Archive for July, 2011

My Thoughts on Deathly Hallows Part 2

I went to see this movie at midnight and it was a wonderful experience.  I was in line at 3:30 p.m. and it was quite lovely.  I watched a movie, did several word searches and ate a lot of food.  We got great seats and the whole evening was phenomenal.  My poor sister was in Ames and she was nearly trampled to death at her theater.  They wouldn’t let anyone line up until 9:00 p.m., so there was a literal “Wal-Mart on Black Friday” mob running across the parking lot to get in line.  She was the only one from her group who made it into the building so she had to save seats for 12 other people.  Poor thing, she was so traumatized.

Anyway, I have already seen the movie twice and have managed to put together some thoughts (once I mopped up all my tears and stopped whimpering).  It will be filled with spoilery type things, so only click through if you have seen the movie.

Continue reading ‘My Thoughts on Deathly Hallows Part 2’

Recap: Goblet of Fire

Goblet of Fire, to me, is really when the books start crossing into real YA lit area. It’s much darker, thanks to Voldemort. Also, I would argue that Goblet is really when the whole story of Harry Potter begins. The first 3 books could be viewed as exposition. Sure they have real plots and read individually, but in the whole story arc of the series, doesn’t it boil down to Harry vs Voldemort?

Sigh, this book is so good. Right now I’m after the Quidditch World Cup just before the dark mark is conjured. Ron is fantastic. I love him. Evidence: “Another loud bang echoed from the edge of the wood. Let’s just keep moving, shall we?’ said Ron, and Harry saw him glance edgily at Hermione.”

I love Harry & Ron’s fight.  It’s very realistic – Ron would definitely have gotten jealous of Harry’s attention and it was bound to come out somehow.  I also love that they don’t even really apologize – after the dragon task, Harry realizes how upset it made Ron and they get over it.  Boys are so weird.

Also can I just say that the idea of the Pensieve is awesome.  Of all of the magical objects and concepts J.K. created for this series, that is probably one of my favorites.  The only thing I wonder about is if you put a memory in the Pensieve, would you not remember it anymore?  Or do you have a vague memory of it, but the point of the Pensieve is to save the details?  That would be so cool.  I want one.

From the part of the book when the 3rd task begins, all the way to the end, it’s like a race to the finish.  There’s no stopping!  I remember when I read this book for the first time right when it came out.  This was the first big book I had to wait for and when it finally came, I devoured it.  I’m pretty sure I held my breath when the Triwizard Cup became a portkey.  And when Cedric died!  OMG, it was so QUICK.  I think I reread the section because I couldn’t believe it.  I like that it’s so quick though.  She doesn’t drag it out because Wormtail and Voldemort wouldn’t have taken their time with it.  It’s simple: Kill the spare.  I love the whole last section – Dumbledore’s concern, the confession from Crouch, Dumbledore asking McGonagall to get the dog from the pumpkin patch and taking it to his office, Dumbledore asking Snape to do what he must, etc. etc.  This is the book that sets up the rest of the series.  The entire tone of the series changes once Harry and Cedric are taken from the maze via the portkey.

Movie

Now I know it would be hard to adapt a gigantic book into a movie, but wow does this one move fast.  They don’t even really set up going to the Quidditch World Cup, let alone show it.  And if you hadn’t read the book, you probably wouldn’t get the Triwizard Tournament.   I’m still a little unsure about Dumbledore.  He practically manhandles Harry after his name comes out of the goblet.  Not a fan – that’s not what the Dumbledore in my head did.

I do like the casting of Mad-Eye Moody and Rita Skeeter.  Woah, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched this movie apparently.  I totally forgot that they say Ron knew about the dragons and didn’t tell Harry.  But in the book, Ron didn’t know and that’s why he ended up getting over being mad at him!  Ugh.

By the way, did anyone else remember how we met Cedric the first time?  He dropped out of a tree.  My mind instantly made a Edward Cullen joke but it could be because I keep picturing the “Robert is bothered” skits from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  🙂

– Jill

Recap: HP & the Prisoner of Azkaban

Ahh, Prisoner of Azkaban. I love this book because we get background on Lily & James. Voldemort doesn’t appear in any form, which is also a nice break & help prevent the series from seeming too formulaic.

I remember when I read this for the first time. I was babysitting my cousins, one who is also a big fan. I told her how I loved Sirius Black & accidentally ruined the surprise at the end since she hadn’t read it yet. Oops. Sorry, Katie!

