Harry Potter 7.2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011) by David Yates

This is where Potter continues – and ends. And it is as many have said: an era ends. We have all grown up or older with him and his friends and it is sad to see them all go. But if you have to go, go in a blast of fire and rubble and don’t look back, I guess.

First of all, the movie was dark. Those who have thought it was darkest last, have come to know an even darker dark. But it was magnificently shot – just think of that early shot of Snape standing in that window, it was fantastic. The dark figure, the grey backdrop… fantastic.

Finally, we got to see all of Snape’s (Alan Rickman) story and it is a bitter one. Having been in love with Harry’s mom, Lilly, from an early age, he had to watch her falling for that no-good Potter guy. Don’t tell me, you did not feel for him there, it was so sad. And, of course, he was an almost good guy in the way he protected Harry and even killed Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). Well, I was one of those who always thought that the headmaster’s faith in him was not misplaced, so there.

And another one got part of the action: Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis). And he is the secret hero of the whole showdown – as he was also in the book. I love the scene where he walks into the middle of the baddies and says: “I am Neville Longbottom.” and everybody laughs but he certainly raises the spirit. Another thing I love with the Harry Potter-franchise is, that I think all actors stuck to it (I think Dumbledore was the only main character who was played by more than one actor – due to Richard Harris’s death). To see those boys and girls grow up. Remember Ginny (Bonnie Wright) from the first movie? I do. And Neville has grown into a man before our eyes – he was always brave but he finally got to be the hero.

While I loved most things about the last installment, there are some things… well, what happened to Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), people? Suddenly, she grows all soft on us and just drools over Ron and tells him how awesome he is? WTF? You know, Hermione is my favorite character (Bellatrix Lestrange is a close second – go figure), and she has always been quite the heroine, someone little girls can look up to. And then she kisses Ron and is turned into his lapdog? Wrong move all together. Because it feels like girls have to be sweet and doleful to get a guy, because Hermione did not get much from Ron when she was always better at everything… it just feels wrong, is all.

I have already mentioned the difficulties I had with taking Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) seriously. That still holds. Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) was such a great villain, she was so mean, so… evil. And Voldemort never got his s**t together. I mean, he couldn’t even be called evil because he failed at every attempt at it. His minions were always more successful at spreading terror than him. Maybe next time we just need a strong female adversary for our superhero (or preferably superheroine) and not some dude without nose and strange manerisms. Just saying.

All in all, though… it is hard to believe that Harry’s (Daniel Radcliffe) gone, that Hermione’s gone (and a wife and mother – I did not like the ending in the book or in the movie… it’s too heteronormative, and altogether disturbing…), that Ron’s (Rupert Grint) gone. We’ll miss ’em. We will even miss Draco (Tom Felton) and his weirdly colored hair… another thing I would have liked to see (again in the book and the movie): a coming out of the wizarding world. I mean, there has been much that happened in the muggle world that was related to the war between good and evil wizards and you, Joanne K. Rowling, are telling us that after the final battle we have all gone back to normal? Pity that, ’cause how great would it have been if the Hogwarts Train in the end had left from platform 7, instead of 9 3/4?

Oh, one last word to Maggie Smith: KAZOOM, lady, KAZOOM!

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It’s called a genre, dude: Musicals

The draft for this is almost one year old now but I always wanted to do it because, genres are a good way to categorize one’s likes and dislikes (there should, of course, always be exceptions to any rule), and also because I LOVE MUSICALS!

I am not even sure when it started. I have a feeling that Barbra Streisand had something to do with it, then again I loved Judy Garland before I even knew there was Barbra Streisand (and yes, my cd-collection looks very gay).

There always seems to have been musicals around. I remember watching “Grease” with the whole family on a Sunday afternoon. I remember getting up in the middle of the night because some channel or other showed a classic musical at 1 a.m. (and by classic, I mean a Warner Bros. from the 30s or an MGM from the 40s). I bought The Wizard of Oz on video after seeing it once on tv – it was one of my first videos ever (I still haven’t got it on DVD, though, shame on me).

What I like most about the genre is the inhibition with which the actors (singers, dancers) erupt into song and dance. By the way it is almost always taken for granted by everybody around that people should sing and dance on the street. I love musical numbers because they tell a story, they tell us how a person feels, they have an artificiality about them that is almost always sappy but heartfelt. And what great songs have been written by people like Rogers & Hammerstein, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, and, of course, Cole Porter. Don’t think, I don’t know more but these for me are the best (I hate men from Kiss Me Kate comes straight from the heart…).

(I just read that Kathryn Grayson died about a year ago. I bow to her talent, she made musicals colorful. I really loved her Katherine Minola.)

Strangely enough, I have only four musicals on dvd that I constantly watch and rewatch and they are not the classics one might suspect. I don’t know why these in particular, they are neither the best musicals ever nor are they very similar to each other. I enjoy them because they are fun, and trashy, and have great actors in them (some of them are not even good singers). They are not my favorites, they are just the ones I have around and cannot get around:

The music is good, the actors are good, the film is fun… and I love the message, especially in a world that sometimes denies that racism still exists or where it is just glossied over, this is important. But the main attractions of it are:

Exhibit A.

And exhibit B.

And then there’s:

And there is, of course, no question why I love this so much. It’s queer. It’s so 80s. It’s about AIDS (or HIV) and yes, I still think that’s an important topic and another one we should not be silent about. And it’s got lesbians in it (and it’s a bonus that they are played by Idina Menzel and Tracie Thoms.

