- Baby Face (Alfred E. Green, 1933): TCM showed the full version of this, one of the last pre-Code movies — it apparently got people so mad that they started actually applying the Production Code. It’s kind of great. Barbara Stanwyck (never hotter) is this young girl whose dad runs a speakeasy and pimps her out, then she gets away with him and learns (via Nietzshe, of all places) that she should use her womanly power to get what she wants from life. So she does: they use “St. Louis Blues” to indicate that she is sexing up various business guys in order to get better jobs and stay out of trouble. The thing that’s awesome about it is how little guilt she feels and how jauntily it’s paced. Good times.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (David Yates, 2007): I thought this was totally one of the best movies, movie wise. Yates tightened up a lot of the lagging and the Harry Potter’s Boring Angst that plagued the book, and did a fantastic job with the banally evil Dolores Umbridge. I really thought he got the tone of the book right.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfonso Cuarón, 2004): After OotP, I decided I should go back and watch the middle couple of movies, which I missed. I wanted to like this one way more than I did. I hated the children’s choir right at the beginning, when they get to Hogwarts. It’s obviously better than the first two movies — and I love climax with the Time Turner, but I felt like it took too long to get there.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell, 2005): Honestly, this book had some of the weakest and some of the best bits in the series, and it turned into one of the best movies, for sure. The stakes are high, you get a way bigger sense of the non-wizarding world, and I loved the short version of “Harry and Ron don’t understand girls.” In general, I think the movies are really well-cast, which is nice, because they don’t always make it clear who everyone is or what’s going on. I don’t think they’re incomprehensible, but I was talking to a friend who saw OotP, but didn’t know the whole series or the books really well and he said there were moments when he assumed things had been more fleshed out in the book.
- Hairspray (John Waters, 1988): Love. I missed the beginning, it was on TV when I got home from the bar on Friday, but I think I got most of it. I just kept thinking about how much the new version (which I don’t plan on seeing) will suck: what made this movie good was Tracy’s unerring optimism in contrast with the fact that most of the Baltimore in the movie looked like kind of a shithole and no one was really as conventionally attractive as that creepy High School Musical kid. This was way more upbeat and less confrontational than most John Waters movies, but it still had that kind of unpolished thing, plus the clever camp, not the bad Hollywood camp.
- The Princess Diaries (Garry Marshall, 2001): On “The Wonderful World of Disney” and I just couldn’t look away. I don’t have any huge commentary on it or anything, but I did find Ann Hathaway’s performance really charming. I liked how relatively little of the plot revolved around silly misunderstandings, and everything was more or less centred around the character’s figuring out who she was. So it was well-constructed, and charming.
Oh, I also read the last Harry Potter book; I am a casual fan, not a manic one, but I figured it would be really hard to avoid reading what had happened and also, everyone else in the world is talking about Harry Potter, why not just go with it? Moderately (but vaguely) spoilersome thoughts inside.
I mostly liked it. Again, I’m a casual fan, I want things to happen that are exciting. I liked the way she gave hints of the outside world without leaving Harry and his friends’ isolated little circle for much of the book. I think it gave the whole thing more momentum, having the focus really be Harry and Ron and Hermione, but still letting other people be heroic. I think some of the characters who were killed off got short shrift, but for the most part I was happy. I liked that the Truth About Dumbledore was compromising, but that it still made Dumbledore out to be pretty wise, in my estimation. The Truth About Snape was kind of trite, but it made total sense, in a kind of sad way. I also could deal with the whole King’s Cross thing, because Harry obviously = Jesus anyway, and it allowed for the big self-sacrifice and also for the ending to be actually triumphant. The only part I really disliked was the epilogue. Seriously WTF. All we find out is the names of their kids? I wanted to know what they actually did with their lives (besides Neville, the only one who gets his job mentioned); seriously, the book hinted at a lot of injustices in the wizarding world that Hermione would be righting. Or whatever. It was lame, I didn’t need it at all, it’s like she ended the actual story of the book and then decided that wasn’t enough closure. I would have liked a slightly more open, Buffy-type ending, but it was a good read.
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