Harry Potter 7, Part 1

Yes, I used my first day home from an exhausting trip to (1) pick up the cat at the vet; (2) do some laundry; (3) go see Deathly Hallows. I consider it a mark of maturity that I waited until today and didn’t leave the English teacher convention to catch HP 7:1 the day it came out.

I realize my opinion means nothing here. If you are a Harry fan, you will see the movie no matter what I say. If aren’t a Harry fan, you probably won’t see the movie no matter what I say. It’s okay. I can still be your friend even if you don’t heart Harry. I just can’t be your bff. I am somewhat excessive in my love for Harry. I, in fact, have plans to immediately read Deathly Hallows for the fourth or fifth time just so I don’t have to wait six months for the next installment of the film to experience the second half.

I liked this movie. It had a completely different feel from any of the other movies. It was short on action and long on emotional angst. That might not be everyone’s thing, but it worked for me.

As I’ve said with every movie since about the 4th, we’ve given up on making the films for people who don’t already know the story. The film versions are just visual follow ups to the books. They aren’t stand alone products. Maybe the first few are, but once we started getting into gargantuan lengths, putting the whole story on the screen in a way everyone would understand became a physical impossibility. That’s okay. We don’t need the whole story on the screen. Enough people have read the books that the market is enormous regardless.

The fans accepted this approach of creating a condensed version of the story that only fully makes sense if you’ve read the book for numbers 4, 5, and 6. If the fact that this one has already made in excess of $125 million is any indication, they are accepting it for this one too.

Where you have that many people gathered together prepared to love whatever they see, however, you also have a bevy of negative critics. I found this review on Huffington Post to be particularly bad, and I do mean bad in terms of a poorly done review. The movie is trashed by people who know nothing about the series.

This one reviewer in particular keeps going on and on about not understanding why a goblin makes a brief appearance in the film. He calls it bad film-making that he didn’t understand this. I call it bad film-watching. If he had been paying attention he would have heard Hermione mention that the Sword of Gryffindor was goblin made. He would have also heard Bellatrix ask the goblin how the sword could have disappeared from the vault. And if he had even so much as watched the first Harry Potter movie without reading any of the books, he would know that the goblins run Gringotts Bank.

He talked about this scene as if the goblin were a brand new character thrown in out of nowhere, but again, even if he’d only seen prior movies and not read any of the books, he would be familiar with the role of the goblins in the story. I really don’t think David Yates, in directing the 7th film in a series, was responsible for the ignorance of people who never bothered to pay attention to any of the previous 6 films.

These same reviewers go off on a tangent about how “young girls” like Harry Potter, claiming that the film wouldn’t “play well” to other audiences such as themselves. Tell that to the audience of middle aged men and women who were in the theater with me this afternoon.

Anyway, the reviews on Deathly Hallows are mixed, and I thought I’d learn something about why some of the critics seemed to experience such vehement hatred for it, but all I learned from the Cinefantastique Podcast was that the reviewers were too lazy to familiarize themselves with the story before watching the 7th film in a series.

That said, the slower-paced style of 7, Part 1 might put some people off, and we are definitely left hanging at the end, but we are well set up for 7, Part 2, and I, for one, am anxiously awaiting the summer 2011 release.

Coming Soon

The Gettysburg Address was delivered on November 19, 1863. Seven score and seven years later, we’re still working on the all created equal thing, but we sure have come a long way on managing to entertain ourselves. Go vote next week to make sure that the freedoms people have died for do not perish from this earth, and then on November 19, go see Part 1 of Part 7 of the Harry Potter movies.

What do the two have to do with each other? Nothing. But the anniversary of Lincoln’s address and the release of Deathly Hallows are both coming soon. You will not want to forget.

The Lonely Guy

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This was one of my favorite hummingbird pictures from my weekend’s hard work of sitting in a lawn chair with my camera for an hour or so. Something just grabs you about one lone bird sitting on the power line flapping his wings for everything he’s worth. Plus, the dark and moody tone appeals to me.

I don’t know why it made me think of the old Steve Martin flick The Lonely Guy, but it did. Here’s a little clip just in case you never saw the movie or you never had the pleasure of knowing what it’s like to be a lonely guy.

Julie and Julia and Sharon

I watched Julie and Julia last night. If you are trying to diet, you really should watch a movie that features butter as a main character. Maybe it’s a test of your own character if you don’t go microwave a vat of it and slurp it down before the movie ends…or at the very least slather up some popcorn with it.

But no…I watched the movie and didn’t eat through it. I only yelled a little at Netflix when it bumped me out of the movie three or four times. I’m going to quit trying to stream during peak hours, I think, but I’m trying to quit so many things now that streaming movies seems low on the social order.

I loved the movie. It’s a cutesy feel-good flick that made me wish I had my own blog. What could I write a blog about, I asked myself, as Julie asked herself the same.

I was somewhat annoyed, though, that the act of blogging and the act of taking on a major creative project was portrayed as self-centered. Is creativity self-centered? Is writing? Is art in general an ultimately self-centered act? I don’t know. Maybe art is mission work in its own way because it brings comfort and pleasure to others.

That’s what a friend told me when I said that I felt guilty over writing a fantasy novel because it wasn’t about anything important to the world. It was just something that gave me pleasure to do. She said, “If it brings pleasure to anyone, it’s important. Offering people even a brief time to feel good in a world full of struggling and pain is the best anyone can do.”

Maybe, and maybe it is still selfish. I don’t know.

I was enamored enough with the movie that I thought I’d read the book. I’ve read the Julia Child book My Life in France, but I haven’t read the Julie Powell book Julie and Julia. I went over to Amazon to look it up. That’s when I noticed that Julie Powell has a newer book called Cleaving.

Also autobiographical, evidently much of the new book concentrates on the fact that she has an affair.

Now, after butter and Julia and Paul Child, Julie Powell’s husband was my favorite character in the movie. He was beyond supportive.

So, of course, if she’s going to go and cheat on him after the end of the movie when finally after all of his support she catches her big break and gets rich, I don’t want to read about it. Just finding out that’s what the next book is about makes me not want to read the first book either. It makes me suspect that the problem all along was her, that blogging wasn’t a narcissistic pursuit, but that she was just a narcissistic person, and that this was all toned down a bit for the sake of the movie. If so, I don’t want to find out. I don’t want to have my experience of an enjoyable movie ruined by reading a book in which I find out I don’t really like the characters.

I would have for sure purchased Julie and Julia if Cleaving didn’t exist, but now I’m not going to buy either.

That leads me to wondering if I’m being too judgmental. Possibly. I understand that people who do selfish things aren’t always in control of themselves. I read just the other day about the neurology behind high levels of alcoholism in writers and artists. You know those inner censors you have to turn off in order to use your imagination? Well, they are censoring a lot more behaviors than just dull-mindedness. When you turn them off and keep them off long enough, you really don’t know what you are doing. Add to that excess adrenaline and other whacked out bodily chemistry, and you have a real disaster in the making on your hands.

It’s easy enough to understand how people, who aren’t really total jerks after all, make unfortunate choices when they are physically and emotionally strung out.

But you see, this is my blog, and it isn’t about Julie Powell. It’s about me.

However I rationalize it, I just don’t want to read a book has the potential to ruin my experience of a movie I’ve already seen.

That’s that. Moving on now.