cedar_grove: (In dreams)
As I write this, I am still trying to get my thoughts and feelings together into comfortable little niches all of their own. They aren't cooperating though, resisting the almost desperate urging to settle, to let me come up with a coherent opinion on a movie I have waited for for what feels like forever I keep contradicting myself, and swinging back and forth between love, hate and a whole realms worth of emotions in between. That said, and bearing in mind that they might change even the moment I've finished writing them - that's how in flux I am: here are my initial comments on The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

"The world has changed..."
For me, the whole 'Tolkien Purists vs Jackson & Co's vision' is a bit of a non starter, to be honest, but the rabid and vicarious 'turning in his grave' attitude adopted by many so-called purists is starting to make my teeth itch. Now, this is just my opinion, because I love how the franchise has been handled by Jackson et al, (and yes, I am including LotR and TH both), How can these people call themselves purists when they appear to be ignoring the wishes of Tolkien himself, that his writing concerning Middle Earth should be a kind of mythology, which are, "linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama." (J.R.R Tolkien, Letter to Milton Waldman, 1951)?

Well, isn't that exactly the point? Isn't that What Jackson and co have done? Wielded that 'paint, music and drama' and given us an expanded vision of the sketched out - though admittedly wonderful - bed time story that Tolkien offered to us in the pages of The Hobbit? In my mind, what Peter, Fran, Phillipa and co have done is taken that wish of Tolkien's and run with it... adapting the mythology presented way back... (reaches for copy of the book)... in 1937, updated it and made it resonate within the hearts and minds of a movie-going population of a different century! Tastes change - understandings change, and if tradition and mythology doesn't have the power to adapt and change with society they will become obsolete, meaningless or worse, inaccessible.

Did Peter Jackson and Co 'take liberties?' - no. Did they adapt and add to the story for a modern audience? -yes. So... if that still isn't good enough for you purists, I say, "Instead of siting their complaining and moaning about it... go and try it for yourself." Even just try writing a script... I dare ya!

"Give them a moment, for Pity's sake!"
The pace of the movie was utterly relentless, which is both a very good thing and a 'whoa-hold-on-time-out' thing too. There were times in the movie where I would have liked a moment or two to catch my breath before plunging on to the next moment in the roller-coaster ride. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it, nothing could be further from the truth, but I found I had barely time to process one thing before moving on to the next, and that may go some way to accounting as to why I am still more than 16 hours later, still trying to process it all. It's all still swimming around in my head as a big ball of Middle-Earthy peril, history and heartbreak.

"Such is the nature of Evil..."
Right from the start here, I'm going to declare myself and admit that I am horribly biased. It will come as no surprise, therefore, when I felt our time spent in the Halls of the Elvenking were by far too short - a feeling I hope to see given relief when we finally get to see an extended cut on DVD. I'll also confess I've read more interviews with the actors than I can count and watched PJ's Production Blogs etc, which kind of informs a lot of my following thoughts.

Lee Pace as Thranduil was as near to perfect as any actor could possibly have been. Exquisite and painfully beautiful, controlling and powerful and yet hauntingly hurt, lost and devastated by all that he has lived through in his long years. From said interviews, and the blogs, Pace obviously did a lot of preparation for understanding the Elvenking and his motivations and within the confines of the script and cut of the movie, helped to underpin and mitigate the isolationist attitude that could otherwise have been seen as a weakness, not as the sacrificial strength of a king that does what he can to protect his people... knowing his limitations and knowing that when to act is as important as what a person does. I'm hoping that will come across more clearly yet in an extended cut of the movie, where the inner struggle with the bitterness and 'evil' lingering inside of him will be more in evidence.

Orlando Bloom 'reprised' his role as Legolas with skill and dedication. The 'devolution' of the Legolas character was well written, and was expertly acted. Easy to believe that Legolas was clearly his father's son, and being groomed as a Prince of the Woodland Realm. The action sequences involving the elf Prince were as stunning as always, and knowing that Bloom tried to do as much of his own stunt work as possible instills a new level of respect. The complaints about him not belonging hold no water in my opinion. We were in his home. He's going to be there... and the story-line presented to us by Jackson and Co in their vision of events beg his involvement, since his father is not yet ready to act.

Evangeline Lily works as an elf. Her place in the story works, though... I found myself not caring about her as much as I'm sure I'm supposed to... will need to, I suspect when There and Back Again comes out. She a young elf, and that, I think, comes across very well in the way Lily presents her character. And I think I can almost believe in the cross-species 'romance' blossoming in front of us... doomed as it is... it was very sweet. I never had a problem with the addition of a 'new' female character. The changing times and attitudes demands it, and the movie needed a woman. I didn't dislike her, and I expected to... though mostly due to conflicting rumours I'd heard about the direction her character was being taken and a worry for the way such things would be written. I should have trusted what I know of the love Jackson has for Middle Earth, and repeat my opinion that as an elf, Lily works.

