fajrdrako: (Default)


This evening and I watched two Oscar contendeders, The Wolf of Wall Street and Gravity.

I didn't want to see The Wolf of Wall Street because I can't stand Leonardo di Caprio and don't like any of his movies. I decided to give it a try because of its Oscar nomination - not that I necessarily think that's a mark in a movie's favour. There have been plenty of Oscar movies I disliked, with or without di Caprio. This did nothing to change my mind: it's the anti-fajrdrako movie, with nothing in it for me at all.

Gravity, on the other hand, was as good as I expected: excellent script, great directing and cinematograpy, terrific acting by Sandra Bullock, whom I do always like. And Clooney, too. Though Ryan Stone made me feel like an underachiever.

fajrdrako: (Default)


When I was about eleven years old, I used to pretend I had a flowing red cape and a big hammer and long, fair hair. I wanted to be Thor, or to know Thor, or to hand out in Asgard. I was a Thor groupie. Big time. My parents were puzzled by my fascination with Norse mythology.

So now it's 2013, and the eleven-year-old fajrdrako has got her heart's desire: a Thor movie that satisfies all those old craving and more.



Great things about Thor: Dark World (and, trust me, spoilers follow):

    1. Chris Hemsworth. His face isn't the face of Thor in my imagination (channelling Jack Kirby), but he's quite wonderful in the role. All that muscle and courage. Nice smile. Nice puzzlement. Nice compassion.

    2. Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. I never much liked Jane Foster )


Things I didn't so much like:

    1. Christopher Eccleston was wasted as Malekith. Sure, he was a fine villain, but it was all in the photography, the script, and the costume. They didn't even make full use... )


Hope to see it again, and soon.
fajrdrako: Supernatural ([Dean])
Went to see a documentary at Alliance Française called "Les origines du langage", about how speech and language developed originally in homo sapiens. Apparently once it happened, it happened fast, because it was such an evolutionary advantage. They said the same parts of the brain which deal with gesture and patterns are the parts that deal with language.

It wasn't too difficult to understand the French, though when they first started talking bout "Les Austrolopithèques" I thought "the who?" The easiest person to understand was a linguist from the Université du Québec à Montréal, which probably means my ear is pretty much attuned to the local accent and speech patterns.

I'd like to see it again.

fajrdrako: (Default)


A review with a lot of ten-dollar words: “IRON MAN 3”: A SHELL OF HIMSELF by Richard Brody.

It took me a while to decipher this sentence: "The political import of the movie follows surprisingly on that of “The Avengers.” In both, the menace underlying the plot is the hijacking of American weaponry by the country’s enemies." What weaponry, I thought? The battle over weaponry was with Obadiah Stane in Iron Man 1. Or did he mean the nuclear bomb? It made no sense till I realized he was referring to the Tesseract - a bit of Asgardian weaponry that was in no way American, but it was in the hands of the Amercians - since S.H.I.E.L.D. now seems to belong to the U.S. government.

I liked his comment: "...As the country’s increasing population of disabled and mutilated war veterans becomes more prominent, Stark, with his panic attacks, takes his place among them. The war on terror has become a perpetual state of terror, and its weaponry (including the continuous struggle to maintain, upgrade, and devise it) has become an unbearable burden."

And the sentence: "There are critics who see in “Iron Man 3” a poster child for the studios’ failure to make movies for adults..." I checked the ink and the reveiwer cited, Manohla Dargis in the New York Times, seems to have simply missed the point of the movie - all the points of the movie - which had nothing to do with the any bombs in Boston. I confess that I did watch the whole movie without once thinking of Boston. What, all terrorism relates to Boston now?

Anyway: it looked like a movie for adults to me, by any yardstick except that of people who think superheroes are an intrinsically juvenile idea. Which makes no sense to me at all.

fajrdrako: (Default)


Gotta be the best review of anything I have ever read... A review of Iron Man 3 by Laura Hundson and Jim Rugg. They nailed it. Sequential Stark: Wired Reviews Iron Man 3 — In Comic Book Format.

