Finally saw Star Trek: Into Darkness…

September 16, 2013 at 1:23 pm (Geekery, Star Trek) (, , , , , )

To repeat myself: images from the infamous deleted shower scene. You’re welcome.

And because consistency is *not* my middle name, I wrote my review-ish thing on my main blog. Click here for my sad little mini-rant.

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Stranger Than Fiction

February 18, 2011 at 1:32 am (Geekery, Movies) (, , , )


Oh, wonderful.  I loved every minute, and could not for the life of me figure out where they could go with it. Hee. Fantastic.

Harold Crick (Will Ferrell), IRS agent, obsessive compulsive, begins one day hearing a voice narrating his life as he goes about it.  He discovers that he is the main character in a book Emma Thompson’s author Karen Eiffel is writing – which is unsettling enough, but Karen Eiffel is known for killing off her characters in unique ways.  And Harold needs to find out what exactly is going on – and keep his author from bumping him off.  Meanwhile, as she is trying to work with – or around – the assistant her publisher has sent to keep her on track (Queen Latifah), he finds himself falling in love with the victim of an audit (Maggie Gyllenhaal). 

I want a watch like Harold Crick’s. And I would love someone to give me flours. Did I mention I loved this movie? I’ve read reviews that said that Queen Latifah was wasted in her role, and I see what they mean – but I don’t agree, except for the part of me that was waiting the whole time for some outrageous sign of her usual personality; she was fine (again, in the better sense of the word). Will Farrell never ceases to amaze me. I have a heck of a time reconciling the Will Farrell I really enjoy in this and in Elf with the one I’d have to be paid to watch in movies like Talladega Nights and that skating movie thing. And I adore Emma Thompson, so, yay. It was a joy.  Oh, I need to see this again soon.

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Rewatching Doctor Who: Christmas Invasion

January 1, 2011 at 7:14 am (BBC, Geekery) (, , , , )

May the heavens rain odours upon them, BBC America is capping off my year very nicely thank you by making the Doctor Who Christmas specials available On Demand.  Better – the 2010 Christmas Special was available, did I but know it, on Christmas, rather than months from now. 

New Doctor, #11, 2010 special: “A Christmas Carol”.  I loved it.  I need to see it again before I say much – much beyond why in the name of heaven has everyone on this planet not heard of Katherine Jenkins??  I laughed, I cried, I was surprised – I loved it.  I’ll come back to it.

#10, 2005 special: “Christmas Invasion”.  Ohhhh.  I know I’ve said it (ad nauseam), but it’s my blog and I’m sick, so I’ll say it again so there: I was inconsolable when the Ninth Doctor went.  It wasn’t just because poof there went another regeneration, but because Christopher Eccleston had done amazing things with the role when I was expecting another Paul McGann-style debacle.  (Which may not be fair; I like McGann in other things – like Luther – so maybe with a little time and space, so to speak, between me and my original outrage I might … nah.)  At the time I finally had the chance to watch the first season of New Who I was certain that it was better just to let the sleeping series lie rather than stir it up – raise hopes – and crash and burn.  I didn’t know Russell T. Davies, or Christopher Eccleston, or Billie Piper, and I did not have high expectations.  But Eccleston won me, heart and mind, and when he went … I was back to square one.  As witness my fussing with the advent of #11, change is difficult.

I suppose I should have known better, but – well, look at Peter Jackson.  He created something lovely in Fellowship of the Ring, and then … oh well.  So there I sat ready to watch “Christmas Invasion”, with my arms folded, waiting for them to take something I loved and screw it up. 

And they didn’t.

It was wonderful.  Full of wonders, and – fantastic. 

Watching it again, for the first time in a long while – only the second time? – was a joy.  Enough time (and space) (and Eleven) has gone by that I could look at Ten, at Tennant, on the screen and say “Oh, I do miss you”, and not feel quite the depth of sadness.  I like Eleven a great deal – but second only to #5, this was my Doctor. 

It was beautifully done in that it gave the fan – me, that is – the chance to get used to the idea.  The new Doctor was offscreen for most of the first, what, two thirds of the episode, and the screen time he did have was calculated to rouse sympathy and concern.  And he was impressive, and he was funny:

The Doctor: My head! (groans) I’m having a neuron implosion… I need…
Jackie: What do you need?
The Doctor: I need…
Jackie: Just say it!
The Doctor: I need…
Jackie: Tell me, tell me, tell me!
The Doctor: I need…
Jackie: Painkillers!
The Doctor: I need…
Jackie: D’you need aspirin?
The Doctor: I need…
Jackie: Codeine? Paracetamol? Oh, I dunno, Pepto-Bismol?
The Doctor: I need…
Jackie: Liquid paraffin? Vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E?
The Doctor: I need…
Jackie: Is it food? Something simple? Bowl of soup? Nice bowl of soup? Soup and a sandwich? Bowl of soup and a nice ham sandwich?
The Doctor: I *need* you to *shut up*!
Jackie: Oooh, he hasn’t changed that much, has he?

And all the while Jackie and Mickey and especially Rose are trying to wrap their heads around the fact that this skinny bloke is the Doctor.  Just as I was.  Sitting alone watching it, it was nice not to be alone feeling that.  And God bless Jackie, her mothering instincts were brought out full force.  She may have hated him in the past, but by God if he was that important to her daughter she was going to look after him.  (I adore her line after all the excitement, during the group hug at the end: “Are you better?”  It’s very dear.)

Then, when the Tenth Doctor makes his real entrance late in the show, he sets the tone for the rest of his reign.  That whole first scene – because the scene starting with “Did you miss me?” (YES)  feels like his first scene – is a marvelous encapsulation of him. 

See, that’s the thing – I’m the Doctor, but beyond that I just don’t know. I literally do not know who I am. It’s all untested. Am I funny? Am I sarcastic? Sexy? (gives a wink and a click of the tongue at Rose, who grins) Right old misery? Life and soul? Right-handed? Left-handed? A gambler, a fighter, a coward, a traitor, a liar, a nervous wreck – I mean, judging by the evidence, I’ve certainly got a gob!

