Monthly Archives: July 2011

HP7.2 initial thoughts…

It’s done. The series is over. It’s been spectacular. I’m currently working off about 5 hours of irregular sleep plus goblets full of coffee, so bear with me as I recall loved and loathed movie bits:

LOVED

  • The McGonagall “protect the school” scene. To say I got the chills as teachers and Order members pulled out all the stops to defend the castle would be an understatement. Way to tickle that dragon, Hogwarts.
  • The Voldemort/Harry face merge whilst disapparating (freaky-deaky).
  • NEVILLE!
  • Harry’s discovery of the resurrection stone and his brief but emotional encounter with loved ones (yep, I cried; actually, I would have been sobbing if the whole theatre hadn’t been so quiet).
  • The shot of Lupin and Tonks dead with hands nearly touching (especially juxtaposed with the last shot of the couple alive as they were reaching toward each other pre-fight… waaaahhh!).
  • Hermoine + Ron = finally
  • EVERYTHING SNAPE!! especially his death (Nagini is badass)  and memory scenes (really, a nice wrap-up from 7+ movies of Good Snape vs Bad Snape iffyness).
  • The soundtrack: the LotR-type Celtic chanting was a nice, mature touch to some pretty heavy scenes.
  • Aborted evil soul.
  • The five or six girls who got up in front of the theatre about an hour before the movie started to dance a little ditty and sing a little song from one of the Harry Potter-themed bands. It was pretty awesome. I’m currently searching for a YouTube video to link here.
Snape does Harry a solid.

LOATHED

  • That friggin epilogue! I hated it in the book and thought it was super-campy in the film – poor Ginny’s “old”  hair! BOOOO!!!
  • Some of the f/x were terrible, especially the fiendfyre scene in the Room of Requirement when the hero trio are “flying” on brooms – those were SOOO 2001 effects… Although, maybe it looked better in 3D (?? – we saw 2D action).
  • Um – how did Voldemort die? (Yes, I know, the book explains nicely but the filmmakers put a lot of faith in the viewing audience to just ‘accept’ that he would die after losing the wand. A lackluster death for an evil-doer like Voldemort – wasn’t there a volcano or Death Star lying around somewhere?)
  • Did I mentioned the epilogue already?
  • No mention of Teddy outside of a small reference in the resurrection stone scene.
  • The Dumbledore death scene in the book rocked, but I wasn’t thrilled about it in the movie – I think Harry kept stepping on Dumbledore’s robes.
  • The ever-changing Hogwarts landscape (where was Voldemort hiding? A boat shed?)
  • 19 Years Later…
Sucky makeup for 30-something wizards. Brits don’t age well.
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A Dedication Explanation

Oh, Harry.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? You’ve surely taken up many of my sunny days and starry nights with your reel and written release dates (though, to be fair, there have been several wintry anticipations, as well).

Why such eagerness for a “kid’s” series of books and movies? Why such unwavering loyalty to fantasy fiction when there’s so much reality to be had? Who the fuck cares about this wizard shit, anyway, but weirdoes, wannabes and wearers of aluminum foil helmets?

Right here. –> This Chick <– Me.

I came to the Harry Potter universe kicking and screaming (as I do many things that end up good for me, like vegetables and exercise and shaving). I was NOT one of THOSE people into kid stuff and was waaay too cool for movies that didn’t involve Peter Jackson. I was a sophomore in college and the movie my friends and I wanted to see sold out (I don’t even remember which one) so one of our party suggested “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Bah. Pish-posh. But the theatre in Durango, Colo., which played host to Fort Lewis College, ye olde alma mater, had limited screens, so off to Hogwarts we went, sniggering and sneering like a Malfoy hopped up on weed. The theatre was PACKED with snot-nosed runts and their obliging parents. Few people older than 8 were there by choice. We ended up sitting in separate rows and the lights went dim.

I can’t say it was magic at first sight; in fact, I’m pretty sure I left confused — the story and mythology go deep — but I guarantee I felt a surge of “this is for me” afterwards. As a kid, I was a big fan of movies like “Legend,” “Worst Witch,” and “Labyrinth” (who am I kidding, I’m still a fan!). So I invested a smidgeon of time to ABC Family and caught up on “Sorcerer’s Stone.” It was fine. A sparkly kid’s movie (not unlike a certain vampire series we all love), so I forgot about HP until the third film, “Prisoner of Azkaban” came out in 2004.

Talk about a well-directed film; whereas the first two flicks sought so hard to include the fine little details with candy and glitter, the third film, with its dark edges and fade-to-blacks, proved a film for minds. Helmed by the gloriously capable Alfonso Cuarón, the third HP tale took Harry & Friends to the underworld of life (adolescence) and never looked back. That it had Gary Oldman in the spectacularly gruzzy role of Sirius Black, as well as Alan Rickman picking up the pace as is-he-or-isn’t-he Professor Snape, were total bonuses. I had to have more.

Family, including stoic Lakota grandmother at far right, obligingly donned HP glasses to celebrate my birth. Aww.

Thus began my foray into J.K. Rowling’s napkin epic. I’m glad I saw the first three movies prior to reading, because I probably wouldn’t have finished half of “Sorcerer’s Stone” on my own… Luckily for me, I had five whole books to dig into before Half-Blood Prince came out in 2005, and you betcha I had those bad boys memorized lickity-split. I admit to skimming the first two books; given the age of Harry in Year 1 and 2, I don’t agonize over Rowling’s limited storytelling in those books. They were hooks for millions of kiddy fish to continue reading – brilliant! I did, however, purchase the audiobooks read by the truly fantastic Jim Dale and his many talents. And so I became…

… a Potterhead.

