15 Reasons Why I Hated "Les Miserables"

by Andy Jay Bennett


  1. Marius is a freckled Kermit with less musical ability and a more annoying wiggle-jaw.
  2. Cosette has the fastest vibrato in recorded history.
  3. Hugh Jackman has apparently never heard of the concept of falsetto. His "Bring Him Home" would've woken up all of France. And probably some of Spain, too.
  4. If you're going to experiment with live singing, don't also experiment with extreme close-ups. It makes for a very ugly combination.
  5. If you're going to experiment with either of the things in number 4, don't do it with an epic, sweeping musical like Les Miserables. I felt more connected to the story and emotions sitting in the last row of a 3,000 seat auditorium than I did staring up Russel Crowe's nose while he either contemplated suicide or tried not to poop in his pantaloons. I'm not clear on which it was.
  6. What happened in that casting room? Did it go like this? "Hey, let's cast the handsome kid who can sing the shit out of everything as the love interest and stick this floppy-haired Muppet with the rubber jaw in the role of best friend." And then someone else said, "Actually, you know what would be better? If we did the opposite. Because I like ruining the holiday season for people."
  7. Someone needs to tell this director and cast that it's more powerful to see someone fighting tears than to just let a bunch of indulgent actors weep all over their period costumes. I felt like I was watching a Lifetime movie with commercial breaks for the importance of dental hygiene.
  8. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to be able to understand what the Thenardiers are saying. Unless the screenplay just said, "Then Borat and Bellatrix Lestrange mumble something cockney."
  9. The movie made me happy that a little kid got shot to death. Because I was THAT sick of him.
  10. It turned "One Day More" from something that gives me chills to something that had me saying "SERIOUSLY? We're only half-way through this frigging thing?"
  11. The new song, "Suddenly" feels more like a half-hearted attempt to earn an Oscar than a necessary part of the story.
  12. That was way more sewer poop than needed to get the point across.
  13. Fantine's hair didn't grow back once she was an angel. I would like to believe Heaven is a kinder place than that. I mean she got a shower, seraphim dentristry and a pretty new dress, but she's still got to sport the G.I. Jane for all eternity?
  14. How easy it was to disguise yourself in 19th Century France. Just pop on a hat and you're invisible!
  15. Russell Crowe.


I Gave "Twilight" $200 & Asked It To Entertain Me

by Andy Jay Bennett


And it did. Time and again.

But I don't mean "entertain" in the way Breaking Bad, Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah or A Prayer For Owen Meaney entertained me. Those were things that fascinated, thrilled and moved me. Twilight entertained me the way playing solitaire would entertain you if you were trapped in a cabin for three months. It would start out fun, but then you'd get bored by it. And then you'd come to resent it. And then you'd come to hate it. And then you'd sort of like it again. And then you'd go crazy, run out into the snow naked and scream for death.

All told, my wife and I have spent $200 on Stephanie Meyer and her band of supernaturals. My wife has read all the books (which we've purchased - a few I even gave to her as gifts). And each time she'd roll her eyes, complain about how poorly they were written, and then insist she had to keep reading to find out what happened. But I get it, because I've sat through 10 hours and 5 movies for the same reasons.

And the only moments of entertainment the movies have provided me are the unintentional ones: Thunder baseball; talking wolves and that one time where Kristen Stewart looks bored - those were the moments where I most felt I was getting my money's worth. If you need more examples, here's some 'entertaining' moments from the final film in the series:

  1. Jacob follows a man into the woods and forces him to watch as he strips naked and turns into a dog. And everybody's cool with that.
  2. Jacob, apparently, wants to have sex with a baby.
  3. This baby grows from infant to 8-year-old in a matter of months. Again, everybody's cool with that. Especially if they get to go on a fishing trip.
  4. Bella - upon hearing Jacob refer to her creepy CGI baby as "Nessie" - shouts, "You nicknamed my baby ... after the LOCH NESS MONSTER?!"
  5. Vampires aren't just vampires. They are also the fucking X-Men. Because being an immortal isn't enough. You also get the ability to make little dirt tornadoes.

See? Good shit, right?

But, as I sat through the final minutes of the series last night in the theater, something incredible happened. I found myself entertained. Like REALLY entertained. In a way that made me want to take back every bad thing I had ever said or thought about Stephanie Meyer and the glittering, mopey, sexist world she'd created. The story turned dark and the story grew some balls. For about 5 solid minutes, I actually liked "Twilight."

And then they pulled the rug out. In a way that made me hate the entire series forever and ever, Amen.

See, here's the thing, "Twilight." I wasn't expecting you to be good. It would have been fine with me if you'd lumbered on to what I was anticipating would be a whiny, anti-climactic ending. But no, you had to stick in about 5 minutes worth of storytelling with some teeth to it, and THEN wipe it all clean while showing me a big old middle finger. You advertised the entire movie around a lie. You Mash'd me.

At least Stephanie Meyer had the good sense and human decency not to put that sequence in the book. She was content to just let her turd fester without putting a bow on it.