Funny? Oh, yes.  Sarcastic?  “Oh, yeah, that helps! I wouldn’t’a thought o’that otherwise, thanks!” Yes.  Sexy? Yeah.  Right old misery?  Not yet.  Life and soul?  Yeah.  Right- or left-handed … huh.  I don’t know.  A gambler – sometimes; a fighter – always; a coward – never; a traitor – never; a liar – when need be; a nervous wreck – now and then … He is the Oncoming Storm, and that applies to words as well as mayhem against Daleks.  And then there’s the Lion King

But what this episode does best, among a lot of greatness, is to underscore what Rose says – “Thing is … I thought I knew him, Mum. I thought me and him were… And then there’s this. I keep forgettin’ he’s not human.”  It is easy to forget.  He’s fun and funny, and the second heart isn’t visible, and neither are the 900+ years.  There’s the small fact of the time machine, but for the most part he seems more human than, say, Sherlock Holmes does.  And then a situation arises in which the surface of his humanity is scratched.  As it does here – twice. 

He goes into the challenge against the Sycorax leader joyously: this is what he does.  He fights the warrior around the chamber and out for “some fresh air” onto the hull of the ship, and loses his hand (and I love that it comes back into the story), and regrows it, and beats the Sycorax.  “There we are then. Thanks for that. Cheers, big fella.”  This was possibly the best scene in an excellent show: he walks away, Rose joining him, and launches into a natter:

Not bad for a man in his jim jams. Very Arthur Dent. Now, there was a nice man. Hold on, what have I got in here? A satsuma! Ah, that friend of your mother’s, he does like his snacks, doesn’t he. But doesn’t that just sum up Christmas? You go through all those presents, and at the end, tucked away at the bottom, there’s always one stupid old satsuma. Who wants a satsuma?

We can see behind him as he comes to this point that the Sycorax isn’t going to abide by the sanctified rules of combat.  And the Doctor knows it.  The smile vanishes from his face, all of the silliness is erased, and he pitches the satsuma and (rather conveniently, but who’s counting) collapses the section of hull under the warrior’s feet, letting him plummet.  And in that moment he’s a little scary – more than a little – grim, and hard, a direct 180 degree turn from just a second ago.  “No second chances. I’m that sort of a man.”

That resolve is tested very shortly.  He sends the Sycorax off with a classic Doctor-as-Earth’s-champion (“Thank you. I have no idea who I am, but you’ve just summed me up.”) speech: “When you go back to the stars, and tell others of this planet – when you tell them of its riches, its people, its potential – When you talk of the Earth, then make sure that you tell them this: ‘It. Is. Defended.'”  He and the others are returned to London, and all is rejoicing.  Until the Prime Minister’s assistant gets a call from … Torchwood.  And the decision is not an easy one, but Harriet Jones makes it: “Tell them to fire.”  And Torchwood does.  And the ship is obliterated.  And the Doctor rounds on her. 

And there comes the second illustration of the Doctor’s Otherness.  Because although they were friends, although they saved the world together, and although she adores him – “My Doctor!” – although she is a very good Prime Minister (“I’m 18 quid a week better off.  They’re calling it Britain’s Golden Age”) … despite all of that, despite the reasons she gives him, which are actually very good reasons … That look returns to his face, that cold, hard, inhumanity, and he takes her down.  In his plush borrowed blue robe he begins the rot which will take down the British Prime Minister.  And which will open the door for Harold Saxon.

Doctor: I should have stopped you.
Harriet: What does that make you, Doctor? Another alien threat?
Doctor:  Don’t challenge me, Harriet Jones, because I’m a completely new man. I can bring down your government with a single word.
Harriet: You’re the most remarkable man I’ve ever met. But I don’t think you’re quite capable of that.
Doctor: No, you’re right. Not a single word… Just six.
Harriet: I don’t think so.
Doctor: Six words.
Harriet: Stop it.
Doctor: Six. (walks past her to Alex, takes earpiece off him and hands it to him, and says quietly) Don’t you think she looks tired?

And it works.  He’s enlightened her to the fact that there are hundreds of species out there which may or may not have tidings of goodwill for the Earth.  And we’ve been SETIing like mad, trying to get others’ attention.  By golly, it’s working.  And she was right – the Doctor isn’t always there, isn’t always reachable; apparently the Doctor’s telephone number isn’t given out to all Prime Ministers.  He has other battles to fight, and would not want to be at the Earth’s beck and call even if he could be.  But he did make a bargain with the Sycorax, and they seemed to be abiding by it; whether they would have continued to do so is an open – and moot – question.  It was defense – and it was murder.  And it allowed for no second chance. 

It’s a painful moment.  It’s difficult to feel hard against a woman who feels about the Doctor much as I do. 

But the episode is lifted back up to where it ought to be, for a Christmas episode and for a Doctor’s first outing.  With just one little hiccup – “This isn’t snow, it’s ash” – it looks forward in a way reminiscent of a Star Trek movie or two:

Mickey: You’re never gonna stay, are you?
Rose: There’s just so much out there – so much to see. I’ve got to.
Mickey: Yeah.
Jackie: Well, I reckon you’re mad, the pair of you. It’s like you go looking for trouble.
Doctor: Trouble’s just the bits in between! It’s all waiting out there, Jackie. And it’s all brand new to me. All those planets and creatures and horizons – I haven’t seen them yet, not with these eyes! And it is gonna be … (looks over at Rose, and grins) fantastic.
(She smiles back. He holds out his hand – the right one)
Rose: That hand of yours still gives me the creeps. (His smile widens and he waggles his re-regenerated fingers. She puts her hand in his) So – where’re we gonna go first?
Doctor (studying the “snowy” sky): Ummm – that way. (points) No, hold on – (redirects his point by a couple of degrees) that way.

Rose: That way?
Doctor (looking at her): Nhm.
Rose: Yeah. That way.

 It’s not a very Christmas-y Christmas episode, despite the robotic Santas (which, while being explained as “pilot fish”, were never explained, really) and the killer tree (ditto), and the crackers and turkey and paper hats at the end.  It is, like RTD himself, rather nonsecular, which in a way is as it should be; it isn’t as though the Doctor even ought to be intimated to be Christian.  But comparing it to this year’s is like night and day. 

