selenak: (Norma by Benchable)
( May. 5th, 2015 09:58 am)
In which the finale is set up. I think? We have ten episodes this season, right?

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selenak: (Malcolm and Vanessa)
( May. 4th, 2015 08:47 am)
It's back!

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Rewatched Age of Ultron with friends who saw it for the first time, still liked what I had liked during the first watching, warmed up to the twins to the degree that when I went looking for fanfic afterward, a great deal of what I read was about Wanda, and generally enjoyed the fannish experience of being with people who just plain loved it. Which can be incredibly relaxing.

Since the couple of post-movie tales I found and liked are spoileryfor the movie by descriptions, all my recs shall be hidden under a cut.

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selenak: (Cosima by Karlsefni)
( May. 3rd, 2015 09:40 am)
I missed last week's ep and can't get my hands on it right now, so I had to rely on the previouslies to this one in order to catch up.

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selenak: (Bayeux)
( May. 3rd, 2015 07:39 am)
One of my acquisitions in London. It's been a while since I watched s1 - the review is here -, but by and large had I had enjoyed it and want to continue with the show.

So here is what I thought of the second season )
Tags:
More catching up, this time with my favourite Holmes & Watson:

Episode 3.21 )

Episode 3.22 )
selenak: (Norma Bates by Ciaimpala)
( May. 1st, 2015 05:11 pm)
Back in Munich, and starting to try and catch up with my fannish stuff. Of course, I go for the neurotic family to end all neurotic prequel families first.

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selenak: (City - KathyH)
( Apr. 30th, 2015 06:17 am)
Unexpected Prague was unexpected, and drop-dead gorgeous. Also, considering today will be spent mostly indoors, I dashed about the golden city yesterday like a madwoman, but just look at all there was to see!

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More beneath the cut )
Sunday was a bit gloomy, weather-wise, but Monday was sunny, and thus I did again something I hadn't for two decades and went to Kew Gardens. Then, because it was such a fine day, I added something I hadn't done during previous London trips, full stop, and took the boat on the Thames instead of the train in order to get from Kew Gardens to Hampton Court. (Aka how the the kings and queens and their courts did it.) Of course, by the time I arrived in Hampton Court clouds had gathered and I was a bit frozen, but never mind, it had been worth it. All in all, it was a great way to say goodbye to London for this year, although not quite, because in the evening I went to [personal profile] rozk's book launch, which was fabulous. Now I'm off to the air port, but won't be able to resume my fannish life until next week because tomorrow I'm bound for Prague! (Where I was only once in my life before, and then I was 13, so I hardly remember anything.)


Meanwhile, share the beauty of gardens, mansions and palaces, not to mention the Thames:


 photo image.jpg11_zpsblqpsa6o.jpg


More beneath the cut )
Met [personal profile] kangeiko and [personal profile] naraht yesterday, which was lovely and included a brunch and a lengthy walk along the Thames respectively. I also watched Avengers: Age of Ultron. Non-spoilery version: I liked, though didn't love it the way i did the first movie. (Perhaps inevitable because getting-together-tales are a soft spot of mine.) Was tickled (by which I mean very amused) by some stuff that literally Josses lots of fanon, due to the fact that I wasn't keen or neutral towards said fanon. Rolled my eyes at one bit of dialogue, enjoyed lots of others (not surprisingly.) Because I watched it in close proximity to the Oppenheimer play , there were inevitable thematic overlaps for me. Was sad about SOMETHING which wasn't the something I expected. Do have a favourite among the new characters.

Spoilery version )
selenak: (Gentlemen of the Theatre by Kathyh)
( Apr. 25th, 2015 10:04 am)
I love the British theatre, so whenever I'm here, I contribute my bit in the form of ticket buying and playgoing. :) Review time!

1.) Man and Superman, at the National Theatre. This one I wanted to see rather badly, because a) it's the complete version, which is almost never shown - they usually cut the Don Juan in Hell interlude-, and b) it stars Ralph Fiennes as John Tanner and Indira Varma as Ann Whitfield. Also, the NT always does well with Shaw. This production is another case in point. This is a three hour play, not counting the break, and an idea play at that, i.e. Shaw uses the flimsiest comedy conventions of his day (parodied and turned upside down by him, of course, but a century later what was then original reverse and parody has long since become the new convention, such as women as the pursuer, men as the pursued etc.) to provide minimum plot so he can use the characters to spout his philosophy. Which is also outdated now. It shouldn't work. And yet, it does, both because Shaw's display of rethoric fireworks always comes with witty flourishes, and because the actors are up to the task.

