‘The Fall’ or ‘Ways to make your eyes hug your brain #1’

(Possible spoilers for the 2006 film ‘The Fall’)

 

How often do you watch a film and not give two hoots about the plot because it’s SO PRETTY? I almost never do, but The Fall is a film which achieves this with ease. That’s not to say that the plot isn’t good – it is – but frankly the cinematography is so beautiful that it wouldn’t matter if it were terrible.

Released in 2006, there was very little fuss or advertising for this film, and yet it really should be considered a classic. Shot in more than 20 countries, the plot centres on the story being told by a man to a small girl as they convalesce in a hospital. What is particularly clever about this is that while it is the man who is narrating, it is the girl’s imagination we are seeing into, and so what she sees is coloured by her experiences. This leads to an occasional dichotomy between the narrative and the visuals, but subtly so, necessitating a certain level of focus to prevent slight confusion.

So yes, the plot is interesting, but as previously mentioned it’s the visuals which really set this film apart. From the first shot of the ‘story’, the film is a smorgasbord of stunning images – vast deserts, endless mazes, a particularly beautawful (not a word, but appropriate here) scene involving a sheet – and by the film’s conclusion you almost have retina burn from the expressive-contrasty goodness. It’s so pretty that I’ve apparently forgotten how to use words.

So if you feel like treating your eyeballs, go watch The Fall. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

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Much Ado about Whedon

“I’m bored. Let’s make a film.”

If most of us said that the result would probably be… less than stellar. When Joss Whedon does it? Let’s say that I’ve just spent the best part of two hours squeeing – in a very manly fashion, of course (and if you believe that you’ve clearly never heard an actual squee).

I should probably clarify that I’ve lately watched Joss Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing. And yes, Whedon and Shakespeare really do go as well together as any rabid Whedonite would claim. Shot over a fortnight in Joss Whedon’s house, the film is a black and white spectacle, set in the present day but using the original Shakespearean script, and could also be described as a who’s who of the actors the director apparently keeps in his basement. I recognise almost all of the principal cast from Whedon’s other projects, and indeed given that the couple the film centres on are portrayed by Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof, one gets the feeling that the film is a nod to the closure that fans of Angel never got.

Actually, that’s not a bad idea. Excuse me while I update my headcanon.

If you’ve not seen Angel, not to worry, Much Ado is completely worth watching; Shakespeare is inevitably worthwhile, and this production is a shining example of how to do it right.

As a ‘rabid Whedonite’ myself, I also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see his house (yes, the Architecture student is nosy about other people’s homes. Shocker.), which being in California is unsurprisingly Spanish Colonial in style. The walls of books get a thumbs-up, although there seems to be rather a large assortment of stairs in odd places. I’d look for floor plans but that might come across as creepy. And if you don’t give two hoots about architecture then you’re probably wondering why you’re still reading this.

So basically, go and watch this film now. If I’ve accidentally included spoilers then please accept my apologies, although since the play’s existed longer than you have I’m not sure anyone can really complain. Just like people who complained about being told Dobby died in the 7th Harry Potter film had no right to be upset since the books had been out for years. Yes, I’ve actually heard people complain about this. There’s Slowpoke is slow, and then there’s just plain ridiculous.

No go watch Whedonspeare. Go on. You have my permission to go.

Deary me, it’s been a while

Did you miss me? I missed you. All three people I’ve managed to browbeat into reading this nonsense – I know who you are, and I thank you.

So life happened. To be fair, considering that there have been times recently where I’ve been so busy that I haven’t slept in about 50 hours it’s not surprising the complete lack of updating I’ve done to this blog.  Yes, I’m trying to justify not posting more. Again. Don’t judge me.

But that’s done with for a few months, so here comes regular posting (I hope). No seriously, I’m really going to try and update at least once a week. Let’s see how this goes, shall we?

Oh, and I haven’t done much typing for weeks so I fully expect the standard of my English to be terrible. Please do point out errors, I really need the help.

The catharsis of writing: I cannot brain today, I has the dumb

It would appear that selective amnesia may have been occurring recently, causing me to forget that the original aim of this blog was to exercise my grammatical skills. I’ve been reading over my previous posts and noticed that I’ve been making up words right left and centre. Apparently, I get so caught up in offering my opinion that I forget the underlying reason for writing it down.

