Tag Archives: Harry Potter

A Day Fo(u)r Movies: Black Swan, Tangled, True Grit, Harry Potter 7.0

A Day Fo(u)r Movies: A Field Report

January 5th, 2011

It is not really a secret that I’m not much of a moviegoer. I like movies, and even like going to the movies, but it was never really part of my social fabric growing up, which made it more of a family activity (and thus something that I didn’t do often once the family was dispersed into various locales in the post-secondary years).

While I’ve written about a few movies over the course of the blog’s existence, it hasn’t happened very often. This is both because I haven’t seen very many movies while they’re in theatres, and because I don’t necessarily respond to movies the way I respond to TV shows. While I generally tend to lean away from highly evaluative discourses when looking at TV, perhaps objective to the point of stripping away my own opinion on occasion, with film I lean even further away from the subjective: usually I end up really wanting to have a discussion about a film instead of wanting to “review” it. And since there are various other locales to have conversations of that nature, this blog rarely ends up hosting them.

However, I figure that I tweeted enough about by moviegoing adventure yesterday that I should at least offers some reflections. Taking advantage of the $6 tickets available on Tuesdays, I figured it was time to get to the theatres for the first time since Inception in July – however, since I’m only on holiday vacation for so long, I was in a bit of a rush. As a result, I lined up a four-movie marathon: four movies in a single day is difficult to juggle at even the largest multiplexes, but I found the four films that made it work.

And so, some thoughts on Black Swan, Tangled, True Grit, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One after the jump (and some thoughts on what it was like to see them all in one day, as well).

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Cultural Catchup Project: “Graduation Day” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

“Graduation Day”

June 7th, 2010

You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.

“The Future is Ours”

In many ways, “Graduation Day” is a story simply told.

Filled to the brim with shared anxieties and common goals, the two-part season finale is almost claustrophobic in its focus on how our central characters respond to the circumstances which are threatening to change their lives forever. Conveniently conflating graduation and ascension, the series uses the end of the world as a way to exaggerate (within reason) the fear of the future, the uncertainty which defines high school students as they prepare to enter the real world.

As two hours of television, it’s a densely plotted rollercoaster which operates in carefully designed half measures which create conflict and chaos without losing sight of the psychological ramifications within the episode’s action; as the conclusion of Buffy’s finest season to date, it’s a reminder of the ways in which the series has forever blurred the line between human and demon to the point where empathy is no longer a one-way street, uniting the series in a way that it may never be able to achieve again.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

J.K. Rowling has yet to write a perfect novel. While she still has a chance with next week’s release of Deathly Hallows, she has yet to craft a literary masterpiece that lacks a single plot hole, inconsistency or highly illogical subplot regarding a textbook. And so it is that the directors taking on the task of adapting these books need to keep in mind that the text placed in front of them is, well, perhaps a little bit flawed.

David Yates, I feel, is the first to look at one of these stories as a recipe, not a rule book. While even Alfonso Cuaron developed a fantasy film rich with wonder and sorcery, although in his own unique style, Yates is the perfect director for embracing the series’ turn for the darker and more mature in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He sticks to the basic ingredients, but presents them in a more traditional, not fantastical, fashion. The result is a film that feels perhaps less stunning as Cuaron’s film, but at the same time feels more grounded in a reality, as opposed to a fantasy world.

This is all a very good leap forward for the series, but Yates and screenwriter Michael Goldenberg have one distinct problem: The Order of the Phoenix is, of course, not a perfect novel. Rowling’s characters more stumble into early adulthood as opposed to grow naturally into it, and the novel’s greatest flaw (The transition into its climax) rears its ugly head. Yates manages to fix some of the book’s problems, but he can’t fix that final one.

The result is a film that, much like the book, signals a change. Order, as a book, featured some strong writing and some brilliant scenesetting from Rowling; similarly, Yates delivers some stunning imagery and a strong sense of thematic timing for a TV director. The problem is that, even as the technical or other elements improve, Order is still an awkward story that will never be perfect. And that, inevitably, makes Order a good, but not great, piece of filmmaking.

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Duelling Reviews: The Critical Divide on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Reviewers across the world will be sinking their teeth into Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix over the next few days, but don’t let the early Rotten Tomatoes score [EDIT: It was at about 90% when this was written, and has fallen below 70% as of Monday Evening] fool you: this film will likely end up dividing critics more than any other in the series. Why? Well, the reviews are going to fall into two camps:

Those who embrace the film’s anti-authoritarian, traditional film plot, and those who wanted to see more whimsical Quidditch matches and other such magic.

On the side of the more traditional film plot, we’ve got a few reviewers who are actually labeling the film the best yet:

Time’s Richard Corliss:

Another mystery–whether a new director (David Yates) and scriptwriter (Michael Goldenberg) can build on the intelligent urgency of the past two Potter films–is cleared up in the first few minutes as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) performs some impromptu magic to save an ugly Muggle. The confrontation is swift, vivid, scary and, to the audience, assuring: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be a good one. Perhaps the best in the series, it turns out. The tone and palette are darker, the characters more desperate and more determined. Playtime is over; childhood is a distant memory or just a dream. For Harry and his friends, it’s time to grow up and fight Voldemort or surrender to him.

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