Les Miserable : Review A+ The movie lives up to expectations


Sometimes, it’s really worth your time, money and energy to attend the movies. If you want to see something you’ll really enjoy, go see Les Miserable.

Although nothing can trump seeing the live musical, this comes close. Unlike the play, you can see some unbelievable  scenery and powerful  camera shots.   The costumes are realistic, and the makeup makes everyone look pretty miserable (the pathetic crowd).  Since the movie is so up close, you get a better idea of the characters and their relationships to each other. You get to see the nuances of expression, and  feel the characters emotions.  I could lose myself in this movie, and I was unaware of the time it took to watch. (It is over 2 hours).

There’s been much made out of the fact that the director made the actors actually sing their parts instead of using recorded soundtracks. He also uses a lot of closeups. . You can actually see every mark on their faces, and some of their neglected looking teeth. I liked the fact that they were really singing when it was filmed.

Anne Hathaway plays Fantine  to perfection, and her singing doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t take her long to turn into a prostitute. It’s almost painful to watch her go through her misery. Although she isn’t on screen that long, her part leaves a lasting impression.

Hugh Jackman  makes a good  Jean Valjean, our hero and makes  a good transformation from a convict (stealing bread) to a moral person. He certainly looks pathetic in the beginning of the movie, and looks like a dashing hero for the rest of it.  His voice is fairly strong, and his acting is excellent.  If he doesn’t deserve an Oscar, I don’t know who does.

Russell Crowe has the least powerful voice in the production, but I think it’s adequate.( It seems hard to believe the director couldn’t find someone with a bigger voice to play the role.)  He plays the villain, Javert convincingly I had heard he was inadequate in the part, so I was pleasantly surprised. I managed to hate him during the movie.

I think Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the slimy innkeepers steal the show when they’re on screen. They both have a lot of charisma that comes through even though their characters are unsympathetic.  All the children in the production also do a terrific job, especially the little boy who plays a rebel.

My favorite female in this production was Samantha Brooks as Eponine. When she sings “On My own” in the rain, I loved it. She’s beautiful and has the voice we’ve come to expect when we see a live production of this show.

Amanda Seyfried as the adult Cosette was very believable. She looks the part and her voice is sweet.

If you’re looking for the biggest voices you’ve  ever heard in this production, you might be disappointed, but the group choral numbers are quite strong, and Eddie Redmay as Marius lives up to expectations.   If you’re looking for a moving story, fantastic scenery, a great reprieve, and something that will bring a tear to your eye, go see this movie.

I would give this production an A!

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Listen to Roma music and Arkadiy Gips: This gives me joy


Through my singing activities, I found an inspirational artist, Arkadiy Gips. He calls Columbus, Ohio, home. He originally came from the Ukraine and studied at all the prestigious universities in Russia. He was also well-known in Eastern Europe before he came to America seeking freedom.

He plays all types of music: classics, jazz, and he even toured with Madonna. (Yes, that Madonna.)

This is an example of a group he leads. They play Roma music. Although, you may not be familiar with it, listen. Watch this all the way to the end. You get a taste of something different. All of these artists are fantastic!

 

 

Wintry Ohio


Here’s some picture from Columbus, Ohio. Last year we dodged the winter. This year we don’t seem to be as lucky! The Columbus people love their football team, The Ohio State Buckeyes. Even during a winter storm, they are always on our minds. If you click on one picture, you can see the whole gallery–one picture at a time.

A little bit of heaven on the edge of The Hocking Hills


A cabin in the woods.

A cabin in the woods.

We own a little piece of property near the Hocking Hills in Ohio.  My husband’s family bought it long before I married him. It used to have a cabin, but it’s been taken down. Now, all we’re left with is its natural beauty and the same creek that’s been running through it for eons.

I remember wading in the creek in my 20’s,  but I wouldn’t do it now. I can’t put up with all the rocks on the bottom, and I’m not quite as daring as I used to be.

My husband comes alive when he gets on that property. He’ll go through all the brush  and tall grass off the path. I followed him into it the other day, and fell over some fallen branches. (I thought, what am I doing, I’m too old for this.)   Maybe my days of going through the untamed wilderness are through. I’ll just stay on the path. I think when my husband is 85, he’ll still find a way to plod through the brush and climb those paths.