Especially the parts about identity.

A review almost as clever as the movie.

fajrdrako: ([Iron Man])


Wired's Infographic of who's who in Iron Man 3. I think they're guessing - a lot of the characters there aren't in Iron Man 3, and there are a few who ought to be mentioned but aren't, like Hayley Keener and President Ellis.

It's fun anyway.

fajrdrako: ([Iron Man])


There aren't many movies I really care about going to see these days. There was a time I liked going to a movie every week - but most of the new movies don't look interesting to me.

Least of all are they worth seeing late at night. Midnight screenings? I'm the get up at dawn girl these days; so it's the rare movie that lures me into the late hours of the night. Even when I see things, I don't often think they're worth it.

So... Iron Man 3. Worth it.

I loved Iron Man 1, mostly hated Iron Man 2. Ads for #3 made me fear it would be like #2. No need to fear: it isn't.

I just heard an IMDb interview with Robert Downey Jr.. He says, "People are happy that it's kind of clever and defies expectations." That's certainly true in my case: it's very clever and kept defying my expectations over and over. Expectations based on lot of comic book reading over the years, and a long knowledge of how these stories work.

And it isn't just changing things for the sake of changing them, randomly. It's... clever changes. Things rooted in the comic, and in the set-up of the previous movies. Surprises that all make sense, but you don't see them coming. At least, I didn't.

It was wonderful. I love surprises.

On the non-surprise front: Too many explosions. I did expect that. No big deal. If a lot of explosions sell a good plot, I'll live with them.

Mind you, some of it was due to a year or two of clever misdirection in terms of movie publicity and promotion. Those clever dogs.

Okay, spoilery comments now...... )
fajrdrako: (Default)


I wrote this a couple of days ago.. and never posted it.

- - -

A day of good news.

First, the news that France and New Zealand have legalized gay marriage. I'm tempted to say, "What took them so long?" but hey, that really is good news. Waking up to a new age of equality and justice.

Second, I saw the trailer for Thor: the Dark World and kind of got all excited over it. Especially the last few seconds featuring Loki.



I'm a little sorry to see Jane Foster back, but I suppose it was inevitable.

Third, I saw the preview of tomorrow's Young Avengers #4, in which Noh-Varr is awesome, Kate Bishop turns up, Loki makes sarky comments, and we get a few more Parents from Hell. I can hardly wait!

Fourth, I learned that the movie rights for Daredevil have reverted to Marvel. Is there hope in the future of a good Daredevil movie? Dare I hope? Now, I know, a few good movies under their belt doesn't mean all their movies in future are going to be great - I didn't much like Iron Man 2 - but they've had a few magnificent movies, and The Avengers trumps all. Other movie-makers just don't get it right.

fajrdrako: ([Louise Brooks])





Last night some friends got together with me to watch the Academy Awards.

Now, I've watched the Academy Awards before, on numerous occasions, and I usually find myself kind of baffled. I've usually seen one or two of the movies nominated for Best Picture, seldom more. I usually don't get most of the jokes, and usually only recognise about ten per cent of the celebrities. I usually think the dresses on the women are ugly and all look alike, the men have too much facial hair, and the worst possible movie gets the award.

There are exceptions.

Last night there was much to love and much to hate. The bottom line: all those Oscar nominated movies I wanted to see? I'm not sure I want to see them any more.

Keeping in mind that I saw practically no 2012 movies, here is the list for my own special Fajrdako Awards for movies of 2012:

