Rogue One

I saw a Rifftrax tweet about how A Star Wars Story: Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards, with Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, &al., was on Netflix (for which they have a riff available). I’d been waiting for The Defenders in August to renew my subscription, but decided to do that early, for less than the cost of buying the movie on disc or download, and watched Rogue One belatedly but finally.

Aaaaaand … Holy crap, y’all. I loved it. This movie is a love letter by a soldier on the front sent home from the final battle but lost in the mail to only arrive decades later to fill for a brief moment a still heartbroken empty absence.

I admit it: I cried. A lot. This and the previous A Force Awakens really do it for me on a deep, probably psychologically significant, Hephaestus-archetype level. I felt this movie coursing in my blood like a jolt of caffeine and rattling my bones like the crack of a compound fracture.

I sometimes forget how much I am a child who was weaned on Star Wars. Without doubt I saw A New Hope in the cinema more times than any other movie (I lost count decades ago of times seeing the first movie in a cinema after around 27), and overall have seen the Star Wars saga together more than any others in total.

The movie is obviously a love letter to the Star Wars saga, especially A New Hope. There’s a tender and joyful use of momentary and interwoven callbacks without going overboard. Rogue One is also a stirring homage to Pacific theatre war movies and Chinese wuxia, in the way that the saga were also homages, the trilogy to Saturday morning serials and Akira Kurosawa, the sequels to teen dramas, like A Rebel Without A Cause.

The movie is also a visual love letter to the use of light and shadow, and especially the transition from shadow to light, a constant and stunning use of light as a visual metaphor for hope. There were many times I found myself wowed by this central visual cue throughout.

The story is convincing and solid, but moreover, not only a worthy installment in the Star Wars saga, I dare say that Rogue One transcends the inspiration. This film is full of new and novel takes on the source saga, builds on and expands the mythos in significant and welcome ways, and steadily climbs to crescendo with a searingly fantastic finale.

As an aside, I desperately needed a unicorn chaser to soothe my heartache after the end of this movie and watched a couple episodes of The Worst Witch (2017), and was reminded that Rogue One star Felicity Jones played Ethel Hallow in series one of the earlier rendition of The Worst Witch (1998) and the sequel Weirdsister College.

Third Time is the Charm

I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut, but I can no longer let certain things go by without comment. I am quite sure I will offend some of the True Faithful, but that cannot be helped.

I am here today to speak aloud these words: J K Rowling is wrong. In fact, not only is she wrong about two things she thinks that she got wrong, but actually got right; Rowling is also wrong about something she thinks she got right, but actually got completely wrong.

Many would have you believe that the wrongs J K Rowling has unleashed on the world are something along the lines of an inappropriately out of the closet Dumbledore, the traumatic death of Dumbledore (for entirely unrelated reasons to his homosexuality), rampant incipient Satanism and Witchcraft, and any number of those sorts of things. But, no. I’m fine will all that, as should you be as well. I’m talking about more important issues here!

Three strikes and you’re out, right? You know that thing where you write something the first time and then try to re-write it but nothing is better than the first thing you wrote, only now you’ve lost that because of your subsequent changes? Yeah. That. Someone needs to take the pen out of J K Rowling’s hand. She’s drunk and should go home. Let me demonstrate:

The First Wrong of J K Rowling

Oh, so many moons ago, I read that J K Rowling no longer liked the opening to the first book. I can’t quite just now find a reference. But, what I remember is that she wished she had re-written the opening of the first book to be more obvious in genre setting and quicker into the story, instead of the way it appears in print.

She is wrong.

The opening is delightful in how it starts out normal and slowly the increasing number of owls reveals to the reader and the character of Mr Dursley just how abnormal the world really is. I know that there is advice out there, I forget from whom, about making clear in the very first sentence what genre one is in, but I absolutely adore the way normality melts away in the opening of the first book. Moreover, we get to be present at the very moment when Mr Dursley’s sanity dissolves and he becomes unhinged. And, I will abide no loose talk about changing that feature.

The Second Wrong of J K Rowling

Recently, J K Rowling has publicly stated that Harry and Hermione should have gotten together, and she regretted that they didn’t. This is an idea which should be killed in its crib … but, um, successfully this time.

She is wrong.

First off, even if Hermione wanted to end up with Harry at any point, there is no way that Hermione would have stabbed her friend Ginny in the back like that. In order to double-cross Ginny like that Hermione would have to become a selfish narcissist instead of who she was, and that would have been against her very character, and if allowed would have been the beginning of the end for everyone, because without a good-at-heart Hermione everything would have fallen apart and fizzled into infinite darkness under the real Dark Lord.

But, I’d argue that the fact that Harry and Hermione didn’t end up together is part of what helped Harry not turn into his father, and merely repeat the same story as the previous generation acted out. And, all the other characters would have fallen into enacting the same systemic failures demonstrated in the flashbacks and revelations about how completely shitty the Marauders really were to everyone else. Ginny saved Harry, not the other way around; because it was in Harry’s relationship with Ginny that he became a fully functioning and feeling adult; and it was always in Hermione’s hands how this entire story unfolded.

