In a piece on Opinionator, Stanley Fish gets to the bottom of the critical backlash against Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables — the film musical’s “refusal to afford the distance that enables irony.” As he explains:
Those who call the movie flat, shallow, sentimental and emotionally manipulative are not wrong; they just fail to see that what appear to them to be bad cinematic choices (in addition to prosaic lyrics that repel aesthetic appreciation, and multiple reprises of simple musical themes) are designed to achieve exactly the result they lament — an almost unbearable proximity to raw, un-ironized experience. They just can’t go with it. And why should they? After all, the critic, and especially the critic who perches in high journalistic places, needs to have a space in which he can insert himself and do the explicatory work he offers to a world presumed to be in need of it. Les Misérables, taken on its own terms, leaves critics with nothing to do except join the rhythms of rapt silence, crying and applause, and it is understandable that they want nothing to do with it.
What do you make of his argument? [via @emilygould]