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[personal profile] solitary_summer
# 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. I've read the first volume, will probably finish the second today, and am halfway through the audiobook of the fourth already—actually I had a sort of light bulb moment a couple of weeks ago, when I realised that I wasn't just listening for practice any longer, but because I wanted to know how the story went on, which was nice. (And it feels weird and rather good at once that writing about these books I have to check wikipedia for the English terms... Progress! Yay! I'd never have thought I'd get to this point in only a little more than three years...)

The magic stuff isn't all that interesting (actually, faintly ridiculous by the fourth book, from what I could make out), but it feels like this is pretty much window-dressing in any case, and the important thing is the concept of the Others and their relationship to humanity and each other, that uneasy but necessary balance of power with humanity stuck in the middle between the sides of Darkness (the egoists who only crave absolute freedom) and Light (the altruists, who in their effort to make humanity better indulge in social experiments like communism). And I'm definitely interested to see where he goes with the world building and the levels of Twilight, and what will be on the seventh level.

There are things I'm not so fond of; book two drove me crazy with the switching POVs, his penchant to kill off the female characters (Alisa and the tiger shape-shifter mage, whom I really liked, in book two, the werewolf girl in book three), and increasingly push the others in the background at least compared to book one, with Svetlana mostly playing the housewife now and Olga not very visible any longer either, and Anton is becoming a bit too much of Mary Sue, but generally the characters are enjoyable, and he always manages to write both funny and really touching scenes. From a feminist angle Alisa's death rather pisses me off, but I was still close to tears even listening to it on my iPod, and perhaps I shouldn't feel sorry for Igor, or touched that he's doing the glass-of-wodka-covered-with-piece-of-bread death ritual for her, since after all he did kill her, but... it's still all so damn tragic. *sniff*


# 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 throughout the whole movie my mind kept drifting back to Henry V, which my sister and I (and everyone else I could drag into it) saw so often that in the end I knew parts of the play by heart. So, generally speaking, it didn't help watching this bombastic, one-dimensional crap while not being able to get Derek Jacobi's voice from the Henry V prologue out of your mind.

There was exactly one scene I liked, and that was when Thor tried to pull out the hammer and failed. That was well filmed and well acted, and for a moment actually made me feel something for the character. Loki was also somewhat interesting, but I suspect he stood out only insofar as the rest of the characters were nothing more than cardboard cut-outs. And don't even get me started on the script. Someone actually got paid to write that? J. M. Straczynski was involved? Now granted, we saw it in German because G.'s English isn't that good, but somehow I have severe doubts that these extremely flat, clichéd dialogues are full of nuances and sparkling wit in English.

The thing is, at least sometimes you could actually see how this could have been a better movie, if they'd paid more attention to nuanced characterisations and storylines, but as it is, the most three-dimensional thing about the whole film was the 3D. Which is kind of sad, really.

* 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. Blahblahblah, boring, mutant Phantom Zone monster of the week, Clark has a cold and discovers a new superpower (this is an actual storyline? seriously now, Smallville?), boring, Oh, Lex! *sniff*, boring, blah, Clark is still lying, and so on, and so forth. The sad thing is that it's probably this sheer mediocrity, filler episodes, playing it safe, always pulling the break in time and never daring to fully explore the show's potential, that kept it alive for ten seasons.

Also watched Clark and Lex's encounter from the show finale on YouTube, so sad. 'You know, I used to think it was our families that made us who we are, then I hoped it was our friends, but if you look at history, the great men and women of the world have always been defined by their enemies'. Oh, Lex, break my heart, will you. The thing is, I never came so close to the embarrassing woobification-of-character phenomenon as I came with Lex, but I always hated the fundamental unfairness of someone being forced to struggle in vein against a fate that has been scripted for him by decades of canon. Watching that was just painful in so many ways, and from the start added a meta level to Lex's arc that gave it a kind of tragic epicness.

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.









(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?

Date: 2011-05-29 09:38 pm (UTC)
ext_7009: (Loki - best of friends)
From: [identity profile] alex-beecroft.livejournal.com
The Thor movie was pretty faithful to the comics, I thought. If anything it gave Loki more depth than he tends to get in the majority of the run. (There have been a couple of collections where he isn't just evil-for-the-sake-of-it, and his portrayal in the film was pretty faithful to those, but there have been more where he is.) But Loki is one of the characters that I fall for heavily, so I loved the film. I forsee me buying it and just watching the bits that he's in, though, because the rest of it was rather dull.

Date: 2011-05-30 05:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] solitary-summer.livejournal.com
Loki's story was definitely the part of the film most worth watching, I guess my problem is that I just can't divide it from the rest of the movie. As Lex says in the clip I linked in the post, 'Every villain is only as great as his hero', and for me Thor was sadly lacking in this respect...
Edited Date: 2011-05-30 06:55 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-05-30 07:53 pm (UTC)
ext_7009: (Ivanova - no boom today (boom tomorrow))
From: [identity profile] alex-beecroft.livejournal.com
I guess that - because I'm first and foremost a fan of mythological Loki rather than movie & comic book Loki, I see him as an archetypal character in his own right, rather than a movie villain. I judge movie!Loki on how close he comes to my idea of mythological!Loki, rather than on any of the other characters. But I agree that Thor is not an interesting enough character to carry a movie on his own.

OTOH, I believe that a great villain can be great in his own right - but that's because I've hardly ever known a hero I could like for himself. In my opinion almost all heroes are dull, and I can't remember when I last watched a movie or TV series for the designated hero - I always find either a secondary character or the villain to identify with, as the heroes are always so dull.

Date: 2011-05-30 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] solitary-summer.livejournal.com
Sorry, that was putting it a bit slapdash, mostly because at least in the context of SV I can't see Lex as a clear-cut villain either; IMO he's a truly tragic figure there. What I meant is that for me in the context of the movie Loki lacked a true foil. He was the only character with a more complex motivation and while I liked that, for me in some ways it just didn't connect enough to the rest of the plot. He had a lot of potential, but the story as a whole let him down.

Date: 2011-05-31 01:07 pm (UTC)
ext_7009: (Loki - best of friends)
From: [identity profile] alex-beecroft.livejournal.com
Oh, I agree with you there. I didn't buy Thor's sudden transformation from "lets go and smash them all" to "genocide is bad," due to nothing but the power of love. And most of the time Thor was not even aware that he had an antagonist, or a purpose or a quest or whatever until it was over. So focussing on his story was focussing on the story of a man who was blundering around passively at the mercy of events he didn't understand - which is not really a recipe for a driving story.

The Avengers movie should be better (I hope.) Though quite how they're going to balance an intellectual villain like Loki against a bunch of smash-first-think-later heroes like Iron Man and Thor will be interesting to see.

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