You think I’m overstating that? Let me put it this way: Harry had absolutely no apparent talent of his own until he discovered he was a natural at Quidditch. And, there is no way that Harry would have ever been discovered and joined the team if Hermione hadn’t used a fully functional and useful spell to repair Harry’s glasses in the very first book so Harry could actually see anything at all.

And, there’s no way Hermoine would have ended up with someone with a complete absence of actual magical aptitude … um, okay, at least Ron could play chess and throw gnomes like nobody’s business! And, red hair! They made beautiful babies, so shut up!

In fact, I bet, by the end, Hermione full and well realized that without the Horcrux in his head, Harry Potter was nothing more than a magically inept, whiney rich jock who liked to beat up on goth kids. There’s no way she would have gone for someone like that … well, you know, after she learned her lesson from how it didn’t work out with Victor Krum, anyway.

The Third Wrong of J K Rowling

J K Rowling lost the plot in the end. Yes, the entire end of the series was screwed up. Harry was no hero, for reasons I think I’ve already detailed. So, the only other kid left, and someone mentioned specifically in the books as fulfilling the same prophecy as Harry supposedly did: Neville Longbottom.

Rowling would have you believe that Harry was the hero and saved the day after coming back to life, a pathetic attempt to twist the actual truth and instead turn Harry into a risen Christ figure.

She is wrong.

In fact, without the stolen power of the Horcrux in his head and the overly patient coddling of whiz kid Hermione and the army of people around him doing all the actual work, Harry Potter would have been nothing better than how Neville Longbottom is portrayed throughout most of the series. But even still, the truth will out. You cannot deny that Neville Longbottom steps up, grows a pair, and stands up to Voldemort, and if he had half as much preparation as Harry did there’s no telling what he could have done. Probably have sealed things up behind the scenes of book three while Harry was busy being freaked out about what turns out to be his escaped petting zoo godfather.

In fact, even still, Harry died. That Harry died killed Voldemort’s horcrux in his head and left both Voldemort and Harry relatively powerless, there’s sympathy and contagion between these two that people only vaguely realize, after all. As the inaccurate Rowling version of events unfolded, unless Voldemort went completely off the rails and challenged Harry to a Quidditch match … (Hey, dumber things have been known to happen, people!) there really was no longer any chance for Voldemort at all, really just a matter of time, if he didn’t simply die at that moment the last Horcrux was broken, by Voldemort killing Harry, who is merely a functional and folkloric double of himself. And Harry should have stayed dead, or transformed into the Dark Lord he was always incipiently to become, which would have left Neville Longbottom to fulfill his destiny as the person referenced in the prophecy as the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord, i.e., to kill Zombie Harry, back from the dead to assume his rightful rôle in the succession scheme of evil! And, in a beautiful Delphic-style twist, the assumption that the Dark Lord mentioned in the prophecy refers to Voldemort is simply a mistake only revealed in hindsight: the one who lives is Neville and the Dark Lord is actually what snivelly rich jock Harry of the future cycle of the generational system would become! And, there was some guy named Voldemort who died too, but no one really remembers what he had to do with anything.

And, shit, people, just look at pictures of Neville nowadays and just try to tell me that guy doesn’t look like a real Big Goddamned Hero who pretty much towers over Harry, who went off to become some kind of Auror, like, pshaw, whatever, prance around like a naked pony on stage, and write Beat poetry.

Låt den rätte komma in

When I saw the movie, I didn’t know there was a book. I think the movie just kind of showed up one day and moved into my Netflix queue. All very normal. Who knew? Then, I watched it. I was so amazed by the originality and atmosphere and everything of the movie that when someone mentioned, “The book is better,” I knew I had to read that too. However, it sat on my stack unread. In fact, I almost gave it away as a present since it seemed a shame to waste a brand new book like that if I wasn’t going to read it.

Then, I’m not sure why, but I picked it up. And, devoured it. But, the whole time I kept thinking to myself, “I wish I’d read the book first.” The pacing seemed really slow to me as I was reading it. I felt that had to be because I’d seen the movie and so I wasn’t discovering the story for the first time. It had to be something, because it was a wonderful story to read.

Well, maybe the word “wonderful” isn’t right, is it? It’s a bleak affair, after all. The pacing is part of the atmosphere. Everyone is struggling to find love in spite of their dysfunctions in a world which indifferently exists around them. I’d say hostile, but that’s not really it. Everyone is doing what they can to survive as wounded individuals, and sometimes that means hurting other people. But, it’s not really out of malice, even the bullies are really not so much vicious as much as indifferently cruel because they are living. And, there’s really no good people, per se, as much as everyone being flawed in such a way that it’s all ultimately ambiguous. And, in the cold and wintery dark, isn’t that idea the real horror? To be alone is to die, but to be around others is to get hurt. To live is to decide to continue hurting and being hurt, and to refuse this is to refuse to go on living. And, that struggle is one that strangles the heart in strange ways, unless you can find the right one that balances out that struggle for a while. So, try to let the right one in.

(It’s an odd coincidence, which will only make sense to those having read the book, that I was proofreading Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente as I was reading the book. After you finish the book, go and read through this Liber to see why this stuck me as synchronicity.)

