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Finally saw Les Misèrables with G. on Thursday (his idea, and he ended up liking it better than I did, although the official version still is that I dragged him there...). Now the opening sequence... OMGholyhsitwow[openmouthedstare]wow. After that... well. It's Les Mis, so it's impossible for it to suck completely, but as a film it was bad. Really bad, for the most part. On stage no one expects realism, so a lack of it doesn't matter, but on a purely visual level the film was an awkward, constantly distracting mixture of too much and not enough realism that kept breaking the fourth wall, because it neither allowed you to lose yourself in the illusion of realism nor to dismiss it altogether and lose yourself in the play, and only ended up making the film rather kitschier than the much sparer stage productions usually are. (Case in point, the painfully fake butterfly on the iron fence during A Heart Full of Love suddenly opening its wings. I had to stop myself from giggling through the rest of the song after that.) And I can't remember what critic it was that complained about the endless, endless, unvarying close-up shots for every single song, every single time, but it was probably more than one, because that part is also painfully true.

The song written for Valjean's coach journey with Cosette is terrible and only adds to the too-saccharine overall tone of the film compared to the musical, and Dog Eat Dog should have been left in for the same reason, although I can see the reasons behind either decision.

(There's also the admittedly a bit weird thing about how English is actually my least favourite language for Les Mis. I like the French version and am quite partial to the German translation, but English lacks a certain... edge, maybe, that the musical needs? It sounds too soft to my ears to somehow to really fit the mood.)

As for the cast... Anne Hathaway deserved her Oscar, as far as I can tell, not having seen any of the other nominated films, her performance certainly stood out in the first part, both singing and acting-wise. A surprise for me personally was that it was Eddie Redmayne's Marius that I found most interesting/arresting in the second half, because Marius is usually such a thankless role that I never paid much attention to, what with all the mooning after Cosette and little else he does. This is maybe the first time I liked the character and I loved what Redmayne did with Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. That said, the fact that Marius of all characters stood out probably already says a lot about how the actual main characters were lacking. Russell Crowe was a disaster, you can't call it anything else. The singing was terrible throughout and the acting (what acting? for the most part it felt as if he was too busy to get the singing done) didn't make up for it at all. In the end, Les Mis is a musical and you can't play Javert if you can't convey a certain severity and force through your voice. The suicide scene wasn't too bad, but everything before was, and Stars especially was excruciatingly painfully boring. (Boring. Yes, really.) Hugh Jackman was technically better, although you also could hear how he was struggling with higher notes and passages that demanded more vocal power and there were parts that made me vince, but somehow I never really managed to connect to his Valjean either, although in this case I can't pinpoint the actual reason. Part of it was that for me it felt as if the character veered too much on the side of sweet-and-saintly, but I'm not sure if this is actually justified? The rest of the cast was ok, with Amanda Seyfried actually making me like Cosette (yet another thankless part) and Samantha Barks an interesting Eponine, although I have to say I found her visually arresting more than anything else. When has Helena Bonham-Carter played more than a variation of one single type of character, the last time though?

In conclusion...

oh, [sigh]. I was prepared to like this, damn it.

 

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# I hate January, I really do. Ludmila kept me busy with translations until last week, so I haven't had much time to slip into my usual post-Christmas depression yet, but, gah. We had about 30 cm of snow last week, and now everything is disgustingly mushy, the world is all black and white and greys, and I don't even remember the last time I saw the sun. I finally kicked myself out of the door for a walk on Sat., but even that was more in the spirit of duty than pleasure. Can't it be spring already?

# On the plus side, it appears that as of yesterday the Meta from Hell (tm) has evolved into an actual workable draft that has structure and goes somewhere, rather than point- & aimlessly meandering around. In that spirit decided to rewatch the whole of DW/TW/SJA in the order in which the seasons were aired and see if that might lead to any further inspirations. I started with DW S1 yesterday, and upon rewatching, The End of the World is actually rather harsh. Granted, there's the 'see how humanity survived' aspect, but how did Nine think that showing Rose the death of her world on the very first journey was the best of ideas? And then telling her almost gleefully that, nope, he wasn't going to save it, the planet was going to get roasted in half an hour, and getting cranky when she realises her mother is mortal. Obviously on a Doylist level the setting has its purpose, paving the way for the 'last of the Time Lords' revelation at the end, but on a Watsonian level the whole trip is something of a Freudian slip, as if he's determined to make her experience at least on some level what he himself went through. Lovely episode, though.

# Also finally saw The Hobbit with G. on Sat. Since I only read the book once or twice as a teenager and never had much of an emotional connection to it, I thought I'd have an easier time with it than with the LotR movies, where I complained about how they Got It All Wrong, Wrong, Wrong after every single part, but... Well. Now, the first 20 mins or so until Bilbo leaves the Shire I adored unreservedly, to the point of even entertaining the idea of giving Sherlock another try, because I loved Martin Freeman's performance that much. The part up until and including the Trolls was also enjoyable, and there were even bits of the Rivendell scenes I liked, although the whole thing still/again looks rather fake. After that, though, IMO the movie completely loses its pace and turns into a sequence of ridiculous and ridiculously drawn-out CGI action scenes (even G. agreed with that in the case of the battle in the goblin caves, and G. is usually very, very easily distracted by shiny action in 3D), although admittedly the stone giants were impressive. This is somthing I'll never understand. They have perfectly serviceable actors that are a delight to watch when they actually get to act, and then bury them (or rather their stunt doubles) in CGI that costs xx times as much. I guess I'm just too old and cranky for this kind of movies.

# Had my first bookkeeping class on Friday. God. God. It's not as if I don't understand it, it's not as if it's deadly boring, but it's miles and miles away from everything I ever thought or dreamt I'd do with/in my life. It's the sensible choice, and I can't afford dreams any longer, even if I still had any, but it all feels so wrong. Wrongish. Eight months, until the end of August, if I sign up for the second part and the exam. And there'll be homework and things to learn/repeat during the week, which will leave me less time for Russian and translations. Am I making a mistake? Should I have picked something else? But what?

