Javert and Valjean at Prayer

The two things I found most frustrating about the Les Mis movie were the camerawork and Russell Crowe's performance as Javert.  And they both came together to annoy me during "Stars."  Crowe is sad-eyed instead of steely from his first appearance and, for this number, director Tom Hooper places him on a ledge.  This seems to be done simply so that Hooper can set up some parallelism in his cimematography; the shots of Javert walking right along the edge of the roof in "Stars" are echoed when he pa … [Read more...]

Give Me (and Javert) a Firm Place to Stand

While googling to nail down some of Javert's lyrics, I ended up on his IMDB quotes page, which draws on film adaptations of the book going back to 1935.  And, looking over these selections, it's clear a number of productions have seen Javert as some kind of atheist, possibly of an existentialist stripe.  One movie has him saying, "There is no God. There is only the law. Good and evil do not exist outside the law."But the Javert of the book and the musical isn't a heathen; he's a heretic.   … [Read more...]

Javert: No Quarter Asked or Given

I first saw Les Miserables when I was in middle school, I think, and I was on the edge of my seat from the opening number.  But the moment that transfixed me was Javert's joyous "Stars."  I was in love.There was nothing I wanted so much as to be like that man, ramrod-straight, inviolate, and wholly consecrated to duty.  In fact, when informed of my conversion, one friend, initially puzzled, said, "Well, I guess you've always been a bit of an absolutist."  But my Javertian tendencies are a … [Read more...]

“The Time is Now! The Day is Here!”

Things I have attended at midnight this year: The Hunger Games, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, and Mass (the first time I've ever attended Mass at Christmas, in fact).  But, today, one family tradition is unchanged by my conversion.  If it's Christmas, it's time for Chinese food and a movie.  And I hope I don't have to tell any of you which movie it's going to be.A few weeks ago, I was feeling a little crestfallen that I didn't have any friends who were likely to invite me t … [Read more...]

Finishing the Imago Dei

So, apparently if I host an installment of the Stephen Sondheim film festival the night before a silent retreat, I end up spending a lot of time meditating on Seurat instead of Scripture.  A few weekends ago, I invited friends over to watch Sunday in the Park with George, Stephen Sondheim's musical about Georges Seurat's creation of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.  (It's on Amazon instant streaming, go enjoy!).In the first act, Georges struggles to express himself to his … [Read more...]

“Because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”

Frankenstein is at least the great-uncle of the zombie story. The alternate title of Shelley’s book is The Modern Prometheus and we can’t quite decide, when it comes to necromancy, whether it’s more frightening to have Prometheus, Frankenstein, Faust and all the rest fail in their quest or succeed.  Somewhere along the way, our Frankenstein’s creatures acquired a lot more hardware than the bolts in the neck. Today, Shelley’s story has more in common with HAL and cyborgs than it does with the simp … [Read more...]

The Monster is Father of the Man

As I warned you, I’m taking some time before I write anything specifically about being received into the Catholic Church. In the meantime, I hope my thoughts on the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein will do. After all, it’s also about the surprise of becoming a new creationEngland’s National Theatre tapes some of its performances and allows them to be shown around the world. This past summer, I was lucky enough to see their production of Frankenstein twice through this program (on … [Read more...]