Then I finished with the story and watched the movie again. As I watched the movie, I realized how very different the two were from each other. The pacing of the movie really was strikingly fast, and after the book the movie is almost dizzying. The movie literally zooms from the start to somewhere in the middle of the book across a couple of minutes. I was really shocked at how much wasn’t there from the book that I had to reassure myself that, in fact, the author was also the writer of the screenplay. Now, that makes it very interesting to think about what got left out, by the author’s own hand; in collaboration, to be sure, but still. Re-watching the movie, I realized there were things that couldn’t have made sense the first time, things that must have seemed odd or wrong about the plot. The movie could have been so very much creepier and scarier. But, it also turned the story from one of many individuals trying for survival, trying to live in a indifferently hostile world, into more of a love story.

In fact so much was left out, that, given what was left unexplored on screen the first time, I’m holding out a bit of hope now that the Americanized remake will actually be truer to the book. Faint hope to be sure, if I’m relying on American cinema to outdo a European film for awesome moody dread and willingness to go uncomfortable places, without turning to shlock and satire.

Of course, I’m reminded of anything by Bergman, but that’s too easy. Like in Cyrano de Bergerac, no one really gets what they want in the end. Like the end of The Princess Bride, it’s really not clear how much time there’s left for those riding off into the sunset. And, as I think about this I’m strongly reminded of my experience of The Silence of the Lambs, because of the realization that instead of any of what would normally be the creepiest stuff, the violence and gore and so on, what really was creepy was the psychological, existential horror that went on in the exchange between the main characters.

While reading the book, there were two places where it seemed to me the translator’s choices stuck out in odd ways, and there was one point past the half way point in the story where I had a feeling that the style of storytelling had abruptly changed. But, all in all the writing and translation seemed to carry me along and into the narrative without making themselves obvious, dissolving into a seamless experience. Nothing here like a tour de force of language, but well suited to the story and did well to maintain my immersion and momentum through to the end.

Now I’m flummoxed over whether I’d rather have read the book first or not. I actually like the movie a lot less now than I did before I read the book. The book is a much richer tapestry and much creepier and much more compelling. I can only, in the end, recommend both, and highly, even in spite of my confusion. They’re such different creatures, the movie and the book, that they both almost live unlives of their own. Both manage to survive, to find a way through the dark; both manage to come out in the end. At least, for a while.

Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist; Ebba Segerberg, translator
St. Martin’s Griffin
October, 2008
Paperback, 480, pages
ISBN: 0312355297 (ISBN13: 9780312355296)

Let The Right One In [DVD]; Tomas Alfredson, director; John Ajvide Lindqvist, writer; Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson
Magnolia Home Entertainment
Released March 10, 2009
114 minutes

As great an actor to enact Crowley as this

Not only didn’t I mind SImon Callow’s Crowley, I thought Callow did a really good job … but in a crappy movie. Or, at least, I assume so. I really couldn’t watch the 2nd half of Chemical Wedding because it turned super stupid. I suppose it’s possible that the end managed to turn it around, but I gave up; and, when I talked with people that stayed for the whole thing I’m glad I left.

However, the first half really made an impression, which I was disappointed that the rest didn’t live up to. I kept thinking how interesting, as high concept, to ask what would it be like if Crowley were somehow brought back to life today. What would he say and do, and what would his personality and ideas be like, when placed within a current cultural context. What would he applaud and what would he lament and what would surprise and what would shock, anger, confuse? And what insights and breakthroughs could be made given more time in a new time?

For that matter, it’s an interesting idea which you could ask of any historical figure. Any of the historical figure re-enactments is an example of how this can be compelling. I’m thinking primarily of Holbrook’s Twain and Jenkinson’s Jefferson as these seem to be exemplars. Or, I suppose also the Riverworld stories of Farmer are also examples of this idea of moving historical figures into another context. Maybe some more good examples are the alternative history stories that come out every once in a while and even the recent trend of adding zombies or whatnot to historical literature.

Well, anyhow, I was watching the special features on Branagh’s Hamlet, and I was struck by how closely he seemed to me in some of the videos to resemble Crowley in some pictures.



Branagh [source], Crowley [source]

Admittedly the picture of Branagh above is not the most flattering, but he’s so often smiling that it’s the best I could find on short notice to show side-by-side.

Anyhow, leaving aside the high concept of time travel and resurrection, wouldn’t it be something to see a decent period bio-pic of Crowley done with such production values and acting that someone like Branagh could bring to it? There’s certainly enough material to be interesting. Like the life of Sir Richard Francis Burton which really has only ever appeared once, and then only a short bit, in The Mountains of the Moon (which is actually a really well-done movie that I recommend); a decently done movie about Crowley, with warts and all to be sure, of course, please, but not something that is just stupid sensationalism or worse a really crappy B-grade film, would really be something to see.

7th Planet Picture Show at Mt. Tabor on Dec 27th at 7pm

On Sun, Dec 27th at 7pm there’s a double feature of Mark Hamill flicks as part of the 7th Planet Picture Show at the Mt. Tabor Lounge (even though the info keeps saying “theater”, it’s in the lounge).