 

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# Feeling rather better, I hope it'll last. Had a pretty intense 4 hrs. Tai Chi fan workshop today, so for once I at least know why I'm so tired. I really need to sign up for classes again next semester, I hadn't realised how much I missed it.

(# Still can't seem to get rid of the mental sluggishness, inarticulateness, and massive writer's block, though.)

# Did very, very little last week (other than going to work, obviously/unavoidably). I was a bit tempted to start rewatching B5 or Angel as fanish comfort food, but the thought of 5 seasons à 23 episodes is a bit intimidating. That's 86 hours per show, and while somehow that never was an issue before, at the moment I feel irrationally guilty investing that much time in a TV show when I'm not even watching it for meta-writing purposes.

Rewatched the Hair movie, which has been my fandom-of-one for ages, and I although I keep expecting that perception to change every time, I still think it makes a lot more sense on the assumption that Berger is in love with Claude. Or as I put it years ago, Berger uses Sheila to get closer to Claude, Sheila uses Claude to get close to Berger, and Claude, poor boy, is confused until it's too late. It doesn't help that post-Brokeback Mountain movie Claude reminds of of Ennis quite a bit. (Old picspam.)

Also rewatched Velvet Goldmine, another long-time favourite. I saw it quite a few times in the theatre back when (upon checking imdb... holy shit, that was thirteen years ago? Thirteen?!), but I still can't quite put my finger on what exactly the fascination/attraction is. I don't think it's about having been a huge Bowie fan myself as a teenager, because it certainly isn't a flattering portrait, even without the downright cruel caricature of Bowie's 80ies incarnation, and I'm not the least bit surprised he refused to give them the rights for his songs, if that was the script he saw. Also, JRM's portrayal is a bit lacking in charisma IMO, unless that often slightly vacant expression is a deliberate acting choice, which does seem a possibility. I guess it might be because in the end that movie is very much about the experience of being a fan, on several levels. All the enthusiasm, fantasies, embarrassment, projection, nostalgia, but also frustration and disillusionment... they're certainly present on a Watsonian level, with Arthur as the narrator of the story (and Christian Bale's performance is fantastic), but to me they also seem to very much influence the creation of the film on a Doylist level. It starts out as a... is there such a thing as a film à clef? but then with the Brian Slade/Curt Wilde love-story veers off into (essentially) fantasy RPF territory, while at the same time at least implicitly critiquing Bowie for using/exploiting homo/bisexuality/gay culture as a career move and then renouncing it when it was no longer convenient... It's a more complex movie than it might seem at first glance.

Finally watched Mine All Mine (that's the one where GDL is also Ianto Yanto Jones), which has been on my hd for ages, all six episodes in one evening, because once I started I couldn't stop. I think what most impressed me was the end. The overall tone is fairly light/comedic despite some darker undercurrents, so I expected a resolution on that note. And the further the least episode progressed, the more I wondered how they were going to get around the poisoned eggs, the de- and re-frosted hamburger meat, and bottle of poison on the spice rack in... ten... nine... clock's ticking!... five... minutes. And then they make mayonnaise, hamburgers, Val decides to poison Max after all, and as everyone sits down to eat, fade to black, the end. Schoedinger's family. Brilliant.

 

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# Perhaps I'm jinxing it and all hell will break loose next week when people realise they have only one week left and not done their Christmas shopping yet, but so far this has been the easiest, least stressful Christmas I've had in my entire career in retail. I'm tired in the evenings, but it's nothing like the complete mental and physical exhaustion I used to associate with this time of the year. Part of it (the part I'd be more worried about if I hadn't decided to stop worrying about things that aren't in my power to change anyway) is due to the fact that business has been much too slow for the season so far, but mostly it's a huge relief not having to be basically responsible for everything, but only for my department. Or whatever department I'm currently in. Not having to constantly worry about (figuratively, for the most part) stepping on M.'s toes is nice, too. No one is playing the boss here.

Also, all Christmas presents are, if not present yet in every case, then at least accounted for, a whole week before Christmas. I'm actually kind of proud of myself.

# Saw the new Jane Eyre movie with my sister on Tuesday and found it rather lacklustre. I especially liked the young Jane, and quite liked Jane generally speaking, although for me she lacked a certain... clarity, for lack of a better word, or detachment, to balance the passionate side of her character, but as far as I'm concerned Mr. Rochester didn't have the necessary force of personality, and I didn't feel a lot of chemistry between him and Jane, either. However, the worst failure for me was the scene where Jane runs away from St.John Rivers. I know, I know, movie, limited time, cuts are necessary, but it's such a crucial scene in the book, and for me it fell completely flat, because they never really took the time to establish his character, his uncompromising hardness towards everyone, including himself, his reason for his interest in Jane. With his fanaticism he's more frightening to me than the hypocritical Mr. Brocklehurst in the way he manipulates Jane and almost succeeds until she manages to assert herself at the last moment. In the movie his sudden angry outburst at the end came completely out of nowhere, petulant and rather hysterical.

(And it's not supposed to be a panicked flight either. 'I broke from St. John, who had followed, and would have detained me. It was MY time to assume ascendency. MY powers were in play and in force. I told him to forbear question or remark; I desired him to leave me: I must and would be alone. He obeyed at once. Where there is energy to command well enough, obedience never fails.' If Charlotte Brontë could write that 150+ years ago, why is it impossible to convey that now?)

 

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# Torchwood — Since I'm completely crap at predicting plot twists in advance, I should probably stop speculating, but looking at Jack's arc, I can't help wondering what the endgame is. spoilers for ep.7 )


Is it Saturday already?


# Finally saw the last HP movie with my sister, and while unlike THBP it wasn't completely terrible, even somewhat touching occasionally, I can't say I was very impressed either. It's hard to tell after eight months, but I think I liked the first part better. Or maybe I was just in a better mood at the time? I'm aware that a film necessarily follows different laws than a book, but what I simply don't understand is how someone can read DH and apparently come to the conclusion that Dumbledore's story is some kind of filler or afterthought that might just as well be left out. Then again, they already managed to to miss the point by a mile with THBP, where the title of the book might at least have given them a clue, so that's nothing new....