That said, since I’m enjoying rambling nonsensically, I may choose to let this issue go. As someone whose mentality could be described as ‘linguistically focused’, I find the process of writing highly cathartic, particularly when I am under pressure. I’m almost coming to look at it as a muggle’s pensieve, as it allows me to essentially externalise thoughts and points of focus which have been taking up valuable mental real estate.

A more logical explanation is obviously that writing simply allows me to focus on a particular subject to the extent that I can block out the background static, but the result is the same. I vent, and in the words of Hugh Bonneville’s character on 2012 ‘so that’s all good’.

Since this post has become a little… preachy… I’ll sum it up with a meme reference. ‘I cannot brain today, I has the dumb’ is a brilliant phrase which sums up some days perfectly, and which I’ve found can sometimes be rectified by writing something of no relevance to anything.

All that said, if I make any particularly egregious errors in my grammar/spelling/syntax, please do comment with a proposed correction.

 

Finally, I’m pleased to point out that I’ve managed an entire post without utilising parentheses. So maybe there’s hope for me yet.

Excuse me, authors, but would you mind giving us closure?

Another book-related post.  Be warned that it contains spoilers from ‘Inheritance’, the final novel in the ‘Inheritance Cycle’ by Christopher Paolini, and ‘The Last Guardian’, the grand finale to Eoin Colfer’s fantastic ‘Artemis Fowl’ series. There, fair warning. You can’t say I’m unreasonable.

I’ve recently been contemplating the incapability of some authors to leave their readers satisfied… ok, you got me. I’m just grumpy about finishing several series in a short space of time, and venting to reduce the withdrawal symptoms.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a fan of happy endings. At the end of a series I even continue the storyline on in my head to achieve this. It’s for this reason that I refuse to read the ‘Buffy Season 8’ graphic novels, despite the fact that they’re officially canon, because I have happy endings for all nicely sorted out in my head, thank you very much. It involves a fair amount of debt on the behalf of the Powers That Be and hence the resurrection of several characters (sans repercussions, of course). And if you don’t like this, please vacate my headspace.

Of course, it doesn’t always have to be a happy ending. The Hunger Games isn’t an entirely happy ending, but then given everything the characters have been through, a blissfully happy ending would read as false. Or a hijacking of the text by an outside entity.  (See ‘My Immortal’, where some genius broke into the author’s account and killed off all of the characters. Apparently. I’ve never been able to read that far.) What’s important is that the story is given a true ending. As a reader, not only have essentially all of your questions been answered, you feel that the plot has come to a conclusion, and while you may be sad to say farewell to the characters, you are aware that you have reached a natural parting of the ways.

This is the skill of a good author – to leave the reader satisfied, if wistful for more. Which is why it is so vexing when an author fails to do this. I am, of course, talking about the ‘ending’ to Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, although ‘brick wall’ would also be an accurate description. We knew from early on in the series that Eragon would be leaving Alagaesia forever, so we were prepared for that bit of depressing plot. What I’m annoyed about is the complete lack of a resolution of Eragon and Arya’s feelings for one another. There was a complete tease in the first book that suggested that they’d leave together, which left the author with no choice but to include that scene in the final book, before Arya returns to her people. In all fairness, it’s perhaps more realistic that the series should end this way, but then it is a fantasy series. Realism is not its purpose.

Still, I could allow a nice bit of poignancy if it weren’t for Angela. We are given almost no explanation as to whom or indeed what she is, and given that she is far and away the most interesting character, I actually screamed at this. To add insult to injury, Paolini states in the acknowledgments that many readers would like an explanation, but that it is ‘more interesting’ if we don’t get to find out, to which I have to call foul (I actually threw the book across the room – something I would never ordinarily do). It actually comes across as laziness on the part of the writer, but that’s just my opinion. If he were planning to write a separate book about her origins, I could understand, since it’s perfectly acceptable for authors to leave hints lying around their works that lead to a further series down the line. Just look to ‘the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel’ for an example of this.

If, however, you plan on leaving a series permanently, then please take a leaf out of Eoin Colfer’s book. I realise that ‘the Last Guardian’ has only just been published, and as such Paolini couldn’t follow this directive, but all the same, there are a few authors who really should take note of this. Colfer provides the reader with a definite conclusion, leaving us in no doubt as to his stance on writing another book, but he does it in such a way as to leave us satisfied. In all fairness, he hasn’t always done this. The ‘Eternity Code’ was meant to be the final Fowl adventure, and it ended with the titular antihero having his mind wiped of all knowledge of the people. This made me grumpy. Of course, Colfer proceeded to write several more Fowl books, and now that the series has come to an end he has left at least one reader satisfied. I might have preferred a slightly different ending, but all in all it was very well done, and I have no desire to fetch a wet fish with which to strike someone.

