Vulcan’s Peak

Archive for the 'movies' category

Public service announcement

March 15, 2006 12:15 am

Remember March, the Ides of March remember:
Did not great Julius bleed for justice’ sake?
What villain touch’d his body, that did stab,
And not for justice? What! shall one of us,
That struck the foremost man of all this world
But for supporting robbers,–shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes
And sell the mighty space of our large honours
For so much trash as may be grasped thus?
I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon,
Than such a Roman.

– Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, IV iii

It occurs to me that maybe I should find a new way of celebrating the Ides of March. Or not. I mean, three years, dude! That’s tradition.

n.b. I will not be reading Julius Caesar for my Shakespeare, nor Antony and Cleopatra. However, for a Roman fix we are doing Titus Andronichus next week (I’m planning to take a mop to clean up all the blood). Syllabus also includes Troilus & Cressida, The Winter’s Tale, and Richard III, of which I know nothing; Lear and As You Like It, which I know, but not well; and Taming of the Shrew and Othello, which I do know pretty well. I am well pleased.

Watched Brannagh’s Othello tonight for class – I don’t think I’ve seen this one before and enjoyed it though I’ve watched his Much Ado too many times, I think. Difficult for me to see him as Iago.

Our first assignment in my writing class is to write a story with characters based loosely one two people we know, but who don’t know each other. Bwahahaha.

Christmas and movies

December 22, 2005 12:59 pm

Not a great deal of news here, folks. Christmas is happening, with all usual activities. Tree is up, outside lights are up, cookies are baked, presents are wrapped. I took the boys shopping the other day, which was almost not as much of an ordeal as last year. When they know what sort of thing they’re looking for – they were better on this than last year – that’s half the battle. The other half is finding this stuff. Last year we managed it all at the mall, I think…this year took us from Books-a-Million to the mall to Circuit City to WalMart.

Oh – and I managed to go to the post office at Christmas time without crushing my finger. *bows* So my grad school applications are all mailed off.

Came home last week and got my nose buried into three books, as usual. I came home reading Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, something I’ve wanted to find since I saw the musical based upon it when I was in London a year ago. Mmm, London. Mmm, Christmas lights in London.

I also picked up my German version of the first Harry Potter book in an effort to pull my Deutsch back again – I have a German lit course next term. Harry is, I find, a nice way to wade back in. I know the English well enough that it helps me out. Oh yeah, is that what merkwurdige means? Riiiight…

The third is a massive tome that my parents gave my brother for his birthday last spring. It falls in the “What to read after Harry Potter” advertising category, but between its size and his general busy-ness, he hadn’t started it yet. So I did. The first page or so is very clever, but then the 80 pages that follow are fairly slow. By pg. 80, though, I was hooked, and by 200 it hums right along quite nicely. The title is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and it’s set in the early 1800’s, as England is at war with Napoleon. Much magic and fairies and high society. Reminiscent of Patricia C. Wrede’s Mairelon books, but I have several hundred pages to destroy that illusion.

This Christmas has brought an unusually large number of movies I want to see! Since when does that happen, anyway? The Producers is out, as is Peter Jackson’s King Kong. There’s a new Pride and Prejudice, and I’m intrigued by the premise of Memiors of a Geisha (only sufficiently intrigued to rent it later, probably). This isn’t even counting the two (two!!) I saw last week, Rent and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Rent is a musical I hadn’t known anything about except that a lot of people really like it – I have one friend in particualr who is a big fan. When Pug and I went to see it at the mall, they were having some sound problems – way way way too much bass in some of the big numbers, so much so that you couldn’t hear the words…and the words were important. That whole setting up the plot and introducing the characters thing? Yeah. They evened out as the movie went on, and I really liked the show itself.

Narnia I enjoyed too. Pug, Tae, Elf, and I went out to dinner and saw the Narnia movie a week ago. Though I think the White Witch looked all wrong, there was a lot more that looked just right. The creatures were great (not the only way in which this production improves on the old BBC version with people in animal suits, but a major factor!), and the children were well cast. At first, I was a bit bothered by how much they seemed to be bickering, but when I looked back at the book later that night, I realized that they’d made a change for the realistic. No kids talk like they do in C.S. Lewis, not even British kids.

Personally, I’d been a little down on Narnia in recent years. Somehow, the more clearly I saw the Christian symbolism, the more I dismissed the tales. (Sad truth: I’m not as open-minded/tolerant/accepting as I like to think.) Seeing it all again reminded me that it is a good story all on its own. Christ figures don’t mean much to me, but dear old not-a-tame-lion Aslan does. That’s where the story is powerful to me. So I guess that’s what I liked best about it.

HP & the Goblet of Fire

November 28, 2005 8:00 am

or, Odette turns movie critic

isaw11 In some respects, this is very possibly my favorite of the Potter films: the story is generally well handeled, there are distinct traces of creativity on the part of the director, and even characters who seemed all wrong at first glance (namely Mad Eye Moody) turned out to be spot on.

The beginning had me a little worried that this one would be hacked together in a desperate attempt to fit 734 pages into under five hours (GoF clocks in just over two and a half). Until we get Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons under one roof and the tournament gets underway, the story is little more than a series of flashes, each suggesting that it contains the kernel of a plot point. Riddle House? Check. Our heroes? Check. Portkey, World Cup, Victor Krum, Dark Mark? Check, check, double check. My favorite instance of this actually occurs in the first scene in the Great Hall. We see Moody enter, then flash to one of the Weasley twins. “It’s Mad Eye Moody!” Flash to other twin. “He’s an auror.” Flash to someone else: “What’s an auror?” Flash again, explanation. You don’t get much more condensed than that. It amused me.