Is this sheer stupidity though, or are TPTB just incredibly cynical regarding the intelligence of the average movie goer?

Or is this me being weird? But especially since TGoF I remember coming out of every movie thinking how much smaller, how much less they were than the books in the ways that really counted. A central part of Harry's growing-up process in DH is that he goes through this crisis of trust regarding Dumbledore, but in the end can understand that Dumbledore was only a man, brilliant in some ways and flawed in others; that often the world isn't as black and white as the eleven year old boy who first came to Hogwarts believed. And it's an important part of the King's Cross chapter that Dumbledore isn't just the wise, mysterious (if somewhat eccentric) mentor figure any longer, but also a man who asks Harry's forgiveness, and who has deep and lasting regrets about the mistakes the arrogant, brilliant boy he was had made, tempted by power and grand dreams.

I didn't hate the part with Snape's memories, although Alan Rickman never was the Snape I saw after reading the books and the discrepancy never jared quite as badly as in this movie, but there were still so many important details missing, like the fact that Dumbledore's reason for making Snape promise to kill him wasn't his concern about Voldemort's trust in Snape, but that he didn't want a frightened teenage boy to become a murderer on his behalf. It's an important part of his characterisation that despite his determination to win the war and all the sacrifices he was prepared to make he did care about things like that, and to change that is, IMO, a problematic decision. I really do love the whole conversation between Dumbledore and Snape in the book because it offers a glimpse at them not filtered through Harry's eyes and shows the level of trust and respect that had developed between them over the years despite everything, and the movie didn't really manage to convey that either.

Or why exactly Lilly in the end broke off her friendship with Severus. These things matter more than extra minutes of CGI battle and the endlessly drawn-out killing of Nagini, which barely takes up two paragraphs in the book...

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# Real life. (Blah.)

I was planning to go for a walk today, but then I slept until 10-ish, breakfasted and wasted time on the internet, practiced Excel, had a bit of lunch, half-heartely thought about where I might go, couldn't decide, and ultimately decided that I needed a lazy stay-at-home day after last weekend's stress.

Also decided I'll do the ECDL certificate after all, since I've already done the Excel and Access classes and can learn the rest from books, and will probably do a HTML/CSS class in September, since I've always vaguely wanted to learn that from a scratch and be able to do more than just type a few basic codes... So there I was, feeling unusually active and hopeful, until I randomly browsed through job adds a couple of days ago and pretty much ended up thinking, why even bother, I can just kill myself now, because I'll never be qualified for, or do anything other than retail. Stupid, pessimistic, mood-swingy brain. But maybe it is right, after all?

What also irritates me is that I've done barely any reading at all recently, mostly because when I'm reading it's Lukianenko's NIght Watch series in Russian, and for obvious reasons that takes up a disproportionate amount of time. It's kind of fascinating, though. )


# Various media stuff:

* Saw Thor with G., and, just, gah. Either it's because I'm not familiar with the (comic book) source, or I'm simply getting too old for these kind of movies, but I found it almost insultingly bad. The worst thing was, it was actually my idea to see it, because I was a huge fan of Kenneth Branagh a longish while ago, and... )

* Stuck about two thirds into Smallville S6... Lj tells me it's been over three years since I watched S5, but in many ways it's as if I never left at all... )

One of these days I'm going to write something rambly about the whole identifying-with-characters issue. Because I honestly have no idea why I always fall for the characters I fall for, who, as a rule, have nothing whatsoever in common with me, at least as far as I can make out.

# Also watched RTD's Dark Season (1991) and Century Falls (1993). They're both a bit too children orientated for my taste, and the stories are nothing much (although they both do have their moments), but I enjoyed Dark Season especially. It's a bit DW-ish, and the characters are just thoroughly enjoyable. There's a young Kate Winslet as Reet, and the girl playing Marcy just radiates a certain Doctor-ness. Which is probably more due to RTD writing her, but I could so see her as a female Doctor. Actually, I'm going to pretend she's a Time Lord now. Miss Maitland, exasperated and torn between believing and not believing is also a rather lovely character.

Wherever you are, whoever you are, there's always a strangeness in things. )

(The whole thing also dates like whoa, but that can't be helped with a story from the early 1990ies involving computers. In 1991 I think I actually still typed my proseminar papers on a type writer...)

Century Falls sort of gives the impression that it's trying to get somewhere more ambitious and dramatic, without quite succeeding (yet), but it also has its moments, all those old ladies, and generally speaking enough female characters to pass half a dozen Bechdel tests...

* Somehow, I'm still watching A Game of Thrones. I don't know... there's still stuff I'm not too happy with and I'm not even particularly interested in all the political scheming and violence, but the characters have definitely drawn me in, and even more than that I want to know more about the mythology of it all, the dragons, the Wall, the White Walkers, and the winter, which they keep hinting at. (Also, although that is nothing new, I'm really, really bad at recognising actors. I eventually, and perhaps not entirely coincidentally when he started talking about cannibalism, recognised the actor who played the guy from the cannibal village in Countycide, but I didn't recognise Aiden Gillen at all... Imdb tells me Sibel Kekilli is also in there, but who is Shae?

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# Was successfully babysitting the niece on Friday when my sister and her husband (and that still feels so odd writing...) went to a ball. I was actually more than a bit scared because of all the things that could go wrong, and what if I suddenly have a screaming four year old on my hands who wants to be consoled only by her Mama? It went surprisingly well, though, except that I got maybe four hours of sleep that night (not the niece's fault) and pretty much sleepwalked through a seemingly endless six hours of work on Saturday.

# Saw The King's Speech with R. yesterday, and on the whole really liked it. Colin Firth definitely deserved the Oscar as far as I can say that without having seen any of the other films, but, although I can't quite put my finger on it, as a film it struck me as just a bit too much on the conventional side, sometimes coming dangerously close to being formulaic and borderline kitsch. Which isn't to say that it didn't have plenty of touching moments or that I wasn't choking up as he struggled through the speech in the end, but I can't quite shake off the feeling that the movie is carried by the actors' performances more than anything else.

