selenak: (Emily by Lotesse)
( Oct. 8th, 2015 02:52 pm)
of the Nobel Prize for Literature was actually someone I've been rooting for ever since hearing her speak two years ago at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which inspired me to read some of her works. Have some awesome quotes in this old entry!

BTW, this year's Frankfurt Book Fair starts next week, so her German publisher will have time to decorate appropriately. If the Novel prizes are handed out in the book fair week, it's always a bit touch and go whether there are books by the winner available...
selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
( Oct. 7th, 2015 06:28 pm)
One good thing about less than good movies (going by who directed them, I have admittedly no intention of watching this one): they inspire interesting essays. Stonewall being a case in point. There are three essays up already at the excellent website "A Historian goes to the movies", dealing both with the movie and the actual Stonewall Riots, from various angles:

A Butch Too Far: about the movie itself, compared to the historical events.

Saturday Night is all right for fighting: about the five other riot nights the movie skips over, and why they're important.

There's got to be a morning after: what followed the Stonewall Riots.

And some short fanfiction in various fandoms:

Black Sails:

Caution: in which Admiral Hennessey and Alfred Hamilton have a little chat. Great missing scene.

Star Wars

Reasonable Sacrifice: meta-story which offers both good Anakin characterisation and a good explanation for force ghost Anakin's switching appearances in the various editions of Return of the Jedi.

Agent Carter or Captain America or MCU in general:

Loneliness and his friends: in between missions conversation between Howard Stark and Steve Rogers, with Peggy the main subject, well written for what Howard doesn't say as much as for what he does in the light of Agent Carter's season 1 finale.
Last week in the cinema I also watched a couple of trailers, including one for the impending Peter Pan prequel, Pan. Which doesn't look promising. Orphan boy? Hook as the Artful Dodger? This isn''t Oliver Twist, Hollywood! It's not Star Wars, either, so what's that about Peter having "a destiny"? Him being destiny free is part of being Peter Pan and not growing, is that so hard to grasp? (Probably. It reminds me how horrible the "sequel" Hook was. A case of "I like everyone involved, and so much dislike what they were doing". Grown-up Peter Pan needing to rediscover his inner child is both against the core of the character and removes all and any Barrie darkness in favour of Spielberg at his most mawkish, of all the manchildren Robin Williams played this is the least convincing and most embarassing, for all that he's the title character, Dustin Hoffmann's Hook isn't compelling at all, and worst of all, it's the most clichéd version of a father-son story imaginable. Bah.

Otoh it inspired me to rewatch the 2003 Peter Pan, which is my favourite screen version so far. (Not counting the clever darkside twist Once upon a Time did in its third season.) Here's why, in utterly random order:

* Making it a coming-of-age story for Wendy was inspired. There's potential for this interpretation in the Barrie books and play, but here it's really the focus without being sledgehammery about it. Wendy's decision at the end to return and grow up isn't just because she misses her parents (though that plays a part), but because she wants more from life than Peter's eternal childhood could provide.

* While we're talking Wendy, the film plays up her role as storyteller in an active way - the first time we see her, she's telling a pirate story to her brothers via acting the part of the pirate - and follows that up in Neverland (Wendy can fence as well) without losing Wendy-as-pretend-mother, or Wendy having feelings for Peter; being a girl in the traditional white dress and wanting a kiss and wanting adventure isn't treated as mutually exclusive anymore (no juxtaposition between tomboy and romance-loving girl here!)

* Peter Pan the novel (though not the stage play) heavily hints that Neverland as the Darlings experience it is formed by the wishes of the Darling children; this movie version makes that "formed by Wendy's wishes", with Hook embodying both the dread and the allure of adult sexuality, and yet avoids being inappropriate; Wendy herself is never fetishized, it's Hook who gets introduced bare chested before getting into costume, and since he's played by Jason Isaacs, he can bring the required mixture of menace and charm (Isaacs also has a ball as the hapless George Darling, since the film follows the tradition of the double casting of Hook/Mr. Darling.)

* This gives Hook temporarily the emotional upper hand in his final duel with Peter; the ability to taunt Peter that Wendy WILL grow up, there will be a husband in her future (read: sex, but this is still a children-aimed movie, so "husband" is as explicit as even the villain can get), and it's something Peter by his choice of eternal childhood won't ever be a part of; making Peter thus vulnerable in the final duel heightens the suspense instead of treating Hook's defeat as a given from the get go

* Which brings me to Peter: played by Jeremy Sumpter (whatever happened to him?), and really good in the part. This Peter has the cheerful heartlessness (except re: Wendy and Tinkerbell in the later's most famous scene), the joy and the casual bravery; the movie also gives him the costume not of the Disney cartoon but of the book illustrations and of Michael Lwellelyn Davies in the photo Barrie took of him that he wanted to be used as the model for the statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (it wasn't), and he's compelling enough that you understand why Wendy (in addition to wanting to stay a child for a while longer at the start of the movie) runs away with him and Hook is obsessed with him, not to mention that movie trickery, actor and stunt people (I assume) really sell you on the idea that this boy can fly (and there's a difference between the way Peter does it and the way the first time trieers, the Darlings, later do)