And for that - more than the horrible acting and writing, more than unleashing the most lifeless celebrity couple the world will ever know and more than spawning those fucking 50 Shades books - I will never forgive you.


Old, Embarrassing Things I've Written

by Andy Jay Bennett


I used to have a home entertainment column in the Northland Reader. I wrote this column around this same time back in 2005, picking my favorite things from 2005. Enjoy. And try not to cringe TOO much.

REMOTE VIEWING - Best of 2005

By Andy Bennett

Do you hear what I hear?  Do you?  It sounds a little like Fran Drescher gargling battery acid.  Hear it?  It’s the exasperated cursing of Hollywood as they collectively throw up their hands in the face of an audience they no longer understand.  That’s you, by the way.

Now don’t feel bad, the filmmakers will be okay.  You’d be surprised how quickly their mood improves when they can make their 20-year-old personal assistant buy them new underpants.  It’s just that you’ve made their year a little tough.  More films were released this year than almost any other year in history, and yet the box office is down 7 percent. In fact, of the hundreds of new releases this year, only 15 can be regarded as genuine hits. What’s causing the slump at the multiplex?

It’s a combination of two things; DVD and television has become truly first-rate, and Hollywood makes some crappy, crappy movies. With films being released on DVD mere months after their theatrical debuts and the networks unleashing schedules boasting innovative, genre-pushing programs, it’s no wonder you’re staying home. The couch has taken the place of the cinema at the entertainment mountaintop, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon.

With that in mind, I offer my picks for the best DVD releases and television programs of 2005. It may have been a rough time for Hollywood, but for the living rooms of America, it was a very good year.

DVD:

Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection: A career-spanning sampling of work from the finest director of suspense in film history.  With digitally re-mastered versions of 14 films, documentaries, retrospectives, and a revealing interview with Hitchcock himself, it’s more than worth the $120 sucker punch you’re going to give your wallet.

Frank Miller’s Sin City (Recut, Extended, Unrated):  This violent, vulgar masterpiece gets the treatment it deserves in this two-disc set loaded with multiple versions of the film, commentaries, featurettes, scene dissections, and even a cooking lesson.  Robert Rodriguez is a one-man movie studio, and with this special edition of his best film yet, Rodriguez flexes his do-it-all movie muscles and shoves the Independent back into independent films.

The Wizard of Oz: A process called “ultra-resolution” is responsible for the crispest, sharpest version of this film ever, a treat that’s worth the sticker price alone.  Yet this set doesn’t rest on its shiny, Technicolor laurels.  It heaps making-of documentaries, a music-only track, deleted scenes, trailers, and outtakes onto this three-disc set.  Oz has never looked or sounded this good, and the extras will keep you from clicking your heels and returning to the real world for hours.

The Daily Show – Indecision 2004: Much more than a collection of the best bits from the funniest news program on television, this three-disc set serves as a time capsule of one of the most contentious, divisive elections in history.  Neither party is spared from the razor-sharp barbs of Jon Stewart and Co., nor should they be; years from now this set will still reek of levity, intelligence, and common sense.  I wish I could say the same for politics.

Batman – The Motion Picture Anthology: Sure, most people will buy this for the first two films, and the marvelous commentary by Batman director, Tim Burton.  But what makes this set exceptional Joel Schumacher’s commentary, where he actually takes responsibility for turning a fascinating tale of the darker side of human vengeance into a bubble-gum pop display of one-liners and rubber nipples.

TELEVISION:

Lost:  This is the most exciting, rewarding, moving, fascinating show in years.  Time will tell, but if this show continues its run of exemplary storytelling, it just might end up as one of the greatest shows of all time.  Just watch it, already.

Arrested Development: I guess I don’t even know why I’m bothering, since this show is all but canceled, but this is the rare comedy that doesn’t pander to its viewers, refuses to go for the easy joke, and rewards viewers that tune in every week.  Come to think of it, that’s probably exactly why it’s being cancelled.

24:  What makes this show so good is not just the mileage Kiefer Sutherland gets out of the word “Damnit,” but also the non-stop bull rush of action and intrigue that refuses to let its audience get ahead of them.  You know how in action movies the hero disarms the bomb with one second to spare?  On 24, they prefer to let the bomb go boom and then play with the bloody little pieces.

Scrubs: A supremely underrated show that consistently blends outrageous humor and real human drama into touching and heart-warming 22-minute episodes.  Last year’s episode My Life In Four Cameras was not only a smart satire of everything wrong with sitcoms, it was also a unsentimental tear-jerker that made viewers want to give a big hug to whoever was near. 

Gilmore Girls: One episode contains more obscure references than Dennis Miller on speed yet is still able to take you through a dozen different emotions.  This show is perfect for sick days, snow days, or Tuesdays.  Tuesdays at 7 to be exact.  Give it a chance, won’t you?

From my seat at the summit of Entertainment Mountain, the view from the couch looks pretty fantastic.