Saturday, July 30, 2011

Talking about aliens and wizards. Lots of wizards.

Back to posting on weekends now. Yippee! It feels different, somehow. Is that just me? Probably. Ok, you know the drill. Have at it.

-   This week I was brought up short while reading about sexism in some commentary about a graphic novel. From Brit Mandelo, who is re-reading the Fables comics at Tor.com:

"Still want to bang my head on a table at the Gangland line, though: “It’s pretty swell to be treated like a classy dame for once in my life. Even if it is, you know, totally sexist.” The implicit commentary there is not unfamiliar to any woman who has ever protested things like a man forcing you to wait while he pulls a chair out or gets a door for you — why complain about the sexism when really it’s actually nice, isn’t it? Isn’t it? This is the kind of thing men wish women would say, without understanding why it’s problematic."

Forcing women to wait? Really? Well, I guess. That's a valid point, and--as Mandelo says--problematic. I've never heard that argument before. It makes me wonder how much of what I consider "gentlemanly" is in fact quite sexist. Maybe all of it. Is that a bad thing? Is there good sexism vs. bad sexism? (That was probably a stupid question, but bear with me.) I always thought things like holding doors open and such were nice things to do for people--and I hold them open for guys as well. It's more of a gesture than anything else, or a sign of respect. Of course I know other men and women can open doors for themselves. That's not why I do it for them. I like being courteous. I hope no one takes that the wrong way.

-   Harrison Ford takes a bite out of Chewy, and calls Daniel Craig his Wookie b****.


-   Critics don't seem to like Cowboys & Aliens. Frankly, I'm surprised. It should have a lot of things going for it, like the actors, director, budget, and concept (which--let's face it--isn't THAT much more outlandish than aliens invading Earth during the present day*)**.

*Honestly, if an alien species landed on earth, you think that just because our weapons are more modern than the ones used by cowboys, we'd stand a much better chance against beings that managed to traverse all those light years of space travel necessary to reach us? I think not.

**An aside within a parenthetical aside. I'd say that's a little overboard (even for me), but if you dislike it you would have said something by now. Right? (Right?!)

-   You know what is doing well? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. I finally saw the movie this week, and I give it two thumbs up. I might go through a harry Potter marathon someday and stack the films up against each other, but for the moment I'll say this is the best film of the series. I'll even provide reasoning:

HP1 & 2: relatively bland fare from Chris Columbus (Home Alone) meant to appeal primarily to kids.
HP3: The one cited by most people as their favourite. It's quite good, partly because it took some liberties with the script. A massive improvement over the first two, but it's more of a good Alfonso Cuaron movie than a great Harry Potter movie. (Yes, I'm splitting hairs.) Lupin as a werewolf looks riddikulus.
HP4: The first bit of cinematic evidence that the series was going to really stretch itself and let loose with special effects and all kinds of wizardry. Fun, and noteworthy for featuring The Boy Who Sparkled, Robert Pattinson.
HP5: The first of the David Yates pictures, and it is dark. Very dark. But how awesome is the fight at the Ministry of Magic at the end? Nobody f**** with the Albus. Noteworthy for featuring Dolores Umbridge, who gets under my skin like no other character in the series. She's the Goebbels to Voldemort's hitler. Eeeevil.
HP6: Darker and deadlier. A beautiful film, with some excellent moments, but it's caught in the unfortunate position of being the bridge film (or the first of them, as it turned out) before we get any kind of resolution. Gave even less importance to the Half-Blood Prince than the book did.
HP7, Pt. 1: A really good start to the finale. Beautiful, dark, sad. Harry & Co. leave Hogwarts and see the Forest of Dean, Godric's Hollow, and someone has the brilliant idea to render the story of the Deathly Hallows in beautiful animation. Also, I've never cried in this series like I did for Dobby.
HP7, Pt. 2: The shortest film is a grim spectacle, but I mean that in a good way. It hits all the right notes, the action and effects aces, and the actors never seem like they're being cheesy or over-the-top. McGonagall has a Moment of Awesome, and [SPOILER ALERT] Snape has a Dying Moment of Awesome*. Everything felt believable, and looked great. As with the book, I'm trying to forget the epilogue exists.

*Snape is, after all, a Broken Ace. While we're at it, Snape is a multitude of things. He's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, a Red Herring Mole, and he pretty much helped define Fridge Brilliance. From TVTropes: "Fridge Brilliance essentially defines Snape's entire character. Virtually everything he does either makes for more sense or looks entirely different after The Prince's Tale." Of course, Harry realizes that Redemption Equals Death, but I'd like to point out that I believed in Snape from the start, if only because I didn't think Dumbledore could be wrong. Nana nana boo boo.

-   I would like to point out that I did not intend to write this much about Harry Potter. It just happened.

-   Toronto's mayor doesn't know who Margaret Atwood is. Maybe you don't either, and that's fine*. Because of his ignorance, and because of the campaign against his idea of shutting down library branches, there has been a lot of ink spilled (digitized?) in the last few days, and the reaction has been derisive at best.

*If you really don't know, she's an internationally-acclaimed bestselling author who's been writing for decades. She is also a Canadian icon, and the mayor of Canada's largest city should know who she is. She lives here, for crying out loud.

-   So, do we need libraries? An article in the Atlantic about why we need free public libraries more than ever seems to think so. I know I don't want user fees, and I want public libraries to remain public. I think they provide an invaluable service.

"Sure, the library is an old fashioned concept. So is democracy. So is equal opportunity." Word.

-   The Amazing Spider-Man has a trailer, and it's spiffy. But... it still seems like we were watching Tobey Maguire do the exact same thing just a few years ago.


-   Song of the Week: The Death of You and Me, by Noel Gallagher. I'm picking this one more for intrigue. Don't get me wrong, I like this song a lot. The brass section provides a nice melody, and by now we should know that Gallagher the Elder can write nice melodies. But... it is more than vaguely reminiscent of The Importance of Being Idle (included below for comparison), which is near the top of the list of my favourite Oasis songs. (It certainly tops the list of late-Oasis tracks.) Incidentally, it is also sung by Noel. Whatever. He gets points for making a snappy song.


Just think how it could have been if he had Rhys Ifans lip-synching the parts instead. What a cad.


***

That's all I've got for you, muchachos. It's the start of a long weekend, so yay! On tap: beach-going, more weddings, and we'll have fun, fun, fun, till Daddy takes the T-Bird away.

2 comments:

mel said...

I've never thought of holding doors as sexist. Moreso "Thank you for not being a jackass that just slammed this door on me after walking through. I hold doors for people all the time.
I don't think I've ever had someone pull out a chair for me. I think that would weird me out or be annoying. I have sat in chairs by myself thousands (millions?) of times. If I was balancing a circus seal and 10 beachballs on my fingertip, maybe it would be useful.

Now you didn't mention Draco's family in the same breath as Snape. I haven't read the book, so I'm not sure if their 'change of heart' is ever explained - or is it just based on the Draco/Harry lover rumours that I've seen online? ;)

Errant Knave said...

Draco/Harry rumours? That's definitely from fan-fic on the interweb, and not from the book. I can't recall how well the book explained the change of heart, but I think a careful re-read or re-watch would show that Draco isn't as keen on being a Death Eater as Harry would believe. Just one of the clues that Harry isn't the swiftest broom in the... erm, closet.

Jokes aside, I don't remember the Malfoy family slipping away like they did in the movie. Some confirmation on this would be great.

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