This isn’t just a couple of crummy movies. No! In fact, this is a couple of crummy movies in the style of participatory theatre with a full bar. And, that, my friends, is a brew that is true. But, you’ll have to bring your own vessel with a pestle …

7th Planet PIcture Show is an MST3K-inspired live celebration of cinematic camp, taking place twice a month at the Mt. Tabor Theater in Portland, Oregon. Will Radik and 2 or more hardened camp cinema veterans will face down some of the most ridiculous, awkward, and tasteless films born unto this pitiless earth, with only microphones (and probably alcohol). Audience members are not only allowed but encouraged to shout at the movie themselves and leave their cell phones on.

REPO! The Genetic Opera

Last night, I had the chance to see REPO! The Genetic Opera – A Rock Opera / Movie Musical [also, ] at The Clinton St Theater.

Since I’ve moved to Portland, I realized that one of the few places outside of downtown that I remember from when I was in high school is the Clinton St Theater. Back in the 80’s, I saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show there. I wasn’t the one driving, so I never really knew where the cinema was; but, I passed by the cinema one day and realized that was the place. The trip there, back in the day, was also memorable because we saw a possum and a cat trying to have sex in the street …

Anyhow, I’m pretty sure that I heard about this film on Whedonesque, but really didn’t know what I was going to see when I went. The crowd was definitely excited and the show was sold out. I saw a couple people I knew in line, but the crowd was pretty uniformly of a goth flavour. From the crowd, I’d have guessed that this was an appropriate show for a cinema that still plays Rocky every week.

The cast is great. The music was good. Lyrics has great moments. The production of the film was well-done. And, as a musical, it had a good, solid feeling; not like a string of annoyingly thrown together songs and styles as seems to be, inexplicably, popular these days.

Well, there’s lots of information about the film online, and I don’t really have much to add to all of that; except to say that any negative reviews of the film must has seen some other film than what I did. This was an all-around well done film that if not for a single problem would have been a completely entertaining experience:

The Clinton St Theater is in desperate need of a decent sound system. I mean, it is really freakin’ abysmal. For a film like this with what I imagine is an amazingly well-done audio track, though I can only guess since what I experienced was so disappointing, to sound as if the audio were being piped through a long-distance telephone call … that’s pretty bad. The auteurs, who were there before and after to help promote the film, extolled how much better it would have been if we’d been able to hear the 5.1 audio. I double checked with some of the people I knew, that had been to that cinema, and they also said that it was definitely the cinema not the film that was so bad.

So, I suppose that the film could have actually been bad, if I had been able to actually hear it all. And, I don’t mean to say that the film was something that changed my life, as the announcer before the showing suggested it would do. However, there were some sparklingly good lines and bits of business in this film that suggest that my good opinion of it would only get better if I had seen this in a better cinema.

I could easily see this film as a new Rocky, and there were already people in the audience starting to interact with the film in a similar way. I definitely commend this film to anyone that can even slightly imagine a mash-up of Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bioshock, and Buffy’s ‘Once More, With Feeling’. It’s got all the signs of being a cult classic … and it’s brand new.

You can check out some of the music via the film’s myspace and there’s a downloadable trailer for the film over at apple. And, it appears that this is being pre-listed at amazon so you can sign up to be notified when it is released on blu-ray.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that it’s brilliant; but it was definitely fun and entertaining.

Can’t Stop The Serenity at Hollywood Theatre on Jun 20th and 21st

Go see Serenity on the big screen for a good cause? Sure!

Can’t Stop The Serenity 2008 Portland, Oregon
June 20th and 21st
at the
Hollywood Theatre
4122 NE Sandy Blvd.

Portland, Oregon

PDX Browncoats are gearing up for their 3rd annual Can’t Stop the Serenity event screening of the movie Serenity to benefit Equality Now.

and

This year’s event will be screened at the Hollywood Theatre. You may remember this venue from such great events as last year’s event!
Well we’re there again this year and we will be screening Serenity, not once, not twice, but three times this year!
Friday doors at 7:00 pm
Saturday doors at 1:00pm (matinee)
Saturday Film Action Oregon Women’s Film Program at 5:15pm
Saturday evening, doors at 7:00pm
Event price is $15 per show in advance, $18.50 day of show.

There will be a special cocktail party before Friday nights screening, with a chance to meet and talk to Amanda Sullivan from Equality Now. Location, TBA
Saturday Night there will be a post party following the screening at The Moon and Six Pence, cost and details TBA

You can pick up advanced tickets online.

That took long enough

Via “Golden Compass Points to Controversy“:

Based on the first volume in the award-winning trilogy “His Dark Materials” by religious skeptic Philip Pullman, the movie already has been condemned by conservative Roman Catholics and evangelicals. They say it will hook children into Pullman’s books and a dark, individualistic world where all religion is evil.

But at least one liberal scholar has called the trilogy a “theological masterpiece,” and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rates the film “intelligent and well-crafted entertainment.”

Meanwhile, some secularists complain the movie from New Line Cinemas waters down Pullman’s religious critique. They feel sold out by the author, who has described himself as both an atheist and agnostic.

Ha. They got hoist by complexity! Not so easy to simply condemn this outright is it?

