Friday, July 17, 2009

July 17 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) The sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry kicks off with a bang for young Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) when he inadvertently discovers a mysterious book that sheds light on the sordid life of the evil Lord Voldemort. Preparing for inevitable battle, Harry and Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) turn to professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) for help in pinpointing the weakness in Voldemort's forces.

(The description above, from Netflix, is not quite accurate. The book is not what tells about Voldemort. But whatever...)

I saw this movie last night and came away from it one pissed off chickie. First things first though. I was in town during the day and decided it would be best to stop and get tickets ahead of time. There were other people already there doing just that. The guy ahead of me asked the ticket girl if the shows were still selling out. She said the day showings were slowing down already but the evening showings were still crazy. Ok... *phew* ...glad I got the tickets early then.

Hubby got home from work shortly after 5pm, hopped in the shower, and then we quickly headed back to town. We wanted to get there plenty early so we could get our favorite seats, all the way up in the back and over to the far end. The start time was 6:30pm. We got there just before 6pm and there was already a line waiting to get in. We had the boys get in line, while hubby and I went to buy the drinks and snacks. A few minutes standing in line and we were soon let in. We got our seats. We were happy.

It was rather shocking to see how few people there actually were. Equally shocking to see how many young *guys* were there. Not alot of young kids this time. Have parents finally figured out it's not the same little kid Harry Potter stuff that we started with all those years ago? Still there was the usual amount of slightly loud and obnoxious teens present. Luckily they settled down when the movie started. And by the end the place was totally silent. That was weird too, kinda funny.

It's been two years since the final Harry Potter book came out, two years since the previous movie came out. I have not read the books since then. I bought the dvd but have not watched the movie since the time in the theater. My Harry Potter obsession has definitely cooled since then. I knew I would see this movie but the excitement and urgency wasn't there like with the others. But what the heck, my day off and it's just opening, why not go? I started to wonder how much I'd forgotten from the book. While we were sitting in the theater waiting for the movie to start I was trying to remember as much as I could, then wondered if I was remembering enough to recognize things that might be different or just not there.

So the movie starts and I'm ok with it in general. I think I was quite liking it but also recognized that it just wasn't the Harry Potter type stuff we've come to know. All the regular things were there but it just seemed different, like it was all just old familiars that we didn't need to spend much time with. I actually liked Quidditch this time. Snape looked great this time, I was greatly relieved to see that. Luna was in fine form. Sadly, no Dursleys. I really liked both of the boys who played the younger versions of Tom Riddle. I started to realize what things were missing or changed but I was ok with most of it.



Dumbledore and Harry recovering the horcrux was still pretty good. But everything after that was...ridiculous. In my case, it was infuriating. I *do* remember from the book that everything after that had an extreme urgency to it. The race back to Hogsmeade and then back to the castle. Dumbledore at death's door and telling Harry to get Snape. The chaos with the fighting in the already infiltrated castle. The thing I remember and was looking forward to was a screaming, frantic Harry chasing after a desperately fleeing Snape and Draco...screaming "Coward!" and trying to cast spells only to have Snape deflect them and try to toss back cryptic information. Even after they got away I seem to remember chaos back in the school, trying to sort out what had happened and who and how and why.

But what did we get in the movie? Nothing frantic or urgent. No Dumbledore paralyzing Harry under the invisibility cloak at that last moment. No fighting within the castle. Not even any urgency once Snape finished the job. Nooooo, we have a fairly healthy looking Dumbledore telling Harry to hide below and stay quiet. We have Snape turning Draco by the shoulder and leading him and the few other Death Eaters down the stairs and out of the castle. We have an almost leisurely stroll across the grounds with a bit of an 'oooh let's torch Hagrid's house' side-thought. We have Harry running to catch up, yelling a bit and maybe trying to cast a few spells, but then Snape zaps him and reveals in his cool Snape-way that he is indeed the half-blood prince, and then they leave the grounds with no trouble. So THEN, we have Harry coming back to find everyone standing there gawking at Dumbledore's body but is anything happening? Is anyone afraid or wondering what the heck just happened? Is anyone doing anything?? Nooooo. Harry will go to the body and cry, and Ginny will go to Harry and hold him while he cries, and everyone will raise their lighted wand in a very cheesy looking bit of crap. Then we'll skip right over the funeral and the explanations have Harry say he's not coming back, and Hermione saying they'll come with him, and Fawkes the phoenix flies away and....the end.


I. Hated. It. I literally sat there with an open mouthed, lip curled, hands out in a 'what is this' gesture. The tears I'd had just moments before instantly dried up. I shook my head and blinked my eyes and snorted in disgust. When we got out to the car I let my anger go in the form of a long rant to my hubby and sons about how it was *supposed* to be. Do I really not remember the book? I don't think so! I almost wanted to get it out last night and read to my family just to be sure, just to prove my point. There have always been parts of the movies that don't live up to the books but this a slap in the face. Maybe because I'd been soooo looking forward to these particular parts for so long? Maybe because it seemed like there wasn't much they could do to screw it up and I was too confident?

