21 July 2005

Harry Potter and the predictable writer

I was in Holland in the last days - in the lost town of Enschede - and I finished there very quietly the last adventure of Harry Potter that Amazon kindly delivered to me as promised on Saturday. I was really pleased to renew my relationship with the young wizard even though I knew it would be just for a couple of days.
And for the first time, after I read the book, I seeked online reviews or readers' opinions, for the first time as well, I wasn't completely convinced by the choices made in the plot.
**spoilers here**
My main criticism is that the author gave in to all the obvious and expected turn of events: mainly Ron and Hermione falling for each other, the couple Harry and Ginny forming and the death of Dumbledore. During my reading, I was never surprised, my assumptions were never challenged. Everything happen like they were supposed to happen. The identity of the Half-Blood prince was maybe unexpected but its revelation didn't affect the plot nor the relationship between the (wrongly named) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood prince. What was also disappointed is the inconsistency of the character of Hermione. That she falls for Ron might not be a surprise in regards to the hints sparkled in the previous books but it's nonetheless bewildering as I can't picture the two together. They just don't match. I found a strong resonance on that point in another blog post. I'm not even argueing for a Harry/Hermione combo because they wouldn't fit together either. Yet, this is not the major problem about this new occurence of the Hermione character. Apart from the romance sequences, she's hardly present in the rest of the plot and it's rather illogical (one of the many inconsistencies in the story). My last point will be on Snape. I think he's really getting to be my favorite character, not because he's evil but because he's the less predictable figure in the book and you can feel the author's pleasure writing him, it feels she has much more freedom developing him than any other heroes because he's not trapped in the readers' imagery, he's too ambiguous for that, not taking good for granted and nor evil for the über-ultimate path to take. Which brings me back to my concern, Snape aside, the whole plot was too full of predictabilities. A pinnacle for a wizard's story. From reading reviews around, I think I found an explanation for why it *had* to be this way: the 6th book was meant to stage all the different points that will find their climax in the last book. But it's not good enough reason for me. It reminds me of George Lucas trying to argue for his Star Wars 2 that we'll all get it in the light of the third opus. Well, my belief is that even if it's part of a bigger whole, or part of a series, an occurence should also stand alone and be a strong product on its own. Finally, if the 7th book's going to be more or less about what all the readers/fan base project, don't bother writing it cos it's already out there.

-- Joëlle.

03 July 2005

BEST BEST

Recently, celebrating the 100 years birthdays, the BFI and the AFI have released top 100s-lists of best movies, best actors, best scores, etc... Channel Four and Time magazine issued some lists as well. It's very much in trend with the lists that are published every now and then by movie magazines like Premiere and so on.
Of course, I never completly agree with the final results. For instance, I don't understand why Humphrey Bogart should be the best actor ever - he's almost always playing the same role, and his cold way of approaching his characters isn't very nuanced... In the same line, I don't get this obsessive admiration for the movie 'Casablanca'. I never felt a great chemistry between Bogart and Bergman whenever I watched the movie. In the genre of love story meets spy movie, 'Notorious' with Bergman as well but leading with Cary Grant, is far more intense, emotional and disturbing than Casablanca will ever be.
Another cliché I like to mention often is 'Singin' in the rain' as best musical ever. Are people kidding here? I mean it's very bright and funny and entertaining and Debbie Reynolds is cute and all. But c'mon, guys! Have you ever seen 'The Bandwagon'? THIS is the best musical ever. It's Hollywood at its best, the jewel of entertainment, class and chemistry on stage. If you really want to be blown out by a movie by Stanley Donen (who directed 'Singin' in the rain') then go for 'Two for the road', where he demonstrates his ability to master narration and his sense for sensibilities.
So, anyway, because I will never be able to decide what is my favorite movie ever, or who's my favorite actress of all time, I'd rather list some of my favorite movie moments. Those that have made me cry over and over again, or laugh, or thrill or dream or think when the theatre puts the lights back on.

*BEST DEATH - Peter Sellers in The Party (don't worry, no spoilers here)
*BEST COUPLE ARGUMENT - Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney in Two for the Road
*BEST TRACKSHOT - Denis Lavant in Mauvais Sang
*BEST FIGHT - Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine in The Duellists
*BEST SEQUEL (a.k.a better than the first) - Batman Returns and while we're at it *BEST BATMAN - Michael Keaton
*BEST LONESOME BLUES - Fred Astaire in The Bandwagon
*BEST USE OF COLOR - A Matter of Life and Death
*BEST FUNERAL - Imitation of Life
*BEST TEARJECKER - Imitation of Life
*BEST GAY MOVIE - Torch Song Trilogy
*BEST MOVIE AGAINST DEATH PENALTY - Porte Aperte and Twelve Angry Men
*BEST PARODY - Body Double (of Rear Window)
*BEST ROMANTIC FINALE - An Officer and a Gentleman
*BEST NARRATIVE USE OF MUSIC - All movies by Wes Anderson
*BEST SLOW MOTION ON A GROUP OF PEOPLE - Reservoir Dogs
*BEST ARROGANCE - Errol Flynn in Gentleman Jim
*BEST MISTAKE - Frank Sinatra in Some Came Running
*BEST FRUSTRATED LOVE - Trevor Howard and Celia Jonhson in Brief Encounter
*BEST RELIEF - Joan Fontaine in Rebecca
*BEST VISION - Christopher Walken in Dead Zone
*BEST IMPULSION - Pierre Fresnay in Marius
*BEST SURPRISE - James Steward in Who Shot Liberty Valence?
*BEST REDEMPTION - Dean Martin in Rio Bravo
*BEST STANDING OVATION - for Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird
*BEST SURVIVOR - Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind

I could go on but those are the ones I thought about just now. You're welcome to comment and post best movie moments as well!

-- Joëlle.