After a freak storm swept through Ohio, a lot of trees fell all over the place.  The family had to hire a logger to clear out and cut down  damaged trees. Just like people, sometimes the old ones have to go to make room for the new ones.

I was afraid cutting down those trees would ruin the property, but nature has a way of coming back every year. It did look a little sparse at first, but now it’s  been replenished, and you can see a little further than before.

Last year, I was fascinated when I walked down to the creek and there were hundreds of colorful butterflies swirling all around.  It was enchanting to see them in such a natural environment.
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My husband is happiest when he is building something and working with his hands. He loves to take his garden tractor down to those hills and clear the brush. I jokingly  call him Daniel Boone. Sometimes I think he was born in the wrong century.

I like the sounds of the property. All you hear is the rustling of the leaves. It’s mostly silent. If you sit by the creek, you can hear the sounds of the water. It can be quite peaceful.

My husband is always pointing out to me where a deer probably slept. In all these years, I’ve only seen one.

Milestones

We celebrated a lot of milestones down there.  Our engagement, marriage,  our children, new decisions, jobs and heart breaks. If we’re restless,  we will hop into the car  and take a little ride to the woods.  It used to be five of us but the kids all grew up, so now it’s back to just  the two of us.

I used to bound up and down the pathways.  Now, I walk and have to stop several times before I get to the top.  I recently figured out a good old walking stick made up of a fallen limb of a tree makes the climb easier. I do wonder how much longer I’m going to be able to keep walking the several pathways my husband has carved out with his little tractor.

What is more breathtaking than trees, and a vista to look out at them?  All the wild flowers of purple, yellow, and the wispy pussy willows? In the winter it’s a little more desolate.  I know that in the spring yellow daffodils will be waiting for me. I’m grateful to the former owners of the property who planted them years ago.

Rushville in the fall.

Rushville in the fall.

Since I’ve gotten older I’ve realized material objects aren’t going to bring me joy, but I can feel happy in the quiet woods. It also helps to have my Daniel Boone by my side.

The Tragedy in Newtown: When are we going to start having an adult discussion? Hatred isn’t going to get us anywhere.


Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut

Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, I went to a temple service. I am a regular participant, but today I was going to find some answers to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  I like the Rabbi, and I like the services.  Today, it was a small gathering.

During Jewish services a part of the morning is devoted  to discussing the Torah . While discussing the Torah, the conversation got around to those killings in Connecticut. This event was on everyone’s minds.

All of these recent shootings weigh heavily on me, as they do on everyone else.  Something has to be done. There has to be a defense against these sick sad people.  What can be done?  I don’t have the answer to this question. But I’m certain making the schools armed camps isn’t the answer. I spent a considerable amount of time working in the schools, elementary, middle and high-school. I had a chance to see what really goes on there. It is a complex place, and talented educators should be admired. It’s an important job.

People have to get real
This is going to get worse before it gets better.  It’s lovely to think we don’t need to protect the children. It’s great to think we can go shopping, to the movies, and to hear political leaders speak without some nut coming out and wiping most of the people away. Unfortunately, while we’re all getting angry at each other, another sad insane person is probably plotting the next catastrophe.

I hope we all find a way to come together and act like responsible adults.

Why?
I guess we’ll never really know the answer to that question.  Some people make simplistic guesses, but that’s not satisfying to me. I was impressed with what the Rabbi read to us just before the service ended.  He read the eulogies  Noah Pozner’s  mother and uncle made at his funeral. These were published shortly after his funeral.

By The Associated Press 12/17/12 09:57 PM ET EST
From mother, Veronique Pozner:
The sky is crying, and the flags are at half-mast. It is a sad, sad day. But it is also your day, Noah, my little man. I will miss your forceful and purposeful little steps stomping through our house. I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room.
Most of all, I will miss your visions of your future. You wanted to be a doctor, a soldier, a taco factory manager. It was your favorite food, and no doubt you wanted to ensure that the world kept producing tacos.
You were a little boy whose life force had all the gravitational pull of a celestial body. You were light and love, mischief and pranks. You adored your family with every fiber of your 6-year-old being. We are all of us elevated in our humanity by having known you. A little maverick, who didn’t always want to do his schoolwork or clean up his toys, when practicing his ninja moves or Super Mario on the Wii seemed far more important.
Noah, you will not pass through this way again. I can only believe that you were planted on Earth to bloom in heaven. Take flight, my boy. Soar. You now have the wings you always wanted. Go to that peaceful valley that we will all one day come to know. I will join you someday. Not today. I still have lots of mommy love to give to Danielle, Michael, Sophia and Arielle.
Until then, your melody will linger in our hearts forever. Momma loves you, little man.

from his uncle (this is only part of it….)

t is unspeakably tragic that none of us can bring Noah back. We would go to the ends of the Earth to do so, but none of us can.