Still and all, it was a gift, this episode.  It was a new Doctor, even, amazingly, better than the last – young and bold and funny and exciting.  A new Doctor – but everything else just, comfortingly, the same.  There were the mentions of Torchwood – not that they were pleasant mentions.  There was the first appearance of the “brainy specs”, which geeked me deeply.  One of the nicest things they did for the Whovian, though, was the glimpse into the TARDIS wardrobe.  There’s the delight of watching as he rejects a leopard-furred coat, and a Sergeant Pepper coat, and then happily picks out the brown suit and long coat.  And as he examines the results of his sartorial and regenerative transformation, there are holiday ties draped over the corner of the mirror and a feather boa draped over the neck of a suit of armor.  But best of all is this gift:

Now that’s a Christmas present. 

And a New Year’s present.

Happy Who – er, New Year!

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Grimmauld Film

December 10, 2010 at 10:32 pm (Geekery, Movies) (, )

First of all –

It’s been a good while since I saw Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone; it was on all last week, with the rest of them.  What a joy.  I didn’t get the chance to watch any of them from beginning to end, but I watched bits and pieces every chance I did get.  I’d love to do a marathon soon. 

Every entrance in Sorceror’s Stone was spot on; every casting choice just super (where did they find such marvelously perfect red-headed twins?)

– The Main Three’s reactions to their Sorting – Ron just melted in relief and joy
– Ron with a drumstick in each hand at the feast
– Snape’s entrance into his classroom
– You mount from the left of a broom, as with a horse
– “As long as Dumbledore’s around, you’re safe.”  Oh dear. 
– Hagrid playing a flute – the Harry Potter theme.  Just gorgeous.I never remembered that.  Makes me want to go find my elementary school recorder and learn to play that.


What a lovely world that is.  It’s one of the very few mondo-bestsellers I can put my full support behind; I love the Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling, very nearly as much as I love Middle-earth.  Once I would have thought that was blasphemy.  *shrug*

Last weekend the lot of us – sans Mom, who would end up with nightmares (no, really) – went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.  No 3-D crap, nothing fancy, just the ordinary movie. 

First there was half an hour of trailers, of course:
Yogi Bear, seriously?  I can think of a hundred movies that *should* be made – honestly, hand me a pen and I could come up with at least 100 books and tv shows and old movies I’d pay serious money to see adapted –  and instead they’re making Yogi Bear?  Okay. 
Red Riding Hood … I was interested, of course: it looks very pretty.  It looks right up my alley.  “From the producers of Twilight” worried me – and then the worry was verified by every word out of the lead actress’s mouth.  It has the look of a fairy tale, it has the look of something set in a prettified Dark Ages – but every word out of her mouth made it sound like … Twilight.  No.  Thanks.  Please. 
– But – – Kung Fu Panda 2!  Now that was a clever trailer.  Ninja staring contest!  “You guys look amazing, by the way!”  Adorable. 
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader looks fantastic; I missed Prince Caspian, and I haven’t read the books in donkey’s years, and this trailer sparked off all sorts of nostalgia like I haven’t felt since … Fellowship.  (I miss LotR.) 


Aannd … Harry Potter.  Overall impressions: Very good.  Very faithful.  Very long.  And very grim. 

Actually, it was only about two and a quarter hours; it felt like we were in there for a day and a half.  Maybe it was the sort of randomness of the story – they knew they had to find the horcruxes, didn’t know where to begin to look, and didn’t know how to find out, who to trust, where to go; I remember being frustrated with it in the book, but here (possibly because I knew what was coming) it was handled well enough that I don’t think that was the problem.  I wasn’t bored … it just felt like the movie was twice as long as it actually was. 

The story stuck beautifully to the book.  They did put everything in, as advertised – except did people know about Tonks and Remus’s baby at this point?  She started to make the announcement, and I think Mad-Eye stomped in and interrupted her.  No matter – it was a tidbit tossed to the geeks, which would probably fly right over anyone else’s head unnoticed.  (When did the Radio Free Hogwarts begin?  I kept expecting Fred and or George every time they showed Ron with the radio.  Did they cut that out?  Or is that Part 2?  Hm.) 

So – long, faithful, good: very good.  I read an article somewhere which talked about the sheer wonderful luck the franchise had in casting Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Daniel Radcliffe – and all of the others who have carried through all eight movies, especially James and Oliver Phelps (the wonderful Weasley Twins) and Matthew Lewis (the wonderful Neville Longbottom); they were cast as children, and there was no guarantee that they would, every one, turn out to be, nine years later, all attractive and all at least tolerably good actors (some very good indeed).  There was no guarantee they’d even look the part anymore nine years later – but they all still suit, very well indeed.  The one I’ve doubted occasionally over the years – besides Daniel Radcliffe – has been Tom Felton (Draco), but he pulled it off in this one. 

I believe Half Blood Prince was the last movie I saw in the theatre, and I remember being impressed by Felton’s Draco.  I wish there had been time for a little more of him in this.  The poor nasty kid – he couldn’t be any other way, given his Pureblood family.  Here, his scenes underscored the pain – his father had committed the family to the Dark Lord, and it’s starting to seem like not the best idea suddenly … His father is afraid of Voldemort, and where does that leave the poor stupid helpless kid?  He’s petrified.  And has no choice.  It’s a great character, and a better performance than I would have given Felton credit for a few years ago. 

My very favorite, though, is Luna Lovegood.  Love the character, adore the actress (Evanna Lynch), love the performance.  She is a lovely, lovely soul – sweet and wise and serene.  And fierce.  And Irish.  Utterly charming, and I think I’ll go have some pudding.  That casting was a stroke of pure brilliance. 