I wondered what was taking so long. After hearing that the movies were being made, I expected immediate uproar, like there was for several other movies. When the response was silence, I figured the knee-jerk condemnations would have to wait until the dumb people managed to find someone that could read the books.

Now, how proud can Pullman be about this? The response to his complex work is complex! Maybe the person the dumb people got to read the books for them couldn’t explain it simply enough? However, I thought it would be as simple as saying, “They killed Kenny!” But, the complexity of the story appears to be such that even the condemnation of the movie ends up being not so simple as that. Witch hunts hunts aren’t so easy anymore, I suppose. This is a kind of progress, isn’t it?

You make that sound dirty

This last week has been all about Harry Potter. Okay, not all about, but it’s been a recurring theme.

YouTube – Red State Update: Harry Potter

Travelled to Portland to see Harry and The Potters [also] on stage. The show was at the Wonder Ballroom, which was a pretty cool venue. I mean that it was spiffy. The temperature was astonishingly hot both outside and inside the venue.

The opening band was Blubird. The music was pretty good down-beat emo with a bit of punk. I was initially disappointed that there were not other Wizard Rock bands playing that show. But, when I realized the two women on stage were only 13, then I had a whole new sense of how good they were. The women in Blubird also made guest appearances during the Harry and The Potters set. Apparently these women graduated from Portland’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, which is such a cool notion that I wish I was a young woman. Er, never mind that. Nothing to see here; move along.

Then, came the main attraction: Harry and The Potters. It was a short set of short songs, but played with so much energy it felt like a full show by a big name act. These men have a very polished act comprised of audience participation, witty banter and savage punk with some emo rock. All in all, quite a show that I heartily recommend.

I also highly recommend bringing earplugs to save you the damage you will otherwise suffer.

One of the particular attractions to going to Portland for this event was that the boys in the band announced they would be going to a midnight showing of the new Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie after.

So, after the concert, I waited around for a couple of hours eating sushi with friends, or not eating sushi because the lame restaurant plonked down all the vegetarian sushi on a big plate with the nasty fish flesh stuff in a way that made it impossible to tell them apart … and I ended up with a mouth full of disgusting fish and lost my appetite for any more.

Then, went to the movie. This was no ordinary showing. The media showed up. They gave away presents in what really seemed to be a rigged costume contest. I say rigged because it seemed to me like the winners had been picked before the popular voting had even started … I guess art imitates life, eh?

This midnight showing was very lively and rambunctious. Lots of jokes, even unintended ones, got laughter and there were boos for some characters and applause for others. I mean, really: how can one not laugh at the dirty joke inherent in the guy in a kilt following a goat in a mangy pub? or, guffaw at the inappropriateness of a naked adult wearing a fur overcoat huddled with a strikingly handsome young boy in a train station waiting room? That’s only a couple of the strange things in this movie …

… that I really wish had been in focus. My, but how lame is that? For shame, Lloyd Cinemas!

One of the other highlights of the night was that pre-arranged song everyone that was at the concert knew about for Hagrid’s first appearance on screen:

“HARGID IS FUN TO HUG! —”
“SHUT UP!”

The night was not over until I could hit the sack around 4 am for a few hours before driving back to Olympia.

And, then, a few days later, Harry and the Potters were in Olympia. At the library. For free! Only, they were sold out. Wait, what?

Yeah. Apparently, there were tickets issued in order to control the number of people in the building because of fire code. But, the band apparently didn’t know there would be tickets issued. I certainly didn’t know until someone told me they heard someone saying that … it was sold out.

But, my partner got tickets! She was given tickets to the show. Then, she gave them away to someone that wanted to go. Well, fine. That’s cool and all since we’d seen them a few days before, but still a bummer to have to be in the waiting line hoping to make the cut in without a ticket.

Only, my partner decided that since we didn’t have tickets we wouldn’t leave the house until the doors opened … Um. No, we need to go early to see if we can get tickets and to get in the freakin’ line! But, we were late enough that we were just a couple people away from the cut off point. However, we did get to see the people we gave up our tickets to skip past us inside …

We decided to wait outside and see if we could make it in. But, man, people were really a bunch of whiners about not getting in, and bitchy about who was next in the line to go in when space was available. Blah.

Lots of people in costumes and lots in Wizard Rock shirts. At one point, I was saying, “I really need a Remus Lupins shirt.” And, someone with exactly that showed up in line behind me. Cool.

There was a group of people behind us in line in costume. One member of that group was a young woman with a wand in her hair, and a great Hogwarts school uniform. Wow, she was sad about not getting in. She was probably one of the people that didn’t know there were going to be tickets because she would have freakin’ camped out in the library just for tickets. So sad! She was rocking herself back and forth with her eyes closed trying not to bawl.

My partner and I tried to convince the staff holding the door to let the costumed people go in first, because they deserved it. But, no go.

One woman came out of the library and the staff person told her to pick someone to take her place. So, I leaned over and whispered to her that she should pick the girl in the costume with the wand in her hair … and she did.

Yeah, faith in humanity restored!