And:

Oh, the music! It’s brilliant, though not conventional. And Johnny Depp has not the worst voice ever, and Helena Bonham Carter… well, she is one of my all-time favorite actresses, she’s simply devine in everything she does. I am fan.

And here’s a woman who can really wear those sun-glasses… the movie also has some other Potter-Alumni: Rickman and Timothy Spall. And it has in an absolutely insignificant role: Anthony Head (that’s Sir Giles to you!).

And last and probably least:

Yes, I am the one person you know that is over 17 and admits to having High School Musical on DVD (only the first on, mind you, the second was bullocks, though I will probably own the third one at some point).

It’s not really anyone in particular but I really like Sharpay (that girl’s got sass) and Taylor (she’s got all the brains of the group, how could I not love like her). Also, I like that the girls have already been together in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (and no, there is absolutely nothing I feel embarrassed about having watched andam  sometimes still watching).

Musicals make people feel good. And, what is more important, it makes me feel good. Sometimes I pretend I live in a musical and sing along with my MP3-player but people tend to look at you somehow irritated when you do that… not that it stops me but… hey, it’s just music. I know, I am no Barbra Streisand but hell, Yentl is one of my favorites.

So, this is musicals (which has little to do with Bollywood and/or Andrew Lloyd Webber!). Sing and dance on!

Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire

Eleanor Powell (we share a birthday)

Judy Garland & Gene Kelly

Bill Bojangles Robinson.

For me the best dancers Hollywood ever had…

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) by David Yates

I did not watch HP and the Half Blood Prince at the movies, it was mostly my stupidity that got me left with watching the DVD when it was finally available and I wasn’t that impressed… maybe because it was only the DVD. But this one… I LOVED. And I mean it.

Given, the 7th book had its lengths, especially when they were waiting for something to happen in the woods, in the tent, but fortunately the movie does not have these – or maybe only a little. I finally thought of the sight of the tent as a running gag, it cheered me up during the dark narrative when Ron leaves and Hermione and Harry are all alone…

Okay, I put that in there on purpose but I had this notion ever since the third movie: don’t you think that visually Hermione and Harry are a much better match than Hermione and Ron? Of course, Ron and Harry make a cute couple also, but… I don’t know. Could be just me.

I think what I liked best about this movie was that there was soooo much Hermione. For me, who always thought that she should be the hero of the books, it was perfect. Emma Watson was perfect.

So was Helena Bonham Carter. I like Bellatrix’ approach on things, straight-forward, mad-eyed. She’s such a wonderful villain – much better, by the way than Ralph Fiennes who seemed almost comical at times (and I am still wondering if his nose will ever grow back…).

There were some things that were missing in comparison to the book, of course. I mostly missed Dumbledore’s funeral. Hence, one (read: me) was a little confused at the scene when Voldemort plundered Dumbledore’s grave. The scene looked a little out of place…

We finally meet Ron’s other brother, though. What was his name? Bill. Still, no word of Charlie, and Percy seems to have disappeared as well and with him the whole discussion of him being a spy for the Ministry of Magic. A pity, really. I liked his pompousness in the first (I think) two movies.

Still, an overall very powerful movie. Loads of action, fast editing, great additional characters, though I think Narissa Malfoy is a little colorless (well, her role is not very elaborate, so, I guess it is to be expected).

In the end, Ron was right: He and Harry would not last two days without Hermione (or two hours, for that matter).

Alice in Wonderland – or getting 3D-ed

Alice in Wonderland (3D) (2010) by Tim Burton

I should probably start by saying that I have never read Lewis Carroll’s stories about Alice. I am aware there are two, I am aware that they exist, never read, only ever watched. But I am willing to read them should the opportunity occur.

I like Burton’s take on the old story (just like I liked Ridley Scott’s new take on another old story) though something was lacking. In another review about the movie (http://www.afterellen.com/blog/afterelton/review-of-alice-in-wonderland) it was said that it lacks heart. I agree though I don’t share the opinion that the mad hatter is just another Edward Scissorhands. Still, the story shows maybe a little too much enthusiasm for Johnny Depp’s character. Having gone through early resentment of that actor in his 21 Jump Street-days I have come to like him – especially in Burton-films.

Where there is too much Johnny Depp there is too little Helena Bonham Carter. I love that woman. One of the finest actresses ever to come to Hollywood over the big pond and she nails the character of the Queen of Hearts like she does every other role. (I have been a fan of hers since Howard’s End, she’s just brillant!)

My sister commented on Anne Hathaway’s character that she appears to be on dope and I quite agree. Not her best performance in all but I still like her.

What I did not like and have a hard time to come to terms with is 3D. It made complete sense in Avatar, I was glad that Scott did not use it for Robin Hood, and with Alice in Wonderland it seems to have been just another distraction from the story. Maybe it is because I am wearing glasses and another set of them does not make me really happy but I really think that it is mostly much ado about nothing. As I said, it was nice in Avatar because of this wonderful new world of Pandora but I do not think that every other movie has to have it and am honestly surprised that it is seemingly only discovered by Hollywood now. I mean, it has been around for some time, right? Why all that hype now? I don’t get it.

I guess, I don’t have to. But, honestly, dance movies in 3D? Animated movies in 3D? Not for me, thank you very much. I am very happy with 2-dimensional views of my favorites.