Not all of Christopher Nolan’s films are five-star masterpieces (here’s nodding off at you, Dark Knight Rises), but the foundation of new ideas that underpin each production guarantees we’re in for a unique cinematic experience rather than prefab Hollywood conveyor-belt product. Witness the debate-class spectacle that is Interstellar — one-half homage to 2001: a Space Odyssey, one-half admitted love letter from Nolan to his daughter bearing messages of hope, curiosity, science, human achievement, and the strength of intangible, immeasurable bonds that keep us connected even when we’re parsecs apart.
Welcome once again to the Midlife Crisis Crossover Request Line, in which recommendations from MCC fans send me reading, viewing, and reviewing assorted art and art-like objects, either because they want a proxy to evaluate the damage, or because my life won’t be complete without seeing them. Today’s suggestion came from Niki, one of MCC’s most dedicated fellow Bunheads fans. (Believe it or not, I hadn’t forgotten!)
Today’s subject: The world-famous Les Miserables, the mammoth French novel turned immortal Broadway play turned Hollywood film (not for its first time), today nominated for twelve Academy Awards. Niki’s original suggestion was for any version of the tale, but for some reason our local big-box stores have yet to be flooded with copies of the previous Liam Neeson/Geoffrey Rush version. The touring version of the musical performed in Indianapolis at some point, but that was before I received the suggestion. Blame the timing.
What I knew beforehand: It’s a big, famous book. More people have probably seen the musical than read the book. I knew it had characters named Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, whose cat-and-mouse routine was an early precursor to The Fugitive. A tiny girl was prominent in all the musical’s ads and best-selling merchandise. That’s really all I knew before walking in.
The Dark Knight Rises was a flawed but perfectly apt capper on Christopher Nolan’s Batman miniseries, a true trilogy in the sense that it’s an integral continuation of developments and themes from the first two films and wraps up loose ends we didn’t even realize were unraveled. Its marathon length was no deterrent to me, but some of its minutes could have been used to better effect.