There seems to be at least one thing I’ve forgotten about in each book. This time it’s Cho Chang.

One of my favorite things about this book is the introduction of the dementors.  The idea of the dementors is perfect.  I love when J.K. comes up with ideas for why things happen in the Muggle world.  I read that she came up with the idea after she was clinically depressed.  The concept of the dementors who suck the happiness and positive emotions out of you is fascinating…terrifying…and fascinating.

I just whipped through the last few chapters. There’s so much info you want to know, it’s hard to stop. The scene in the Shrieking Shack is so vivid. I’m not a giant fan of the repeated stuff after they go back in time, but I deal with it. All in all, a great book!

MOVIE

A lot of things are different in this movie, since it’s a new director.  I like the darker tone Alfonso Cuarón took with it.  There are a few things I dislike about it though.  For one, the shrunken heads on the Knight Bus.  I HATE them!

I do like a lot of things about this film though:  David Thewlis as Lupin is great, and I think casting Emma Thompson as Trelawney and Gary Oldman as Sirius was *perfect*.  Michael Gambon as the new Dumbledore is good too, but still doesn’t quite match the Dumbledore I have built in my head.  He’s closer than Richard Harris for me, but still isn’t as playful as Dumbledore seems to be in the books.

The dementors are fine with me in this movie, but I know they change as different directors come in, so I’ll have to remember to compare them with other versions.

Ooh, there are several things different from the book!  Maybe I didn’t read the book before anytime I watched the movie?  I really dislike how in the movie Harry’s most powerful happy moment when he’s learning how to conjure a patronus is his parents talking to him.  Um, no.  Harry’s most powerful happy moment is supposed to be when he found out he’s a wizard and is leaving the Dursleys.  Usually if there’s a change from the book, it’s to cut out a secondary plotline or to speed things along – like how Harry sees Peter Pettigrew on the Marauders’ Map and goes looking, which is how Snape gives it to Lupin instead of getting caught in Hogsmeade.  But the change with Harry’s most powerful memory is just really that important, is it?  So why couldn’t it be the same as the book?  It’s really surprising to me since Steve Kloves adapted the book to movie for the first two movies as well, which were very similar.

– Jill

Recap: Chamber of Secrets

Book 2 is starting off as good as I remembered. I think I like it a little better than Sorcerer’s Stone. There’s not as much obvious exposition- just a little more delving into the wizarding world. I had completely forgotten about Floo powder! And this one introduces Dobby (*sob*) and Colin Creevey.

Ooh… you guys… the vanishing cabinet is mentioned!!!!! Chapter 8- Nearly Headless Nick persuades Peeves to drop it over Filch’s office to get Harry out of trouble! Peeves breaks the vanishing cabinet! OMG I had no idea it was even mentioned far back! I am so impressed with J.K.’s ability to tie these things together.

Another thing I love about this book are the mandrakes. They’re so clever and funny! “…in March several of the Mandrakes threw a loud and raucous party in greenhouse 3. This made Professor Sprout very happy. ‘The moment they start trying to move into each other’s pots, we’ll know they’re fully mature.” Hilarious.

Also, has anyone else noticed how Ron is the one to jump to Hermione’s defense all the time? 🙂

So at the end of the book, Harry kind of takes on Lucius Malfoy. He deals with a lot of adults as an equal- not so much like a adult and a 12-year-old. I guess it’s because his parents aren’t around to take him on for him. I suddenly want to write or read critical essays on HP. (Nerd alert!)

MOVIE
I’m not a big fan of the scene in the bookstore- though I do love the part where Draco tears out a page from a book. The movie as a whole is ok. It’s pretty true to the book, which I appreciate, though at times it’s dumbed down a bit & some things aren’t as subtle as they are in the book.

Good things though? Kenneth Branagh is perfect as Professor Lockhart & this is the book/movie where I really started to love Ginny. Lucius Malfoy is also awesome & I’ve watched some of the extras for HP7.1 & he is SO unlike his character.

Ooh sexual tension between Ron & Hermione at the end of this one. Forgot about that. Book 4 was already out by the time the movie was released so I guess they knew it was coming.

Jill

Recap: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I’m working my way through a re-reading off the whole series before I see the final movie.  I decided that was the way to do it right. Unfortunately, my reading will not be as quick or as timely as Jen’s was – with my being on vacation last week – but it’s ok.  As long as I can hold off seeing the movie, I’ll make it.