    Best Animated Movie: Brave
    Best Picture: Skyfall
    Best Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Craig
    Best Actress in a Leading Role: Scarlett Johansson. Black Widow isn't exactly the lead of The Avengers, which is an ensemble cast, but she was outstanding. It wasn't a great year for female leads.
    Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Ben Whishaw
    Best Actess in a Supporting Role: Judi Dench
    Best Cinematography: Skyfall
    Best Costume Design: The Avengers (Okay, so they were designed by Jack Kirby in 1963 - they are still terrific designs, and well adapted to film.)
    Directing: Sam Mendes for Skyfall
    Documentary Feature 56 Up
    Special Effects: The Avengers
    Music: Skyfall
    Makeup and hairstyling: Les Miserables
    Best Song: Adele's Skyfall
    Production Design: The Avengers
    Visual Effects: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    WRITING - Adapted Screenplay The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    WRITING - Original Screenplay Skyfall (and it almost breaks my heart not to be saying The Avengers here, because I thought that screenplay was brilliant; but Skyfall was even better. I have the same problem in choosing between Sam Mendes and Joss Whedon as directors.)

As you can see, the Academy and I have only two selections in common: Brave as Best Animated Feature and Skyfall for Best Original Song. I know the Academy is going for outstanding quality in filmmaking, but I often think their choices are pretentious, and based on 'the most serious' or 'the most depressing' movies of the year; and sometimes, as with Django Unchained, I'm just at a loss.

They are not, of course, popularist awards. The movie-goers vote with their pocketbook there, and I noticed that the that the films which make a lot of money and the films which are chosen for artistic merit don't have much overlap. Entertainment value per se is clearly not a criterion.

And yet, the show itself always features the popular choices. The cast of The Avengers, for example, presenting an award. The tribute to the James Bond films. And so on....

Best moment: The Avengers cast presenting an award together. Samuel R. Jackson was particularly funny, with Jeremy Renner as his straight man.

Runner-up was Daniel Day Lewis' acceptance speech. And our glimpses of the charming, charismatic Quvenzhané Wallis, who was amazingly poised and articulate on the Red Carpet for a person of any age. And she's nine. Nine!

Worst moment: The boob song. I couldn't believe my ears: aren't we supposed to be honouring these great actresses, not shaming them and making fun of them? And what was the Gay Chorus doing there, contributing to that mess? Was this deliberate misogyny, old-fashioned sexism, erotophobia, or something else I couldn't even guess? Why did anyone allow that to happen? What were they thinking?

Other things worthy of comment:

  • Charlize Theron. I'm not really familiar with her movies, but my goodness she was gorgeous. Such presence. Jawdropping.

  • Is it a new trend, for actors to bring their mothers to the Oscars with them? Do their mothers not get to come otherwise?

  • Almost all Seth McFarlane's jokes went over my head. I'm told it's just as well. All in all, I think William Shatner was right, and it's too bad that Shatner's segment lacked humour and charm, since Shatner himself can show a lot of both.

    I think Hugh Jackman should always be the MC; he was the best I've ever seen. And I liked Whoopie Goldberg when she did it, too.

  • I have complained some years that all the dresses look alike, and they tend to follow colour schemes: all white one year, all black the next. This year we had some interesting variation, and though there were some trends I don't like - I'm still not crazy over strapless dresses in general - there was lots of visual variety and style. I particularly liked the dresses worn by Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence, Olivia Munn (who is she?) and Jennifer Garner.

    The dresses I most disliked were those with cleavage down to the waistline. Looks bad to me.

  • Jane Fonda looked marvellous in a striking yellow dress that stood out among all those pastels. I guess it's not to difficult to look great after you've spent decades making fitness videos, but she's an amazing advertisement for her own work and lifestyle.

  • Barbra Streisand. I admire her as a person and an actress but I've never liked her singing. It isn't her voice I dislike, it's the way she arranges her songs. This was an exception: I thought she was perfect. She looked great and sounded fabulous.

  • Adele. She was a little drowned out by the orchestra, but how I loved her singing Skyfall.

  • Goldfinger sung again by Shirley Bassey. What a joy.

  • The dance numbers.

  • The men did have too much facial hair, including men it really doesn't suit.


Bottom line: the thread of bad taste was an odd counterpoint to the general seriousness of event, as if they are trying to be lowbrow and highbrow at the same time, and failing with both. The winners were generally delightful to see and hear, and I enjoyed the evening.

fajrdrako: ([Iron Man])


They've released publicity photos of Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin in Iron Man 3:



I've always loved Ben Kingsley, but here as The Mandarin he reminds me of how Mickey Rourke looked in Iron Man 2 - is it the scowl? The glasses? In any case... it doesn't make me feel better about the movie.

