strange_complex: (Snape by JKR)
Seen with [ profile] edling in Oxford.

This film definitely isn't the jewel of the cinematic Harry Potter franchise. On the whole, I didn't mind about the omissions or additions by comparison with the book. The Death Eater attacks on the Millennium bridge and the Weasley's home were a bit unexciting, but they were at least a reasonably efficient way of signalling Voldemort's growing strength, and thus the extent of the threat which he now represents. And I actively liked the scene with Harry and the waitress in the railway cafe. It felt to me like a Dido and Aeneas moment - Harry is tempted to drop it all for an ordinary Muggle woman, but is called back to his appointed destiny by Dumbledore appearing in front of a poster which emphasises the word 'divine'.

What really put me off, though, was the peculiar passionlessness of it all. The colour palette is similar to that used by Alfonso CuarĂ³n in The Prisoner of Azkaban - dark and grainy and subdued. But this isn't enough to create an ominous atmosphere of fear and suspense when so many of the actors appeared to be just saying their lines rather than putting any expression or emotion into them. This struck me particularly with Michael Gambon's Dumbledore - and since I know from previous films that he is capable of playing this role to much greater effect, I can only assume it stemmed somehow from David Yates' direction. Even Alan Rickman managed to seem as though he were caricaturing his own portrayal of Snape - though I could still have done with more of him, all the same.

On the other hand, Jim Broadbent was absolutely brilliant as Slughorn - very much as I imagined him from the book, and playing the balance between his cosy pompousness and his regret and self-loathing over his earlier relationship with Tom Riddle very nicely. And Tom Felton has really come into his own as Draco Malfoy! I used to be a bit unconvinced by the casting decision there, since he sometimes came across as merely brattish rather than genuinely menacing in the earlier films. But I now applaud the foresight of whoever originally cast him. He's doing unpleasant and manipulative very nicely now, and also combining it very effectively with troubled and uncertain.

For all that, though, the ending felt pretty flat to me. Dumbledore's death and Draco and Snape's escape should carry enormous emotional impact - but they just didn't. And to reveal in a throwaway line with no background explanation that Snape is the Half-Blood Prince, when that moment has such potential for highlighting the parallels between Harry and Snape, again felt like serving up an empty shell of a scene with all the stuffing pulled out of it.

Anyway, it passed an evening, I didn't storm out demanding my money back, and I will probably still buy the DVD just so that I've got them all. But this film is nothing like the calibre of The Prisoner of Azkaban, and is only really worth seeing if you're already invested in the fandom.

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strange_complex: (Snape by JKR)
I queued for The Book last night, as planned, and all was good - despite both the rain and Waterstone's bizarre attempts to turn the world's simplest and most effective system for ensuring that everyone is served in a fair order (viz., The Queue) into a confused mess by super-imposing a numbered ticketing system onto it without offering any clear explanation of how this was supposed to work. Enjoyed immensely turning to the back and skimming hastily through relevant-looking pages right there in the shop to establish the major plot points, sproingled rather randomly and over-tiredly at [ profile] nalsa and his lady for a while, and finally got home with it about 1:30ish (yes, Waterstone's were inefficient as well - I heartily wish I'd pre-ordered at WHSmith instead). I ploughed on with The Half-Blood Prince for a while, which I'd been reading all day in an attempt to get back up to speed, but I was pretty near the end of it anyway, and after an hour or so I couldn't resist the pull of the new one any longer. So I retired to bed with it around 3ish, intending to just read a chapter or two and then go to sleep, but didn't actually put it down until 5:30 and the end of chapter 7. Well, I couldn't stop reading while they were all still... No. I promised you no spoilers, didn't I?

Since then, though, I've only got as far as chapter 12, due to sleeping until 1 and then attending a lovely party at [ profile] miss_dark's all afternoon. So I've accepted that I'm not going to finish it with the speed of the last one - but that's OK. Like I said, I know what happens, so I can read other people's posts about it quite merrily. And anyway, why should I rush it? It's the last one, after all. I want to enjoy it at my own snail-like pace.

Besides, it would clearly be a very bad idea to stay up all night tonight trying to finish it, as I realised on Friday that I've been ill for a few days, and my parents are coming up to Leeds again tomorrow to help with house stuff, so I need to be well-rested and compos mentis before they do. I'm not quite sure what was wrong with me, but I'm guessing it was basically down to performing an incredibly intensive mental task followed by an incredibly intensive physical task, not giving myself enough time to recover, and probably also eating something a bit dodgy. I think I'm on the mend now, but tired, what with that and the reading-till-dawn thing, so I don't want to push my luck.