What we can do is carry Noah within us, always. We can remember the joy he brought to us. We can hold his memory close to our hearts. We can treasure him forever. And all of us, including the family, the community, the country and the world, can honor Noah by loving each other and taking care of each other. That’s what Noah would have wanted.

Noah, we love you so much, we miss you dearly, and we will never, ever forget you.

I got some of what I was looking for when I walked in the temple today. But not close to what I need to understand this.

Your thoughts?

The Harmony Project Singing as One Voice


The Harmony Project.  We are singing Beth Neilson Chapman's "There is no darkness."  Photo by Paul Feeney

The Harmony Project. We are singing Beth Neilson Chapman’s
“There is no darkness.” Photo by Paul Feeney

I’ve been in choirs all my life. I remember how happy I was the first time I officially belonged to a choir. I was in the 5th grade at Rowland Elementary school. I even remember some of the songs we sang for our program.  Miss Titus, our devoted teacher, would probably be thrilled that I remember the words to “The Erie Canal.”

I’ve been in many choirs since then. Singing makes me feel good. I like the social aspects of it too. It’s just plain fun. The Harmony Project, one of the choirs I sing in,  is something special. It’s a philanthropic group that sings and shares. Good works have been done in Columbus, Ohio, under the banner of the “Harmony Project.” We raise money, and get to give concerts too.

Choir Directors always talk about “singing with one voice.”  That is a hard thing to achieve. Sometimes, you have some frustrated singers, with better than average voices, over-singing. At times, what you end up with is  different voices, not blending at all. Sometimes, it reminds me of a competition.  If you have a skillful musical director, they won’t allow this to happen.

Last night at the Harmony Project, everyone was singing enthusiastically while they followed Musical director,  David Brown. In the middle of it all, I said to myself. Wow, this is a once in a lifetime moment. Stay  in the present, listen, to your neighbor, blend in and forget yourself.

It was one of those magical moments. One I’ll always remember. We were all one voice.

Members of The Harmony Project singing with heart and soul!  From the Bill Pearsol album

Members of The Harmony Project singing with heart and soul! From the Bill Pearsol album

Having fun at the Harmony Project holiday event: December 19 — a biased review


When I started with the Harmony Project there were around 125 people. Now, there are 200. I didn’t really think I’d ever like singing with such a big choir, but I was wrong. We sing with one voice, and without music. It’s so much fun. We clap and rock it out too. There’s no shortage of baby boomers in the choir, but there are also people of all ages, all sexual orientations and all religions. Nobody cares about who believes what. We are all there to sing and share.

Today was our holiday concert at The Southern Theater. Almost every seat was taken. It was a rejuvenating experience.

The South High Harmony choir did a fantastic job singing for the audience. They’re kids from a high school that needed a little boost. They should be so proud of themselves. They did “We Will Rock You” with energy and heart.  It was terrific.

The Unison Project sang “You’ve got a friend” with confidence and bravado.

The audience was excellent.  They stood up more than once, and they rocked out with us. We were all one giant group.

The bike lady, got up and said how great it is that 155 teenagers is foster care will now have bikes. Members of the choir raised money in a social event in one day. It was a new idea and it worked.

What a band we have to back us up. They are all professional musicians of the highest caliber and they are good! Tonight we added strings and a mandolin. I have to say our soloists did an outstanding job.

It was fortunate that David Brown decided Columbus was the place to launch The Harmony Project. We’ve done a lot for the community. There’s so much to do.

David  talked about looking for good signs tonight. I think the audience giving us a standing ovation was a pretty good sign!

If you’re coming tomorrow, you will have a terrific time. It’s  guaranteed!

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