Luke Evan's brought the character of Bard to life beautiful. Clearly a man with his own demons of the dark to face, his confrontation with Thorin unfortunately on a more political stage, and therefore more likely to fail than had he 'confronted' the Dwarf under different circumstances was visceral and one to inspire fear - sadly though unheard by the the people of Laketown, who remain driven by their own need, hunger and lingering hope. Evan's brought all of this to life with a sensitivity, and yet a strength that made Bard real and believable.

"I am King Under the Mountain."
Richard Armitage, as the one who would claim this throne-in-contention, in the role of Thorin delivered a solidly consistent performance - skilled and clearly showing an increasing agitation in both his words and actions. The closer he gets to his goal, the further away it would seem to become, along with his sense of reason, unfortunately... I mean, honestly - did he honestly think that his particular plan to rid Erebor of Smaug was going to work? Really? Armitage made us believe... in Thorin's conviction, in his growing desperation to reclaim what he has lost... at whatever cost.

I cannot really leave without making some kind of comment or giving some kind of voice to the thought about the titular character of the movie... though beyond 'Smaug was awesome' I don't know really what is to be said. The Mo-cap animation was second to none, and Benedict Cumberbatch did an outstanding job of both the Mo-Cap and the voice-work on the dragon. He was fearsome, he was uncompromisingly arrogant, clever and above all dangerous.

"Dragon fire and ruin..."
Martin Freeman works for me as Bilbo. There really isn't much more to be said about the hobbit than that. He made the role his own, and even his own sense of somewhat comedic style, which I don't normally care for, didn't bother me all that much. As I come to the end of my thoughts I have to commend Freeman on managing to deliver and incredibly cliche line with such delicate conviction that (had the movie theatre not prematurely raised the house lighting) would not at all have taken away from the 'shock' ending of the movie.

"I regret to tell you, this is the end... goodbye."
WHAT!! I have to wait a whole year!?

Yes, overall I loved the movie, I want to see it again... and again... and I want more. I want to see what was left behind to make the Extended Edition, whenever we are allowed to see that. (Please don't make me wait until November!) I don't care that it's 'not the book,' it is still The Hobbit to me.
cedar_grove: (sleeping)
From The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.

If you come to a fork in the road,
take it.

--Yogi Berra

We are beautifully limited creatures, capable of great moments of full living, but we can't have it all or experience it all.

I finally gave in to being sick today and all but for about 4 or 5 hours, and just now (though I'm on the couch under a blanket right now), I stayed in bed, on and off sleeping and reading.

When I got up it was to make my dinner and eat. I put on the TV. All I could think about was Mir and wanting to be at home snuggled with her. It wasn't necessarily about wanting to be looked after but more just wanting and needing to be with her very badly. So the new movie started and it was Dinosaurs... which made me think of Mir even more. I know I've seen the movie before, but it was a long time ago. I brought my dinner to the couch and stayed up to watch the movie before going back to bed, and cried, and sobbed like a baby on and off all the way through it.

Afterwards I went back to bed... slept some more, woke up and read a little bit more of the book – poor Shar, to lose his mother, to have his home attacked. And the poor Vulcans too... had to stop reading, partly because it was upsetting, but partly because I sensed that the reveal (that I, in my thickness have so far missed) was coming, and I had promised Mir that I would read that part when she was around so that she could see my "doh!" moment. So I settled down again to sleep more, and had a ridiculous dream about some theme park... and not fitting on the rides because my body was too big, and then being compensated for that by being put in a little room with lots of VIP patrons, and fed on fries and fish-cakes that were in the shape of fish. I woke up from that just a little bit ago, and decided to move to the couch under a blanket once more.

A change of scene... and looking forward to being able to spend time with Mir online when she gets home. My countdown has six more big ducks.
cedar_grove: (Default)
From The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.

I envy the tree,
how it reaches
but never holds.

We can't stop life from flowing. So we are left with feeling what was and what is, and we call the difference loss.

These two sentences leaped off the screen and really made me pay attention to the words and the whole of the rest of the reading. What a negative way of looking at things! So then that got me thinking, and wondering – and worrying at things a little bit – is it human nature to think of things in such a negative way, with such a 'glass half empty' mentality?

So then that got me thinking about the movie that Mir and I just watched, (one of a few actually, but this in particular). The Boy Who Could Fly - fabulous movie, if you haven't seen it, you should… I'm going to leave a full review for another time, because, for all the difficult points in its subject matter, it's actually a very good 'feel good' kind of movie… (and yes, I did cry at the end).