My partner was wearing her Harley Quinn shirt, which, you know, is pretty hot. Only, I felt horrible because while we were standing in line waiting outside, the staff on the door spotted the shirt and started to talk really very shockingly loud about Batman and Harley Quinn. Here we are outside a concert, about 20 people, trying to hear the music from inside that we’re not allowed in to hear … and this guy is going on about Batman.

Ugh. And, it was hurting my head. Loud music, loud conversation and even louder Batman trivia …

A few songs into the set, apparently the fire marshal had given the okay to let everyone in that was outside, so we did get to be inside for most of the show.

I was a bit surprised at how much of the set was the same as the Portland show, but there was a great moment under the library skylight when the band was doing “Enchanted Ceiling” and pointed out the reflection of the crowd above. “The Enchanted Ceiling is you!”

Damn, but I forgot ear plugs again! What? I couldn’t hear you, sorry!

This was definitely a shorter show than Portland, but had good energy. The crowd in Olympia was definitely more high school and junior high than the Portland crowd was. In Portand, I was surprised how the crowd was a lot older than I thought it would be. Sure, there were a few adults with little children at both, but not so nearly so many young adults as in Olympia.

Then, I saw the film again because someone had bought tickets for others that could not go. I say I saw the film, but really I only saw part of the film. Who knew it would take a freakin’ hour to drive across Olympia? When did traffic get so bad here? I just don’t drive in town enough, or during rush hour, to know. And, how strange it seems to talk about rush hour in a town like Olympia!

The second time watching the film … was surprising. The film was the same, but the audience was cold fish. They were apparently slept through most of the film, for all the silence and stoicism they mustered.

Then again, some friends were at the same showing and I was introduced to someone wearing a Harley Quinn shirt, and who had a Harley Quinn costume for Halloween. Oh, be still my cheating heart! Luckily I was saved by the power of my sense of propriety from asking for pictures.

Somehow, I ended up going to the movie again yesterday for a matinee. I haven’t seen a movie multiple times in the cinema in a long time, and just in the past week I’ve been to 3 showings of this movie.

I know how I felt the first night, morning actually, in Portland. I felt that there were some great bits, but even going to see it with a crowd of really good fans didn’t shake a feeling that somehow this was the end. The whole thing felt over, and that it just wasn’t worth it from here on out.

The 3rd movie was astounding, and the movies have been down hill since. They’ve been fun and all, but the 3rd movie was a great movie. It was not just a good Harry Potter movie, but all around a great movie. I remember being in the cinema with my jaw dropped open at how awesome the 3rd movie was as a piece of cinema artistry.

But, this 5th movie … was too predictable, too arch, too much a formula action film. It just didn’t have the extra spell of magic about it that it should have, that the 3rd movie had in spades, and was already fading fast in the 4th.

The thing about the books is that they are detective stories at heart, to me. And, to take a detective story and turn it into an action film is much the same as just making another installment of the Batman franchise … hey, even the palette of colours in this 5th Harry Potter movie could have been a match for one of the early Tim Burton Batman movies.

I miss the magic already. I get some of it back when I listen to my CDs of Harry and the Potters, Roonil Wazlib, and The Remus Lupins, but I loved the 3rd movie so much I want to marry it. And, I feel like I’ve had my heart broken with what’s become of the movies to which I proposed. What happened to the movies I fell in love with?

I guess, we’ll always have our memories … until we don’t.

Harry and the Potters in OLY and PDX next month

So, Harry and the Potters are on the move. They will be in Olympia and in Portland again. In fact, the Olympia show is free. Also, while the Portland show is not free, after the show they are planning on raiding a local cinema for an early screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

From the website’s show page:

“July 10th, Tuesday
Portland, OR
Wonder Ballroom
6:00pm doors, $10/$5 for under 12
128 NE Russell, Portland, OR 97212
ALL AGES show! With Blubird opening. We know that Portland is full of some of the most hardcore readers on the planet! It’s one of our favorite places to play. After the show, we’re all going to see the HP5 movie and boo that stupid Dumbledore off-screen. Seriously, would anyone really object to Voldemort taking down Dumbledore during their battle at the Ministry? At least wouldn’t have to deal with that jack-ass ruining the 6th movie too, right? Be there to boo with us! Theater TBA.”

(And, what’s with the steady dis on the big D?) and:

“July 12th, Thursday
Olympia, WA
Olympia Timberland Library
9:30pm, FREE!
313 8th Ave SE, Olympia, 98501
Very special after-hours show in the library! We’re gonna TEAR IT UP!”

Can’t Hollywood do anything original?

Via Boing Boing, The Wilhem Scream has appeared in a vast number of movies and soundtracks. This is a specific set of screams recorded, apparently, for the 1951 movie “Distant Drums” and has been used by and familir to sound designers in the industry.

This reminds me of the way dumb jokes work. Once or twice a dumb joke is funny, but then it gets old really fast. But, if one keeps with it, after a while, it gets funny again and then just keeps getting funnier … to some point of saturation. So, the lesson here is to “stay the course” but not indefinitely. Eventually, the joke becomes and inside joke if people stick with it long enough.

I also, for myself, like continuity. I tend to come up with something I think is funny and weave it back into conversations. This is especially effective as a way to bracket topics. For example, some ice breaker returns and becomes a marker that a topic has run its course. Or, as a milestone that marks points where the conversation has slowed down.