Or did I really just misinterpret that whole ending of that book?????

Oh, I'm still steaming about it.

A bit of trivia...
The boy who plays younger Tom Riddle is Hero Beauregard Fiennes-Tiffin. He is the nephew of Ralph Fiennes, who plays adult Tom Riddle, aka Voldemort.

(Hero has a brother named Titan, and a sister named Mercy. Wow.)

July 17 - Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes Angela’s Ashes is a memoir by Irish author Frank McCourt, and tells the story of his childhood in Brooklyn and Ireland. It was published in 1996 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

I really didn't know anything about this book when I started it. Somewhere in the back of my head I've had the 'Have to read that one' feeling and I think I may have thought it was about a Jewish family, the holocaust, etc...not a poor Irish family. Where that came from, I don't know. lol

The writing style was annoying at first, hard to get used to, but I got over it. I thought it would be more, I don't know, factual...? More of a timeline to keep track of things...? But it's a memoir, not a biography, so I got over that too.

I liked this book. It's very depressing and many times had me lost in thought, wondering how people can really live this way. I can't remember names offhand but the one family that was even worse off than the McCourts...had me trying to imagine, what do you live for? What do you get thru the day for? When there is nothing, no food, no money, no clothes, no soap, water, bathing, rules, discipline, healthcare, entertainment...what, WHAT gets you thru the day? You wake from your cold, hungry, filthy sleep to pace around your bare, filthy room and stare at your bare walls. Perhaps you sit outside or wander the streets for the day, only to return to your pitiful, condemned home to stare at the walls until you fall into a cold, hungry, filthy sleep again.

I realize this is a memoir, and it is written as the memories were. This means there was probably tons actually going on in the adult world all around Frank that his little kid memories never knew or understood. What I don't understand though is why it's called Angela's Ashes. Ok, so it often mentions her staring blankly into the ashes when there was nothing left around her. But is she supposed to be like this strong woman, the guiding force in young Frank's life? Are we suppose to feel for her because she was somehow the thread that held them together and kept them going? She sacrificed so much to give her family what little they had? Are we suppose to *like* her? Cuz I didn't feel any of that, didn't see any of that, and did not like her at all. For as horrible as Frank's father was, the slacker loser alcoholic, I felt for him far more than I ever did for Angela. I cried when he visited Frank in the hospital, cried when he left that time at Christmas. It was sad to realize, much later in the book, that he really was gone for good...and you kinda catch yourself wondering, 'hey, just when did we hear from him last?' It was sad when Frank was older and slapped his mother, but it was sad that Frank had come to that point, not that his mother had been slapped.

The part where he walks the streets on his days off before leaving for America is sad too. It reminded me of the book Petals on the Wind (or was it in Flowers yet?) when Cathy goes back into the attic. Even for as horrible as times were, that is where your memories are. It all becomes a part of you. Very bittersweet. I wonder what it was like for Frank even later in life, how often did he go back there? What was it like when he had plenty of time and distance put between himself and those early days? I know there is another book but I don't know if I'll read it.

I have not seen the movie yet but I have watched the trailer a couple times. That too seems to give an impression that Angela is this strong wonderful character. Did I miss something?

So I just finished this book a couple days ago and was Googling to find more info like old pics or whatever happened to the rest of the family, and I find there was quite some controversy surrounding the story. Some people saying it's horribly exaggerated, some saying he made his own family better than others, some saying he's trashing everyone and everything around him and giving it all a bad name. Suddenly I'm wondering if I've been suckered. As horrible as it is, I want this all to be true.

And now I'm also reading the Frank McCourt is gravely ill, not expected to live much longer.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 12 - movies

My only excuse for slacking this time is my own moodiness. *thinks about it, shrugs, continues*

Public Enemies opened last week, July 1. This is the Johnny Depp movie about John Dillinger, the one I saw them filming last year. (See old Columbus post and old Oshkosh post for refreshers.) Hubby and I went to see the movie on July 2. Since filming had been local, the movie finally opening was big news. I know Oshkosh had special events. I'm sure Columbus and/or Madison must have too. But we saw it in Fond du Lac and there was nothing special happening. When we saw Twilight at the same theater last year they had a shiny new silver car out front, like an Edward Cullen ripoff car. lol With Public Enemies there was nothing. I guess all the old cars were booked at other theaters...hehe. They did have 1930s era music playing in the theater though, so that was kinda fun. The crowd was small, and a mostly older crowd. I mean, like our age (40s) and older. That was interesting, and finally not be in a crowd of teens for a movie.

