Shades Of Words


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Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows


When I first saw the previews of the HPTDH I got goosebumps on my arms. This was going to be the final release ( in 2 parts) that will truly end the magical saga of Harry Potter. Even though I loved the trailer. I had very low expectations from the movie coz I did not like Yates take on Book 5 & 6. There was so much going on Book 7 that I really hoped that he would not go about  changing the plot and adding inane scenes. And he didn’t.
Therefore, after a really long time. I went to watch a Harry Potter movie and came back thoroughly satisfied. ( the last time was after Harry Potter & Prisnor of Azkabaan ) . Yates and team got everything right – the tone of the movie, the pace, the relationships, the action sequences, the special effects and the little details.

The book fans will be very happy – others not so much. As one critic said – “Where the film falters is through the calculated exclusion of anyone not already steeped in Harry Potter lore. You’ll need to come in emotionally invested, though the chances of that are solid if you’ve read this far. Newcomers need not apply, as the whole affair would likely come off as a blustery exercise without prior knowledge of the books or films. ” ( falters according to him, not me)For me this was what I really liked most about the movie – that it stuck true to the book, did not pander to shipper fantasies and waste valuable screen time and did not explain any context. You were expected to know your Harry Potter ! About high time too!

Let me start with the things that I loved – spoilers ahead – you have been warned ! The focus of the movie was on Harry, Hermoine and Ron’s journey to find the Horcruxes –  not unlike  a coming of age cross country road trip that friends must take before high school is over! No I do not intend to trivialize. Nothing about this movie is trivial – Yates did a brillaint job of creating the sense of fear in the magical world – Voldemort’s rule has begun with him taking over the ministry and Harry Potter is the most wanted outlaw. Its hard to miss the fascist references with the red flyers, uniformed guards and dubious court proceedings against “mudbloods” and “halfbloods”. The war is on. And its upto 3 seventeen year olds to defeat Voldemort.  As Harry is being hunted, his presence only brings dangers to those around him. Harry, Hermoine and Ron leave the safety of the Weasely home behind and start the journey to find and destroy all the horcruxes. Now the first thing that I liked about the movie – the cinematography of this mostly outdoor shoot – the locales are beautiful but have this haunting , gloomy quality that convey the soberness of the movie. And the weather is always always cold. As you hear the constant noise of the radio announcing the names of the dead/captured in a soft monotone – you realize that this is not a kids movie anymore.

The second thing that I loved was that with the seventh installment, the focus is back on the three – Harry, Ron & Hermoine. Theirs is the most important relationship in the series and it is fitting that the 7th book be about their journey together. Radcliffe and Grint did a remarkable job but I thought Watson owned the screen. Her face was always an array of expressions that deftly dealt with changing situations. Watson is Hermoine Granger !! I am always partial to her as Hermoine has been my favorite character – she has more brains than Harry & Ron put together, and can be brave and can see things much far ahead than anyone else. I always maintain that she is the true hero of the series!

Anyway, moving on. I am not a fan of moview that mix narrative techniques but the macabre animation sequence to narrate the story of Deathly Hallows was absolutely artistic and brilliant. One of my favorite 3 minutes of the movie.

Yates & team got the action sequences spot on – the mid-air ambush over London, stealing the pendant from Umbridge in the Ministry, getting caught by the Snatchers and the face off with the death eaters. Perfect. The special effects were so brilliant that you did not even  notice them.

I also loved the fact the Yates did not gloss over the details this time and enough time was given to build the story – there were scenes where stuff was discussed and figured out and not just assumed or skipped over. It also gave time for character evolution.

I really cannot think of anything that I did not like. And its all because they stuck to the book  – thank goodness for that!

The movie ends also at the appropriate place  – it must have been tough to find that exact break in the story. Yes it is incomplete, but the end holds a lot of promise for the sequel. Cant wait for July.

Also, do check out Zoya’s reviw at http://silvermists.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/the-deathly-hallows-return/

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Othello

The only Shakespeare that I have ever read is the Charles & Mary Lamb version in high school. While this was a great way to get introduced to essential plots and Shakespearean themes, however, the beauty of the language itself was greatly lost. I have never formally studied Shakespeare and my only memory of even attempting to read it is that of a fourteen year old me reaching out at dusty shelves to drag down an extremely heavy copy of The Complete Original Works of Shakespeare at my grandparents place. That lovely leather covered hard bound edition is now lost forever, and now that I am old enough to understand its value , I wish I had done soemthing to keep it safe.

Anyway, I digress.

Since reading original prose has always been difficult and as critics often say that in the world of Shakespeare, there is a pun in every second sentence and joke in every third, I decided to approach this differently .