And grim … There was humor, but it was tense, usually.  And it was awash in the terrors and worries of the film – the growing power of You-Know-Who, and Dumbledore’s death, arrests and inquisition and the influence of the locket, and the attack on the multiple Harrys resulting in woundings and a death, the constant drone of the radio listing the missing – and the deaths not only of characters in the background, muggles and wizardly alike, but also of two small characters.  It was scary, and even my brother (who’s never cracked open any of the books) said it was very much a “how are they gonna get out of THIS one” situation.  At this point in the book, I’ll admit it: I was still honestly expecting Dumbledore’s return.  I can just picture someone of the same opinion at the end of this film – Here he comes!  Oh – wait … The quote I had up there from Sorceror’s Stone – “As long as Dumbledore’s around, you’re safe” – well, things have changed now.  They’ve had to. 

Unfortunately, I know it’s not going to get any cheerier.  Part II is going to be very, very tough.  In a way this one was easier than the equivalent part of the book – I mean, when I read the attack on the multiple Harrys I was chewing on my fingernails expecting Hagrid to be killed.  I was stunned by the way that journey went, and relieved, partly.  It’s going to be as faithful to the book as this was, I understand – and I’m not, at all, looking forward to it.

 

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The Hobbit cast: woo hoo too … I guess

October 24, 2010 at 2:31 am (Geekery, Movies) (, , , , , )

So they’re announcing the cast of The Hobbit.  Sir Ian McKellen is going to be Gandalf again – well, good.  That’s as it should be. That’s the main good thing about having Peter Jackson involved, I guess – continuity. I’m sure I’m missing some of the joyous breaking news, but this is what they’re talking about on TBWSRN… I want very badly to spout off there, but, as with the last post, I don’t have the heart to be the one I used to loathe, walking around with a big pin looking for pretty balloons. Here, though … >pop<

Martin Freeman – Bilbo Baggins. Okay, good. Okay, fine. I hated what I saw of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; I didn’t see much of it because I couldn’t get through it. I must have seen him in something, though, and I liked him; as far as I was in any camp, I was in the Freeman-for-Bilbo camp. So, yay.  ETA: He’s wonderful in Sherlock.  At least there’ll be another “series” of that; he’s made a commitment.

Richard Armitage – Thorin Oakenshield. Sorry, what?

Guy of Gisborne? What’s his name that was the Vicar of Dibley’s lover?  Seriously?  I suppose it must be the corruption of all those half-assed illustrations, but I never, ever imagined Thorin as hot.  ‘Course they’re going to cover him with hair, so … what’s the point?

I had heard Patrick Stewart was being considered.  Which would have been another of those worlds-colliding things that mess with my mind, but I would think a good part of the casting for the dwarves has to be voice casting, considering the general armor-and-hair aspect of Peter Jackson’s dwarves.  Richard Armitage, huh?  Huh.

Aidan Turner – Kili. What?

Mitchell.  Of Being Human.  As Kili the dwarf.  See above, under hot?? and hairy. I just don’t get it. Also, not that I’m counting, but Fili and Kili are blond. Don’t do that.

Speaking of Kili –

Rob Kazinsky – Fili.  Never saw him in anything, as far as I remember, but … Geez.  He’s flipping adorable.  This is getting silly. (And where does he get off having a dot-org?)

Graham McTavish – Dwalin: I’ve seen him in small roles, I guess, and might remember him if I saw him in action, but… Sorry. He shows they’re following the proper range of ages among the dwarves, and looks better than the others, to my mind’s eye.

John Callen – Oin – not much on him out there, after a quick search. There will be. Oh, there will be.

Stephen Hunter – Bombur. Wait, huh? This Stephen Hunter? The non-acting Stephen Hunter? In the photos on the site, he looks the part, but… how odd. Unless of course I have the wrong guy.

Mark Hadlow – Dori – also known as Harry in King Kong. I think I remember him. OK, good.

Peter Hambleton – Gloin. Not a clue. Again, there’s gonna be a lot more out there about him.

On the whole, I prefer new-to-me–but-experienced faces as the dwarves. The young ones … Yes, Fili and Kili are supposed to be young. And there is supposed to be an emotional reaction to the (*spoiler*) death of whichever or both (I don’t remember).  But this seems like a hollow ploy to cater to the girly group that still giggle over Orlando Bloom. (And what, is Richard Armitage, the man I’ve referred to as a cut-rate Sean Bean, supposed to appeal to what were once called on the Nameless Board the B-Girls (fans of either Boromir or Bean, whichever)? Not cutting it. He’s a reasonably attractive man, has made me roll my eyes somewhat less than other actors I’ve seen (and more than others); he’s no Sean Bean.

I wish they were capable of just making the flaming movie. First, though, there has to be a large chunk of drama before we ever get to it – – and the movie isn’t going to simply be The Hobbit. No, if nothing else the studios (and I’m not putting so much faith in Peter Jackson that this isn’t in his mind) can’t tolerate a movie with virtually no female presence (I don’t know what Jackson’s doing about that – can’t use Galadriel since we never go near Lorien, so it seems there will be flashbacks to Frodo’s parents or some such nonsense. And they can’t tolerate a movie without a studly presence. I’d love to see them prove me wrong, and have this Fili and Kili decked out unrecognizable like every single indistinguishable dwarf in Fellowship. But I’m not counting on it. I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Fortunately, I don’t care nearly as much as I would have once. I think I’m pretty resigned to them completely balling the whole thing up.

G’head, folks. Prove me wrong.  On all counts.  If you can make me care – – nah.  That’s way too much to ask.

ETA – Since I first wrote this post, they’ve cast a few more roles: Galadriel, Legolas, Frodo… What’s this, you say, none of those characters are in The Hobbit?  Why, that’s right.  They’re not.  How peculiar. 

Now, if Cate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom are all blonded up and visible in the background … Well, Legolas is Thranduil’s son, so that’s fine.  If he’s completely silent.  I honestly can’t figure whether Galadriel has any right in the world to be there.  If she isn’t given a single line I can live with her too.  I don’t think I’ve seen yet whether Hugo Weaving is returning as Elrond; if he’s not, it makes the rest even more ridiculous. 

