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Monday, June 14, 2004

A Brief History Of Time

On the whole, reaction to the latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, seems to split very neatly into two distinct groups.

The first group consists of those who like this movie less than the first two because it moves too quickly, fails to explain a couple of plot elements properly, and doesn't do enough to build up the idea that Sirius Black is a serious threat.

The second group is made up of folk who reckon this movie blows the pants off of the previous two because, y'know, it actually moves at all!

As you may have guessed from my brief summary of these two positions, I fall firmly into the later camp. I've read the first four Harry Potter novels, and will most likely get around to reading the fifth one soon (perhaps when it comes out in paperback next month), and hey -- I enjoy them. J.K. Rowling certainly isn't a very exciting prose stylist, but I find her characters to be consistantly charming and her plots to be deeply compelling, so I have a fair amount of time for her creations, despite my slight bafflement as to why this particular series of kids novels has taken off in such a big way.

Anyways, getting back to the movies, I've always wanted to like the cinematic adaptations of the Harry Potter series more than I actually have. It seemed to me that since I wasn't particularly attatched to Rowling's prose, a movie version of the novels would be perfect for me, but alas, I found the first two films to be fairly sluggish on the whole. Don't get me wrong -- they were entertaining, in a quaint sort of way, but they never really felt like they had much energy to them. It seemed to me that the people involved in making the movies were trying really hard to make Hogwarts feel like a very real and enchanting place and largely failing, rather than focussing on the plot.

Thankfully, the plot is about all you get in this third film. Most of the background characters are pushed even further into the background, but that's okay, because after the slightly wonky sub-Roald Dahl opening, this film is just plain great fun. It's an old fashioned British kids adventure, no more, no less, and as such I enjoyed it hugely.

I don't have the time to get into it in any more detail right now, but this Barbelith thread is, on balance, pretty on the money with regards to the relative ups and downs this film, so if you want a more in depth discussion of the film, I'd recommend that as a good starting place.

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Sunday, June 13, 2004

Leviathan

What the hell is this?, I hear you ask. Well, quite simply, it's an interview with cartoonist John Cei Douglas conducted by yours truly. Enjoy!
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Friday, June 11, 2004

Scratch Mix Vivaldi

"I've been doing a great deal of thinking, and what I've come to is this: amid all the bangs and the drama and the grand passions, it's kindness and just ordinary goodness that stands out in the end."

(from issue #6 of the third volume of the Invisibles, by Grant Morrison)

"They say that 'time assuages,'--
Time never did assuage;
An actual suffering strengthens,
As sinews do, with age.

Time is a test of trouble,
But not a remedy.
If such it prove, it proves too
There was no malady."

(Emily Dickinson)

"Come night, I'm gonna step outside
Take a walk, I'm gonna clear my mind
The radio, still playing our song
You got me jumping like a cat on the wall"

(from 'Cat on the Wall', by PJ Harvey)

"As we strut, skip the line
Through the glass window glance
We look fine, right on time
As we step in the place the nursery's crunk we've come to play"

(from 'Bowtie', by Outkast)

"With a ragged diamond
of shattering plate-glass
a young man and his girl
are falling backwards into a shop-window.
The young man's face is bristling with fragments of glass
and the girl's leg has caught
on the broken window
and spurts arterial blood
over her wet look coat.
Their arms are starfished out
braced for impact,
their faces show surprise, shock,
and the beginnings of pain.
The two youth's who have pushed them
are about to complete the operation
reaching into the window
to loot what they can smartly.
Their faces show no expression.
It is a sharp clear night
in Sauchiehall Street.
In the background two drivers
keep their eyes on the road."

('Glasgow 5 March 1971', by Edwin Morgan)

"They play the radio in my dreams
Takes me back to when I was 17
Dancing in circles on the kitchen floor
I'll play this song 'til I can't take anymore"

(from 'Cat on the Wall', by PJ Harvey)
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"We're not going to war with you this time. No guns, no bodies. This is nothing you'd understand."

I've been re-reading Grant Morrison's messy, messy comic book series the Invisibles this week, and it's interesting, because much as I love its tangled, fascinating cosmology*, it's becomming clear to me that so much of the book's appeal the first time I read it was in the little romantic moments where the characters sit around talking about how they want to change the world, or about whatever weird experiences they've had. There are better Grant Morrison comics, but... I still have a big place in my heart for the Invisibles, probably because I read it at just the right time in my life. It tuned into a lot of what I was feeling at the time -- that sense of almost infinite possibility coupled with a blooming understanding of the complexity of the world that hit me towards the end of high school -- and even reading it today, fully aware of its faults and strengths as a series, I still get a bit of that feeling off of it. The world still seems just as, big, frightening, and full of potential as it always has. "Who's for a knees up?"

*Does anyone else remember when I wrote about the Invisibles as abstract-prop? I should get back to that idea sometime!
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Recommendation

Stereo Sanctity -- a great new music blog by one of Barbelith's more interesting denizens. Go check it out.
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Good Things

Well, it looks like I managed to get myself a pretty good English degree after all! That's right folks, the results are in, and I didn't fuck-up -- woo-hoo! On the whole, I feel like I gained a fair amount of worthwhile knowledge during my time as an English Lit student, but I'm really enjoying reading on my own timetable at the moment so I think that's me done with academia, for the time being at least. Maybe I'll be driven to do a post grad when the "real world" starts to drive me batshit crazy, but until then I'm outta there!

As to what am I up to in the here and now, well, I'm currently working irregular hours at Ottakars bookstore, and can also be found putting together vague plans to take over the world some time with my friends in between my clumsy attempts to write my first novel. Basically, I'm having a blast right now, despite the unpleasant summer cold I seem to be coming down with!

On the blogging front, I wrote a pretty good post about Daniel Clowes' Eightball for Insult to Injury today, and I'll be writing about the latest Harry potter movie here some time over the next couple of days, and you should definitely look out for that if you're interested.

Take care y'all!
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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

This Man Will Not Hang

God, I really need to get back into the habit of blogging regularly.

More later.
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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Zatoichi



I really wish I had something insightful to say about this samurai movie, because I certainly enjoyed it a whole lot. Alas, though -- I was too busy wondering how Takeshi Kitano and crew were pulling off this bizarre mix of slapstick comedy, gory (if deliberately artificial) violence, and small scale character moments to analyse the film too deeply. I am, however, very sure that it is a masterfully made movie; it doesn't sound or even feel like it should work, but it does. Weirdly enough, I think that one of the film's more incongruous elements (the little rhythmic comedy sections that punctuate the plot) may somehow hold it together -- no matter how grim it gets, there's this baseline of silliness moving things along, and the way that this pays off in that final celebratory dance scene is most satisfying. To be honest with you, I'm not sure that there is that much too it beyond the surface, but that's no bad thing in this case -- it's a fine story brilliantly told, and I've got plenty of room for that.

More on this subject when I've seen the movie again!
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