So there you have it. Give us closure or beware my wrath and suchlike. Or if it’s a choice between a happy ending and having questions answered, at least make sure to choose one rather than taking the curmudgeonly option of ‘neither’.

A (very) belated hello to you, Geek and Sundry

The Internet has launched its newest salvo in the ‘no, you don’t need a television, just watch things online’ campaign. Felicia Day, (actress, musician, writer, producer, probable web deity – the list goes on, mother nature having apparently forgotten that she’s meant to share out the gifts) has launched a new Youtube channel, entitled ‘Geek and Sundry’ (loving the name, by the way). Apparently this is part of Google’s new web talent drive or something, but whatever the cause, the end result has been the creation of the equivalent of a television channel on the interwebs.

Though actually launched at Easter, time constraints on my part have meant that I’ve only just been able to start watching its content. And yes, it’s been difficult for me to restrain myself (cue tiny violin).

The channel consists of about five shows, with a new episode of each being uploaded on a set day of the week. On Mondays there is ‘the Flog’ (a Felicia Day vlog), wherein the web goddess takes part in various activities such a playing retro games, cooking and trying out various things she’s done in games e.g. blacksmithing. For anyone who’s played many RPGs, this is highly entertaining. She also lists a weekly ‘fave five’ – basically five new things she’s obsessing over online.

Other shows include ‘Sword and Laser’, which is essentially a book club, ‘Tabletop’, which is about tabletop games (duh), and cartoons based on Dark Horse comics.

Of course, while all of the shows are great (especially ‘the Flog’, which has introduced me to many fascinating new things), my real interest is ‘the Guild’, Ms Day’s first web series, which is truly brilliant (and that you should really go and watch right now. Go on. Youtube is just moments away). Quite apart from being highly entertaining, I owe ‘the Guild’ a debt of gratitude in that it introduced me to ‘proper’ web TV – i.e. scripted comedies/dramas as opposed to ‘reality’ shows.

And so we come in a very roundabout manner to ‘H+’ and ‘the Lizzie Bennet Diaries’. The former is a sci-fi drama about a future where nanocomputers injected into the nervous system send data directly to the nerves so that you don’t need to lug around hardware to go online (it goes wrong). The latter is a modern-day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice presented as a vlog – it’s hilarious, and well worth watching, the more so if you are familiar with the plot, just to see how various characters are presented. Incidentally I discovered this because it was an early Flog ‘fave five’ item. I can completely see why.

Another recent discovery (again because it was a fave five item – and yes, I can think for myself, but I see no harm in checking out stuff which comes highly recommended) is ‘Looking for Group’, a web comic which has had me in stitches on several occasions. Again, you really should try reading it.

Should I be getting paid for this type of advertising?

 

So there you have it. A hearty thank you to Felicia Day for her contributions to the online community, and I leave you with a Looking for Group quote:

 

FOR PONY!!!!!!!

So apparently the universe reads my blog

No, I’m not conceitedly suggesting that this blog is the most popular thing on the web. I’m saying that whatever is in charge of everything, be it the universe as an intelligent entity, fate, some deity or other, or Sod (see ‘Sod’s Law’) was clearly paying attention when I said I had no idea how we’d cope without the internet. And clearly has a rather dry sense of humour.

Why, you ask?

Because for several weeks recently I was without Internet access. It sucked. I’m not saying this to excuse my lack of recent posts – there were a couple of months when I just didn’t get round to it (yes, I’m lazy. Sorry). I genuinely had several weeks without a proper internet connection, and it was crippling. Think about how many of the things you do EVERY DAY require internet access. Email, insurance, coursework submission, even just finding bloody directions – they’re all geared towards online activity. It certainly made life interesting. And by ‘interesting’ I really mean ‘inconvenient’.

But that’s over now. I have the interwebs again. And so much web TV to catch up on. More on that in the next post.

On an unrelated note, and as an addendum to the whole book/film adaptation rant, I’d like to say that ‘Game of Thrones’ is brilliant. I’ve only just started reading the book, but so far the TV show seems to have stuck very closely to the source material, so bravo HBO. Although they did add a lot more rape than there is in the book. Didn’t really want to see that, especially since my mum also happens to watch the show.

Excess nudity aside, it really does seem to be a good adaptation. Please film faster.