I found an old article in which Jackson told MTV (MTV?) that “he only sees a return to Middle Earth for 3 of the original Lord of the Rings cast”.  Back then, presumably, he was talking about the elves.  “I imagine Andy Serkis just slipped his mind … hopefully”.  There are all sorts of rumors, including David Tennant as Thranduil (totally up in the air, or … oh, who knows) and Ron Perlman (who was only an idea, from when Del Toro was attached to the project – my reactions went from what?? to huh  to that might be one reason to go see these things to oh, never mind, he says he’s not doing it). 

Elijah Wood … Seriously, I’m pretty unhappy about this.  Apparently, since they’ve decided they need to stretch out the book over two movies, they need to do some serious padding, and they’re adding bookends of Frodo reading Bilbo’s Red Book.  I can see some positives to this, really I can, but … I hate it.  At least they don’t seem to plan to have Frodo reading it to Sam (where?  Rivendell?).  It would be a little better if Sir Ian Holm was there reading it to Frodo, but apparently there isn’t even a question of that; I understand he isn’t well. 

For some reason I can’t put my hands on my paperback editions of LotR or The Hobbit, but one hardcover edition of TH on Amazon is listed as 319 pages.   Fellowship is 400.  Two Towers is 354.  Return of the King is 448, although I think about a hundred of that is indices and appendices.   I don’t know how these editions compare, but it’s pretty clear that The Hobbit is shorter than any of the others.  So of course the logical conclusion is to make the shortest book into two films.  Sure.

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The Hobbit … woo … hoo. I guess.

October 17, 2010 at 1:09 am (Geekery, Movies) ()

So the news finally broke, apparently today, that The Hobbit is finally green-lighted.  Gosh.  Yay. 

I would be ever so much more enthusiastic, except for a few things:

– – I never cared as much for the book as for The Lord of the Rings.  It’s fine, it’s fun, and that’s about all. 

– – While I enjoyed Fellowship of the Ring, there was plenty wrong with it – and then the main reason I’ve seen the other two films as often as I have was that I was caught up in the fervor on the Board Which Shall Remain Nameless.  I’ve been thinking The Two Towers wasn’t so bad – but something reminded me recently about the whole Aragorn-falls-off-a-cliff-and-is-rescued-by-his-horse thing.  Oh, right.  That was crap.  And The Return of the King?  Apart from the brutalization of characters and storyline, the scene in which Sam gives his emo speech in Osgiliath, oft quoted in footers and sniffled over, had me rolling my eyes so often when I first saw the thing that I’m surprised I didn’t do permanent damage.  I’m one of those saps who mists up at Hallmark commercials, and that speech almost put me into insulin shock.  Everything about that scene – from the fact that none of them were supposed to be where they were to what they suddenly had Frodo and Faramir doing to the composition of that speech – made me angry, which is why I’m not too happy about the fact that –

– – Peter Jackson is back directing the two films of The Hobbit.  (And I believe he and the rest of the team, Fran and Philippa, wrote the screenplay.)  I used to be a fan … but the glamor has worn off, the excitement engendered by being surrounded online by excited people has gone away, and while I still harbor admiration for Fellowship, there were one hell of a lot of decisions made – excising material, and, worse, adding crap – that tick me off.   I was happy about the opportunity to see what someone else would do with it.  Oh well.  I don’t have as much invested in The Hobbit, so I won’t care as much when he screws around with it, right?

Right?

– – I feel completely yanked around.  I don’t know how some of these people at the Nameless Board have managed to maintain their enthusiasm – the whole fiasco lost me at the first speedbump, and ever since then, through strikes and fires and resignations and all the rest of this nonsense, I’ve just shaken my head.  I was honestly beginning to think the thing was never going to be made – and, honestly, I wouldn’t have cared.  The Nameless Board?   There have been dozens of giddy posts, with thousands of views on some of them, speculating and rejoicing.  Where do they get their energy – and the confidence that they’re not being led on again? 

That’s the main one.  One of the main ones.  It’s just been dragging on too damn long. 

On the bright side, Sir Ian McKellen is definitely going to be back as Gandalf, and a lot of the sets are apparently going to be re-used or recreated.  On the not so bright side, I saw something about Patrick Stewart as Thorin.  I don’t want to see Patrick Stewart as a Dwarf.  On the bright side, Andy Serkis is returning to do the voice of Gollum.  On the not so bright – honestly, all the blather about it makes me a little queasy. 

So here I am kvetching to try to prevent myself from opening my mouth, so to speak, on the Nameless Board.  I don’t want to hurt the small handful of people I care about who do care about the thing – and I don’t want to be that one annoying person who tries to pop all the pretty balloons.  If there are people still clinging to limp little balloons, then bless their hearts, and more power to them, however annoying their extreme enthusiasm can get. 

One thing that is kind of funny is the idea that Sir Patrick might be cast, and there are rumors of David Tennant (not, I hope, as Bilbo) and/or Sylvester McCoy.  If nothing else, it would be kind of fun to have three of my worlds collide in one film – Tolkien, Trek, and Who. 

Ah well.  If this is what it was like on the Nameless Board back in the days when they were discussing casting for the trilogy, back when Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman were being mentioned (*shudder*) – I’m not as sorry as I used to be that I missed it.  It’s not what it was cracked up to be.

ETA – I forgot one.  Another cause for extreme eye-rolling: The Hobbit is apparently going to be filmed in 3-D.  Oh, just – spare me.  Why not put it off a few more years and make it scratch-and-sniff, too?

OK, now I’m done.

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XI should be so lucky – the Fuzzy Assassin

August 25, 2010 at 6:51 pm (Geekery) (, , , )

One of ATT’s links today is to this video, which is hilarious … and while I was giggling I was also creeped out.  Because  that cat must be a reincarnation of:

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Slings and Arrows of outrageous(ly good) TV

August 23, 2010 at 9:49 pm (Geekery, TV) (, , )

A long while ago, I heard of a tv series about a Shakespearean company; based on that alone I wanted to see it, but it was a Canadian series, and if it ever aired here we didn’t get the channel or something. (*Goodsearch* Canada’s Movie Central and The Movie Network channels, and the Sundance Channel here – which indeed we don’t get.) Some time after I joined Netflix I remembered the series, though not, Barnes-and-Noble-customer-like, the name, and went on a hunt to find out what it was. It took a while, but I finally came up with “Slings and Arrows”, and put the first season in my Netflix queue. And then got sidetracked and never moved it to the top of the list, so that it languished in the middle somewhere.

