A new look for older eyes, with potentially more to come.
(TL;DR: Return I will, to old Brazil…eventually.)
Stay safe y’all, and until next time.
P.S: Text-less Brazil poster via here. Lots of other cool ones too!
All in all, a really entertaining World Cup. And perhaps it’s because I reside in DC and spend time on Twitter, two of the most futbol-happy environments around stateside, but this felt like the year soccer might have finally broken through in America for real. Time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime, I should do a better job of supporting the MLS. Valar Futbolis!
“Sometimes, madness is the right response to a mad world. Sometimes, illusion is the only way out.” By way of a longtime reader, The Keynote‘s Tasha Robinson discusses the origins and greatness of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, one of my trifecta of all-time favorite films (along with Amadeus and Miller’s Crossing) and at least partly the namesake of GitM (Ere I am, JH…) — I got the still above signed at a Gilliam event in NYC in October 2006. Some great stuff in here — I actually never knew, or had forgotten, how close this came to being a Tom Cruise vehicle — That would’ve been a error of Tuttle/Buttle proportions. Da dum, da da da da da dee dum…
“When historians look back to the moment when the post-Cold War reign of American power ended, they may well settle on 2010 as a crucial year. Everywhere, it seemed, there were signs that the long-predicted “rise of the rest” had finally occurred, whether in the newfound assertiveness of fast-growing China or the impatient diplomacy of new powers like Brazil and Turkey. Foreign Policy’s second annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers fully reflects that new world.“
As above, Foreign Policy has picked its Top 100 Global Thinkers of the year. And, while there are some really atrocious choices on here (for example, the man at #33, who much more deservingly made the list in the next entry too), the article is worth a perusing regardless. (FWIW, #65, #68, and #80 seem really iffy to me as well.)
When reading the seventh and final Harry Potter tome in 2007, my sense was it felt more like a scriptment than a novel, and, tho’ often clunky as a book, it would probably work better as a movie a few years down the road. And, hey, I was right! (At least so far.) Even though it’s only half the story, and the leisurely camping half at that, David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Part I is easily one of the best films in the series — perhaps the best, if you prefer your Potter relentlessly dark. (I know Cuaron’s Azkhaban has a following, but for me the real competition is Mike Newell’s Goblet of Fire.)
A hardy veteran of Dumbledore’s army at this point — this is his third Potter film in a row after Order of the Phoenix and the Half-Blood Prince — Yates has taken the often-unwieldy wanderings of the first half of Hallows and fashioned a lean, tense, and gripping fugitive story out of them. Better yet, he’s brought a much more palpable sense of danger and darkness to the proceedings. When I read the book, I missed Hogwarts most of the time and wondered why our heroes had to spend so much time camping. Here, the lack of Hogwarts goes unnoticed, and it’s abundantly clear why Harry, Ron, and Hermione spend so much time on the lam — They’re totally under the gun…er, wand.
That may be the part that rankles some of the youngest viewers out there, or their parents — From the creepier-than-usual Warner Brothers card on, the gloom here is unrelenting, and almost sadistic. Hallows begins with a Great Eye — that of the Minster of Magic (Bill Nighy), who’s making a Churchillian attempt to rally the wizarding world against the encroaching forces of Voldemort. (Good luck with that.) The Dark Lord (Ralph Fiennes), meanwhile, is entertaining his Death Eater shock-troops with a banquet at the Malfoys — one punctuated by the torture and eventual murder of Hogwarts’ Professor of Muggle Studies. She dies pleading for clemency from her former colleague, Severus Snape. (Clearly, she was new to academe.)
The Big Three are no happier. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is packing up and hiding the Dursleys somewhere safe from harm — It’s gotten so bad that he’s even nostalgic about his old room under the stairs. Hermione (Emma Watson) has resorted to wiping her Muggle parents’ minds of her existence. And Ron (Rupert Grint)…well, ok, like his older brothers, Ron is still a bit of a goof (at least until his arm almost gets ripped off in a freak disapparating accident later on.) And this, Ron’s injury notwithstanding, is all before Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) shows up at 4 Privet Drive with an army of returning cast members — or, as anyone who’s read the book knows, cannon fodder.
Granted, these supporting characters aren’t exactly Redshirts — we know most of them from the first six movies. Still, here is one of the situations where, to my mind, the movie rubs up against the limitations of the source material. There’s a line in Red Letter Media’s worthy evisceration of The Phantom Menace where the narrator makes the very valid point: “Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi should have been combined into one character named…Obi-Wan Kenobi.” The same goes for the Potterverse.