(On a somewhat related note, I just watched TR's Oscar acceptance speech on YouTube and it was... faintly bizarre in a way. Not the speech itself, which was completely run of the mill, thanking his wife etc, but the circumstances. Good for him, obviously, but... *shakes head* No, strike that, good for him, full stop. Everything.)

# In TW rewatching news, when I did the 30 days meme I picked Adam as my favourite S2 episode, but Adrift is actually a very close runner up. Read more... )

Fragments is still good, but already more uneven. I'd have liked for Jack's story to be just a tad more serious, considering how serious the implications actually are, but it's still brilliant with all the potential for all kinds of moral ambiguity it opened up. CoE would never have worked believably without that scene, or Adrift.

# Has someone knowledgeable about tarot ever written about the reading the girl does for Jack in Fragments? I looked up the cards on wikipedia and a couple of other sites, and the first three from left to right are: The Tower (sudden change, chaos, crisis, disillusionment, release, downfall, revelation, realising the truth), then Jack as a the Knight of Swords (confident, impetuous, dynamic, valiant, blunt, fearless, logical, unfeeling), then Three of Swords (sorrow, heartbreak, loneliness, betrayal, loss). All of which seem to say a lot more about Jack and his past/current situation than about the Doctor's eventual arrival. The vertical row is (from top to bottom): Ace of Cups (emotional force, intuition, intimacy, love), The Moon (lack of clarity, doubt, deception, psychological conflict, fear, illusion, imagination, bewilderment) and The World (fulfilment, accomplishment, involvement, prospering, wholeness). Nothing there exactly says 'the century will turn twice', but it could indeed refer to the century ahead of Jack (whereas the first three cards seem to refer to his past). But then again, I know nothing about tarot.

# The picture that gets pinned into Jack's first Torchwood file is the last one above the wedding picture in SB, so it's conceivable that the wedding picture is indeed meant to be from a time before Jack died the first time, regardless of the style of the dress.

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# Met with R. yesterday, had a coffee (or hot lukewarm chocolate in my case) and then saw Another Year, which R. picked, because it was her birthday.

I don't know. Mostly I don't know how I'm supposed to read this film, because for me it was in its quiet way one of the cruelest films I've seen in a while and I'm not sure if that was the intention. There's this perfect middle-aged couple, Tom and Gerri, with their beautiful house, their garden, their well-paid, interesting jobs; they're happy, they're successful, they're calm and competent, no matter what the situation, even in the face of death; you never see a crack in the facade. You keep waiting, because surely it must happen at some point, but it doesn't. You never see beneath the facade. You don't see any real emotions. Around the middle of the film the son finally brings home a girlfriend, and it's the same. Perfect couple, love each other, great jobs, no conflicts that we see, his parents love her. All this, while around them peoples' lives are falling apart. People are breaking to pieces and it doesn't really touch them; they're aloof and secure in their happiness. God knows Mary was annoying, realistically I wouldn't have known what to do with someone like her either, but the little mime in the end where Gerri tells Katie in a whisper that Mary is in the kitchen and Katie pretends to hang herself with her scarf was just cruel. The end was very good in its own way, but also quite terrible and thoroughly depressing.

# Signed up for Tai Chi again for next semester. Stopping with the belly-dance classes and taking up Tai Chi instead was maybe the single good decision I made last year. It's so much less stressful, it fits me (mind, body, self-image) a lot better, and I'm feeling good after classes. Plus, the years of learning choreographies came in handy. Now if only I could bring myself to practice every day... *smacks lazy self*

# The best part of yesterday's gala IMO were Sinead and John Kerr. This is exactly why they've more or less become my favourite ice dance couple over the last few years. Brilliant.



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Went to see the HP movie with my sister after an advent market visit and a Glühmost, and I don't think it's only due to the pleasant buzz of the first alcoholic drink I've had in something like half a year that I have to take back a lot of my preemptive bitching.

I absolutely loved the beginning. They really caught the mood of the book, the darkness and seriousness of the threat, which I was so afraid the wouldn't. Loved the growing-up theme, Hermione oblivating her parents, Harry in the Dursleys' empty house; the chase, the twins, Ron and Harry in the field at night, the wedding. The scene in Malfoy manor was also brilliant. Admittedly this is at least partly projecting the knowledge of the books on the film, but looking at Snape in that scene it becomes really obvious what and how much Dumbledore asked of him.

The rest was still more than adequate, even if it also—necessarily, I guess—felt a bit flatter than the book and tended to drag a bit, because as far as I'm concerned Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe can't really carry the story on their own for such long spans of time. Maybe it's partly because neither of them matched the picture/idea of the characters I had in my mind after reading the books, but I could never get over the feeling that both Harry and Hermione were completely miscast. Acting-wise, Rupert Grint is the only one from the trio I can imagine seeing (or wanting to see) in another movie. This said, I really liked the dance scene. It was lovely, and conveyed perfectly that Harry and Hermione really have a sort of sibling relationship, without Harry having to spell it out later on.

And the animation for the Tale of the Three Brothers was just gorgeous. I'm not sure it actually fit into the movie, but still gorgeous.

The main flaw of the last movie is already noticeable in this one though, even if (so far) it is still less prominent. Maybe they decided to tell all of Dumbledore's story in the second part, but if there's one thing I wasn't happy with, it's that the movie once again focused only on the relationship triangle of the trio and almost completely erased Dumbledore's story beyond supplying the absolutely necessary factual information. Which is more than they did in THBP, where 'supplying the necessary information' was reduced to Snape's out-of-nowhere declaration at the end of the movie, but still. DH is not just Harry's story, it's also very much Dumbledore's. It's about Harry questioning Dumbledore, his own relationship with him, his affection and trust, his feeling of betrayal, and the fact that in the end he can accept and forgive and understand. There's a reason for the King's Cross chapter. Snape may have the most interesting arc over the course of the books, but DH turned Dumbledore into perhaps the most complex character overall. I started to reread the the first volume and there's this bit, right at the beginning, when McGonagall asks Dumbledore if he can't do something about Harry's scar, and Dumbledore tells her, no, and even if he could, he wouldn't, because 'scars can come in useful'. It's not the kind of thing one notices at the beginning of the series, but looking back after DH, I thought, holy shit. This man is looking at year-old baby that just lost his parents and is already planning the next battle in the war because he knows it'll come and that he'll have to fight it.