Then two of the Shakespeare admirers I admire, Chop Bard and the Shakespeare Geek, both recommended it in no uncertain terms, and I discovered that the series is available to watch instantly. With my shiny new laptop such things are more convenient, so last night I fired it up and watched the first three episodes, and would have kept going except for the lateness of the hour. (Sometimes, “To go to bed late is to go to bed late”.)

It’s brilliant. In several senses of the word, from “highly intelligent” to “of surpassing excellence (primarily UK usage)”. From the opening of the first scene, going from fixing a toilet and arguing over which bills are to be paid, to the return to rehearsal and – “Go for it, man!” – a gloss of the first scene from Tempest, in which a plunger becomes the wizard’s staff, to “Aw, nuts” … It couldn’t have been better calibrated to capture me, hook, line, and sinker. How absolutely gorgeous.

From the struggling little Theatre Sans Argent (Theatre Without Money) to the New Burbage Shakespeare Festival was a jolt – from the struggling, true-to-the-work little hole in the wall ready to be condemned to the shiny huge bureaucracy of the New Burbage Theatre was quite a jolt.  They’ve sold out – corporate sponsorship, leading to depradations of Shakespeare.  And there’s a gift shop. Things are gonna get interesting.

I love that I sat through the first episode wondering, when I could spare the attention, why Geoffrey Tennant looked so familiar … And then registered Paul Gross’s name in the titles of the second episode, and realization dawned: Constable Benton Fraser of Due South. From a three-dimensional Dudley Do-Right to an actor/director still recovering, emotionally and professionally, from having had a nervous breakdown in the middle of the fourth performance of a seminal staging of Hamlet … I acquit myself for not having recognized him. (He was also, according to Wikipedia, in Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story, playing John Diefenbaker – wasn’t that the wolf in Due South, Diefenbaker? And in 2000 he played Hamlet in the Stratford Festival of Canada. That’s fantastic.) He’s perfect. Aside from being beautiful, he’s utterly convincing, and makes Geoffrey’s short-lived Hamlet (with Oliver directing and Ellen Fanshaw as Ophelia) one of those performances I long to be able to see. (And yes, of course I’m in love with him.) And his direction of “She should have died hereafter”, and the fledgling actor’s subsequent delivery of it, is three of the most perfect moments on television. (It makes me not only want to audition somewhere, but to use that speech as my audition piece, gender be damned.)

I love that as of the third episode I have not been given the whole story. I know the public part of what happened, via a gossip between the two elderly gay men who carry the spears in the company (and who provide the gleeful opening and closing credit songs, which I will learn before long); I know the results, certainly, via the present-day relationships among Geoffrey, Oliver, and Ellen … but they have not yet revealed the rest of why there is so very, very much bitterness left that when Ellen and Geoffrey have to be in the same room it feels like the air around them should curdle. It should be interesting.

I love that the ghost who shall remain spoiler-free and nameless is haunting the theatre, or at least Geoffrey – and according to Netflix and imdb remains through the series – and I love that at least as of now there is doubt as to whether he’s a figment of Geoffrey’s madness or an actual ghost.

 The rest of the cast is also amazing: Oliver (Stephen Ouimette) is pitiable, hateful, and sympathetic all at once; Ellen Fanshaw (Martha Burns) is exquisite (and Paul Gross’s real-life wife), and I’d have loved to have seen more of her Titania; Nichols (Don McKellar) is hideous; Kate (Rachel McAdams) is adorable, and Claire Donner (Sabrina Grdevich) is so hilariously bad that you just know her understudy (Kate, of course) is going to wind up playing Ophelia. Luke Kirby is Jack Crew, an American action film actor brought in to boost ticket sales by playing … Hamlet. (A la, apparently, Keanu Reeves being cast as God-help-us-Hamlet at the Manitoba Theatre Centre in 1995 – whose bright idea was that??  How dreadful … (He was critically praised, at least by some? Really? Was that critic high?)) He’s pitiful, and pitiable, in these early stages – “Angles and ministers of grace …” “the stings and arrows” … Poor bugger. But I look forward to Geoffrey getting his directorial hands on him. Standing as bemused civilian support to the fey acting troupe are Susan Coyne as Anna Conroy, administrative everything, and Catherine Fitch as Maria, technical everything – superb.

And then of course there are the villains: Mark McKinney as Richard Smith-Jones (“Can you spell your last name, please?”) and Jennifer Irwin as Holly Day (“She’s the devil!”). They’re bored with Shakespeare – they don’t like Shakespeare (“No one does!”) …though to their credit they do want to make people leave their theatre dancing and singing, which the Shakespeare they’ve seen doesn’t do. (They haven’t met John Christian Plummer and Maia Guest, and their Twelfth Night.) As of episode 3, they’ve only just begun talking about what they want to do to the Shakespeare Festival …

And I have to mention Matt Fitzgerald as Sloan, Ellen’s very new, very young boyfriend, or turn in my second X chromosome.

I love that it’s a comedy, but one that simply focuses a lens on an aspect of reality to find humor; there is some outrageous behavior, but the characters are by nature and by profession outrageous. And I love that while it is a comedy, it takes the art of theatre very seriously – albeit in a very, very funny fashion. Most of the characters have been with this company, this theatre, for years, and Geoffrey was until the crack-up; it’s their home, and their vocation, and their reason for being … Amid the ironic sheep and the pot-smoking for sense memory are stunning moments of Shakespeare as good as anything I’ve seen. Or better. I can’t wait for Season 2 and The Scottish Play.

What an utterly gorgeous show. I wholeheartedly pass on the very strong recommendations of … everyone: rent, buy, or insta-view this series. It’s one of the best things to have ever come out of television.

And there’s a chameleon.