By here in Book 7, several thousand pages into the tale of young Mr. Potter, the story is now totally crufted over with narrative stuff. Dozens of characters are running around already, and yet Hallows seems to pile on more every time our heroes get in a jam. (For example, Harry gets a tip from an old journalist friend of Dumbledores, whom we’ve never met, to go visit an old historian friend of Dumbledore’s, whom we’ve never met. Couldn’t one of these just have been Jim Broadbent’s Slughorn, from Book Six?)
We’re equally overstuffed here with magical Maguffins — Seven horcruxes and three hallows, not to mention three gifts from Dumbledore and various other wonderful toys, like Harry’s watchful mirror, Hermione’s infinite knapsack, and a steady supply of Polyjuice Potion. With so many magical items in play, the ground rules get fuzzy, and the sense of danger takes a hit. (Then again, they’re fuzzy anyway — Where can and can’t House elfs go again? And why aren’t our team using that highly convenient Room of Requirement from Book 5 to solve all of their problems?)
Still, one definite bright side of having so many populating the Potterverse is that the series continues to be a welcome full-employment program for British thespians. Bill Nighy and Rhys Ifans (as Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s dad) are the most prominent additions to the cast, but there are other fun faces joining the party this time, including David O’Hara (Braveheart) as Harry’s face in the Ministry, Guy Henry (Extras, Rome‘s Cassius) as Voldemort’s puppet minister, and Peter Mullan (Children of Men, Red Riding) as the Death Eater head of security.
On this front, the series is now an embarrassment of riches. When the likes of John Hurt and Miranda Richardson have all of fifteen seconds of screen time, and even the House elves are voiced by names like Simon McBurney (The Last King of Scotland, The Ghost Writer,) and Toby Jones (as Kreacher and Dobby respectively), you know you’ve got a heck of a cast on your ends. And the three kids have grown up to be no slouches in this department either. I can’t tell if they’re great actors, but they’re definitely very good at being Harry, Ron, and Hermione at this point.
So, in the end and despite its narrative over-packing, Deathly Hallows is an entertaining and scary ride with some very memorable setpieces. There’s an animated sequence late in the film that’s as beautiful and entrancing as anything we’ve seen in all seven movies thus far. And I was also fond of Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s assault on the Ministry, packed as it was sly allusions to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. (Note the big statue, the gaggle of hangers-on breezing by, and Mullan being a man consumed with paperwork.) There’s still a lot of camping here, sure, but at least this time it feels less like aimless meandering and more like an urgent necessity. Let’s hope Yates and co. can land this magical bird in as fun a fashion next July.
Now that the depressing political news is out of the way, time to take refuge in pop culture. First up, in the trailer bin of late, Zack Snyder preps for his time with the Big Boy Scout by purging his fratty-fanboy id in the new trailer for his Sucker Punch, with Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm(?), Oscar Isaac, and Scott Glenn (as the ghost of David Carradine.)
So this looks…um, well, rather shoddily plotted. Sorta like Alice in Wonderland meets Brazil meets The Matrix meets the Victoria’s Secret catalog. But, y’know, I like zeppelins, biplanes, dragons, robots, samurai, and beautiful, badass heroines as much as the next guy. So, yeah, count me in.
“Brazil‘ is the one that will probably be stamped on my grave because that on seemed to have made a big effect on a lot of people. And that’s all I’m trying to do is affect people.” CNN talks briefly with Terry Gilliam on Heath Ledger’s passing, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, and sundry other topics. “Talent is less important in filmmaking than patience. If you really want your films to say something that you hope is unique, then patience and stamina, thick skin and a kind of stupidity. A mule-like stupidity is what you really need.“
I’m not normally one for blog memes here, but this movie quote game via Divine Comedy of Errors looked like particularly good fun. The rules, as direct from DCoE: “1. Pick 15 of your favorite movies. (Ok, I picked 20.) 2. Find a quote from each movie. 3. Post them here for everyone to guess. 4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie. 5. NO GOOGLING/using IMDb search or other search functions.” Gotta stress that last one, y’all. That’s not cricket.
1. “The rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing Communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers. I think of us that way, sometimes, and I live here.” [SB got it. This is Annie Hall (not Manhattan.) Hard to pick one quote from this great, great film.]
2. “Are we like couples you see in restaurants? Are we the dining dead?” [Tessa pegged it: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, from the Chinese dinner scene where Joel and Clementine wallow in quiet desperation. Sunshine, by the way, often gets particularly quality remix treatment on Youtube.]