Mind you, it was just last month, on my umpteenth viewing of Iron Man, that I heard the name of the warmongering villains - the Ten Rings - and thought: "Ten Rings! Mandarin! Riiiight!"

007

Feb. 16th, 2013 10:40 pm
fajrdrako: icon by <user name=fajrdrako> ([Bond])


Pim and I had a James Bond double bill this evening: we watched Goldfinger, followed by Dr. No.



I wasn't very impressed by Goldfinger which, except for the the bit with girl covered in gold, struck me as sort of hokey and pointless. But Dr. No - what an unexpected treat! It was old-fashioned fun like I remember from The Man From U.N.C.L.E., with an interesting and bizarre villain and Bond being, well, Bond-like. And I really liked Jack Lord as Felix Leiter - I haven't liked any of the other actors I've seen in the role. I even surprised myself by liking Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder.

Good Jamaica setting, too.

fajrdrako: ([Torchwood] - Captain John Hart)


I watched the rest of Cloud Atlas this evening.

I'm not sure what to say but "huh".

It was so beautiful visually I really wanted to like it. I liked some of the scenes, some of the lines, some of the characters, and many of the visuals. But on the whole I found it annoying to be constantly jolted from one scene, story, or time to another; whenever I started to get into the story, I got torn out of it. What story there was. Not just in narrative terms, but in terms of plot and substance, I found it ultimately terribly thin. But that wasn't my main problem with it. My main problem was that I found it extremely depressing.



Things I liked... )

Things I disliked... )

For future reference, there's a karmic diagram of the movie here.

So all in all: too contrived to be enjoyable and too depressing to be satisfying.

fajrdrako: ([Kate])


Marvel has announced that there is going to be a Doctor Strange movie coming up. This had me wondering: Doctor Strange recently has had a low profile over the past few years at Marvel. He was demoted from the position of Sorceror Supreme. He has appeared in the Illuminati - and I heartily approve, I like the Illuminati - but those appearances are few and far between, and Strange hasn't been particulary highlighted by them.

So: is it going to be like Thor and Iron Man and even Loki, where success in the movies accompanies a fresh and improved revival of the comic book character? Might we actually get some focus on Stephen Strange, with one of the top-notch writers?

... I hope so. After a promising beginning, the depiction of Strange in the recent series of The Defenders was most disappointing. And I'm not sure anyone has drawn him right since Frank Brunner.

Most of the online commentary I have seen has been the casting game. Who could play Strange in the movie? I'm hoping for a brilliantly talented, charismatic unknown who will transform the personality in the way Robert Downey Jr. redefined Iron Man. I did see the suggestion that Aidan Gillen could play the role. That appeals. Most of the people who strike me as physically right for the part are British or Irish - which isn't to say that they couldn't play American. Hmm. Perhaps Jim Caviezel?

fajrdrako: art by Jim Cheung ([Wiccan])


On the whole: what a good day.

Yoga. Coffee with [livejournal.com profile] maaseru, who had the day off. Went to the gym. Went to the Silver Snail for comics. Went to Patty's Place, the pub on Bank near Grover, with [profile] fairescat to eat lunch and read comics, and then back to my place to continue reading comics. What a haul. Notable:


    (1) The pick of the pack, for story and art and sheer fun, was All-New X-Men vol. 1 #7 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez. This comic has been consistently delightful; amazing characterization, and a story with fascinating twists and turns, and wonderful contrasts between the young, untried X-Men and their jaded, experienced adult counterparts. Ahead of time, I thought the notion of having the original X-Men, at a young age, come into the present continuity of the Marvel universe was a terrible idea. But I also had faith in Brian Michael Bendis' writing, and I was justified. This comic has charm and suspense and now I'm eager to see what will happen. Ther are some lovely bits of dialogue, such as the younger Cyclops going into a bank:

      Teller: Oh my God. You -- you look a lot older on TV.
      Cyclops: I am older on TV.



