop reaching out to Valjean. As for the finale, it seemed a little odd for Fantine and Valjean, presumably now in peaceful heaven, to be at the barricade. I prefer the stage ending.
Overall, loved it. I will see it again and again. The things I harped on are easily forgiveable. The story has so much to offer, as does the musical. Again, how very lucky I am to have had this musical in my life for 26 years. I am thankful that a version has finally been committed to film for future generations to enjoy.
Do you hear the people sing?
Behold, He Stinketh
Over the last couple of days, I've been working on a scene for Crepusculum. It's been a journey, let me tell you. In fact, I'm blogging right now as a means of distraction. I should be writing. I should be finishing this scene. But it's pretty heavy, and I had to step away for a bit.
In my last post, I mentioned that I've chosen to work on Crepsuculum. Or perhaps it's more that God has put this story on my heart, and I have to get it finished. I feel inspired and dedicated to this story, which I haven't felt toward it before. I had the idea and a few scenes, and I knew the time would come when I'd want to work on this story. But I put it off. Until now.
The scene I'm working on is a retelling of Lazarus. Crepusculum, as I've said before, is an allegory of the Christ story. It's in a different universe with different characters, but it's intended to mirror the story of the greatest Man to walk the face of this earth. And it's intended to reflect the depth of love He demonstrated to us by giving His life in such a brutal way. What a gift!
(If you don't know about this amazing deed, shoot me an email. I'll be happy to share!)
My husband's favorite part of the Lazarus story can be found in Luke 11 of the King James Version. "Behold, he stinketh!" I couldn't bring myself to include that in my retelling, funny as it may be. So I am carefully crafting this scene. I want it to be an obvious retelling, but I don't want to plagerize God! (That was supposed to be funny...)
So now, I'm heading back to finish up this scene. I've distracted myself for a sufficient amount of time now.
Today is a snow day at work, so I decided to brave the roads anyway and get to the nearest Panera Bread. Yes, that is an endorsement. I love Panera! And I'm quite proud to say so.
I found a cozy table near the fireplace. I have a toasted bagel and a cup of coffee. I am totally ready to write!
"What are you going to write," you ask. Well, let me tell you.
I've been thinking about my Circeae Tales. Where to go with it, what to do... I've made some decisions. I've said all along that the books are stand-alone novels. That may be the case for most of them, but clearly Fusion is the sequel to Poison, and Valor is the sequel to Crepusculum. They go hand in hand. So I'm focusing on those four right now, three of which are complete. I need to write Crepusculum.
I've avoided that story because it's a tale of betrayal and death. It's my allegory of Jesus Christ's story. I have long thought it would be the hardest to write. I want to do the story justice and cover all the details.
But it's been on my mind the last few days, so I thought I'd look back at my notes and see where I can pick up with it. And while I have some real work to do for my job, having a snow day allows me the opportunity to write a bit.
So thanks, Panera, for giving me nice place to be - for refilling my coffee cup - and for the warm fire. May the words flow!
How a Book Brings People Together
Today, I signed copies of my book at Barnes and Noble. It was SO awesome. But you know...it wasn't the signing and selling of books that was so exciting. It was seeing friends of old!
It started with my locker partner from my senior year in high school. I encountered her outside the store, and we squealed and hugged. How very neat to be reconnected with her!
Not long after we parted ways, my fifth grade teacher came. Now, I have to explain - he's not just a teacher. He is a friend. My family lived on the school property when I was younger. When I was five, I started "helping" with the teachers' bus duty. So I've known this sweet man for a very long time, although I haven't seen him for too many years. What a blessing it was to spend some time with him! I also got to meet his wife and granddaughter. Wonderful, wonderful time! By the way, he's in the picture above.
Also in the picture is the mom of my heart. I've known her since middle school, and I graduated with her son. She's been a lifetime friend. More than a friend, which is why I am fortunate enough to call her Mom.
One of my cousins also stopped in. We just don't get to see each other often enough...which we need to change. I got to meet her fiance, and I so enjoyed seeing them!
Another friend from high school came and introduced me to his wife. What a pleasure to see him and to meet her! I also learned that we have another connection through a mutual friend.
Someone I worked with once upon a time stopped by the table a little later in the event. He's been out of the country for quite some time. It was so awesome to see him! Yet again, in catching up, we'll be able to keep in touch in a more substantial way. I'm so looking forward to hearing his stories!
So today wasn't about selling books at all, although I'm sure Barnes & Noble would have preferred that. Today was about some amazing people filling up my heart. How grateful I am for dear friends who support and love me. God is so good!
Oh, I forgot to mention - I received a card delivered to the store from my high school drama instructor. And I encountered my contact for the local library who told me that I was chosen to participate in a major author event in April. Two other blessings that God decided to heap upon me today.