As a result, you have a long play which doesn't feel long at all. I've heard Fiennes as John Tanner in a radio production of the play before, so I knew he was up for the language (and given his character has to carry the majority of the rethorics, you really need an actor who can deliver them!), but on stage he also gives Tanner a manic physical energy. Not Don Juan in the interlude, btw; I thought that was a neat and subtle choice, because Juan after centuries in the afterlife is a far wearier version of the character, and so to let him be far more self contained and low scale in his movements as opposed to Tanner who is often crossing the stage was a logical difference.

Indira Varma (whom I've seen in a lot of tv, from Rome to Torchwood to Luther) was also up for both the charm and the ruthless go-getting of Ann, though given she's not just drop dead gorgeous but has such an aura of self assurance, it was a bit defying belief that everybody but Tanner and her mother would buy the "obedient and dutiful helpless woman" act instead of immediately seeing through it. Then again: this is one of the ways in which what was a present-day play in Shaw's time, dealing with contemporary people, can't really be transported into the current day in our part of the world because for starters Ann and her sister, both of whom are adults by our reckoning, wouldn't need guardians after the death of their father, and even if they were made a bit younger they still wouldn't need them since they have a living mother. This production doesn't go for Edwardian costumes, btw, it has everyone wear (our) present day clothing, and has added some updating (so John Tanner receives a text from Rhoda on his mobile cell phone instead of a written message on paper), and on the one hand, I think Shaw would be pleased because other than his actual historicals, he never wanted to write costume plays, but on the other hand, like I said, the whole guardian bit makes no sense in the current day, and the opening scene - which had people chuckling and laughing within a few minutes of the play starting, proving the gags still work - really depends on it. Also, the Violet subplot which is Shaw's parody of a Victorian melodramatic convention (so everyone expects Violet to be A Fallen Woman swept away by passion when she turns out to be a very sensibly organized and married one very aware of the need for money to finance her life style) is more believable in the period that it's set in if you think about it, but again, the energy of the performances and all the well delivered punchlines make you buy it while you're watching.

In conclusion: very worth watching, if you can get a ticket; I had to queue early in the morning for a hopeful return, andn lucked out.


2.) Oppenheimer, a new play by Tom Morton-Smith, produced by the RSC and moved to London. The other one I wanted to watch, not just because the recent tv series Manhattan reminded me of the subject and themes again. If you're German and my age, chances are you've read In der Sache J. Robert Oppenheimer by Heiner Kipphardt in school or seen a production, because that particular play by now has achieved modern post WWII German literature/theatre status. (We read it in conjunction with Friedrich Dürrematt's Die Physiker and had to analyze how both dealt with theme of scientific discovery in the service of power, ethical responsibilities of scientists etc.) Now Kipphardt's play - which was first produced in Oppenheimer's life time, and he wasn't thrilled, quipping that it "turned the whole damn farce into a tragedy" - was based on the transcripts of the 1950s McCarthy era hearings in which Oppenheimer's loyalty had been questioned, and that's an era Morton-Smith's play stays away from, though it's obviously conscious of it; the new play starts in the later 1930s and ends a few weeks after Hiroshima.

In the program, you can read the author commenting that for a while Oppenheimer had been as well known as Einstein to the general public but while Einstein was cast in pop culture as the wise and cheery old uncle in pop culture (never mind how questionable that is in reality), Oppenheimer, quoth Morton-Smith, "retains something of the mad scientist about him. He is the 20th century's Victor Frankenstein - a man who pushed science beyond what whas natural and brought forth a monster."

"Victor Frankenstein" is as good a character description as any for Morton-Smith's Oppenheimer, which is perhaps why the actor who plays him, John Heffernan, is better in the second half of the play than he's in the first one. In the first half, when Oppenheimer is supposed to be optimistic, charismatic in a drawing-people-to-him way, you don't really buy it (case in point: the opening monologue which is Oppenheimer addressing his students in Berkeley, which is obviously meant to sound witty and thought provoking - but the actor just plain doesn't come across as either) but in the second half, when he's simultanously hubristic and increasingly self loathing, aware he's selling out more and more of his former ideals but clinging to it being worth it because of the end goal, with, to borrow a Joss Whedon phrase, an inferiority complex wrapped around his superiority complex (or the otherh way around), you do believe the character from both a writing and an acting point of view.

Other than Oppenheimer, the scientists given enough lines to get characterisation are his brother Frank, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz, Robert Wilson and Charlotte Serber. (Klaus Fuchs shows up, but briefly, and has a quick exchange with Hans Bethe in German in which the actors impressed me because while it was evident neither of them was German they did pronounce the things they said correctly, with the right speech rhythm, so they must have taken the trouble to get coached for what were only two or three sentences. (Bethe asks him about Leipzig and his family, Fuchs says that all of his family are dead.) ) I'm especially glad about Charlotte Serber's existence as a dramatic character, because the two women in Oppenheimer's life follow traditional roles and come more across as aspects of him rather than characters in their own right - Jean the idealistic Communist who commits suicide (which kills the last of Oppenheimer's idealism), Kitty the ambitious wife urging him onwards in his career. Charlotte otoh as the only female department head can be both ambitious and idealistic (and have a good relationship with her husband).

