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What is it about hen parties that even small, relatively well-conducted ones end up with most of the participants naked in the swimming pool playing Truth or Dare somewhere around 11pm? (Not me, I hasten to add, it needs to be broad daylight in an infernal heatwave before I'll swim, and the remnants of this chest infection were a lovely excuse). It is also humiliating to note that, if all the other participants were telling the truth, my personal life has been entirely and boringly vanilla. All-girl groups scare me on a fairly primal level, possibly as a result of my last four years of high school in an all-female private school (shudder), so I am pleased to note that it was a lovely evening and a good send-off for Vi.

In the Department of Random Cinematic Escapism, I recently acquired a copy of the Studio Ghibli Tales of Earthsea and finally got around to watching it the other night. I love the Studio Ghibli stuff and my devotion to Hayao Miyazaki is undying, so I had cautious but reasonable expectations of the film even though it was written and directed by Goro Miyazaki, Hayao's son. In fact I should have been more suspicious: the sequel is never as good as the original. Tales from Earthsea is a weird, half-baked, unformed, curiously naive little film with slightly puppy-dog good intentions unbacked by too much in the way of actual artistic merit; some lovely visuals, but even more which are somewhat arb. It kept on doing stupidly obvious things with swelling music over sequences of rolling fields, setting suns, what have you, and ye gods but those were seriously under-utilised and really badly animated dragons.

It's remotely possible I would have enjoyed the film more if I hadn't happened to be a drooling Le Guin fangirl who knows all five books of the Earthsea series rather more than moderately well, since I didn't think the script did them much justice. I have to give the writer props for going straight to the difficult bit, which is the whole life/death theme from Farthest Shore, but the Cobb plotline was fragmented and its logic lost. Apart from anything else, it was to the highest degree nitwittish to try and use that plot without including the cold, dry, downhill slope of the lands of the dead, which is quite one of the most haunting and beautifully constructed images in modern fantasy. The script ended up hashing together various themes from across all the novels, but without much underlying coherence, and they did truly horrible things to Prince Arren. Also, what was with the random and inexplicable magical sword? Phooey. Poor Earthsea seems doomed to be bastardised by varying degrees of hackery: this was a better film than the recent miniseries, but it still wasn't up to much.


Saturday, 7 July 2007 09:30 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Clearly the blogsphere, in the shape of Dayle, feels that I am insufficiently random. Hurt! But, bonus, meme! I do like the way this removes the necessity to think up something non-Morrowind-related about which to post.

The Rules:
* We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
* Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
* People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
* At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
* Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Fine, then:
  • I once dislocated my left kneecap practicing waltz steps. This took place, may I add, while on a youth camp in the middle of rural Zimbabwe, necessitating being hauled off to the nearest hospital in the back of a truck, over very bumpy roads. Not recommended.
  • While I am addicted to big black boots and the relevant black socks, all my socks have patterns of some sort on them (several sets with owls or cats). This is so that the nice charlady doesn't mix them up with the Evil Landlord's plain black socks. One cannot sufficiently stress the dangers of promiscuous sock-mixing.
  • As a result of a traumatic school film experience in about Standard 2, I spent the next fifteen years of my life with an obsessive and more than somewhat irrational fear of erupting volcanoes, leading to random insecurity and incredible nightmares.
  • My only stage experience was in Standard 5, when I played the lead role in a horrible little medieval play about a witch. I was a witch, and narrowly escaped being burned at the stake. As I recollect, a passing minstrel rescued me. I can still quote great chunks of the dialogue. (Bonus fact: along with all the colours of Joseph's Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, which we put on at the same time).
  • Too many items in my current wardrobe are purple.
  • When roleplaying or computer-gaming I hate playing thieves or assassins. I seem to have a law-abiding gene which kicks in whenever I'm expected to steal, murder or otherwise act in a morally dodgy fashion.
  • Bad habits I have acquired: hyperbole, unmarked quotation in normal conversation or bloggery, the Internet.
  • Bad habits I have never acquired: nail-biting, smoking, watching TV. (Bad habits I have given up: make-up, high-heeled shoes, ShadowMagic).
I'm going to cheat, because one of the (bonus!) random things about me is that I'm a fanatical hater of chain letters. This meme therefore open to anyone who reads this and wants to pick it up. I recommend thinking up the random things just as you're drifting off to sleep, so conscious filters are off. I hadn't remembered the volcano thing in years.

Today's random linkery in the Department of Oh Wow That Explains A Lot: Haruki Murakami explains why he writes the way he does. (NYT article, reg required, I'm afraid). It's because he bases his writing style on jazz. This is actually remarkably illuminating.

freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
1. Pom Poko. Great Japanese Racoon Testicles, Batman! This early Miyazaki piece has a weird pseudo-documentary style which is actually surprisingly effective, and a strange but compelling tendency for the raccoon characters to slide without warning between realistic animals, beautifully detailed anthropomorphised animals, and strangely plastic simplified versions of same. As usual, a rather grim ecological subtext, here coupled with a not-at-all happy ending, fairly inevitably. The transformation sequences were beautiful, but the whole thing left me rather depressed. Apart from anything, the raccoons are just too cute, naive and absolutely, utterly doomed.