Re-reading the first book is so interesting after finishing the series.  I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve gone back since Deathly Hallows.  I love all of the emphasis on “you’d have to be mad to rob Gringotts.”  I remember reading Sorcerer’s Stone at some point after Prisoner of Azkaban came out and realizing that in the first chapter Sirius was mentioned.  I love how J.K. dropped hints or planted the seed of things we’d learn later.  That’s just brilliant writing (and planning!).

It’s also fun to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet at the beginning.  Ron’s dislike of Hermione is so interesting since we know how that ends up.  🙂

I also love that the first chapter is from the Dursleys point of view.  The first people we get an inside look at in the series are the worst kind of Muggles-really some of the antagonists in the series.  It’s so gutsy.  If that didn’t land, people wouldn’t want to keep reading.  But it does.  I know this is nothing new to all of you who love HP.  Re-reading this one really shows how the series evolved from Sorcerer’s Stone to Deathly Hallows.  Just like Harry, the books grow from middle-grade fiction to truly being Young Adult.  I don’t know any other series that really deepens and matures like that.

As much as I love every book in the series, Sorcerer’s Stone is not perfect.  In fact, I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads…which means I liked it.  Re-reading after ending the series makes me see some holes in the magic or timeline that probably wasn’t fleshed out from the beginning – which makes sense.  The magic and awe is definitely still there, but I guess I prefer my books in the YA area since my favorite HP books tend to be the later ones.  We’ll see if any of that changes as I continue reading.

Book-to-Movie Adaptation

The bad:  I know a lot had to be cut out for the movie, but I’m sad one of those things had to be Peeves.  I honestly forgot he existed until I was re-reading the book.  😦  Another thing that bugs me is the scene at the beginning when Hagrid comes to the little hut to get Harry.  It’s a tiny thing but the dialog goes from “Where did you think your mum & dad learned it all?”  “Learned all what?”  “You’re a wizard, Harry.”  In the book, Hagrid is supposed to get angry and turn on the Dursleys before spilling that out.  It just doesn’t flow to me, and it bothers me everytime, but I know it’s picky.

The good:  The acting isn’t quite as bad as I had remembered since it’s the first big movie for so many of the kids.  I think Tom Felton wins the award for best acting for the kids.

On to Chamber of Secrets!

– Jill

Documentary Monday~~A Small Act

TitleA Small Act

Year-2010

Awards-Nominated for Best Television Documentary at the Black Reel Awards, 2011

Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, 2010

Summary-The film shows how one small act can change the world in many ways.  It tells the story of Chris, from Kenya, who was sponsored through secondary school by a Swedish woman.  Many years later he forms his own foundation in her name to help other children in Kenya.

My Thoughts-I have been wanting to watch this documentary for a long time.  Ever since I read the description I have been sitting at the ready with tissues in hand.  Just reading what it is about was enough to get the tears flowing for me.  The film interweaves several different stories, but they all revolve around Chris Mburu.  He was a poor student in Kenya many years ago who could not afford to go to school.  In Kenya, if you can’t pay, you get kicked out of school.  There was a Swedish scholarship fund set up that sponsored children in his area and he received money from Hilde Back.  He grew up and attended college and then went on to get a Master’s Degree at Harvard.  He currently works at the UN investigating genocide.

After the success of his adult life, Chris started a fund that would help other Kenyan children go to secondary school (high school) who could not afford it otherwise.  He named it after Hilde Back because of what she had done for him, even before he met her.  The documentary then focuses on Chris’ current relationship with Hilde.  They did finally meet and she even traveled to Kenya.  It also follows three students in one of the schools who are trying for the scholarship.  Even though all three of them are very smart, the scholarship can only support one of them.

First of all, I ADORED Hilde.  She is the cutest woman ever.  She talks a little about her life, which is another reason to reach for the tissues.  As a little girl, she escaped from Germany as a Jew during WWII, but sadly, her parents did not.  She never had any children and currently lives alone, which makes her relationship with Chris so special.  He is like the son she never had.  I totally loved every time she showed up, especially when they showed footage of her trip to Kenya.

The really hard part to watch was about the current students vying for the scholarship.  It was just like Waiting for Superman all over again.  These children had worked and studied so hard, and they all know that they can’t go to school without the money from the scholarship.  The interviews with them are heartbreaking.  One little girl (I think it was Ruth) said, “I can’t even explain how much knowledge I want.”  Oh. My. God.  Every school child in the US today should totally watch this to realize how good they have it.  Some of our schools might suck, but at least every kid can go up through high school without paying too much.