As for the movie itself, it was kinda hard to watch it this first time without being distracted by all the scenes that we recognized...all the local filming.

"Oooh, that's Oshkosh!"
"Oh! We were *right there*!"
"Look! That's Columbus!"

It was hard to just watch it for the story. Later, after the things we recognized were fewer and farther between, it became easier. I guess I liked it, but I was not totally taken by it. I left the theater with an 'eh, well at least we've finally seen it' feeling. It wasn't until the next day, while thinking about it all that I decided I'd like to see it again. One thing I was disappointed with was that alot of the other actors seemed to almost be just big name extras. I mean, they were Dillinger's gang so we saw alot of them but they didn't really have roles. They were shooting guns and robbing banks and running around and providing background mutterings. It seemed to rush thru things, skip right over things. There are two ways to look at this...if you know the Dillinger history, you know the parts that needed to be skipped or hurried, and if you don't know the history you don't know what was missing. Myself, knowing the basics of it, thought there were some things that could have had more explanation.

There are two things near the end that I wonder about...I doubt they're true, and they both came off kinda cheesey to me. One was Dillinger's walk thru the FBI office, the other was the final message to Billie. I have bought the book, but haven't started reading it yet.

Does Johnny Depp cry in alot of his movies? There was a scene in Public Enemies where he cried, like full out sobbed, and that surprised me. And, of course, made me cry...LOL But then I started wondering, does he cry in his other movies? I couldn't think of any that he does. I also really liked when he was being transported to Indiana (I think?) and the music was playing, and he did a little wave to his 'fans' as they drove him thru town. And I liked early on when he had told Billie to wait outside (ok, yeah, bossy moment) but when he came out she was gone. Maybe his reaction was just supposed to be anger because the woman didn't listen to the bossy man, but it seemed like hurt or insecurity to he'd just met this woman he was smitten with and maybe he'd blown it already and she was gone. I don't know, I kinda liked that part.

I'm not a Christian Bale fan. I didn't like him much in this movie, and I was secretly, evilly laughing every time Dillinger & Co. made the cops look like bumbling idiots. I did like when he showed up after Billie's interrogation by that other bastard, but otherwise...bleah.

Oh, and I'm not sure how I feel about the different film techniques that were mixed throughout the film. Was there some reason or pattern for when and why it would change?

Overall, it was a pretty good movie. I want to see it again but probably not urgently enough to see it in the theater again. I will definately buy the DVD. Harry Potter opens this week so that is where my time and money is going to

I haven't watched movies for a while now, but my moody funk has kinda put me back into the movie mood. And wouldn't you know, the two I watched sucked. *snort*

Knowing (2008) Fifty years after a time capsule was buried at a local school, teacher John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) examines its contents and discovers that it holds many shockingly true predictions. Soon, John is convinced that his family will play a role in an impending apocalypse. Rose Byrne co-stars as Diane Wayland, the daughter of the woman who first buried the capsule, in this tense blockbuster thriller from ace sci-fi auteur Alex Proyas.

We had high hopes for this one. It started out pretty good but then it just tanked. The end was...stupid. Too many things just not explained. Too many ways we were guessing that it was going only to be wrong, but deciding our ways would have been better anyway. I really don't even know what to say without giving it away. How about, the good parts all happen early on. I don't know, just very disappointing. And Entertainment Weekly gave it a B...?!

The Unborn (2009) Tortured by frightening dreams at night and the ghost of a young boy during the day, young Casey (Odette Yustman) turns to a spiritual adviser (Gary Oldman) for help. Together, the two uncover and try to stop a powerful family curse dating back to the Nazi era. David S. Goyer writes and directs this supernatural thriller that also stars Cam Gigandet, Meagan Good and Jane Alexander.

Again, major disappointment. I'd decided early on that it was dumb but didn't let on cuz I didn't want to influence hubby's opinion. About 3/4 thru he commented that the movie was "pretty...bad" and I had to laugh and agree. It had Cam Gigandet, who played James in Twilight, but not even that could save it for me. Maybe if they wouldn't have spent so much time trying to show how hot the main girl was, and maybe if she wouldn't have been so 'look at how hot I am' in her every move and mannerism, then maybe it could have been a little more tolerable. Really, for someone who is sooooo afraid for her life and supposedly searching desparately for clues and help, she still has time to dress in her tightest jeans and skimpiest shirts, or wander around alone, or go jogging out in the middle of nowhere. Hubby and I were constantly coming up with holes in the story. I suspected the twist at the end fairly early on but hubby hadn't seen it coming. Just so sooooo many things that left us scoffing and picking on everything. Oh but one thing...that dog...?! GAH!!

We have one more movie sitting here. Ty loved it. Hubby said it was good, not great. I will try to watch it tonight.

It is Push.