I chose to start my Bard experience with Othello because I like dark tragic themes. I got the text from the library and also the Audio Recording of the Othello production by Donmar Warehouse. This stars Ewan McGregor is Iago, Kelly Reily as Desdomona and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Othello. I will not review this production but would say that its worth listening once. Overall, it had quite average reviews when it performed in 2007 but I loved hearing it – so try it at your own risk.

As I played the disc, I read along, gleaning new meaning from each sentences. Little hints in dialog delivery and soundtrack also helped set context and tones for scenes which enhanced my reading experience.

Othello is a marvelous story of passionate love, betrayel, jealousy, revenge and desire for power.My favorite character is Iago simply because he is the most intelligent and complex. I have always known that Iago is evil but only Shakespeare can make this evil a genius. Oh what a cunning, cunning villain! Othello is likeable till he turns mad with jealousy. None of the other characters made any impression on me, except for maybe Emilia, who is the only feminist in the play.

Some of the broader themes that are being addressed are inter-racial marriages ( Othello famously being a Black man) and the positions of black men in society in general, role of women and her social position ( how Desdemona’s fate is really determined by her father and then her husband) and the struggle of power ( how the whole tragedy sets in motion when Iago is passed over by Othello and Cassio is promoted)
I do not want to paraphrase the story but instead I will pick up some of my favorite lines and leave with you that

Othello : ( as he describes how Desdemona and he fell in love)

Her father loved me; oft invited me;
Still question’d me the story of my life,
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he bade me tell it;
Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and fieldOf hair-breadth scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
And portance in my travels’ history:
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
It was my hint to speak,–such was the process;………………………
This to hearWould Desdemona seriously incline:
But still the house-affairs would draw her thence:
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She’ld come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse:………………………
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
She swore, in faith, twas strange, ’twas passing strange,
‘Twas pitiful, ’twas wondrous pitiful:
She wish’d she had not heard it, yet she wish’d
That heaven had made her such a man: she thank’d me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story.
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:
She loved me for the dangers I had pass’d,
And I loved her that she did pity them.

BRABANTIO ( It is here that it is where the seed of doubt is planted in Othello’s mind)

Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:
She has deceived her father, and may thee.
Iago ( when he explains to Roderigo that he must become rich to win Desdemona)– Put money in thypurse; follow thou the wars; defeat thy favour withan usurped beard; I say, put money in thy purse. Itcannot be that Desdemona should long continue herlove to the Moor,– put money in thy purse,–nor hehis to her: it was a violent commencement, and thoushalt see an answerable sequestration:–put butmoney in thy purse. These Moors are changeable intheir wills: fill thy purse with money:–the foodthat to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall beto him shortly as bitter as coloquintida. She mustchange for youth: when she is sated with his body,she will find the error of her choice: she musthave change, she must: therefore put money in thypurse.
Iago to Cassio (who has just kissed Emilia as a sign of courtesy):
Sir, would she give you so much of her lips
As of her tongue she oft bestows on me,
You’ll have enough.
And some of my favorite – Iago’s comment on women’s beauty and wit
If she be fair and wise, fairness and wit,
The one’s for use, the other useth it.
If she be black, and thereto have a wit,
She’ll find a white that shall her blackness fit.
She never yet was foolish that was fair;
For even her folly help’d her to an heir.
DESDEMONA ( assuring Cassio that she will heckle Othello until his case is heard)
Do not doubt that; before Emilia here
I give thee warrant of thy place:assure thee,
If I do vow a friendship,
I’ll perform it
To the last article: my lord shall never rest;
I’ll watch him tame and talk him out of patience;
His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift;
I’ll intermingle every thing he does
With Cassio’s suit: therefore be merry, Cassio;
For thy solicitor shall rather die
Than give thy cause away.
Iago( explains the concept of reputation)
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.
IAGO ( on wealth & happiness)
Poor and content is rich and rich enough,
But riches fineless is as poor as winter
To him that ever fears he shall be poor.

