June 10th, 2004

HP rides again

Last night the divine Jym took me out to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. All "Harry Potter and the Onset of Puberty" jokes aside, this was an all right romp and I rather enjoyed it. But before I move on to the review proper, a word or two on my professional assessment of Rowling:

J.K. Rowling writes the fairy tales of our time, and in 300 years she may well be the only fiction of this century that anyone remembers or repeats. She channels Bettelheim in a marvelous way, she gets kids away from the PlayStation and into a book, and her grasp of the archetypal has made her a zillionaire. Go her. But that having been said ... I've never actually, technically ready any of the books. At all. I love what she does, but I'm content to appreciate it from a distance. The only thing that got me into see the first flick was the promise of Alan Rickman in black, and I don't regret that narrowly-informed decision. I have found all three movies absolutely charming, but I'm simply not interested in delving any deeper into the HP mythos.

I'm not sure why this is; I can't quite put my finger on it.*
But I'm okay with my stance, and anyone who deems me a pop culture Philistine can bugger merrily off into the sunset for all I care. Okay. So. Keeping in mind my incompletely-developed awareness of the HP world, and considering my delight in the characters but my apathy with regards to the books that spawned them ... NOW you can move on to the review, and you should fear no spoilers. I promise to behave myself.

There has been a great deal of discussion about HP: POA's new director and the dark spookitude he's contributed to the third film's atmosphere. At the risk of setting myself up to be stoned like first-century hooker, I'm going to out on a limb and say ... "Huh?" The first two flicks weren't exactly 120 minutes of sunshine and bluebirds, for heaven's sake--and yes, number three was delightfully creeptastic, but I didn't feel that it was gothically leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors. If anything, I thought POA dragged Harry and friends away from the Hogwarts surrealism and into the ordinary "real world" more insistently than first two, and I wasn't altogether thrilled with this. Previously, the Real World served as a weak, forgettable frame story that existed to set off the exceptional "otherness" of Hogwarts -- much in the same fashion that the finer moments of the Matrix movies pitted the dismal Real World against the slick fantasy of the Matrix itself. In POA, there's less swishy robery and more Real World pink hoodies and jeans--which makes sense, but looks jarring against the backdrop of the fascinating grotesqueness of the school. We don't plug into HP because we want to see ordinary 14-year-olds angsting over dull social drama (poor Harry! no permission slip!); if we wanted to see that sort of thing, we'd go to the mall.

But I say all that to say this: darker? spookier? more artistic?
If you insist.
It's been quite a while since I've seen the other two, so it wouldn't be fair of me to offer a sweeping dismissal, and I won't. But in my less-than-humble-but-by-no-means-authoritative opinion, POA wasn't wildly different from its two forefathers.

So naturally, I liked it. I appreciate the way Rowling doesn't pull any punches, and I adore the way she figures youngsters can handle watching a little misery without a sterilizing whitewash. I don't mind that things don't always end up perfect and "happily ever after." Things are resolved, but not always in the sort of fashion you'd prefer. That's okay. That's just J.K.'s postmodern contribution to the Fairy Tale™ as mythic construct, and I take no issue with it. Clearly, it works.

Other points of miscellaney, guaranteed to spoil nothing about your viewing experience
(assuming you've not yet seen POA and plan to do so):

  • The Dementors: Weak. I found it hard to be intimidated by a garland of black tissue paper flung over a balloon.
  • Gary Oldman: Ew. And yet ... I find myself strangely drawn to him ... with a loofah and a toothbrush.
  • Alan Rickman-as-Snape: Mrwowr. And yet ... I find myself strangely repulsed ... for he badly needs a lighter conditioner.
  • Daniel-as-Harry: Clearly I am a cradle-robbing pervert for thinking he's just precious. Have decided I don't care.
  • Ron: in the sentiments of my beloved, "Someone hold that boy back a year, for he is clearly too stupid to advance."**
  • The Insufferable Know-It-All: Might have looked better in periwinkle. Also, kept flashing lower back. Needs cute tattoo.
  • Lupin: And the plot-revealing character name of the year award goes to ...
  • Emma Thompson as Trelawney: Irritating-and-sadly-correct writer's workshop stereotype #14.

    Okay, that's all I've got for now. Fun as this has been, I need to head off for lunch and check my stats at the bank. Y'all go on and have fun without me for a bit.


    * it might have something to do with the books' unfathomable dearth of Alan Rickman-in-black photos.
    ** "How did you get here? You were over there?" Well, here you are, in a magical school, filled with magical people, all working their magical spells and stuff ... huh. You think it might have been, well, shucks, I don't know --- MAGIC? Here's a quarter, Ronnie. Seek out a discount clue, will ya?

    [as lovingly ganked from Warren Ellis and BoingBoing]
    *makes fist-jerking, high-kicking dances of joy*

    BUSH/Zombie-Reagan, 2004
    This election year, I have found the party for me.
    Forget Cthulhu, I'm voting strictly Bush/Zombie Reagan.
    Damn straight.

    Aw, yeah.
    Peace out, comrades.


    By the way, all you peeps who were hip to foster kittens for Devan the other day ... with a little help from our cat-loving friends, she got the doomed kittens squared away and now there's a new batch that need some lovin'. There's a maine-coon mix mama and her four 6-week old kittens that need a home--ASAP, tonight if possible. Atlanta peeps? Hello? Maine-cooney goodness is yours for the fostering ...

    All you spainy-cat fans, my own puss is also a maine-coon mix; they're a personable breed--smart and friendly, and absolutely beautiful (as you all well know).

    No pressure or anything.
    I'm just saying.
    Go here to learn about the homeless maine coon family.
    You know you want 'em.


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