2. Lots of second-season Doctor Who, illegally, courtesy of [ profile] strawberryfrog. Am v., v. enamoured... actually, not of the Doctor (I'm just a bit enamoured), but of the construction and photography of "Love and Monsters". Clever, ironic, self-conscious, rather tender piece of TV, with a great cast and excellent writing. Also, of the perfectly gratuitous Cthuloidness of "The Impossible Planet" and whatever its sequel was called. Lots of tentacles, runic inscriptions, pits, glowing red eyes and escape of chained gods from eternal prisons. Ia! Ia!
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Strange Narrative Decisions, #1. David* recently procured me (cheapcheap!) an evil bootleg copy** of Howl's Moving Castle. It's a lovely movie, but actually not as all-embracingly wonderful as I'd hoped, given its genesis as the bastard offspring of my favourite anime director and one of my favourite fantasy authors. It's currently sitting a bit behind my other Miyazaki favourites, which are My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away with a side bet on Princess Mononoke. (Good heavens, they're all the folkloric ones, how utterly predictable and very not strange at all. And I should add, for the record, that in terms of these rankings there are whole swathes of Miyazaki I haven't seen, and won't see until July when my long-suffering mother hauls the latest Amazon pantechnicon of DVDs out from the UK on my behalf. Including Howl's Moving Castle, so I decline to feel guilty about the bootlegging).

Anyway. Lovely film, the usual visual splendours and whimsical detail, the classic Miyazaki gentleness and studied pace. Very attractive Howl (yum, in fact), very appealing Sophie, very cute Calcifer and (particularly) castle. And I love what he's done with the scarecrow. I suspect what's marring my enjoyment, though, is my extreme familiarity with the Diana Wynne Jones novel, and consequent response to this as an adaptation. There are some weird narrative choices here. The war theme that's a minor background to the novel moves right to the forefront, which works OK, and is very Miyazaki in the Nausicaa mode. I can also see why he's chosen to reinterpret the heartlessness of Howl as a very visual monstrosity, although I lament the loss of the sappy Howl girl-chasing. There are some strange character conflations and reversals, though: I can't work out why he's cut back the effectiveness of the Witch of the Waste and removed that epic (and extremely visually dramatic) conflict between her/her fire demon and Howl. I would have thought it would be very easy to infuse the nasty war scenario with the fire demon theme, they're very related, particularly given how strongly the war is conceptualised in terms of fiery destruction. And Sophie loses all her witch powers, which are central to the book. Annoying.

Cute dog, though. It huffles.

Strange Narrative Decisions, #2. Ursula Vernon's blog currently features a very funny discussion of apocryphal Bible books as fanfic. This made me laugh a lot, although it's remotely possible that the mere concept of Jesus/Harry Potter crossover fanfic has scarred me for life.

Strange Narrative Decisions, #3. I have to dash off now and dig out the necessary weird assortment of props preparatory to running our enormous, complicated, plot-ridden, highly political Arabian Nights LARP this evening, for a bunch of relatively inexperienced CLAW players. There may well be frustrated artistic rantage on areas not entirely unconnected to this blog in the morning...

* the other bass, not the d@vid or Lara's one. We rejoice in an elegant sufficiency of Davids.
** In fact, I actually typed "an evil bootlet copy" there, conjuring fascinating mental images of petite footwear with lots of steampunky protrusions, and claw-like mechanical feet.


Thursday, 30 March 2006 04:39 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Autumn is here! A sea-fog is rolling in, and Cape Town this evening has air like a long, iced drink flavoured with mint and a touch of salt.

Two days of teaching on top of this 'flu have caused my voice to retreat backwards down my throat, digging its claws in scratchily. However, I have a new 'flu remedy. Abandon socialising for the evening (and gloat just a tad that my personal problem with delegating has been addressed to the point where the local branch of our Beloved Society can now happily trundle on without my personal supervision). Curl up on sofa with two cats, a blanket, a hot rum toddy, and Spirited Away. (This isn't even work avoidance, I'm still working on the anime bit of this animation entry.) Go to bed luxuriously early, doped to the gills on evil viscous orange cough mixture.

I feel better now.
freckles_and_doubt: (Wizard Howl)
Unfortunately, Ster Kinekor have no plans currently to release Howl's Moving Castle, although they're going to query it with head office. (Response time: 22 minutes. They're getting even better). In retrospect, in fact Spirited Away was released by Nu Metro, not Ster Kinekor, so they may do this one as well. Have mailed them. Their response time is not as fast as Ster-Kinekor, it's been an hour already and no go!

Edited to add: Ster-Kinekor head office has responded - no plans to put Moving Castle on the line-up, but they may release it later. Which I suspect means next year sometime, if we're lucky. Sigh. Help us, Nu Metro, you are our only hope!


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