Cheer up, Hamlet
Chin up, Hamlet
Buck up, you melancholy Dane!
So your uncle is a cad who murdered Dad
And married Mum.
That’s really no excuse to be as glum as you’ve become!
So wise up, Hamlet
Rise up, Hamlet
Perk up and sing a new refrain.
Your incessant monologizing
Fills the castle with ennui.
Your antic disposition is embarrassing to see.
And by the way, you sulky brat,
The answer is to be!
You’re driving poor Ophelia insane.
So shut up, you rogue and peasant
Grow up, it’s most unpleasant
Cheer up, you melancholy Dane!

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Doctor Who: XI and Mr. Sofa Man

July 8, 2010 at 11:56 pm (BBC, Geekery, TV) (, , , , )


“The Lodger” still isn’t up on On Demand; what, did they not air it yet on BBC America? Wankers. It’s also not on iTunes, which is interesting. How did I see it? Don’t ask. Mysterious guy in a parking lot.  Paper bag. A few thousand pounds. Or something. And I haven’t seen the whole thing, which is, I take it, the Catch… Anyway.

No, actually, in the end I went here, which is my new go-to for just about everything Who, bless his buttons, even with a lamentable lack of punctuation skills. (And thank you very much for the last four minutes!) So.

The Lodger

The TARDIS lands, the Doctor sticks his head out –

Doctor (sounding a bit disgusted): No, Amy, it’s definitely not the fifth moon of Syndacalista.  I think I can see a Ryman’s.

(For the England-impaired, Ryman’s is a large chain of stationers.)

And there’s a Whomp and a flash, and he’s knocked out of the doorway – and the TARDIS dematerializes, with Amy still aboard – and without the Doctor.  Oh dear.

So he takes a room in a house with a bloke called Craig – and where he got the 3,000 pounds in a sack perhaps it’s better we don’t know. Where he got Craig’s address is a note from Amy of the future/past directing him to a specific flatmate-wanted ad.

Craig: Has anyone ever told you you’re a bit weird?
D: They never really stop.

That is utterly wonderful.

Craig outlines House Rules…

Craig: …In case you want to bring someone ’round – a girlfriend … (eyes bowtie) or a boyfriend …

It is established that Craig has a best friend, Sophie, and he silently would very much like her to be more than that, but hasn’t gotten up the nerve to tell her. When he does decide to, his “I love you” is wasted on the Doctor. Well, not wasted entirely – the Doctor did rather appreciate the sentiment. It is also established that there is an odd upstairs neighbor, who periodically makes a great deal of noise and is obviously responsible for the strange spreading stain on Craig’s ceiling.  Also, unbeknownst to the flatmates on the ground floor so far, the man upstairs is luring people in by asking for help, and the people who try to help are never seen again. The Doctor needs to do something about him – but not head-on… Not yet.

And that stain on the ceiling? Don’t touch it.

Next day, the Doctor’s in the shower, and apparently has been for a while – he likes a good soak.  Craig hears a massive thud upstairs, and tells the Doctor he’s going to make sure the fellow upstairs is okay – which is a very, very bad idea.  And so the Doctor makes a dash out of the shower to prevent it … gets tangled in the shower curtain, loses his towel … All very very strange for the Doctor.  A little disturbing.  Which didn’t stop me taking screencaps…

Soap-bleared, I suppose, he grabbed for the toothbrush holder where he had his sonic screwdriver stashed, and … grabs Craig’s toothbrush.  In the comic this was based on, the Doctor moves in with Mickey Smith, to Mickey’s surprise, and the latter grabs for his toothbrush – getting the sonic instead.  (The comic can be found on the same site as the video link above.)

Really, the towel’s riding a bit low in front, i’n’t it?  Right.  *ahem*  Well.

I was even more startled to find an actual screencap of the moment he drops his towel, and the camera is a half-second behind it … In all the blur, it could have been … startling, but Matt Smith has said he was wearing flesh-colored bloomers or whatever they were, so there is no Doctor-nudity, for which I am exceedingly grateful. And no, I don’t remember where I saw the screencap. I will not be a party to such depravity.

Sophie: You didn’t say he was gorgeous!

Well, awfully cute, yes; gorgeous?  Poor Craig.

Doctor: Football’s the one with the sticks, right?

Of course, XI has a natural and human-obliterating gift for footie (it’s not “footy”, is it?  That looks sillier), and he steals Craig’s thunder in the worst way. 

Sean: You are so on the team. Next week we’ve got the Crown & Anchor. We’re going to annihilate them!
The Doctor (all in one breath): Annihilate, no. No violence, do you understand me, not while I’m around, not today, not ever. I’m the Doctor. The oncoming storm… And you basically meant beat them in a football match didn’t you?
Sean: Yeah.
D: Lovely.

The Doctor must figure out how to find out more about the bloke upstairs, without him knowing the Doctor is about; so he proceeds to create high technology out of low technology. Oh, and he is also in touch with Amy via bluetooth, luckily for her; she’s clever, but I doubt she’d be able to fly the TARDIS on her own. (River Song, yes; Amy Pond, no.) (Hm: River; Pond … )

D (holding up screwdriver): Where’s the on switch for this?
Heh.

Sophie: Life can seem pretty much pointless, you know Doctor – work weekend work weekend – and there’s six billion people on the planet doing pretty much the same thing.

She would, it seems, like to work with – was it orangutans? I think it was orangutans.

D: What’s stopping you? …
Well, lack of education, inertia … People asking stupid questions like “What’s stopping you” …
Craig: What’s wrong with staying here? I can’t see the point of London.
D: Well, perhaps that’s you then. Perhaps you’ll just have to stay here, secure and a little bit miserable, till the day you drop – better than trying and failing, eh?
S: You think I’ve failed?
D: Oh, everybody’s got dreams, Sophie. Very few are going to achieve them. So why pretend? Perhaps, you know, in the whole wide universe a call center is where you should be.
S: That’s horrible! Why’re you saying that?
D: Is it true?
S: Of course it’s not true! I’m not staying in a call center all my life, I can do anything I want. … Look what you did!
D: It’s a big old world, Sophie – work out what’s really keeping you here.

Right. It’s that simple.

Disgruntled because of the Doctor’s influence on Sophie – the voice of the ultimate Traveler weighed against the man who is beginning to look like his sofa, the man who said “I don’t see the point of Paris” and ditto “London” – Craig goes and touches the nastiness on his ceiling. Remember how the Doctor said not to touch it? Unsurprisingly, he was right.