I think this style is something I learned to use through participation in dial-up bulletin board systems in the 90’s. The non-threaded conversations on systems using Citadel-style BBS software were especially strong in creating this opportunity. What would happen is that syncopated conversations would happen as people came in and out of the flow and topics would weave in and out of each other. The ability to come in to a conversation and bring up a topic that got left behind, especially if it was funny, created a very rich and textured experience both as a reader and a participant.

Anyhow, someone should give, even if posthumous, the actor that recorded the Wilhelm Scream a Hollywood star.

MPAA – size queen, fashion diva, and girlfriend from hell?

Via Slashdot, BBspot – MPAA Lobbying for Home Theater Regulations, Apparently the MPAA wants to reach into your living rooms and bedrooms and regulate the size of your equipment and the arrangement of your furniture:

The MPAA defines a home theater as any home with a television larger than 29″ with stereo sound and at least two comfortable chairs, couch, or futon. Anyone with a home theater would need to pay a $50 registration fee with the MPAA or face fines up to $500,000 per movie shown.

Then, again, they want to control your social life:

“Just because you buy a DVD to watch at home doesn’t give you the right to invite friends over to watch it too.”

It’s clear that the MPAA is a girlfriend from hell. She wants to get rid of your gadgets, rearrange your pad, alienate your friends and control your entire life. You’ve got to dump her before she ruins your life permanently.

Dude, she’s insane and needs therapy.

Too bad the story is fake. The lesson here is that the MPAA must be really, really bad if people are willing to believe they would do this kind of thing for real. This kind of asshattery is not unbelievable even if it isn’t real.

This is something that I realized a long time ago about fooling people: It’s neither hard nor skillful to get people to believe believable things. That’s just telling a lie. The skill is getting people to believe things that are unbelievable. That’s funny. If the BBspot story were well written, the level of abusrdity would have increased to the point when laughter burst from the reader. But, no. The reader is left unsatisfied. Obviously, the author of the BBspot joke story isn’t very good in bed.

On the other hand, this is a good time to reflect that the voice of authority, in this case Slashdot, can be used to legitimize lies, like laundering money. Authority in an of itself cannot be a test of veracity and therein is the character flaw of the republic. To believe authority is to conflate messenger with message.

Time for that Logan’s Run re-make yet?

Via Huffington (but also on Fark), I noticed this story which suggests 10 is the new 15, and has me wondering about the plans to remake Logan’s Run. The story Logan’s Run had much younger people than the movie, and was, in part, an exploration of a dystopian future where only the young exist and the teenagers are in charge. You know, real Lord of the Flies kind of stuff.

Of course, on the other hand, Sophia Loren is still sexy, so there’s still hope for the rest of us. You know, if we resort to clean living & prayer.

Licensing? You’re soaking in it.

In the credits of Blade: Trinity, appears the following:

This motion picture is being exhibited under specific license and is not for sale.

This is the first time that I’ve specifically noticed a movie, especially a DVD release, that claims to be licensed not sold. This is from Netflix, so it’s possible it’s a rental DVD version different than the one people would purchase in a store, but I bet it’s the same.

Shouldn’t stores label products that customer aren’t actually buying as not for sale? When the point at which one has allegedly entered into a binding contract is indistinguishable from any other moment, can one have actually ever agreed to the contract? If the licensor has taken every opportunity to disguise the moment when the contract event has taken place, can that be a binding contract for anyone other than, say, the Mob?

Bizarre and bad new 20th Century Fox fanfare?

I happened to hear tonight some really rotten electronic version of the 20th Century Fox fanfaire today. Is this the new fanfare they’ve decided on using for real? Horrid. It’s the casio version and not even cool enough to be 8-bit.

Someone (was it Williams, himself?) working on Star Wars resurrected the fancy, symphonic 20th Century Fox fanfare, and I’d heard it so often that I remember thinking at one point in my life that the fanfaire was actually part of the Star Wars theme.

If what I’ve heard is actually a permanent update, they really messed up.

Theater Economics

Via Hacking NetFlix, “Theater Economics” points to an article at Slate about the economics of running a movie theatre: The Popcorn Palace Economy – The thirsty moviegoer fuels the business. By Edward Jay Epstein.

The studios made films for theater chains that they either owned or controlled, and they harvested almost all their revenue from ticket sales. Then, in 1948, the government forced the studios to divest themselves of the theaters. Nowadays, the two are in very different businesses. Theater chains, in fact, are in three different businesses.

Interesting reading.

Box Office Blahs: Blame It on (Fill in the Blank)

Via Technology – Industry News, Policy, and Reviews, “Box Office Blahs: Blame It on (Fill in the Blank)“:

“LOS ANGELES — Hollywood ticket sales took a little swan dive in 2005. Why? The consensus hypothesis appears to be that the movies were — brace yourselves — not good.”

