Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

I've read all seven books and now I've seen seven out of the eight films. This is the best film, made from what was in my opinion the best book. For six books and six movies, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has gone to school and basked in the glow of Hogwarts, protected by his teachers and surrounded by friends. For six books and movies, he has solved a mystery, beaten a villain and saved the day in time to enjoy the last day of school. That's not to say it's always been easy or completely free of loss or pain, but the training wheels were on.

This time the training wheels are gone. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is dead, the Ministry has fallen and nowhere is safe. Harry faces attacks at all of his prior hiding spots, from the Dursley home to the Burrow and even at the Ministry itself. Hogwarts is so dangerous he doesn't even dare venture there. Meanwhile friends are dying all around him while others who before were harmless annoyances are now dangerous enemies. It's been said that the world has an Orwellian / Nazi-ish feel and I agree with that. With Voldemort in power, Harry is number one on the most wanted list. The Ministry is turning itself inside out looking for "mudbloods," people born with muggle ancestry. The Ministry's guards even look like SS agents.

The whole thing is astonishingly bleak. There's something refreshing and intense about this movie. Watching with my buddy Leo, we recoiled in shock during the opening motorcycle chase as cars flipped and exploded, killing innocent bystanders. There's a body count here. They're not f**king around. The old Harry Potter structure, with mystery interspersed with classes and teenage drama, is gone. Harry spends the entire movie on the run, camping out in the woods with Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson, ever the fox). Instead of seeing the same old Hogwarts hallways and classrooms, we're now treated to expansive vistas of the English countryside.

A lot of people have groused about "Harry Potter and the Great Camping Adventure," but I'm really happy the film took its time and played up the hopelessness of the situation. No adults. No family. No help. Just Harry, Hermione and Ron in the woods, running for their lives. The world has gone cold and dark and the kids have only each other. There's a scene in the middle of this section with no dialogue. Listening to the radio with its endless stream of death notices and bad news, Harry and Hermione happen upon a piece of music ("O'Children" by Nick Cave, look it up). Seizing the moment, they dance. They keep dancing as long as they can hear the song. When the song ends, their mood drops and the scene ends. Message received.

A word about performances. The kids (now adults) are great here. Radcliffe isn't the whiny little bitch we were afraid he'd be. He is smart and resourceful yet emotional and believable. We can actually see him working things out behind his eyes. Radcliffe has grown into a great actor and I'm excited to see what he'll do beyond the Potterverse. Rupert Grint remains servicable as ever, even if his performance doesn't rise to the level that the others' do. Emma Watson, however, is fantastic. She is able to portray Hermione not as a little girl but as a full adult, a woman gifted and cursed with a brilliant mind, struggling to both comprehend and control her emotions. She seems to be playing Hermione's feelings for Harry and Ron close to the vest, but maybe that's just my perspective. There is a love triangle here that wasn't really touched upon in the book.

Someone at work asked me what I thought of the movie. I started to explain what I've written above, but she cut me off. "Isn't this a children's movie?" she asked, flabbergasted. I gave my opinion that in fact it was not, that it was instead an epic intended for everyone. "That's ridiculous," she laughed. "I stopped reading after the second book." It was then that I realized that we were not really having a discussion. Point is, you may laugh at my analysis above. You may dismiss Harry Potter and everything attached to it as "for kids." But if you make that mistake, it's you who's missing out. The books are great, the movies are great, and this is the best of both. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Man From Awesome

Recently, I met a diplomat - a man who claimed to be from the country known as Awesome. Awesome doesn't appear on any maps. You can't find it on a globe or on your computer. This is, I was told, because you are not awesome enough to find Awesome. Searches on Wikipedia don't work either, although the man from Awesome told me he had attempted to make such a page and was denied.

"Wikipedia just wasn't awesome enough," he said.

The man from Awesome was fascinating, although he of course preferred to be called awesome. He was tall and thin, dressed in a dark charcoal suit with a white shirt and light blue tie. His hair was always parted to his left, although a stray hair would stand up from time to time. He described his home by only its name. When asked about the immigration policy, he replied that there was none. "You must be born awesome," he calmly explained.

As we walked together, our interview continued. He told me that the national flag was black. Just black. No patterns, no images, no stripes or stars or symbols of any kind. "When we get on the battlefield, and you see that black flag coming towards you," he said wistfully, "Shit goes bananas." He then described Awesome's unique brand of armed forces, also described as awesome. When asked for the national pastime, his reply was an obscene sexual remark regarding my mother. Then he asked if I would like to see the national bird and made a rude gesture with his right hand.

Observing his briefcase, I asked if he was part of Awesome's national government. "We have no government," he replied. "Everyone's just awesome." I was intrigued, having devoted years of study to my own country's form of democracy and legal structure. I asked how decisions were made, if there was a council or a senate. He shook his head. "Can't have a Senate, everyone's too awesome," he said. "If we had a Senate, it would just be a hundred awesome people constantly high-fiving. That would make your arm fall off and that would not be awesome."

Awesome's national currency was, of course, the awesome. The man from Awesome pointed at his bottle of soda and proclaimed that in his country, the bottle would cost but one awesome. When asked if this was roughly equivalent to the American dollar, he waved his hand and said that he could not think in dollars, but only in awesome. This confused me at first but as it turns out, the plural of awesome is also awesome. I struggled to understand how a people could survive on such a currency, but the man from Awesome assuaged my fears. "Everyone gets a stipend of awesome," he said. "We're all too awesome to work." He also stated that the chief export of Awesome was, of course, awesome. I could only assume that the nation had been fortunate enough to be located just above a vast, almost unlimited supply of the precious resource.

The man from Awesome then told me that he must leave. He walked out of the coffee shop we had wandered into just as a long black limousine, made from a stretched hummer combined with treads from a military tank and what looked to be a genuine shark fin attached to the roof, pulled up to the curb. I rushed outside, one last question lodged in my mind.

"What's the national anthem?" I asked.

The man from Awesome said nothing. He merely grinned as he ducked into the strange vehicle. But as the limo pulled away, music began to blast from inside of it.

"Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta," by the Geto Boys.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First They Came...

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Love Android

Oh how I do.

Here We Go

Welcome to the Old Drawer! I'm Adam. Sometimes I make comics.

Here's one!