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Pottering Around

Victoria is sweltering under an unofficial heatwave; it's too hot to do much at all except loll about and read books, which is hardly a tough assignment. I'm trying to get a little bit of "home" work (sorting and clearing, getting my garden under control) done every day, but at the moment it's too warm to do anything except in the basement. Robinson keeps thinking he wants to go for a walk, but that's just reflex. When he gets up, he quickly lies down again, panting. Tabitha just lies serenely, somewhere cool.

Yesterday evening, I went to see the latest Harry Potter movie with lidocafe and a friend of hers. It was extremely well done, and I thought the art direction and photography was stunning. This was the first of the movies that I've seen in the theatre, believe it or not, and it was certainly worth it (not just because the theatre was air-conditioned). It was engrossing and entertaining; I consistently believe that the movies are better than the books, because they can encapsulate the essence of the plot and still portray something of what complexities of theme there are. Often, too, the skill of the actors makes up for Rowling's deficiencies in character. I think Snape, for example, is now inseparable from Alan Rickman's portrayal of him. It's interesting to consider that the early movies were out before the last books were finished, and to wonder how much of what people "see" in the books is in fact put there by the actors who portrayed the characters and by the set design and so on, and not from what Rowling herself tells us. She is very much the tell rather than show; we know that Harry is brave and noble because she tells us so, not so much from anything that arises from him as a character.

This enrichment of the imaginative affect of the material breaks down in Harry, because of Daniel Radcliffe's complete lack of energy or any kind of charisma as an actor. He has two expressions - wide-eyed and stoic, and wide-eyed and stricken. Occasionally, in his stoic mode, a lip twitches to tell us that he's reacting to something. I thought even Rupert Grint, who mugged his way through the earlier movies, was more natural. There is nothing happening behind Radcliffe's eyes - unlike Alan Rickman, who exhibits an equally stony exterior but who manages to express all that he is unable or unwilling to say through his eyes. Radcliffe's inadequacy as an actor must have been true in the earlier movies, but somehow seems to matter more in this one, perhaps because the young characters are supposed to be demonstrating more depth and maturity, and Radcliffe seems incapable of doing so.

One more remark about the adaptation of book to screen: being able to see Snape and Dumbledore in that crucial scene at the end lent somewhat less ambiguity than exists in the book. That's what I thought, anyway - and of course my opinion is coloured by having read the whole series and knowing what we learn in the end. I also thought that Snape yelling "I'm the Half-Blood Prince" at the end was far from adequate for anyone who had NOT read the books to understand what that was about.

Still - I did not find that the movie lagged at all for all the nearly three hours of it, and it was certainly an enjoyable summer confection.

Speaking of adaptations of book to screen - I was dreading Where The Wild Things Are but am feeling considerably more optimistic after viewing this featurette about it. Now I'm intrigued and looking forward to it.

Which is more than can be said for Alice in Wonderland, which I think looks dreadful.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 29th, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
Yes, I really liked the latest HP movie too: dreamlike, sometimes sublime, while at other times funny and sweet and silly...and of course I lurve Alan Rickman's version of Snape so very, very much. How *does* one act with their eyes? Somehow he does. The Unbreakable Vow scene is great because of him.

...and I keep wanting to like DR. I really do. But you're right, he's awkward. I found his performance during the Felix Felicis scenes hard to watch. Just--off, somehow.

One the other hand I liked Bonnie Wright a lot in this movie--or at least, I really liked the quiet, understated scene where she ties Harry Potter's shoe. :)
Jul. 29th, 2009 06:23 am (UTC)
I finally broke down and ordered the Harry Potter books, now that they're all out in paperback, and they arrived yesterday. The box is still sitting in my office, though -- I forgot to grab it on my way home.

Jul. 29th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)
I felt that the movies had an influence on the characterisation from five onwards - particularly Molly Weasley who is so *different* in the films from the early books.

Alan Rickmann *is* Snape. Then again, Alan Rickman would have given a good Dumbledore or Lockhart or whatever, because Alan Rickmann is, well, Alan Rickmann.

And if Daniel Radcliffe goes all passive and bland and not doing very much, then I'm afraid that's truer to the books than one would hope, because Harry spends a lot of time in 5-7 angsting and not a great amount of time actually being proactive.
Jul. 29th, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
Alan Rickman is just brilliant no matter what. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm looking forward to it just to see him. Daniel Radcliffe I don't really care for as an actor. I think he was the right kid physically but that he hasn't put in the work yet and thus doesn't have scope as an actor. I can't imagine being tied to a franchise like HP for something like 10 years of your adolescent/teen/YA life! I think you'd have to make a pretty monumental effort to get trained in addition to keeping up with your contract and schoolwork. Yuck.

I thought the preview of Where the Wild Things Are looked very dreamy and visually lovely. I'm still a little worried though.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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