TV Round Up

Without realizing it, I’ve watched quite a few TV seasons recently. I suppose the seasons rack up when you watch them in a a day or two each, which is what I did with all of these. (It’s easy to watch them so fast when they are good.) Damages, The Walking Dead, Survivor: Phillipines.

The Hobbit

I saw The Hobbit with my brother the Friday it opened. We saw it in 48 fps XD digital. My expectations were sky-high and rock-bottom at the same time. So I was worried. But it was a great time and there were lots of things I liked about the movie. If that seems hesitant, it is because there was a lot I didn’t like about the movie too, but nothing damning. I’m eager to see (and to like) the next two films. Until I do, I’m not really sure I can make much of a judgement.

Two things for now though…

First, the story shifts the tone of the book substantially and in a way I’m not sure I like. As is, if the arc isn’t going to show the fall of Thorin as he becomes an evil-esque character I’m going to be disappointed. My favourite parts involved rabbits. All the pipes around dinner were great too.

Second, the tech is troubling. I’m not sure there are any brakes on the HD train and that is too bad. This film is too clear and often feels lifeless because of it. When classical Hollywood filmmakers wanted to make their stars transcendently beautiful they would soften the focus of the close-ups. The slight fuzziness of the image gave room for magic and imagination and made Garbo and Dietrich and Crawford icons. The symbolists of the late nineteenth century did something similar in their poetry. The HD fanatics have forgotten this trick.

Déjà Vu Edition

So the Beav and I saw the new Anna Karenina, thought it was ok, then went home and watched the Garbo version. I was surprised how similar they were: the new version has basically taken the earlier adaptation, added a few scenes of wheat cutting and a bunch of Baz-style clutter and noise.

The end result is fine, and the film is beautiful, but I was caught off guard because it is clear that this new version sees itself as being terribly original and artistic.

My big discovery is Garbo. (How funny.) She is so very good as Anna. The complexity of emotion she projects in her voice and on her face is extraordinary. Her Anna is the adult that Keira Knightly’s never succeeds in being.

Also, I rewatched Beasts of the Southern Wild with the Beav over Christmas. He liked it, and I found it to be as good as it was the first time and, perhaps, even better.


DragonflightPart of my year-long effort to become familiar again with science fiction and fantasy books. This one was well done. A tight but breathable plot, character and setting piece that was a lot of fun. I don’t think I have it in me to do anything like this though. There is a lot of skill involved in the economical descriptions and the construction of scene. And plot, plot only looks this easy when it was hard hard hard to do.

Dark Place Edition

So in the dark months of autumn, movies offered little solace. I was watching: Cromwell, Bernie, Stories We Tell, Spider-man.

Of these, the first two were great, although for very different reasons. Cromwell was a straightforward historical drama that was interesting and informative. I enjoyed it a lot. Bernie was a surprise. Light hearted yet dark, and the discovery that the source story was very much like the movie caught me off guard in a very enjoyable way. Stories We Tell was too long and too self-absorbed. As a Canadian I am supposed to love Ms. P. I know that. But she gets on my last nerve. Also, smug. Finally, Spider-man. I didn’t like this movie and liked not liking it. It was for kids and teenagers, as it should be, and offered next to nothing to me. My one comment is: Peter Parker is supposed to be an instinctively good and generous person. That was changed here and not for the better.