The point I want to bring up, I think is that… that I've just alluded to right there. (Sorry, necessary spoilers follow). At the end of the movie, the boy who Milly has befriended, cared for, and fallen in love with, leaves… she has his ring and their memories to keep him in her heart, and I remember thinking at the time this happened in the movie, 'oh my goodness, how sad,' (not those exact words, but… anyway)… but the end of the movie is a really positive one… uplifting, makes you feel good. Why did I think of that moment in a negative kind of way? Why did I focus on the sadness of the moment and not on the poignant sense of love that was left behind – in me, as well as in the characters in the movie?

So from the quote above, what about those moments where what is, is different from what was in a positive way – are we still going to call it 'loss'?

Only Love

Apr. 24th, 2011 09:33 pm
cedar_grove: (Love You)
From The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.

Only love, with no thought of return,
can soften the point of suffering.

The quiet miracle of love is that without our interference, it, like water, accepts whatever is tossed or dropped or placed into it, embracing it completely.

We watched a movie today called My Name Is Khan. I'm sure it was meant to be a political kind of thing, what with one thing and another, but for me the focus of it was a deep abiding love that flowed through a person - through all people but is barely recognised. I don't want to say too much about the movie itself, except that I think that people should watch it, because I don't want to spoil the experience. Enough to say that Mir described it as a kind of equivalent to Forest Gump but with a certain religious slant.

Which brings me to the point I think I'm trying to make that it's no coincidence that most of the major religions have, at their heart, that love is the key to everything. Without love what do we have to guide us on a path of good - in the path of right?

In the movie, the main character's mother teaches her son that the only difference in life between one person and another is whether they are good or bad. That there is no difference between one creed and another, one religion or another, just that there are good people and bad people. What seems to distinguish between good and bad is the presence or absense of love in their heart and souls.

Love is what guides us to the selflessness that is the spark of divinity within us all. When we are lost from the knowledge of love it is all too easy to fall pray to the easier path - the one which shuts us away from others, the one where we can easily, inadvertently stray away from good. If we know love, it is hard to truly commit acts of bad or evil deeds... but, just as lighting a candle produces shadow... to know love can also make us vulnerable to the pain and hurt of the other side of love's coin... and if we act out of that emotion we may become lost to the darkness that is within each of us.

It's there, but we must love it all the same, for without love, the shadow self is free to grow and consume us with the antithesis of love, and we become that which we despise.

As truly 'human' beings, then we must embrace both sides of every thing, every body, every experience, with love, only then do we truly achieve our spiritual potential.
cedar_grove: (Use'ara 13 Stars)
From The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.

Another name for God
Is surprise.

-Brother David Steindl-Rast

It seems that any moment of interest or pain or adversity can surprise us into the larger totality of life, breaking our current limits and allowing us the chance to redefine ourselves in regard to the larger sense that is upon us.

(From 21st April)

I was finally able to sit down and finish the treatment for Use'ara: Thirteen Stars today. In actuality I set myself the challenge. There would be no getting online until after I had done it. It had been 'almost finished' for far to long and today it would be finished.

I was stalling, and the reason I was stalling is that the ending, as I had currently had it set out through the outline, felt a little too much like Deus ex Machina to me... and that just wouldn't do. I mean I know (because I know the backstory of what happened 'off camera' so to speak in the original outline) that it wasn't even approaching anything close, but... because it happened 'off camera' the reader was not privvy to that information. I decided that it needed to be told as a part of the ending, but worried that this would a) further complicate matters and b) make the story too damn long. Surprisingly, far from complicating matters it allowed for a much more ordered approach to the climax and denouement of the novel, although it does add quite a chunk of story. As it's sci-fi/fantasy, this isn't necessarily too much of a handicap, but we'll have to see how it all turns out now that I"m in a position to start writing.

The second 'surprise' of the day came in the form of another 'germ' of an idea, which I've put into the 'development' file. It came in part because I was thinking of Option C the short that I had thought to send to Daily Science Fiction. It provides a key point of the premise behind the backstory for one of the characters... a woman being punished for her continuing use of a forbidden faculty - her imagination. What happens to this woman after that revolves around the future of humanity, and the 'help' (or hindrance) of an immortal (be that angel or demon is up for debate right now), but anyway, the working title for the project is In Humanity, yes, a play on words, and we'll just have to wait and see what comes of it.

Lastly, Mir and I went to see Black Swan today. Actually we went out on a date (a really nice date with way too much chocolate cake and popcorn), but the last part of the date was a trip to the Varsity to see the movie... and while it was a good movie, and one I enjoyed a great deal, I'm afraid I just don't see what all the fuss was about. I found myself getting proufoundly irritated at the mother, but that was about the most visceral reaction I had through the whole of the film. It was well acted, though a little too 'arty' in some places for my taste, but I certainly don't understand, or didn't experience, the deeply disturbed or thoughtful experience it gave to others. Does that mean I lack couth?



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