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Axis

1. In the South, in Alabama and Georgia, this day was always genuinely a point where I could breathe a sigh of relief. Usually, by December 21st the worst of the cold and gloom was over. I knew that by the end of February there would be signs of spring, and that by April, almost always, the world would be warm and green. But here, instead, December 21st doesn't feel like anything but the darkest day of the year. Here, I'll be waiting until April just for Cold Spring. So, I see no reason to even note this day as separate from all the rest except that, like every other day between early September and mid July, it means we're one day nearer less loathsome weather.

It is supposed to be warmer tomorrow. But there's also going to be clouds, rain, and fog. Which means tomorrow will, in actuality, be worse than today.

2. I didn't write yesterday, not really. Day before yesterday, I didn't write. And on Wednesday I did not write. I sat here yesterday and read aloud to myself what I've written on "Oranges from Africa," 2,768 words since I began it on the 15th. After I'd read the first seven pages aloud and marked them up so much that they'd ceased to be legible I finally admitted to myself that it's a mess, and that it's a mess I do not currently have time to clean up. On the bottom of pg. 10 I wrote, "I don't think I can fix this." And the date. And the story has gone to live in the filing cabinet. This is my fault for having begun anything so ambitious and, more importantly, personal right now.

3. Truthfully, I have little to write about – that I have any business writing about here – except movies and television. My life dissolves in front of screens: iMac, iPad, the TV, and theater screens.

4. On Thursday we saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I thought it was a great improvement over the first installment of the trilogy. The 3D gimmickry was still there, but it, to me, felt less intrusive. The film was better paced and better edited, and it didn't seem so painfully over lit. I don't mind the addition of the story of Gandalf's quest to Dol Guldur. I don't mind the peculiar triangle of romantic tension between Legolas, Tauriel, and Kíli. No, it doesn't bother me that Tauriel was created by the screenwriters. She works, and we are reminded, however marginally, that there are vaginas in Middle Earth. I was pleased that Beorn wasn't skipped over, impressed by Lee Pace as a menacing, calculating Thranduil, and very much approved of Lake-town. But there's no denying that the star is, rightly, Benedict Cumberbatch's Smaug. Wow. Perfect. What a gloriously terrifying beast, with just the right measure of egotism, grandeur, fury, and vanity.

I think I prefer the non-CGI orcs from LotR. But I love old-school makeup SFX, and Weta excels at it.

That said, the whole thing certainly could have been handled without the video game interludes, and it's a shame the film was shot 48fps and in 3D. For all its merit, so far Peter Jackson's The Hobbit lags well behind his The Lord of the Rings, and this is primarily because of the former's compromised cinematography. I should note that, currently, at the theater we attended The Desolation of Smaug, the film is showing on four screens, but only one of them is 3D, and the one that's 3D is in a broom closet. This is a good thing, and I hope it reflects, to some degree, waning interest in an artless, unfortunate, costly fad.

Still, honestly, the absolute worst thing about the film was the horrid Ed Sheeran song that's yodeled over the end credits. Think Boys to Men do the Chieftains. Only it's actually worse than that. I'd never heard of Sheeran, and I cannot imagine what the fuck Jackson was thinking. Each third of LotR closes with a beautiful, haunting song. And the song that closed out An Unexpected Journey wasn't bad. But this? Seriously? If you see the film, the moment the screen goes to black (you'll know when I mean) get up and fucking run to the nearest exit.

5. The sunlight is so weak.

Ta,
Aunt Beast

Comments

( 17 comments — Have your say! )
kambriel
Dec. 21st, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
If you & Spooky ever need to get away from the Wintry depths, you're welcome to visit. Perhaps we could even roadtrip to Savannah to spend some time with Dame Darcy.
greygirlbeast
Dec. 21st, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC)

That's kind of you.

I wasn't aware Dame Darcy was in Savannah. Apparently, Spooky was though.

I still entertain fantasies of one day being repatriated to the Southeast.
kambriel
Dec. 21st, 2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
She seems to have made it her permanent home (as of earlier this year also now has her own house there) & seems very content. I think the Southern Gothic atmosphere, as well as its proximity to the ocean, suits her perfectly.

But yes, the offer is there for an utterly low-key visit anytime you'd like. We could converse with the raptors and Spooky could raid my fabric scraps.

Edited at 2013-12-21 07:01 pm (UTC)
greygirlbeast
Dec. 21st, 2013 07:58 pm (UTC)

She seems to have made it her permanent home (as of earlier this year also now has her own house there) & seems very content. I think the Southern Gothic atmosphere, as well as its proximity to the ocean, suits her perfectly.

I have always loved Savannah. I have thought of living there. But friends who lived there warned it wouldn't be a friendly city for me.
kambriel
Dec. 21st, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
If we went together, we'd make it so.

I'd like to think the College of Art & Design being such a strong influence in the town, helps bring an influx of less-constrained mindsets into the community. Last year, we went during a Pagan-pride event being held in one of the parks, and it seemed nothing but celebratory and festive ~ I never witnessed any heckling/etc... One thing I'd actively avoid is St. Patrick's day (when Darcy wisely took off to a beach 1/2 an hour away). We made that mistake once, having no idea they host the 2nd largest celebration of it in the country ("celebration" = the raucously overcrowded, green beer-swilling variety), but other than that, its atmosphere painted with the pervasive sombre grey Spanish moss, lends a feel of ghostly "otherness".
greygirlbeast
Dec. 21st, 2013 08:29 pm (UTC)

It's a beautiful city.
setsuled
Dec. 21st, 2013 06:42 pm (UTC)
Benedict Cumberbatch's Smaug. Wow. Perfect. What a gloriously terrifying beast, with just the right measure of egotism, grandeur, fury, and vanity.