The Doctor saves his life – with stewed tea, basically, just like #10 needed at the beginning … interesting …


… And then goes to the office Craig was so worried about not being in.  And, of course, becomes a hero there too. 

D: I had some time to kill, I was curious, I’ve never worked in an office – never worked in anywhere.

He was a star at the planning meeting – as Craig’s representative, of course – and now is taking over Craig’s calls, and Sophie is serving him cookies.  Craig is gobsmacked.

D: Hullo, Mr. Jorgensen – can you hold, I have to eat a biscuit.
– I want to use that.  If I ever have a customer named Jorgensen, I’m in trouble.

Craig goes home in a daze, and lets himself into the Doctor’s room, to find the extraordinary contraption the Doctor’s built.  XI comes home, talks to the cat, and Craig abruptly evicts him.  ‘And Sophie’s all “Monkeys! Monkeys!” ‘Well, XI can’t leave, not yet, so he has to let Craig in on everything … which is accomplished with a couple or three impressive head-butts.  Well, I guess he didn’t particularly want to kiss him like he did Reinette.  Look!  William Hartnell again! 

I liked that several victims of the upstairs neighbor said “Help you?”  Creepy.  Good. 

Craig is caught up now, and horrified, and noises start fromt the latest victim of upstairs – who happens to be Sophie.  The two of them rush out and up to rescue whoever it is – and both shortly realize (based on the keys left in the door when she was called upstairs) just who it is, which lights a fire under them both.  Then Amy, having accessed the plans to the building, stops them –

A: You can’t be upstairs, it’s a one-story building! There is no upstairs!

Instead of another recurrence of an XI line, there was, from Craig: What??  What?!

So – the neighbor upstairs is, basically, “someone’s attempt to build a TARDIS” – TARDIS used generically in place of “time machine”?  Or literally?  And it’s been hidden as the first floor (second for you Americans) by – wait for it … a perception filter.  THERE’s the Season V recurrence.

D: Hello, I’m captain Troy Hansen of International Rescue – please state the nature of your emergency.

It’s an emergency hologram for a ship that crashed, and it’s trying to get out of there, and that’s why it keeps grabbing people – to try to replace the deceased pilot.  It didn’t want Craig, because he doesn’t want to go anywhere.  Thanks to the Doctor and the monkeys, Sophie now does, which was why she was dragged in.  Well, now the Doctor’s looking pretty good …

D: Any questions no good.

Hologram: The correct pilot has now been found.
D: Yes, I was a bit worried you were going to say that.


But that would be a very bad thing.  Explosion, solar system gone, that kind of bad. 

However, love conquers all, including memory loss when Amy finds Rory’s ring while looking for a red pen to write the note to leave to bring the Doctor to Craig’s flat…  For a second I thought she might think that the Doctor was going to propose, but she suddenly had a flash.  She may not know what, who, she’s remembering, but she’s remembering something.

And there’s a crack behind Craig’s fridge. 

I liked it; I laughed, I … well, didn’t cry, but pondered; I enjoyed the writing and the acting and kind of wish this had been the episode before Vincent (except for that ending with the ring), because this would have had a better tone, in a way.  Maybe. 

And now I don’t know whether to seek out and watch the last two episodes of the season, or sit tight and wait for On Demand … After that there will be a drought until Christmas – well, no, some time after Christmas for us poor benighted colonists… Only a hundred sixty-odd days till they get it …

Anyway.  I’m happy about the redecoration of the console chamber:

And someone pointed out the weird painting in Craig’s hall, so I took a screencap and lightened it up and holy mackerel, it is weird…

And …. This was quite interesting:
Fairy Tale arc of Season V

And … Can I just add, at the last, that it worries me deeply to see this:

on the Doctor Who related website I linked to at the top? Ohhh … dear.

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Doctor Who: XI and the Improper Painter

July 6, 2010 at 11:01 am (BBC, Geekery, TV) (, , , , , , )

As opposed to “proper painters” like Gainsborough.

AGATHA CHRISTIE
The Mysterious Mr. Quin
The Duchess cleared her throat.
“It seems quite easy to be an artist nowadays,” she observed witheringly. “There’s no attempt to copy things. You just shovel on some paint – I don’t know what with, not a brush, I’m sure –”
“Palette knife,” said Naomi, smiling broadly once more.
“A good deal at a time,” continued the Duchess. ”In lumps. And there you are! Everyone says ‘How clever!’ Well, I’ve no patience with that sort of thing. Give me –”
“A nice picture of a dog and a horse by Edward Lanseer.”
“And why not?” demanded the Duchess. “What’s wrong with Landseer?”
“Nothing,” said Naomi. “He’s all right. And you’re all right. The tops of things are always nice and shiny and smooth. I respect you, Duchess; you’ve got force; you’ve met life fair and square and you’ve come out on top. But the people who are underneath see the under side of things. And that’s interesting in a way.”
The Duchess stared at her.
“I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about,” she declared.

Vincent and the Doctor

I had to think about this one for a while, obviously. I watched it on the Sunday night after the All-Starr Band concert, and it deflated me completely… which isn’t to say I didn’t love it. I need to say right off that I did. I just don’t do well with having my heart broken so very often. Rory just died (and disappeared). While a light-hearted romp would have been wrong, I could have done without crying again.

The most important thing to say about “Vincent and the Doctor” is that Tony Curran was brilliant. Brilliant, brilliant casting –

Shockingly good, physically. For him to be a brilliant actor to boot is … cake. This was his episode – we and the TARDIS two were only visiting.

(Between this and my gushing about Alex Wong and Twitch on the main blog, I’m giving the word “brilliant” a workout. It’s nice when there are things that deserve it.)

I took no notes at all the first time I watched, just … sat there; I had to watch it again. And had to stop after the creature was killed… I just couldn’t face the rest of it right then.  (Obviously, in the end I took rather a lot of notes, so this comes with the usual warning for me: I don’t write ’em short… ) Read the rest of this entry »

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