I think what people tend to forget when they complain that Harry is 'chosen' and gets too much special treatment is that he's 'chosen' in a way that shocks even Snape when he learns all the facts.

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# *yawn* Tired. Braindead. Another ten days until my holiday.

# It's a good thing I don't have children, because playgrounds are so not for me. More precisely, playground conversations.

# Saw Die Frau mit den fünf Elefanten with my Russian teacher last week, which I probably would have missed otherwise, because sadly I apparently need people to more or less physically drag me to places, or nothing ever gets done. It was very much worth seeing, though. I'm always vaguely fascinated by the process of creation, and there's this 87 year old Russian lady, dictating her translations to an old German lady typing on an old-fashioned typewriter, and a musician who then reads it out loud to her, and they argue about the best expressions, commas or semicolons... it's really fascinating and all kinds of wonderful. There were of course also interesting and touching bits about her family, her life & history, as she travelled back to the Ukraine for the first time since the war with her granddaughter, about languages and the differences between them and the love for language and texts, but this is what really stuck out for me — these three old people between them recreating Dostojewski in a different language. Lovely.

(Trailer on YouTube that gives at least a bit of an impression.)

# Watched The Second Coming a couple of days ago, which IMO is brilliant with a very powerful ending, but also came with a bit of a déjà vu, because some of the ideas have totally been reworked in Ten's arc; very obviously in the last three specials, but it probably goes back much further than that. *thinky thoughts*, or rather when I'm a bit less tired, because right now my brain is more like *- - - - ? -*. And really, everyone who said that Adelaide's death in WoM is somehow rooted in RTD's alleged issues with women, older women, women in a position of power, or whatever it was people were complaining about at the time, should maybe watch this. Personally I always thought it was evident that she wins, that even if she dies, in the end the real power in that episode is hers, because she's standing up for free will, for human dignity and human autonomy in the face of someone who's in the process of taking that away, but the comparison with Judith really clarifies this beyond a shadow of doubt.

# On a maybe slightly related note, I think the reason why I'm so completely unsuited for fandom is that I'm never very interested in characters. I talked about this with my Russian teacher this week because one of the question in the textbook was about favourite literary figures, and I couldn't come up with one. I have favourite novels, favourite authors, but no favourite literary figures; for me it's almost completely impossible to separate a character from their story. What I most notice is ideas and authors' voices, not so much in the sense of writing style, but in the sense of the worldview and philosophy behind the books, and how they speaks through the story and characters; my bookshelves are full of (more or less) complete works by favourite authors. And it's the same for TV, really; I've never really identified with a character. If anything I connect to the characters and/or relationships that are most emblematic for a show's ideas, which also makes it really hard for me to keep watching a show for a character or aspect of the writing, when it doesn't work for me on a more profound level. And I guess this is also the reason why with maybe one or two exception the most fanfiction I've ever read was for fandoms where I've seen only a few episodes of canon, if that, and never really cared a lot about it. When I really like the original text, I stop being interested in alternative takes on it, because in my mind they're just... jarring, somehow, no matter how well they're written, no matter how canon compatible. Maybe especially when they're canon-compatible.

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Met R. and went to see the Kontroverse photography exhibition, which managed to be at once depressing and not very interesting overall, throwing together (IMO) too many different subjects from copyright and plagiarism issues to ghost/fairy photo fakes to nudity to photos from the death camps to Stalinist photo manipulation to 9/11 under the name of controversy. Had coffee in the garden, whined at her about how depressing I thought my life was, wah. So maybe it was poetic justice that the movie she picked for us to watch was Precious, at the end of which I was feeling nauseous and shaken and at a loss for words and dragged R. outside and into the Stadtpark because I needed sunshine and fresh air. Of course I do realise this is a completely ridiculous and self-indulgent reaction, because I can go and look at the flowers and then return to a life where I haven't been raped and physically and mentally abused by my own parents for the first sixteen years of it, leaving me with two children, HIV, and little else.

So, yeah.



Then, walking home, I saw one of the horse-drawn carriages for tourists racing (presumably, judging from the direction) home across the Schwarzenbergplatz without a driver, which went well until it came to a red traffic light with a car already stopping there. The left horse reared, smashing the car's rear window, the other must have tried to escape to the right onto the pavement; the left horse had some cuts on the chest and neck (but, as far as I could see, at least not on the legs), the right was unhurt, but still very spooked. Helped to hold it with another Fiaker-driver who happened to be there, until the police and the carriage's driver arrived, but didn't stay longer because there were already too many people crowding around anyway (hysterically yelling about bandages for a horse that most definitely isn't bleeding to death while the other horse is still spooked and half-harnessed to a carriage is not helping, lady *sigh*) and to be perfectly honest I wasn't too keen to learn whether the horse that had gone through the car's window was more hurt than it looked like at first, and what was going to happen to it.


Strange day.

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# I'm not actually dead. I've even been online, more or less - I used to insist that Salzburg/Maishofen was my internet and computer free time, just me and my books, detox, but I've finally caved and bought myself usb-stick internet for my sister's old laptop that I mainly got to familiarise my Mac using self with Office, Excel, etc., which I've totally failed to do so far. But, holiday internet. *conflicted sigh* I'm not using it as much as I do at home, partly, but hopefully not only because I'm paying for bandwidth; I'm feeling quieter here, more at peace, not as compelled to follow every bit of discussion or drama, because god forbid I should miss someone being wrong on the internet somewhere; more removed from it all; but the mere fact that this whole world is there when I want it is a reassurance. Which actually scares me quite a bit. We shouldn't be so dependent on things that... are real, I'm not going to argue that, but also in a way seem very fragile and... disappearable? Which isn't a word, I know. Maybe it's not having grown up with all this technology that makes me a bit wary of its permanence and ultimate reliability.