    This particular issue is primarily a mind-game between Mystique and young Cyclops. It's hard to tell what Mystique wants, but it's clear she's using the truth to manipulate Scott. As with so many villainous characters, I love Mystique best when she's sympathetic and more good than bad.

    (2) Avengers Assemble Annual vol. 1 #1 set up a situation that's been a long time coming for us Young Avengers fans. An ongoing theme has been the parentage of Billy and Tommy - a theme that was explored in Avengers: The Children's Crusade when Billy went on a search for his mother - the Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff, daughter of Magneto. But what about his father, the Vision?

    Back in the 1970s I was a huge fan of the Vision. I was horrified when this Android fell in love and married Wanda - it has taken decades, and the good stories of the last decade, to reconcile me to that marriage, which has long since come and gone. But we're dealing still with its aftermath, and this story at last present the Vision's perspective on things: his return to life, and the knowledge that he has - in a magical sense, at least - two sons.

    (3) Fearless Defenders #1 by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney had another treat in store. I knew this new series was going to have female protagonists - which makes me cheer. But Defenders has traditionally been a mediocre book, and I was somewhat worried: I want female superheroes, but I want good female superheroes and in the past Valkyrie and Misty Knight have not exactly set the world of Marvel on fire.

    The good news: the first issue was fun. Not a very sophisticated story, but fun. And that's not why I'm commenting on it.

    No, I'm commenting on it because we get a rather delicious girl-girl kiss. I was saying a while back that although I have been very happy with the high-profile gay characters at Marvel - notably Northstar and his husband Kyle - most of them seemed to be male, and the few female exceptions I could think of don't appear often and don't have girlfriends. Then we got a kiss between Rogue and Black Widow a few months ago, and one between Valkyrie and Dr. Annabelle Riggs this time. "Swooning and kissing," Misty calls it. Makes me a very happy comics reader. Very happy indeed. You can see the page with the kiss here.

    Now, X-Men had brilliant female characters for years, especially in stories written by Chris Clarmont. Then things got murkier... comics seemed again to be veering towards sexism, marginalizing the female characters. And now - by, I suppose, a deliberate turn-around - there seem to be more female characters in more comics, better written than ever, and with an avoidance of what is referred to as "the male gaze" - and it's evil twin, objectification.

    And it seems these great characters are not all straight either. I am delighted.

    (5) There was a new issue of Scarlet for the first time in two years. Two years! The story and art are as brilliant as ever, but two years is an awfully long time to wait in the middle of a story.


[livejournal.com profile] maaseru and I went to the chiropractor for the first time in two months. Felt good.

Then we watched the first half of the movie Cloud Atlas. It's a beautifully made movie; I'm not sure yet what I think of the story. I tend to like things with more narrative cohesion, but I'll wait till I've seen it all to pass judgement.

fajrdrako: icon by <user name=fajrdrako> ([Bond])


Cowboys and Aliens: one of the worst movies ever.

No, really. It was ghastly. Murky cinematography, minimal plot, nonsenical evil aliens, pointless mumbled dialogue, and lots of slow, ponderous movement punctuated by explosions.

Why'd I watch it? For Daniel Craig, of course. Despite my current Daniel Craig pash, I'm not sure it was worth it. There were some lovely shots of him moving gracefully in rough terrain, but the script didn't give him much to work with. The only character in the movie who had any real personality was Paul Dano as the hideous brat Percy Dolarhyde, who I thought might have some interesting character development - but sadly, he was kidnapped by the aliens early on, and had no story at all, let alone a developing one.

Harrison Ford as the tough-guy town-runner simply made me think sadly of Harrison Ford as he was in Star Wars or Witness.

Between the froggy aliens, the laconic cowboys, the virtuous whore, the yelping Indians, the sad-eyed dog, and so on... there was no cliché untouched.