And many more…


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Smallville – Metamorphosis & Hothead

Metamorphosis – This episode marks the “Lana in distress” and “meteor infected villains” string of episodes which become a trademark for the first few seasons of Smallville. As I re-watched this,  the first thing that I  noticed was that Clark floats in the episode. Now we have been watching this show for ten years and waiting for him to fly – not leap or jump or hop – but fly! And he did it subconsiously so early on !
So the basic plot line is fairly simple – a frustrated high school student, who is obsessed with bugs who and does a spiderman when bitten by bug infected meteor rocks. He is in love with Lana and gaining these heroic powers makes him think that he is entitled to her affections.
In this episode we see Lionel’s first appearance. Its clear that his tough love stance with Lex has only distanced Lex from him who really craves for some compassion and human connection. Lex really wants to be away from the shadow of his father and make a difference in Smallville. Its also kinda cute to watch him earn Clark’s friendship by trying to hook him up with Lana – but you begin see hints of darkness when he says things like – “Love is power”
One of the pivotal developments in this episode was Clark’s discovery his only weakness – Green Kryptonite! Its only episode 2 and things are moving quite fast in over all story arch which is the reason the show did really well it was aired.
As I watch these early episodes I am quite astounded by Tom Welling’s range of acting – he really did a good job at that time. Somewhere between season 5 & 7 , he lost his talent and looked quite bored. Don’t blame him – being at the same job can be for five years can be daunting. Before I became a hard core Clois shipper ( and that would be the first episode of season 4) , I actually enjoyed the whole Clark and Lana thing. They looked really great together. There were certain things however, about the relationship, that I did not like – Clark trying too hard, Lana smiling way too much.

Dialogs that I loved
Lex to Clark ( lovely foreshadowing) – “Saved any lives on your way over? You could make a career out of it”
Clark to Chloe – “Chloe, I can never outgrow you – except vertically!” ( What a remarkable comment on their frienship!)
Bugboy’s response to Whitney’s threat to keep away from Lana – “Sometimes you are the windshield sometimes you are the bug”
( wicked!)

Hothead – In yet another freak of the week episode, the obsessed-with-winning high school coach develops superpowers to ignite stuff by inhaling meteor smoke ( how??). Nothing worth remembering in this episode except that Clark finally gets to join the football team after a really tense argument with his father ( lovely scene acted out really well by both Welling and Schneider). The last scene where Lana and Clark scream in an empty field is heartwarming – the first indication of a friendship between them. The identity crisis that Lana felt was unrealistic and over the top – I could not find myself empathizing with her. This episode was definitely among the weaker ones of the first season

 


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Smallville – Pilot

Smallville has always been my guilty pleasure. An average show by all standards it has somehow managed to survive 10 years of prime time television ! A great proof of why in the world of art the total can be much greater than the sum of parts. As it is now in its 10th and final season, Smallville ratings are at an all time high and each episode is looked forward to with great anticipation from its large fanbase. There are so many things that this show did wrong but miraculously there was more stuff that they did right. I believe the concept of taking an American Superhero and looking at its story from a new angle was obviously the key – it got people watching and kept them interested. If one knows how the story ends, its always fun to imagine how one could get there. How Clark Kent becomes Superman – well there is over 50 years of comic book history to get inspired from and so much to add the story line.
As a tribute to a show that I have been addicted to for over ten years, I decided to do a Smallville Marathon. I am going to back to season 1 and start re-watching stuff and now analyze the episodes in retrospect.

 

Pilot – Its almost a bitter sweet sensation to go back and look at the first episode. We see the young but ridiculously good looking Tom Welling, gorgeous Annette Toole and John Schneider and absolutely adorable Allison Mack. The challenge for a series opener is to establish a plot and characters and thats what Al Gough and Miles Miller get that really right. We are introduced to Clark Kent as a typical teenager next door up to the moment he superspeeds to school ! There his dynamic with Chloe Sullivan and Pete Ross is discovered. Lana Lang is quickly introduced in the first fifteen minutes of the show – she  is the high school cheerleader, the quartberback’s girlfiriend, girl next door and the girl whose heart Clark desires.Every superhero show needs its villain so how can we forget Lex Luthor. It was so nice to see Michael Rosenbaum on screen in that role that he owned. I always maintained that he was probably the best actor on the show. Now Lex Luthor has always been the over the top maniacal villain but in Smallville world we do things differently. He is the 20 something spoiled Luthor brat who is desperately trying to be not his father, the tyrannical industrialist Lionel Luther. Now thats interesting – Smallville doesnt establish Lex as the bad guy at all , but instead this person who is desparately trying to be a good. As the show progresses, the show is not only about Clark’s growth into Superman but also how Lex becomes that villain.

In this very first episode we see signs of the struggle that Clark will face throughout his life – his struggle to live a human life with all his superpowers. Even getting on a football team is a matter of great debate and concern. It is in this episode that Clark discovers that he is not human at all but from a different planet – imagine you are 16 something and you realize you are an alien!The show format has always been about the “Monster of the week” and with emphasis on character development and the overall arch with Clark and the villain of the sereies. I have never been too interested in the MOTW so my analysis on these would be minimal.

All in all a great start to a really good show.