I agree. I think it's significant the best parts of these movies so far have been this scene and the riddle scene with Gollum. Just Bilbo confronting another mind. What do you think of Martin Freeman in the role?

the film is showing on four screens, but only one of them is 3D, and the one that's 3D is a broom closet. This is a good thing, and I hope it reflects, to some degree, waning interest in a fad.

I saw it in 3D because it was the only convenient showtime when I got to the cinema. I still say the best parts of a 3D film are the one or two points when you stop noticing the 3D. Which of course makes it pretty pointless.

The Hobbit lags well behind his The Lord of the Rings, and this is primarily because of the former's compromised cinematography.

More complex cinematography certainly sets Lord of the Rings above Hobbit though I also found the writing far more effective in Lord of the Rings. I remember not quite agreeing with their idea of maintaining a focus on Frodo when the books were anything but focused on just one point of view. But I think they should have taken their own advice with The Hobbit. I say that even though I also didn't hate the addition of the elf love triangle. I kind of like the arc it gives to Legolas and I admit I want to see Kili and Tauriel make out.
greygirlbeast
Dec. 21st, 2013 06:53 pm (UTC)

What do you think of Martin Freeman in the role?

He's very good. Probably not as good as Ian Holm, but better than Elijah Woods' Frodo (though I did not dislike the latter).

though I also found the writing far more effective in Lord of the Rings

With LotR, the screenwriters had better source material, so....

I remember not quite agreeing with their idea of maintaining a focus on Frodo when the books were anything but focused on just one point of view.

Maybe it's because I've seen the extended version several dozen times, but I'm not sure what you mean. Frodo doesn't get more screen time than the other narratives; not at all.

setsuled
Dec. 21st, 2013 07:07 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's because I've seen the extended version several dozen times, but I'm not sure what you mean. Frodo doesn't get more screen time than the other narratives; not at all.

It's something they discuss a lot in the DVD commentaries--it's less noticeable in the extended editions because the extended versions contain a lot of scenes they deliberately trimmed in order to maintain focus on Frodo. But it wasn't just sticking to Frodo scenes from the book--they actually altered dialogue at times, like when Frodo solves the riddle on the door into Moria instead of Merry.
greygirlbeast
Dec. 21st, 2013 08:03 pm (UTC)

Okay, well...I don't know. I don't see it. Obviously, then, it must be there, but it has never detracted. I'm tempted now to watch it and time the scenes. But, clearly, a screenwriter would have to choose narratives to focus on, when adapting any work with multiple characters and story lines. Simplification is unavoidable. I have always said, Jackson could not film the books. They are, as written, unfilmable. Hell, when I was asked to adapt Threshold (nothing ultimately came of it, but), I began by tossing out two major characters – Dancy and Sadie.

Truthfully, I'm impressed Jackson made good, solid films from LotR. Even the extended versions are very short, compared to the source material.

Edited at 2013-12-21 08:04 pm (UTC)
setsuled
Dec. 21st, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
Obviously, then, it must be there, but it has never detracted.

Ultimately, it doesn't detract from those films for me, either.

But, clearly, a screenwriter would have to choose narratives to focus on, when adapting any work with multiple characters and story lines. Simplification is unavoidable. I have always said, Jackson could not film the books. They are, as written, unfilmable.

There's a lot in the books that's not anchored to character POV which I think would be difficult if not impossible to create an effective film with, particularly with a director like Jackson whose movies tend to feel like you're riding in a character's coat pocket--you're so tied to the people on screen. Even the opening of Fellowship of the Ring, which would have to be the most removed from POV part of the films, Jackson takes the time to show things like an arrow wizzing quite close to Elrond's eye to give you that sense of touch and tie you for a moment to him. Ian McKellen really praises Jackson over this close-up--in the commentary or one of the interviews, I can't remember, he says it would feel like Monty Python otherwise.

Hell, when I was asked to adapt Threshold (nothing ultimately came of it, but), I began by tossing out two major characters – Dancy and Sadie.

Wow. And Threshold is a much shorter book. I would have liked to have seen how an adaptation would have played out. Well, a good one.

Truthfully, I'm impressed Jackson made good, solid films from LotR. Even the extended versions are very short, compared to the source material.

Yes. They're remarkably tight. Every scene chains well with the next and many characters come across very naturally without fracturing the flow of the story.
martianmooncrab
Dec. 21st, 2013 06:44 pm (UTC)
thanks for the warning about the end credits song, so, was there a Godzilla trailer before the movie?
greygirlbeast
Dec. 21st, 2013 06:53 pm (UTC)

was there a Godzilla trailer before the movie?

Yes. Impressive. Sadly, also a 3D film.
martianmooncrab
Dec. 21st, 2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
as long as its shown in 2D, life can be good.
alumiere
Dec. 21st, 2013 08:01 pm (UTC)
I'm looking forward to seeing The Hobbit, and it makes me happy voices I trust are mostly enjoying it. Our nearby theatre has 3D on all right now, hopefully next week I can go.
greygirlbeast
Dec. 21st, 2013 08:05 pm (UTC)

Then I'm glad I took time to write about it.
jacobluest
Dec. 24th, 2013 09:08 pm (UTC)
I highly, highly recommend the Arkenstone Edition fan-edit of The Hobbit. I watched it with some friends and we were blown away by how much better it was than the original edit. The editor took out all the video game-y scenes and spliced in other stuff to make the story much more focused on the characters and less gimmicky, as well as introducing a better sort of continuity into the piece. I'd post the link but then my comment gets blocked as spam...but if you google for hobbit "arkenstone edition" you can check it out.

It was good enough that our first reaction after seeing DoS was "oh man, I can't wait for the fan edit of that!"

~Jacob
( 17 comments — Have your say! )