# Anyway. Had seven rather nice days of skiing... )


# With all this and my whole lack-of-fitness related state of constant tiredness I didn't get a lot of reading done so far. Finished re-reading TM's Königliche Hoheit, which I still find kind of... sad. There are brilliant ironic and genuinely funny parts, but the love story, while touching, strikes me as more melancholy than not.

Then read R. Safanski's Heidegger biography (Ein Meister aus Deutschland), which I picked rather randomly out of my father's bookcase for no very good reason, except that I vaguely wanted to start getting over my complete stupidity/lack of understanding/slight apprehension when it comes to philosophy, which I've always avoided because it seemed a bit too abstract for my too-materialist, too-concrete brain that finds it easier to look for models and answers in history, sociology and psychology, and found it readable and interesting when I opened it and gave it a cursory glance. And at least in the first part of the book Safranski did manage to convey even to me an idea what philosophy can be about, and while the philosophic parts were a bit of a difficult read at first for the complete newbie lacking even a good part of the basic terminology, also an impression of where Heidegger was going with his ideas. But then of course there's the inherent question about the worth of philosophy when it doesn't stop the philosopher from being just as fallible and wilfully blind as the next average, unphilosophic person... In any case, it was a fascinating introduction into the history of thought in the 20th century, and I found at least Heidegger's early philosophy with its importance of questions instead of answers, deconstruction of absolutes and emphasis on personal perception and immediate experience of living interesting, if a little too... self-involved, maybe, in the end? It touches something I've been wondering myself - how much, how far can you deconstruct absolutes and preconceptions, something that studying history does, too, until you're left with nothing, floating in relatives, questioning and second guessing your every opinion? Feeling like you're losing yourself in all the ifs and buts and OTOHs and looking at everything from every possible angle? And what then? Where, to quote Buffy & Co, do we go from here? Are there any answers? Or is this only a problem because on some fundamental level my ex-catholic brain hasn't quite given up wanting or believing in the existence of absolutes?

[On a side-note, in my personal and admittedly once again completely materialist opinion the next major revolution about human thought and self-perception, the definition of man and structure of society will be caused by what science will discover about the function of the human brain over the next decades.]

It also totally made me want to write something about the philosophic background in TW, which I guess is wildly, wildly inappropriate? Not to mention completely presumptuous and idiotic considering my vague to the point of barely-there-at-all knowledge about 20th century philosophy. But I already have ideas & notes! Gah! Read about Heidegger and wrote notes about Jack. Oh dear. *facepalm* But he's such a classic example of being 'thrown' into life, and if it isn't the knowledge of his own mortality that defines his life (rather the reverse), it's everyone else's. Would it be possible to do this sticking strictly to the TW-text and not dragging and actual philosophers into it & thereby making an utter fool of myself?


# Saw Avatar with G. last week before I left & was mainly bored & more bored (also cramped after three hours & I still find 3D movies exhausting to watch), although I have to say I kind of liked Neytiri. What completely baffles me is that apparently you can spend what must have been an absolutely indecent amount of money on the special effects, and still have a script & dialogue that are this bad. What could a good script writer have cost in comparison?


# I'll have to catch up with all the recorded figure skating when I come home, but I'm sad that Lambiel didn't make it on the podium. This was the one Olympic fairytale I really wanted to see happen.


# Friday already! Having to drive home the day after tomorrow. Still so much Russian homework to do. Back to work on Monday. I think I'm going to be sick.
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I should be in bed and asleep. My sleeping hours all over the place since the holidays and I more or less sleepwalked (or sleepsat) through work today.

Yesterday, Annie Leibowitz exhibition with R., where we met B. (formerly from work & still much missed there, but now working as a secretary in the Institute for Classical Archaeology, which somehow is just weird; and it's even weirder to hear that apparently people still remember me there...) with her boyfriend & mother; had coffee (or heisse lauwarme Schokolade and Topfenstrudel, in my case), then off with R. to watch Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen, which I ended up liking quite a bit. My brain is so dead and kind of... uninvolved these days it took a while, but it was a nice, if not extraordinarily original story, quite funny (no, really; I know what you're thinking, [livejournal.com profile] un_crayon_rouge), and he does this thing with the music that is always very, very awesome.

Then finished BSG, more about that later. Possibly maybe. It's kind of pathetic that somehow I don't even manage to catch up with writing about TV shows any more. There are private-locked notes about Merlin, DW and BSG all over my journal, plus some left-over TW stuff that I never got around to posting. Dollhouse episodes to be watched. Undecided about whether to start BH.



On a slightly related note, [livejournal.com profile] moljn commented a few entries back that EoT, or at least Jack's scene, was filmed months before CoE ever aired, which I never really considered before, and somehow it makes me strangely happy that this ending would still have existed, Independently of whether or not there was going to be a fourth season of TW, or who was going to be in it. And no, I don't pretend that makes any sense. Going to bed now.

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Saw Inglorious Bastards with G. yesterday, which left me extremely impressed, but also a bit at a loss to say something appropriately intelligent about it. I'm going to completely embarrass myself now and admit that this was actually the first Tarantino film I've seen, so I have no comparison or frame of reference whatsoever, and am probably completely on the wrong track with this, but even—or especially—with all the ahistoric, borderline satiric and alienating (in the Brechtian sense) elements, even without showing so much as the bodies of Shosanna's murdered family, with its premise and the way it completely fucks with a lot of movie clichés it struck me as an incredible effective movie about the holocaust. Because every time the film vaguely moves into the direction of one of those 'maybe he's not so bad, oh look, he's a human being, too' moments, like with the soldier celebrating the birth of his son, or even the one who refused to give away the position of his unit, and that person still ends up violently killed, there's always the unspoken reminder that these people are still part of a system that murdered millions and didn't give a shit about their new born babies or Iron Crosses, lives or humanity, and you're left wondering if even your brief impulse of pity was inappropriate. It's because it doesn't try to be realistic that the movie never for a moment let's you forget the horror of reality and IMO manages to say a lot more profoundly true things about war than plenty of more 'realistic' movies.

The end was brilliant. Shosanna and Bowie's Cat People (Putting Out Fire) was incredible. And casting Christoph Walz was a stroke of genius; how have I managed to completely miss him so far?