The idea of cowboys and aliens is terrific. Just look at Firefly. Okay, no real aliens there (and all to the better), but just think what Joss Whedon could have done with this. He might have given us characters with personality, and the occasional joke. The aliens might have been convincing. He might have made it fun.

Oh, it was so sadly lacking in fun.

You know what really bothers me? It was directed (badly) by Jon Favreau, who (badly) directed Iron Man 2. And they've given him Iron Man 3 to direct. I was really looking forward to Iron Man 3. Now I just have to hope that Jon Favreau has developed a smidge of directing talent in the past year or so. Because this was so very, very boring.

56 Up...

Jan. 21st, 2013 10:54 pm
fajrdrako: (Default)


I went to see 56 Up with Lisa and Lynne at the Mayfair.

Before the movie, they showed a trailer for Skyfall, which will be on later in the week. I'd been planning to go to see it. Sadly, the trailer was so dim, muddy and fuzzy that I don't think I want to go now. Maybe the actual movie will be better; the film quality of 56 Up was fine.

It's a documentary, part of a series in which a group of people have been interviewed every seven years since they were seven years old in 1964. It was very interesting; but I did have the feeling that it was foreign both in time and place, as if these people were of a different, earlier generation from me, instead of being a few years younger.

I wished the filmmakers had explained the situation and the premise more at the beginning, but there was minimal introduction. Whose idea was the series? Who was the interviewer? How did they choose the children? Perhaps this is common knowledge in the UK, but I had no idea.

With each of fourteen people, they showed snippets of earlier interviews, then focussed on the interview and their life in the present. Each was interesting, one way or another, though sometimes the questions were framed to elicit certain types of responses. The only time I noticed the (unseen) interviewer being confrontational was at the end, where he accused Tony of being racist. Tony indignantly denied it.

It's like a long-running piece of reality TV.

I thought it could have been edited slightly more cogently, though that was perhaps because the seats at the Mayfair were not very comfortable, and by the two-hour point I was feeling fidgety. But there were a few times I found the editing to be confusing - going back and forth between two people, or making references which needed more explanation than was given.

I wonder if they'll make another one when the people are 63.

Monday...

Jan. 7th, 2013 10:21 pm
fajrdrako: (Default)

  • Lots of snow, and difficult walking. Went to the gym after yoga; thankfully, [livejournal.com profile] maaseru dropped me off so I only had to walk one way.

  • Put in job applications.

  • Went to see the movie version of Les Miserables with Jacques. Didn't like it quite as much as the stage musical, but loved it nevertheless, and - to my surprise - thought Russell Crowe was wonderful as Javert. And Hugh Jackman was just about perfect as Jean ValJean. In some spots, visually, he made me think of Martin Shaw. Forgot to bring kleenex with me, though I needed it. On several occasions.



    After the movie, we went to Tim Horton's and chatted about life, the universe and everything.

  • Lisa and Lynne came over and we talked about how to increase our energy. Is CoQ10 really good? Is it true that you shouldn't take calcium at the same time as other vitamins? What is the difference between a 'power nap' and a regular nap?


fajrdrako: ([Bilbo Baggins])


[livejournal.com profile] maaseru, Pim and I had planned to go to see The Hobbit as soon as it opened, because, after all, The Lord of the Rings is among our very favourite books and movies and we feel a deep gratitude, love and loyalty to J.R.R. Tolkien and to Peter Jackson.

But when the time came, we hesitated, said "Let's go see Skyfall again instead," and did.

When I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was fourteen, full of a deep and endless passion for that book, I then turned to The Hobbit, hoping for more of the same. I was devastated to discover that it was too cute, too dull, too shallow - that it lacked everything I had loved about The Lord of the Rings and contained everything I hadn't loved about The Lord of the Rings.

I read it again about ten years ago, and thought it wasn't as bad as I remembered. I liked "Riddles in the Dark" and the "Conversation with Smaug". But Lord of the Rings it isn't.