Idea-wise, perhaps the two key scenes are the argument between Oppenheimer and Wilson after VE-day, in which Wilson brings up that since the bomb won't be used on Germany anymore, and the Japanese don't have the capacity for a nuclear program of their own, why use it at all, wouldn't a test site demonstration be enough, or couldn't Oppenheimer tell the military the science doesn't work after all, etc., and Oppenheimer replies in an outburst: "The bomb must be used... and used on people.. before the war ends. If the world is not aware that these weapons can and do exist... if it was to be keppt a military secret... then the first strike of whatever war comes next would be an atomic one. It would be Edward Teller's super-bomb."


This is of course the still debated argument to which there is no answer (yet): is the whole reason why nuclear bombs were never used in any war post WWII the fact they WERE used and everyone could see the results? Would they have been used during the Cold War if that hadn't happened? The idea to create a weapon so awful that nobody dares to use it has haunted the 20th century, and it certainly didn't work with nerve gas, but whether or not it worked with the atomic bomb... I guess we'll still find out. Given current politics.

Anyway, the counterpoint to this scene is the final one. Now the play actually includes Trinity but has Oppenheimer remain silent during it (and staggers away while everyone is celebrating afterwards), and I was curious whether Morton-Smith would actually not include the famous quote. But no. Instead, he has Oppenheimer use it in the very last scene, in a bitter conversation with Kitty (and after a bitter one with Lomanitz (L: "You were a radical. And now...finally now...you are in a position to act on your ideals." O: "Let me tell you how you become a man of power. Of influence: you trade your ideals for self interest.") That very last scene plays up the ambivalence again, the old hunger for fame and the new abhorrence for the full implication, has him declare "I accept on my soul... on my back...I accept the weight of those Japanese... if I have brought atomic power to the world...if I have nullified war... then I welcome it all. But no. Instead I feel like I've left a loaded gun in a playground." And this monologue culminates in the famous line: "There's a passage in the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, it came to my mind at the Trinity test".

So the very last words of the play are : "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Which is perhaps the only way you can end a play with this temporal frame. I'm not sure that as a play, it will uphold the way the Kipphardt play did, because it changes focus a couple of times, and there is some clumsy exposition (Oppenheimer delivers a key memory of his teenage years to a psychiatrist who never shows up before or after), but it certainly kept my attention while I was watching, and continues to make me think.
selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
( Apr. 24th, 2015 08:17 am)
London report interrupted by tv review courtesy of Itunes

The Spying Game )
I'm very very exhausted, in a good way, so no report yet on a play and a film that I've seen, which shall be written at some future point, but for now, just pics. Because while this is about the gazillionest visit to London, I still can't resist using my camera, and on this very beautiful day, I was with [personal profile] kathyh in Windsor.

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selenak: (Tourists by Kathyh)
( Apr. 22nd, 2015 08:46 am)
Not to go all Robert Browning on you, but I'm off to be in England, now that April's there. Well, London for a week, but it's going to be fabulous, it always is.

Being less online will also mean less of a (mis)chance of getting spoiled for Age of Ultron before I have the chance to watch it, which will be soon, since it will be released in Europe tomorrow. But it does mean that Americans aside, which Itunes has, I won't be able to catch up with my shows untl next week. Will report on London in April instead!
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selenak: (Norma Bates by Ciaimpala)
( Apr. 21st, 2015 07:46 am)
This one has the ominous title "The Last Supper", but the supper in question actually turns out to be...

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selenak: (Allison by Spankulert)
( Apr. 19th, 2015 03:34 pm)
Return of the Clones! I had some problems with season 2, but that doesn't mean I wasn't looking forward to more of the Clone saga.

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What's the English word for "child of wild goose" - "goosling"? Anyway, there are currently a lot of them in the Munich city park, aka The Englischer Garten, and they're adorable. Their parents aren't bad, either. Hence, gratitious pic spam.

 photo 2015_0418Enten0026_zpshkmlmaxt.jpg

more beneath the cut )
selenak: (Holmes and Watson by Emme86)
( Apr. 17th, 2015 04:09 pm)
Elementary, I don't know whether letting Holmes mention Edward Snowden in a positive way is your way of trying to atone for the abominable government propaganda exercise that was episode 2.03 (which shall remain unforgotten *shakes first*), but if so, keep at it.

In other news... )

I'll be travelling next week, so the next review will arrive with delay.
selenak: (Claudia and Elizabeth by Tinny)
( Apr. 16th, 2015 09:56 am)
In which the clock ticks for more than one character.

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