~*~*~



Then definitely had a Spritzer too many, which I regretted at work today, but it was a nice evening. It's a pity I really don't find him the least bit attractive.


Being asleep tonight before 3 am would be good.

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In less depressing news, saw District 9 with G. yesterday, which I partly liked a lot, and partly not at all. The first part in all its brutality was brilliant; absolutely and completely brilliant. Ambiguous, revealing, horrifying, thought-provoking. Best thing I've seen in a while, even while I was sitting there wondering why I always ended up watching the depressing stuff that says the worst things about humanity, and no wonder I was such a pessimist.

But once Wicus escapes from the MNU building at first the pacing gets a little slow, and then the whole movie takes an unexpected 180 degree turn and slowly but inexorably deteriorates into sentimentality and conventional mediocrity.

And then, as I sat there and watched narrow escape from death and dismemberment after narrow escape until the whole thing turned into a complete farce, escaping from the Nigerians, escaping from the MNU building again, saved from the MNU people by the Nigarians, saved from the Nigerians by the alien boy, shuttle is shot down, no, still manages to fly to the mother ship; Wicus betrays Christopher-the-alien, no, he doesn't, is saved from the crazy MNU guy by the aliens again, is last seen making a metal flower for his wife, pleasekillmenow, my respect for CoE went up another couple of notches.


G. like the second part better. Clearly we're doing the gender cliché thing wrong. Had a couple of spritzers afterwards; nice evening, all in all.


* * *


And speaking of, because obviously the logical thing to do when coming home slightly drunk some time after two in the morning when you've got to work the next day is putter around on the internet, watched this interview with JB, and it certainly looks like that if there's going to be a TW S4, Jack's going to be in it, which as far as I'm concerned is a good thing; YMMV.

(And if the next CD really consists only of songs from musicals, I'm not complaining either, because most of the pop stuff he does is 1) really not my cup of tea, and 2) IMO doesn't really suit his voice and style either.)

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Talking with B. was nice, but the HP movie was incredibly dreary. Half-way through I caught myself thinking that maybe CoE had spoiled me for anything less dramatic, but B. completely agreed, so it clearly wasn't that. I don't know how it's even possible to so utterly suck the life and meaning out of a book. The first two thirds or maybe three fourths were almost exclusively about teenage romance (and please tell me that Ginny didn't tie Harry's shoelaces in the book, wtf, is this shit supposed to be romantic?) to the point that I almost asked B. whether the whole horcrux thing had already been in the last film. Almost nothing about the consequences of Harry using the book. No pacing whatsoever, no dramatic build-up, just one random scene after the other. I don't remember THBP too well, but some parts definitely left an impression, and I certainly didn't expect to laugh when the Inferi showed up. And I guess we weren't the only ones looking at each other and making Gollum jokes at this point? And could you make Dumbledore's death any less dramatic and meaningful?

That the kids aren't the best actors is nothing new (although I seem to remember I've seen them all act better, too), but whatever did the director do to get such complete non-performances out of actors like Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham Carter? Both look like they were mostly closing their eyes and thinking of the pay-check. Then again what do you do with lines like 'I am the half-blood prince, ta-daaa' when they come out of nothing like that?

The best part of the movie is mind-numbingly boring, and the rest is completely ridiculous. (Except for Luna. Luna is still awesome.) I've really no idea what went wrong there, because I found the OotP movie fairly decent, maybe my favourite after Cuarón's PoA.

Am I the only one who imagined Slughorn completely different?

Also, broomstick placement. *sigh* Once you see it, you can never unsee it again.

In conclusion, avoid.

solitary_summer: (jurassic)
Nice afternoon with my niece yesterday, who's somehow managed to grow up a lot since I last saw her six weeks ago. (She'll be three in a couple of months.) Until now I used to be able to kind of talk over her head a bit (I've no idea if this comes across in writing, but I have this slightly ironic, occasionally self-mocking thing going on in real life that I don't really know how to turn off, because I have no idea how to actually talk to kids...), but now she wants to know everything. 'What?' and 'why?' at every other sentence. We had a discussion about life and death watching a bit of some zoo documentary with dead mice as food and a tiny dead lizard that didn't manage to make it out of its shell.


Dreary evening, though.

Ice Age 3 frankly sucked. I'll watch romantic stuff. I don't hate children even I don't have any. No, seriously. But the whole movie turned around romance and procreation from beginning to end. Ellie is pregnant. Manny fusses. And builds a nursery/playground. Sid adopts three Tyrannosaurus eggs. Even Scrat has a romance plot. Diego wanders off in, well, actually more disappointment at the loss of his 'herd' than disgust, and one shares his feelings. (There's no escaping it, though.) And the rest of the plot is just too far-fetched. Ice Age on the first floor, dinosaurs in the basement? I'm not usually over-nitpicky, especially when something works for me on an emotional level (*cough*Torchwood*cough*), but give me a break.

What I loved about the first part (that I'll still shamelessly squee about) was the chosen family theme, and there's not much more than a formal nod to that at this point.

It's also the first movie I've seen in 3D, and while in some respects the effects were certainly impressive, I mostly found it exhausting to watch, and maybe I'm getting old, cranky and pessimistic, but that looks just like another step towards visuals instead of content.


Then we (G., a couple of his - kind of boring, especially the woman - friends and I) went for a drink, except no drinks for me, because my stomach was still pretty much turning at the mere thought of alcohol (in which case I really don't appreciate to be told that beer, or tea with rum, or whatever, helps, thankyouverymuch), so there wasn't even that to alleviate the general suckitude of the evening. Finally gave up trying to be polite and left at one point around midnight when they were playing their second game of darts, and okay, I guess it's my fault for not joining in, but I've never done it before, was way too tired to learn, frankly generally suck at throwing things at a target, and really, really hate not being good at something and making a fool of myself, especially with people I don't know. So I sat there, tired and bored and wanting to get away, sipping lukewarm apple-juice with mineral water, and at one point my thoughts drifted towards CoE, which seemed suddenly so much... if not more real, than at least more relevant that everything around me, and how I keep sometimes whining that I ought to focus more on Real Life instead of fiction, and I pretty much thought, fuck that. It's all relative. When TW seems more real than my niece, then I'll worry.