So. Courage in hand, I went to see The Hobbit today, with Tasia, StarWolf, and Chrystine. It got off to a bad start: the first ten minutes of the movie were badly out of focus, with or without the 3D glasses. I couldn't tell what was going on, and was starting to feel queasy from trying. They sorted that out about the time Gandalf got to Bag End, so that was all right.

In the end, I thought the movie was 95% boring and 5% brilliant, and the intense brilliance of a few choice moments made the rest of it worthwhile.

The great moments? They were... )

fajrdrako: ([Q])


John Keats. I read several biographies of him in my teens; I read piles of his poetry. Back then I was reading piles of poetry by all the Romantics, and Keats was not my favourite. My love was for Shelley; Shelley admired Keats, but Keats didn't reciprocate the friendship. I liked Keats, but he seemed passive and bloodless compared to Shelley's manic social theories, Byron's outrageous histrionics, or Robert Browning's smooth storytelling. The sad story of John Keats - 'unrecognized brilliance, lived poor, lost his love and died young' - perhaps resembled my sense of myself too much: sickly, struggling with life, love, and creativity. If I wanted to read about dying tragically in Italy, I'd choose Elizabeth Browning, whose story is more romantic. I admired Keats, but didn't ever love him.

This didn't stop me from making a pilgrimage to his grave when I was in Rome.

Still: a movie about a Romantic poet, and set in 1818 - how could I resist? Well, [personal profile] auriaephiala said it was sad. So I didn't get around to it for a few years.

But then I saw Skyfall, and fall in love with everyone in the movie, including Ben Whishaw, who plays Keats in Bright Star, and suddenly the movie rose to the top of my list.


Had I known the director was Jane Campion, I might still have resisted seeing it. The Piano is one of my least favourite movies ever. When I watched the extras on the Bright Star DVD, I saw that Jane Campion talked about wanting to show the passion of the characters and their story.

Problem is, I don't see much passion here. It seems to me to be the Dreaded Doom of some historical movies: emulate the speech patterns of the time, make everyone a little bit mannered, put in a lot of long silences and ambiguous glances. Boring before it starts. Fleshless.

Or maybe I'm just allergic to Campion's style. I know Whishaw can act brilliantly; I've seen it. I saw it in Skyfall, where in a few brief scenes he shows more personality than in the whole of Bright Star. I didn't see the depths in Keats that I wanted to see, or the strength of his love for Fannny. Nor did I find Abbie Cornish very interesting as Fanny Brawne - and I'm pretty sure that Jane Campion was not trying to say that Fanny was a dull person. In fact, the only character I really liked was Mr. Brown, played by Paul Schneider. He seemed real to me, and three dimensional. No one else did.

And Brown's love for Keats seemed more sad, more selfless, more hopeless, and more heroic to me than Fanny's. He broke my heart when he said, "I failed John Keats. I did not know until now how tightly he wound himself around my heart." The only problem with him was his ugly plaid trousers.

...And yes, that was another problem. In lieu of strong story and gripping emotions, I wanted to enjoy my favourite period for costume and style. Sadly, I thought Janet Patterson botched it. The point is made that Fanny Brawne designed her own clothes: the character and the designer between them managed to make clothes of my favourite period look ugly to my eye. Fussy where they should have been simple, multipatterned when they should have been plain.

I didn't think it even did much justice to Keat's poetry. The poems, of course, speak for themselves. But the readings were somewhat monotone, read in lowered voices which substituted timing for intonation. Uninspired, regardless of who was reading them.

I'm not sorry I watched it. Actually, I watched it twice. The second time confirmed my first impressions. I loved the cat; and Fanny's little sister; and I'm getting close to the point where I'd watch Ben Whishaw in anything. But this wasn't the movie I wanted it to be.

fajrdrako: (Default)


We watched Die Hard this evening. The original one, the first one.

How young Bruce Willis looked.

How young Alan Rickman looked.

And both of them so wonderful.

Still an excellent script, and I'd forgotten enough of the story that the suspense was intact.

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