Once things really get moving, though, the movie stretches its legs and actually creates a plot out of its plot points. I suspect that an uninitiated movie-goer would be lost as hell amidst the plot holes, but GoF makes a much better attempt than PoA, which never bothered to explain that Lupin, Sirius, Wormtail, and Snape were all at school with Harry’s father. Oops? I really missed Hermione’s triumphant revenge against Rita Skeeter, which might create problems in the next movie, except that I suspect that sub-plot will again get dropped. Sad. The image of Hermione, Rita Skeeter, and Luna Lovegood sitting together is priceless.

One sub-plot from the book that I didn’t miss at all was the presence of house-elves and Hermione’s obsession with SPEW. Neville even got a bit of Dobby’s part, which I thought was nice — the supporting cast who are so influential in forming the background of the books are rarely acknowledged in the movies.

On the other hand, I am liking Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore less and less. I picture Dumbledore as the sort of person who can command the attention of the room with his mere presence, and Gambon is all too easy to overlook. He must constantly exert a great deal of energy to force some semblance of control, which immediately suggests that he is completely out of control. While Dumbledore is indeed out of control of the larger situation as soon as Harry’s name pops out of the Goblet, I think his serenity (or facade thereof) is an important part of Dumbledore’s character. Arm-flapping and shouting is not. And can I add that his costume looks more like a nightgown than a wizard’s robe? The robes they designed for Richard Harris in the first film looked a lot better.

A character who did look right (I thought) was Cedric Diggory. I quite liked him, making the end that much more powerful — the moment that got me was his father’s reaction upon Harry’s return. Actually, I really liked that scene in general. Downright creepy to have Harry return from the graveyard to the brass band and loud cheers, then watch as slowly each character realizes that something is very, very wrong.

And big cheers here: Someone else has said it first, but the Weasley twins really hit their stride in GoF. They get plenty of screen time and they make the most of it!

image source

Feeding my little obsession

February 24, 2005 1:23 am

I finally got to see the new Phantom of the Opera movie tonight – Tae, Elf, and I went out to an evening showing, and had a great time. We make an odd trio in regard to Phantom – it really isn’t an Elf-movie at all, and she reacted accordingly, which is fine. Tae enjoyed it – enough to see it a second time, if that tells you anything. And me? I’ve been a fanatic since seeing it in New York five years ago. Nothing could match the magic of the first time, but London last fall and now the film come as close as I could wish. Sometimes I wonder why I’m so caught up in such a neurotic cast of characters, but I am. The people, the setting, the music – it all speaks to me.

I had my doubts about this Christine (Emmy Rossum) the first time I heard her, but I’ve gotten to quite like her. No one can quite match Sarah Brightman (hell, the part was written for her, is it any wonder?), but there’s a clarity to her voice that I like. Gerard Butler’s Phantom is almost too good looking – one can hardly believe he is so disfigured under that mask. A friend has suggested that the rock-background of his voice doesn’t make sense, given that he is clearly adept at training voices for the opera, but I enjoyed the power in his voice. He does justice to The Music of the Night too, which I love. Still, I have fond memories of the Phantom I saw in London. The Christine and Raoul of that production were a bit weak, but the Phantom was magnificent and mellifluous. *sighs happily*

Patrick Wilson’s Raoul is a different look from the stereotypically tall, dark, and handsome Raouls I’ve seen before. I like it. More sympathetic, somehow.

The background that the film offers for the Phantom surprised me quite a bit – that’s never addressed in the stage version. It makes me want to re-read Leroux’s original novel, which offered hints, I remember, but I don’t recall exactly what was said. I was disappointed in the book when I read it five years ago, freshly starry-eyed after an evening on Broadway – probably because I wanted to re-live what I’d seen on the stage, and the book is a very different creature. It might be time to pick old Gaston Leroux up again. At any rate, Madame Giry’s inexplicable knowledge about the Phantom is made less inexplicable, though I’m not entirely sure I like it or buy it. We’ll pick that up again another time.

What is it about this story that I love so much? Besides the appealing spectacle and the catchy tunes, I think it has to do with enigmas and loneliness. I’ve always been drawn to characters with an air of mystery about them, whether it’s Robin Hood, Spock, Galadriel, the Man in Black, or Mairelon the Magician… (some of you will even be able to follow me through that, ha!) And though it isn’t something I’ve suffered from in recent years (thanks to an amazing group of friends and a roommate who might as well be my sister), I was a very lonely child for years after we moved here. Add to that some broad things about love and loss and impossible wishes that most anyone can empathize with and you have what has become one of my favorite stories.

So the film? It is worthy.

This is far as it goes, folks

July 9, 2004 11:19 pm

I had a lovely evening with Elf and Pug tonight – went to see Spiderman 2, and greatly enjoyed it, despite my initial reticence. Woo! I’m interested to hear what our resident comic expert thought about it, now. But I guess that conversation will have to wait – my family is leaving in the morning for a two-week trip to New Mexico and back. We lived in Albuquerque for seven years when I was little, and haven’t been back since. Also, my grandfather lives in Las Cruces, so going to see him is a major incentive for making the trip. Etcetera. Tales when I return! We should be back the 23rd. Oooh, shoot – that reminds me. Tae, I hear you were hoping to get the group to go see Camelot, which is wonderful and I’m thrilled that Athena is involved (glee!!), but don’t get me a ticket because I already have one…the family is going. Wanted you to know!!!

With all that out of the way…here is part 3 of the current D&D campaign. This is as far as we’ve gone.

The following day, Tae and Petra were back on the road. The terrain was getting rockier and steeper until they came to a fortress set on a stony slope (yay synonyms!) The front door was huge, and while Petra could easily have gotten herself up to the knocker, they decided that the front entrance was perhaps not the wisest idea. They went around looking for windows, and the first one they found was indeed at ground level – it looked like a prison cell or a dungeon.

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