It was also hard because these little kids have so much responsibility placed on their shoulders at such a young age.  Each of them had dreams for how they would help their families after they graduated from school.  One little boy had a sick mother who needed an operation and he was going to get a good job so he could pay for it.

I did get really mad during the film thinking, “Okay…..these people are movie producers!  They should just pay for all three of these kids to go!!!  It will be nothing for them!!!”  It was just like in the nature documentaries when the camera people stand by and let the baby sea turtles get picked off one by one by the sea gulls.  Why don’t they do something to help????!!!!  Well, I will say that this question is answered at the end of the film, so thank goodness it was actually addressed.

One other aspect of the film that was difficult was about the unrest in Kenya during the time filming was taking place.  There was an outbreak of violence after the 2007 elections that involved the killing of people in the same tribe that Chris belonged to.  It was awful to watch his reaction to the violence in his homeland.  I also felt really guilty because I don’t even remember that happening at all.

So, it is not the easiest film to watch sometimes, but it does give you hope.  The overall message is that every action makes a big difference, no matter how small it may seem.  It is great to see Chris and Hilde’s friendship and to see how much he still cares about his homeland even after becoming so successful.  The best part is that it is not one long commercial for Chris’ charity.  It could very well have ended up like that, but it is not.  It will hopefully bring more attention to the foundation, but it does not scream, “YOU MUST DONATE NOW!”  I will say that you probably should donate, and you probably will after you watch it, but only because you really want to.  I donated, so you guys should all join me!

FInal Verdict-This documentary was just amazing.  It is very well done and moving to watch.  Be prepared to fall in love with all the kids, Hilde, and Chris.

Jen

 

It All Ends Thursday.

I have spent the last ten days re-reading the Harry Potter books for what is probably the 12th time (at least for the first four books).  I went through a period of many years when I read them at least twice a year, but I haven’t read them in at least two years.  It was wonderful to jump back into one of my favorite worlds and meet up with my favorite characters again.  I enjoyed reading each and every book, but in different ways than I had in the past, which was interesting.

I first read the books back in November of 2001.  That was almost ten years ago!!!  Back then I was an immature little college sophomore frolicking around London and having the time of my life.  But as soon as I picked up that first book, I completely gave up sightseeing and going to the pub to sit and read in my little room.  I remember being on the tube on my way to the theater or a museum and seeing at least half a dozen people reading Harry Potter.  It was funny to see the ones who tried to hide it by buying the “adult” covers and then the ones who blazenly didn’t care and were reading the kids version.

Ah, memories.  I can remember what I was doing when I read each of the books for the very first time.  I can also remember my first experience seeing each of the movies.  Even when the books ended, we still had three more movies to look forward to, so it was not as sad as it could have been.  Now it is really all going to be over and there is nothing left to look forward to.  (Don’t come back and say anything about Pottermore.  Don’t even get me started on that…..that just seems like a bunch of rubbish to me.  She should have spent her time working on the Encyclopedia, not a stupid website.  J.K. Rowling’s on my list now.)

Anyway, I am really excited to see the movie on Thursday at midnight.  I am lucky enough to be going with a huge group of people, and I will be the first person to get there to hold our spot in line.  I am going to pack my bag pretty soon so I will have everything I need.  Pillows, blankets, laptop with movies, books, headphones, cards, and lots of food are all necessary to survive the wait in line.

That is going to be a great day for me because it is the last day of summer reading programming.  I am going to clean up from my afternoon program as quick as a bunny (Oh man, why did I have to do a glitter project on the last day!!!) and skip out of the library waving my hands in the air and singing the Hallelujah Chorus.  I have already warned people that I will be doing this, so it probably won’t be seen as too odd.  After that, I won’t have to go back to work till the next Wednesday, so I am going to be the happiest girl in the world when those first few credits start to roll.

I will be very happy, but I’m pretty sure I am going to cry through the whole thing, so I should probably add a box or two of Kleenexes to my bag.

Here is a little video to catch everyone up on all the movies, and to show just how much those crazy kids have grown 🙂

Anyway, I hope that all my nerdgirls have similar plans to see the movie and get to see it with good friends.  I wish I could see it with you, but I haven’t learned to apparate yet.

Jen