At least my stomach is better today. Also, HP6 with B., which is bound to suck less, if only because it's B., and I don't need alcohol to have fun with her.

solitary_summer: (Default)
Er. I feel like I should be updating with, um, actual words, maybe? The thing is, recently I whenever (rarely) I manage to type a couple of half-sentences, I invariably stop and wonder why I even bother, because it never seems worth saying, much less inflicting on others. Words dry up and fade away before the (metaphorical) ink has even dried.

I've also always thought being able to see things from different perspectives was a good thing, but I'm actually starting to wonder. Because for me it's almost too easy, comes so very natural, no effort at all. It's a lot easier than actually making a judgement, having a decided opinion on something. I do draw my lines, but even then, I'm mostly still able to at least sort of understand where it all comes from, however offensive to me it might be. I don't know what kind of person that makes me. And as a result mostly I tend to just... hover in the middle of everything, options and possibilities and motives and reasons and histories and... fade, in a way, as a person. Transparent. At the very least life must be easier and more clear-cut if your brain isn't wired that way. When not almost every opinion comes with so many 'but's and qualifications that in the end it doesn't even seem worth stating.

~


Yesterday, after much postponing, I finally got to see the Star Trek movie with G.. And okay, let's not touch the whole lack of women in that film, and maybe I didn't like Kirk a whole lot (seriously, that man should have ended up on the Darwin Awards list instead of in a captain's chair...) but every one else was completely adorable and the whole thing thoroughly enjoyable. (I know, Vulkan turns into a black hole, billions die, Spock's mother dies, big drama & whatnot, but in the end it's the warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia and childhood memories, and Der Weltraum. Unendliche Weiten, *tadüüütadadadaaa*... that lingers.) I'm still trying to figure out who Karl Urban reminds me of, though. The LotR trilogy is apparently the only movie I've seen him in, but the thing is, every time he appeared on screen, I was thinking 'Russian', not 'Rohan', and I've no idea where that association might come from.

Had three spritzers afterwards and actually a lot of fun geeking out, in, ironically, the same pub where we had that huge blow-up years ago. It was really nice, which makes me hope things won't become all tangled & complicated again...

Now what to do about this urgent urge to watch some old school Trek... *g*

solitary_summer: (Default)
Still feeling very much like crap. It started with a sore throat last Saturday, and now I'm at the coughing & sneezing (& drinking disgusting herbal tea) stage. And to make my life complete, right in the middle of all that I got my period. Thank you, body.

I vaguely considered a trip to IKEA for today, since I need a new book shelf as well as some minor stuff, but I really don't feel up to it, not without a car, and not on a Saturday, not with an insane crowd of happy shoppers. I've got ten days off in a couple of weeks anyway, so it'll have to wait until then. It's not as if I even have the energy to clean up the residual mess from the move right now.

(But at least I'm going to have warm water next Tuesday! (Could have been yesterday if I hadn't had to close the shop and my mother hadn't been in Salzburg.) Threatening to involve the Mieterschutz apparently really does wonders - much thanks to the people from my belly-dancing class who suggested it when I had a bit of a break-down last Tuesday.)

Things I did last week beside feel like shit, drag myself to work for a few hours every day, and sleep a lot - Watch C'est la vie with R. last Sunday, which wasn't bad at all, although the latter episodes weren't as good as the first two, it started to drag just a little bit around the middle and the end was ridiculously, almost offensively, predictable. Well acted, though, and great cinematography & soundtrack. Like R. put it - it failed on a high level.

Read [livejournal.com profile] alex_beecroft's new book False Colors, which kept me up until 3:30 in the morning because I literally couldn't put it down. (Also there's that tingly feeling when you already knew and loved an author back when...*g*) Also started rereading Ricardo Pinto's The Chosen, because randomly browsing amazon I found out that the last volume of the trilogy has finally come out after I'd already pretty much given up hope. I've found that rereading fantasy novels can be a bit hit-or-miss experience, but this one stands the test well enough so far, and the word building remains absolutely stunning.

(And speaking of follow-up volumes, has Clive Barker disappeared off the face of the Earth? Amazon doesn't even list the third Abarat book any more. *long suffering sigh*)

Also I finally watched the last two Dollhouse episodes a couple of days ago, and maybe it was because my brain was a bit addled with the cold, but I was very underwhelmed with the resolution, such as it was. Perhaps it's going to make more sense once I've rewatched the whole season (which I'll probably do - eventually), but the whole Alpha storyline seemed so very... random? Out of left field? And somehow hijacked the end of the season at the expense of the established characters, IMO. I'd still like to see a second season, though, so I'm pleased to hear it looks like there's going to be one.

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Saw Watchmen with G., and mostly liked it. It was a bit uneven maybe, but there were good bits, touching bits, interesting bits, bits that were maybe a tad banal, and quite a few bits that I was watching (or more often, not watching; you were so right [livejournal.com profile] soavezefiretto, and I'll probably be going to sleep with the light on today) through my fingers, but on the whole I found it interesting, albeit very, very bleak. Great choice of music, the best opening credits I've seen in a long while, and an unexpected, ambiguous ending that I still don't quite know what to think about. I'm glad it turned out that way though, because I really liked Adrian/Ozymandias and I'd have hated to seem him turn out to be a one-dimensional villain, the more so as it'd make him the vaguely-coded-as-gay one-dimensional (if kick-ass and highly competent) villain, and we already had the dead lesbians in the opening credits.

Complaints... Female characters, or lack thereof, and their treatment, although I'm going to be shallow for a moment here and say that Laurie looked stunning in her costume. And I'm trying and failing to remember a non-white character that didn't get killed within minutes (if that) of their appearance on screen, oh, wait, this is the guy who did 300? Colour me unsurprised then.

(Something I do wonder, though - how... abstract is this movie for those who don't actually remember the cold war, who did not grow up with the threat of nuclear war?)




*yawn* Tired. Bed.

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