The article offers that the industry is suggesting many ideas, but the one that struck me is this idea that the bad movies are to blame. This meme has been going around, but I don’t buy it. I mean, yeah, okay there are some pretty crappy movies out there, but I don’t think anyone is really taking into account just how crappy and annoying the cinemas have become. They’ve gotten with tickets and extras more expensive than going out to eat at a decent restaurant, they’re taking every possible chance now to shove advertising in people’s ears and eyes … and the cinema is very simply no longer a place of enjoyable shared experience. Why would I want to travel to a place where I’m herded with other people like cattle through a gauntlet of increasingly Las Vegas inspired large box buildings divided into tiny screens? The minute that HD DVD, in some format or another hits, I am going to be sorely pressed before I take to effort to pay through the nose for an annoying cinema experience. As for the meme, the article makes the connection that bad movie is conflated with movies that didn’t make money.

I worry that there’s a red herring there. I think it’s self defeating to focus on only movies that sell bazillions of tickets, because with that goal there’s bound to be worse attention paid to the craft of the films.

The article points out that the $220 million spent to make King Kong only got a 5-day return of $66 million. Looking at Box Office Mojo, That’s $14,049 average per screen. Now I feel a lot better about the performance of Serenity making only $10 million in the first weekend. That’s $4,610 average per screen for Serenity. King Kong looks like it will break even in release, whereas Serenity did not. I think both of these are really movies that people didn’t think they needed to see on the big screen.

Having watched Serenity on DVD a couple of times, there are definitely details that are not easy to see on a smaller screen, but it’s still a good movie that should have done a great deal better. I want to believe that it would have done better if it weren’t for (Fill in the Blank).

Another cancelled show: Night Stalker

Via Sci Fi Wire, “Night Stalker Gets Staked“:

“ABC has canceled Night Stalker, the second time the network has given the axe to a series about reporter Carl Kolchak and his pursuit of supernatural phenomena, Variety reported.”

Why do all the shows I like get cancelled?

Night Stalker is the most recent. Kitchen Confidential is another. Of course, there’s Firefly. Twin Peaks … and, I remember being disappointed when they cancelled Outworld, an odd little sci-fi show back in the late 80’s. So many lost shows …

When I was a senior in high school, I stopped watching TV, even though I had a TV in my room. TV was just so horrid that I couldn’t stand to waste my time anymore. Broadcast TV is just abominable. Not only do they cancel shows most of the good shows and keep vapid, insipid tripe, but networks make their presentation and schedules as annoying as possible. It is as if they believe they will have my unconditional attention.

The fact is that I will not view whatever they put on the air. I’ve given up TV before, and will do it again. It’s a definite sign that I tend to watch old shows that are re-run. And, most of the new shows are available after a short delay. There’s nothing compelling about seeing a show the day it comes out. I’m already weaned from that through liberal use of DVD and Tivo.

That they put annoying banners at the bottom of my recorded shows, which have recently doubled in size they obscure on screen, and futz with starting times, and randomly screw with new episodes by inserting reruns between … these are all reasons that I find TV more annoying. This is not endearing behaviour, but rather behaviour that is more likely to make the break.

When I had DirecTV, I didn’t bother with any local stations, so the ridiculous chanting from cable that “We’ve got local stations!” is just stupid. Local station are getting gutted by the DVD releases of shows and, now, by the networks releasing shows online. There’s nothing left to syndicate for non-affiliates, and the affiliates are just mindless parrots without merit of their own.

King 5, the local NBC station used to have a sometimes funny sketch comedy show that was on Saturdays next to SNL, but that died a slow and painful death. What other local content is there? Local news? Bah. Local news is a joke. It’s fluff, and mostly non-local content anyway. When it is local content, the majority of that is mindless blather about the weather. The weather here is mild. It’s not that big of a deal nor is it really either a surprise or a show-stopper if it’s not great.

I just can’t bring myself to pay for all the cable channels or DirecTV, and I sure as hell am not willing to pay for digital cable as an add-on expense.

So, maybe, the Tivo was a gap-stop that prolonged the life of TV past the point when I stopped being willing to have the networks dictate my life. Now, it’s just not the benefit it was. There just isn’t enough good TV on that I feel I need to watch it broadcast. Why not wait for it on DVD, or just skip it completely. Was Tivo mere my patch, to help me quit?

I’ve mostly given up on going to the movies. Unless there’s a really compelling reason to go, that the movie is somehow going to be so much better on a larger screen … hardly a reason to call them “The Large” screen anymore since they really aren’t … I wait for movies to come to DVD or don’t bother anymore.

So, ultimately, DVD is now my primary source of choice for movies and TV shows. So why not just cancel everything except for Netflix? No, really. Why not? It would have been nice if Netflix and Tivo had gotten the download feature to work. Turns out that’s the reason I finally got a Netflix account in the first place, but it’s a feature they aren’t going to be able to really offer because, at least they say, the studios have exclusive relationships with networks to offer movies, so can’t offer them for download, even protected in some fashion.

Maybe it’s time to go cold turkey?

Republic Dogs

Via Boing Boing, Plato’s Republic meets Reservoir Dogs

I don’t know. It’s either really, really funny … or there’s something wrong with me.

“Socrates: Maybe I should frame my theory a bit more emphatically. [Drawing his gun.]”

Oh, there’s more, but I’d end up quoting the whole thing, so restraint will be my theory of justice … today.

This is like the re-writes of Troy from a few months ago.