Category Archives: fantasy

Game of Chairs

Another pop culture post (I’ll get back to the cooking soon, I swear!). My current obsession is Game of Thrones. It’s medieval politics, sex, and violence with a soupçon of fantasy thrown. Really good acting, high production values, and a compelling story. I’m hooked.

Season 3 is airing. Don’t click or read any more if you’d rather not be spoiled.

This gem of a scene encapsulates what I love so much about this show.

Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) is holding a meeting of the Small Council. There’s a king who could attend if he wanted, but he doesn’t generally. These are the people who make the decisions in his name.  For nearly two minutes, there’s no dialogue. Who wants to sit where; how each person gets to where they are sitting; and why they want to sit where tells us everything we need to know.

Too darn hot

I went to the movies twice this past weekend. It wasn’t really what I had planned initially. My goal had been to clean out the closets and repaint the fireplace (former tenants painted the brick white, which I hate, but there’s no way that I’m going to be able to get that off, so a fresh coat of paint is in order). However, the ninety-degree heat meant neither of those things happened.

It’s annoying when you have no money and you go into the theatre with a pass only to be told your choice of films is something you’ve already seen before or a kiddie flick (afternoon + children’s film + cranky kiddies = disastrous viewing experience. So I went to see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith again.

Some things are just not better the second time around. I admit to enjoying the film when I first saw it. Sure, there were problems — George needs to learn to either cast all Brits who can make bad lines sound good or learn to write — but it was the strongest of the three prequels. Ian McDiarmid rocked. The action was taut. There weren’t any dead spots. For what it was, it was good. On second viewing, the good stuff wasn’t quite so good, and the bad parts were worse. I mean, how can you take a guy who looks like a Dick Tracy villain seriously? Also, I believe George Lucas has spent too much time watching Lifetime, because the Anakin/Padme romance is likely some godawful concoction they’d air.

On another note, Batman Begins was hugely enjoyable. The beginning bits with Liam Neeson had me worried, because at this point in the game it’s almost a cliché in action films to have a sequence where the protagonist heads off to some Asian country to train in the marital arts and pick up some kind of Eastern philosophy (suitably dumbed down for the audience). In the end though, it was all good. Nobody camped the film up. Gotham looks like any other depressed good-sized American city. Best of all, the future Commissioner Gordon isn’t the caricature of the old TV show. The action sequences, however, were not too well done. I’m not speaking about the fighting or the performances, but the camera work. I still think the Tim Burton version is the best, but this one is a close second.

Too much tinkering?

Just got the Star Wars original trilogy on DVD last night–no thanks to overzealous UPS delivery people insistent on getting me to sign for it (would that my paperboy be so diligent; darn kid has the most expansive definition of my house–next door, the downstairs neighbor, across the street…).

I haven’t watched it all or even most of it yet, but I admit to being nervous. The man will keep “ fixing” his films. If he would offer up the original, theatrical releases as well, I wouldn’t mind so much, but I don’t think Lucas intends on doing that. These are probably now going to be the only Star Wars films out there (unless you’ve got laserdisc or VHS copies of the originals). And frankly, there’s this unpleasant, uneasy 1984ishfeeling I’m left with.

On the other hand, what I did see? Wow. I don’t usually give a flying fig about pure audio and visual quality, but the result is so good, that I have to admit it; I’m impressed.

Third time’s the charm

In my time-honored tradition of seeing movies ages after everyone else, this past Friday, I finally saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. My chief complaint about the previous two movies was that the filmmakers filmed the books, but failed to capture the spirit of them. Not a problem with this film. 
The NY Times critic puts it best, but in short, the result was less rosy, happy, fantastical and more slightly scary, cool, fantastical. For the first time, too, the acting felt solid. Rather than having a group of famous and talented acting legends doing cameos very much in the manner of the special guest stars from Batman, instead we had some famous and talented acting legends actually acting. It will be interesting to see the direction they take with the fourth movie.

Joan Crawford in Space!

A discussion on Attack of the Clones at Virtual Views got me thinking about the connection between Joan Crawford and Attack of the Clones. Anyone reading this is probably scratching his or her head, but think about it.

1. Padme has no less than fifteen! different outfits and hairstyles in the movie, which she dons regardless of the appropriateness of the moment, so the end result is like watching Crawford in Female on the Beach.

2. We have Natalie Portman as an extremely implausible Senator–kind of like watching Joan Crawford or Kay Francis playing a brain surgeon.

3. Star-crossed lovers who do manage to have a “Happy Interlude,” complete with pleasant colors, flowers, and good times. You know, it’s that sequence in the middle of the movie where the action pretty much stops dead as the two young lovers go riding, to the carnival, walking through the field, and so on. I suppose we should just be grateful George didn’t have them sing.

4. Hayden Christensen delivering that painful, pathetic, soulful dialogue in the mode of a buff George Brent. Although maybe I’m being too hard on the late Mr. Brent. I think he could have given Mr. Christensen some tips on selling that schmaltz.

5. Padme/Joan consoling Anakin/George after he’s revealed that he’s done some really horrible things, with that wonderful illogical moral relativism of the women’s picture. “Darling, I’m sure you didn’t mean to do it. It’s all right. Our love can conquer anything” (said shortly before we learn that the leading man has gone beyond the pale of what the Production Code allowed.

So in short, here’s George Lucas hell-bent on recreating the Saturday morning serial of yore, and instead he has recreated a Joan Crawford movie.

Go figure.