On Saturday I took my bike out for a spin. I decided to head a little past the end of my usual path, and had not gone a kilometer before three cows appeared on the side of the path. They were just standing there, noses attached by cords to the ground, on the side of a steep little hill leading down to a golf course. Mountain Cows. I hadn’t gotten over my surprise when I spotted twenty more of them hunkered down on the other side, as if they were prepared to storm a hilltop bunker.
I keep forgetting to bring my camera when I cycle. Last time I spotted a grouse under a bridge. The time before that I found a full-on motocross course. Most of the path is lined with golf courses, baseball diamonds, soccer fields and driving schools, and I regularly spot people flying kites, electronic planes and helicopters. But on Saturday, it hit a whole new level: I was passing by a corn field when a low-flying prop plane buzzed by me. Then another came. I followed the path until I found an light-aircraft airfield surrounded by giant hay rolls. Things you do not expect to find in your back yard. On the way back, a full-sized helicopter was turning circles on the horizon.
After two and a half hours on the road, I got home to discover that I’d neglected to put sunscreen on my arms. Ow.
On Sunday we had our first proper rehearsal for Metamorphosis (Sept. 29-Oct. 2 at Theatre BONBON in Nakano). It was only the first time, but some of the sequences already look better than I had imagined. We also took photos in preparation for our publicity run. I’m still struggling with the limited depth of focus on my new lens, but it’s interesting. At least I’ve figured out how to adjust my white balance properly.
Harry Potter 7 Part II
Hard to believe it’s done after 10 years. Daniel Radcliffe can now go and do something else with his life. He does seem to be quite a dancer.
The opening scenes of HP7II were brilliant—moody, slow, sweeping shots that set the stage. Then the whole thing fell apart. While the first half of HP7 had taken the time to show us broad vistas and character interaction, the second half was nothing more than a plot point checklist, a Coles Notes version of the book, lacking any drama or pacing. Only the Prince’s Tale sequence had dramatic life, though it lost some of its poignancy without its middle sequences (likely due to the difficulty of getting actors to play all the characters at intermediate ages).
I found it amusing that they completely skipped over all the explanations of character motivations—which I might forgive if at least the action sequences hadn’t felt rushed as well. I’d looked forward to the cinematicism of the dragon escape, but even this seemed to be done simply to check the item off the list and move on. There was no joy or enthusiasm. I had the feeling someone must have set a maximum time limit for the movie, and the thing had been trimmed down from about 4 hours.
The effects shots had some energy, and the defences being raised around Hogwarts looked remarkable. But the actors casting the spells were shot flat, like they were just delivering dialogue, when what they needed was a bravura kame-ha-me-ha moment.
In a minor quibble, the film also continued to ignore the no-death-spells-by-heroes rule. In the HP books, villains only died by having their own spells deflected back at them. The movies, on the other hand, seem quite content to have the villains die through heroes’ ambiguous spell effects (the ambiguity is another deviation from the books—as powerful as you were, you were still working off the same spell menu as everybody else, and if you had a unique spell, it was a big deal).
The movie also included a rather creepy bit where Ron, Harry and Hermione allow a goblin to get fried by a dragon in an “oops” moment, the light response to which was contradictory to the underlying theme of universal sympathy and inclusiveness that ran through the books.
I was most disappointed by how they killed the drama of the ending. While I might understand how they didn’t have time to build through the multiple arrivals of reinforcements and fresh bursts of energy—though it would have been brilliant had they done so—there’s no excuse for the final confrontation. The book presented it brilliantly: two three-on-one battles occurring simultaneously in front of a full-fledged warzone, with each three-on-one taken over in turn by a single combatant. You need to see people other than Harry fight Voldemort, trying to take him down even though they have no chance of winning, and then everything stops as you get the classic anime-style “I will explain to you why you will lose before you lose” moment. But not here. Apparently, that was too cinematic for the filmmakers. It seems that modern film heroes only win one-on-one, and when nobody’s looking.
The filmmakers really needed to decide what was important to this story and focus on it. Instead they tried to throw in the kitchen sink, and just hoped that nobody would notice that the taps weren’t actually connected to anything. Yet another movie that has lovely scenes for the commercials, but doesn't know how to string them together to make the viewer care.