Happily, I was in good health and spirits this afternoon to enjoy [ profile] miss_dark's 'Three Years With [ profile] dedbutdrmng' party, though, which was a jolly good thing as it was ace! [ profile] miss_dark's flat turned out to be a splendid palace, whose walls were lined with shoes, and she had done an excellent job of filling it full of splendid people for the afternoon. I didn't get to chat to everyone there, but I enjoyed the company of familiar faces, and met some fab new people - including the marvellously history-geeky [ profile] vonheath, whom I think I shall dash off and friend once I've finished writing this. There were also small children with bubbles, three nearly-identical cats and a cracking anecdote about a bracelet which [ profile] miss_dark had bought for [ profile] ms_siobhan. So an excellent way to spend the afternoon, and I only hope my house-warming goes as well!

strange_complex: (Snape laughing)
Well, I have read The Half-Blood Prince now. I didn't actually think I'd be able to by the end of Saturday, being a verrrryy sllooooooww reader (basically I read at speaking pace). But I read for four hours when I first got home, and then all day once I woke up again at 1pm, so I've managed it.

Waiting in the queue for it was definitely worth doing. The time seemed to pass so quickly: even though I know we were there for over an hour, it felt more like about 15 minutes. We all gave way to our inner children, and spent a lot of time bashing each other over the head with the snot-green balloons which the WHSmith staff came out and gave us. We also got sweets, pencils and Panini stickers - my best trophy was a Ravenclaw house badge sticker, which [ profile] davesangel very kindly gave me. 30 seconds before midnight, the WHSmith staff led us on a shouted count-down, and finally we all rushed forth to the tills, waving our pre-order receipts and our money.

Me being me, I turned straight to the back of the book at the earliest possible opportunity, and did a lot of gaping, boggling and "bloody hell"ing as I rapidly established the identity of the character who would die, the character who would kill them and the Half-Blood Prince. The first two certainly shouldn't have been a surprise, as I'd seen both stated in what actually turned out to have been remarkably accurate online spoilers earlier that day. But the power of having it all confirmed at last by JKR herself was nonetheless quite sensational. (Although I did spend a minute or two going through a phase of thinking "But this is so shocking and such a big thing for the characters concerned, have I actually been sold a fake copy made up by internet trolls, just to see if we all fall for it?")

Now I've read it properly, I of course have lots and lots of thoughts, questions and responses about it... However, I'm also horribly aware that I only have four days left until my Reading interview, and will be spending half of one of them travelling to England. So I am sitting in my office right now, about to do some more work on my presentation, and while I may be able to post full responses before I go to Reading, the odds are it'll actually have to wait until next weekend. Pity, because there's so much to say, but we have a good couple of years to chew it over until the next book comes out after all, whereas I don't have two years to get my presentation sorted!
strange_complex: (Snape by JKR)
It's very exciting to go to Mugglenet right now and see their counter to The Half-Blood Prince enumerating the remaining time in terms of a few hours! I was perfectly sanguine about it all when I woke up this morning, and genuinely spent the day thinking more about Timgad than Hogwarts - but that's entirely out of the window now! :)

In an hour, I shall be setting off for town to queue up in front of WHSmiths, armed with chocolate biscuits, cakes and of course my precious pre-order receipt (and [ profile] davesangel's!). My plan once I've got the book is to return home, make coffee and spend until at least 4am getting a sense of its overall plot and shape: much as Oscar Wilde used to do. Once I wake up again, I'll then continue learning more about the major plot details and developments over the course of Saturday, but also allow a bit more time for reading interesting-looking passages in a linear fashion.

The reason for this approach is two-fold. One, it will mean that by the time I go to sleep I'll already be essentially immune to spoilers, and will be able to start taking part in online discussions of the book almost straight away. But two, after the end of Saturday, I'm really going to have to all-but-drop-it again in order to concentrate on preparing for my Reading interview. Saturday is Harry-day, but I can't really let myself remain wrapped up in it any longer than that, and so I need to get as much as out of the book as possible during that time. Slow, linear reading can then be enjoyed at my leisure once I'm done at Reading.

Naturally, I faithfully promise assiduous use of lj-cuts and spoiler warnings in my LJ once I'm ready to start chewing over it myself - you lot know me better than to think I'd blow it for you, right?


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