Did I sign and sell as many books as I had hoped? No. Am I satisfied with the signing? Beyond satisfied. It was a beautiful moment in time that I will treasure always. A small glimpse of heaven happened in that bookstore today. I stand in awe and give all the glory to my very big God Who does incredible things for little people like me.
Signing the Book
So...in just a couple of days, I have my book signing at Barnes & Noble. I am so excited about it! I've heard from friends who plan on coming. It's going to be a mini-reunion! And I do hope the event will snag some new readers.
I have a story for you. The window in the picture is right next to trashcans I used to clear out when I worked for this Barnes & Noble. It's not far from where my parents lived and the neighborhood in which I grew up. I worked in the children's department, as a community relations manager, and a bookseller. I stood at that information desk. I wrapped gifts for people at Christmas. I spoke with customers about their rewards program.
To walk up to the front entrance and see my name in the front window display...wow. It's breathtaking. It's mind-blowing. It's amazing! I can't wait to be sitting at one of the tables, greeting readers and signing books.
I love how God can find dreams deep within your heart - dreams you may not even know about - and bring them about. He can even make them bigger than we can imagine! I'm so grateful for this opportunity. And I really hope to see you on Saturday!
If not, perhaps I'll see you at a Barnes & Noble near you. Some day.
A Galactic Festival
I am blogging from GalaxyFest, a sci-fi con sponsored by the Colorado Literacy Foundation. It's been an awesome experience!
I shared a table with an author from Albuquerque. I actually learned a lot from him. Great guy! You should check out his stuff. His name is Kirt Hickman, and he writes sci-fi, epic fantasy, kids' books, and even a book on revising fiction. Check out his website at http://kirthickman.com.
I also sat next to a group of awesome guys - the Mandalorian Mercs. If you don't know who they are, you should check them out, too! I enjoyed hanging out with them and learning about their craft! www.mandalorianmercs.com
I've seen so many fascinating costumes! Obvious ones I could easily identify, and others I couldn't recognize at all! Steampunk seemed to be the biggest draw this year, although there were some pretty incredible Star Wars costumes. I applaud the folks who participate in cosplay. It takes a lot of courage!
And the celebrities abound! Most of the VIP guests walked around without any kind of escort. They've been friendly and gracious. But the best ones took pictures with my book!, Asylum I have a whole collection - Darth Vader, Chewbacca, the Eleventh Doctor, Indiana Jones! This morning, R2-D2 happened by my table, but because he has no hands to hold the book, I posed with him. It was a blast!
I'm glad GalaxyFest was my first con. It was a great way to ease into the world of fandom! (I'm already there from the fan side, of course!) I dream of the day when I get to be a VIP celeb guest! (That's a big dream, my friends, but my God is a BIG God!) Can't wait to see what He's going to do from here.
And to the guys who sat next to me - both sides - thanks for making GalaxyFest such a pleasant experience! It's been great getting to know you over the last few days!
A Thing of Beauty
I cannot tell you how many times I walked up and down the sci-fi aisles at Barnes & Noble, browsing the books, of course, but not with the intention of buying them. Of course, I'd have a well-stocked library of sci-fi if I could. But while browsing, I would stop at the "B" authors and allow my fingers to linger where my book would fit. I'd close my eyes and imagine - maybe even pray to one day find - my book upon that shelf.
Did you know that God can make dreams come true? I'm here to tell you that He does.
I recently went to Barnes & Noble, just to look around...smell the coffee...see what new books are out. And just look what I found! 2 copies of Asylum, sitting on a beautiful shelf marked, "New Science Fiction." I'm sure you understand why I took the picture. I took more than just this one, too. I am blown away!
So as I beam and glow over finding such a wonderful sight, I point upward and give all the glory to God. As I've said before, He brought me to this point, and I am trusting Him to allow me to see the entire series published. I just hope people are touched along the way - that they experience God's love.
Oh, and have you seen the new system schematic? Be sure to check it out! And many thanks to my graphic designer!
The Wild Blue Yonder
I am just hours away from starting a brand new adventure in life. I have been a stay-at-home mom for eight years. Tomorrow morning, I am going back to work. Not only amd I going back to work...I am going back to work two and a half hours away from home.
I am super excited! I will be returning to a position I held prior to getting married. I'll be working with people I consider friends, and I'll be working for an organization that is highly-respected. They do really good work, so it will an honor to serve them.
On the other hand, I am sad to be leaving my children. We are a really close family. I enjoy being with my kids (as it should be!). It will be a difficult transition, but God opened this door wide, and we feel like we should step through. Trust is a word I am clinging to right now.
So tonight, I will kiss my children good night, tuck them in, and head out on my way. They will be in my every thought. I already have their artwork ready to decorate my office. I will surround myself with reminders of them until we can be together again. And I so look forward to the weekends when we can hold each other close and enjoy the time.
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3