3. “Sister, when I’ve raised hell you’ll know it.” [sb got this one too: Miller’s Crossing, concluding one of the classic Tom-Verna dust-ups.]
4. “Defeat! Shameful, ignominious! Defeat that set back for twenty years the cause of reform in the U.S.” [An old wooden sled to sb, who correctly identified this as Citizen Kane. The line is from the News on the March newsreel opening the film, when Charles Foster Kane loses the governor’s race, on account of what we would now indelicately call a “bimbo eruption.”]
5. “Three: If asked if you care about the world’s problems, look deep into the eyes of he who asks, he will not ask you again.” [Props to Rob Newland (nee Aaron Jacob Edelstein.) This is one of the “Seven Simple Rules for a Life in Hiding” from I’m Not There, my favorite film of last year (and, still, I think, one of the more underappreciated.)]
7. “I got the *right* man. The wrong one was delivered to me as the right man, I accepted him on good faith as the right man. Was I wrong?” [A bit of a stickler for paperwork, J. Dunn got this one. It’s GitM’s namesake: Brazil. The line is Jack Lint (Michael Palin) rationalizing his murderous interrogation of Tuttle, ‘er, Buttle.]
8. “That Casey. He might have been a preacher but he seen things clear. He was like a lantern. He helped me to see things clear.” [10 points for Gryffindor and Kris. This is Tom talking about the Rev. Casey in The Grapes of Wrath. (Of course, if you’ve never read the book or seen the John Ford film, the Boss can summarize it for ya in 4:24.)]
9. “So I graduate, I call him up long distance, I say ‘Dad, now what?’ He says, ‘Get a job.’ Now I’m 25, make my yearly call again. I say Dad, ‘Now what?’ He says, ‘I don’t know, get married.’” [Kudos to Eric Sipple, despite his breaking the first two rules of Fight Club.]
10. “As Bertrand Russell once said, ‘The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.’ I think we can all appreciate the relevance of that now.” “Was that on a beer mat?” “Yeah, it was Guinness Extra Cold.”” [MattS correctly called it for Shaun of the Dead. Good on ya, mate.]
11. “We were frightened of being left alone for the rest of our lives. Only people of a certain disposition are frightened of being alone for the rest of their lives at the age of 26, and we were of that disposition.” [Also got by MattS, this is High Fidelity, another very quotable movie. Rob (John Cusack) is talking about his dalliance with Lili Taylor’s Sarah.]
13. “Let’s get down to brass tacks. How much for the ape?” [Recognizing the hand of the Good Doctor, CJS got it: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. (And it seems the line actually made it into the trailer as well.)]
14. “Daddy what’s gradual school?” “Oh Gradual school is where you go to school and you gradually find out you don’t want to go to school anymore.” [Not even an Ellen Jamesian, mikefromeseattle made the call: The World According to Garp.]
16. “Have you never heard of situationism, or postmodernism? Do you know nothing about the free play of signs and signifiers?” [Trust an academic and music lover, Ted, to get this one. It’s 24 Hour Party People, as Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) is explaining to a reporter why “Joy Division” aren’t in fact a bunch of Nazis.]
17. “You’re born, you take s**t. You get out in the world, you take more s**t. You climb a little higher, you take less s**t. Till one day you’re up in the rarefied atmosphere and you’ve forgotten what s**t even looks like.” [Welcome to the Layer Cake, claxton6. (This is Michael Gambon explaining the title.) By the way, I just learned very recently that chameleon Ben Whishaw played Sidney in this flick. Must’ve been focused on something else…]
18. “I was told to tell you that you’re a fascist pig.” [Points for Eric & Wendy: This is from Children of Men, when Clive Owen is making contact with Michael Caine’s police “friend.” (My favorite line from the movie would’ve been a dead giveaway: “Well that was even worse, everybody crying. I mean…Baby Diego ? Come on, the guy was a wanker!“)]
19. “You broke into my house, stole my property, murdered my servants and my pets, and THAT is what grieves me the most!” [Stephen recognized this as Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian. But does he know the riddle of steel, and what is best in life? One hopes, or Crom will cast him out of Valhalla!]
20. “You’re going to make yourself a new home out there. You’re a New Yorker, that won’t ever change. You got New York in your bones. Spend the rest of your life out west but you’re still a New Yorker. You’ll miss your friends, you’ll miss your dog, but you’re strong.” [Ted also caught this one. It’s from the final Brian Cox monologue of The 25th Hour, still arguably the best movie yet made about the impact of 9/11 on NYC.]