I was addicted. I bought the films, watched the extras, bought used copies of paperbacks, and collected hardcover special editions. Later, an editor and dear friend would ask her sister to buy me the UK versions *sigh* For a different experience, I listened to all the books on CD – seriously, Jim Dale will put a whole new spin on storytelling (and driving back and forth through the Midwest prairie). I wish he could narrate my life.

I went to the midnight release party of “Half-Blood Prince” at Barnes & Noble in Lincoln, Neb., where I worked for the local paper. I didn’t have much of a social life (um, no correlation to being an HP-loving adult), so I felt a little out of place in my Hogwart’s knock-off robes and faux glasses. But I got that damned book and read it through the night, emerging bleary-eyed and Dumbledore-deprived. Waaaahhhh! Being known at work as the Potterhead had its perks – when “Goblet of Fire” came out on film, our movie reviewer, L. Kent Wolgamott, gave me advance screening tickets to help him critique the film from a “fan’s” perspective (whilst he viewed from an outsider’s POV). It wouldn’t surprise anyone to know I framed not only the tickets, but a copy of the reviews, as well. In eight+ years as a journalist I wrote about murders and meteorites and inventions — this is the only piece on a wall. *shrugs* The addiction was solidified.

At the midnight release of “Deathly Hallows.” My costume sucks compared to this guy’s.

There comes a moment in retelling this tale to friends (simplified, of course, to “I love Harry Potter”) where someone always asks: “Yeah, but WHY do you love Harry Potter?” That’s a tough question, since for me the answer is complex and a bit too psychologically-depthed to give in shorthand. The story of an abused but determined boy instantly clicked with me; I generally find myself gravitating toward abused children (hence the social work job), having been one myself. Too weak or broken to defend, but willful and defiant all the same. I see myself in the Dursley cabinet, an unwanted slave.  That Harry was given extraordinary gifts to combat his foes is where I piggyback on the storyline. Who, as a used soul, wouldn’t want a magic wand to swipe away the bad people of our lives? Who doesn’t crave a way out – something better? Of course, I came to the series much later in life than the age Harry begins his journeys, but it was easy – so easy – to place myself alongside him. Besides that, Harry’s worst years are his most formidable – the aforementioned adolescence. A yucky stage in life – changes and growing up and life lessons. A time of blood and hate and abandonment for me; that Harry experiences those and then some made liking the books an easy wagon for me jump on. The Harry Potter Universe promised me stories of teenagers rescuing themselves from adults who sought to control and diminish them. That I couldn’t do the same in my own life made me seek out characters that could.

Blah, blah, blah, and here we are in 2011, waiting first for the final Harry Potter flick (.2) AND the end of the world in 2012 (coincidence?).  It’s been a wild ride; the best part is my 2-year-old can sit through all of HP7.1 (quite honestly a bore of a movie in terms of toddler-esque action)! Midnight tickets are burning a hole in my wallet; costume is safe in a box, wand ready for a new set of Duracells. As a reader, I know the movie’s outcome, but I love not knowing the journey the film will take. While purists will bemoan a director taking liberties with text, I prefer seeing something unknown. New. I loved, for instance, the scene in HP7.1 when Harry takes the hand of a depressed Hermione and together the pair dance as only two friends can in desperate situations. Was it in the book? Nope. It’s a total visual element and one that deepened the friendship of HP and HG, in my eyes. So while I can’t help but peek at all 13,536 trailers released for the upcoming film, I try to close my eyes to keep some of what I see in the early morning hour of July 15 fresh. This is the last of the last. Forget that stupid Pottermore crap. The owls came and went with that train.

The last – FINAL – Harry Potter film is an end of an era, a literal closing of the book. Perhaps thinking of it like that is a catharsis for me, and maybe now with Lord Voldemort out of the way, I, too, can leave my demons in the past and move on to something bright and shiny and new.

My mentee, daughter, and me last Halloween. I’m a little frazzled after just coming from a Thriller performance, hence shirt, pants, and shoes…

My book list…

  1. THE HELP, by Kathryn Stockett (because everyone else has read it)
  2. A GAME OF THRONES, by George R. R. Martin (Why haven’t I read it yet?? Gah!!!)
  1. IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS, by Erik Larson (Loved “Devil in the White City” – that should go on YOUR book list if you haven’t read it already)
  2. ROOM, by Emma Donoghue (reading about other screwed up kids makes me feel better about some parts of my childhood)
  3. THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, by Rebecca Skloot (White Privilege in one of its finest moments)
  4. I AM NUMBER FOUR, by Pittacus Lore (need an easy, no-brainer every now and again, and I thought the movie was pretty stellar)
  5. SHADOW TAG, by Louise Erdrich (one of my favorite Native American authors – nothing of hers disappoints and her books are accessible to non-Native readers)
  1. WHAT THE NIGHT KNOWS, by Dean Koontz (I have whole shelf in my basement library dedicated to this guy’s stuff; must have at least 30-4o of his books finished – easy and entertaining)
  2. ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS, by Neil Gaiman (my all-time favorite author – sure, I love Sherman Alexie and Shakespeare and Tolkien, etc., but Gaiman is my FAVORITE! He, too, has his own raised shelf in my library; if you haven’t yet, read his “Sandman” comics. Fabulous, fabulous writer, speaker, blogger – all that jazz)
  1. CATCH-22, by Joseph Heller (HAD to put a classic in here; alas, I haven’t read this – EVER. I hang my head in shame 😦 for any book with the  influence to have coined terminology commonly used in society for decades on end should be perused based solely on principle)
Had to stop at 10, otherwise, this would be a never-ending list. I have stacks of unread books on my night stand that aren’t even mentioned here. Even more have been recommended by friends and family. Thanks to great genetics, I’m a tested and proved speed reader and can finish books at a quick pace. Not bragging, but it’s a handy antidote to bibliophilia.