* not kidding about the "heartless" part (which was important to Barrie): Peter's inability to recall the names of Wendy's brothers and indifference to their fates being a case in point

* "To die would ben an awfully big adventure": young Sumpter sells the iconic line, and it's fitting that the one thing Peter fears isn't death, it's adulthood, but only in this movie is this both the reason why Wendy eventually leaves and why Hook temporarily is able to bring him down (literally, which makes sense, since flying is connected to happy thoughts)

* Which provides the movie with a pay off for Wendy's previous longing to give and receive a kiss which book and stage play don't have beyond the "thimble" gag; it's the fairy tale motive of a kiss giving/returning life used in a way that also connects with Wendy's transition-from-child-to-adolescent arc

* The mermaids are suitably dangerous and eerie

* While Tigerlilly and her tribe still are fantasy Indians, the film tries its best to avoid the Edwardian racism by letting them speak solely in a Native American language (John translates) instead of Pigdin English, and nobody calls Peter "Great White Father"

* speaking of John, while Wendy's brothers play a more minor role here than in other adaptions, he gets one of the best lines, to Peter, after Wendy has woken her brothers up: "You offend gravity, sir - I should like to offend it with you!"

* one of the most famous moments of the original stage play, the "I do believe in fairies" scene, requires the participation of a live audience, so both Barrie when writing the novel later and any film version has a problem there, but what this film offers instead has its own magic

* it's also prepared not just by Peter's explanation to Wendy earlier but by a black humor gag involving Hook which it would spoil for new viewers to explain, since it's unique to this film

* Edwardian rl background gags: Aunt Millicent, a character not in the novel or the play, reads H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" at one point and talks about novelists as bad husband material (certainly true for both Barrie and Wells, though for different reasons); Mrs. Darling is
made to look very much like Sylvia Llewellyn Davies does in the photographs

* The twist of connecting Neverland weather with Peter's moods and state of being makes me suspect someone's read Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and Morpheus certainly shares a few similarities, though certainly not the brooding, which is given to Hook instead.
I seem to have done something wrong with my Yuletide nominations. I just checked whether or not they were accepted, and they came across as unsent altogether. :(

ETA: Thankfully, I worried for naught. I was instructed on how to look properly, and lo, the nominations were sent. PHEW.

Also I just returned from a great matinee celebrating Michael Ende (the writer) and his father, the painter Edgar Ende (the occasion is the 20th anniversary of Michael's death and the 40th of Edgar's), and while the matinee itself was fabulous, a great mixture of prose text excerpts and songs written by Michael Ende together with anecdotes by his illustrator and friend, plus an exhibition of Edgar's paintings, I learned something terribly sad. Now I've known ever since his original indignant interviews back in the 80s that Michael Ende despised and hated (the later term is not too strong in this case) the movie version of The Never-Ending Story, but I hadn't known until today there was an additional reason for this beyond "author despises film version of work due to it getting all he cares about completely wrong". Michael Ende and his wife, actress Ingeborg Hoffmann, lived in Genzano di Roma, and when the movie The Never-Ending Story hit the local cinema, Ende told his wife "you don't have to watch it" - he himself had done so at a preview in Munich, and had been vocally appalled - "but if you must, it's here now, it'll probably be your last chance". She went and watched. And got so upset that she got a pulmonary embolism and died. She literally got transported out of the cinema by the ambulance to her deathbed in the hospital.

There are a lot of authors who feel wronged by translations of their work into other media, and you might agree or disagree with this, but this event certainly sets a kind of morbid record for "author's life ruined by film based on his work"....
Toby Whithouse! You're back - and despite the occasional objection to some of your Being Human narrative decisions, still my candidate from the currently involved writers to take over from Moffat. BH icon used in your honor.

Read more... )
Among other things, this is a movie llustrating to me how we can watch utterly different movies, because I came back from viewing it enthusiastically, googled reviews, found that most German reviewers were also enthused but the one English language review from when the movie was shown at the film festival in Toronto this year was scathing (to the point of willfully misconstructing what was actually shown on screen, thought I when reading it). However, in my own review I'll try to keep my impressions of the movie separate from a few remarks re: the English language review (which was by the Hollywood Reporter).

First of all, a word about the title and the history: this is on of the cases where a good translation actually loses one point the movie makes. The literal translation would have been "The State versus Fritz Bauer", but that's not how you phrase it in English, I know. However given the content of the movie (very much a J'Accuse about the 1950s German justice system) it would have been more fitting. So, who was Fritz Bauer? You can read a short biographical article about him here. To put even more briefly: German-Jewish, started out as young Social Democrat at the eve of the Weimar Republic, spent a brief time in a camp right at the beginning but got out and emigrated to Denmark, returned post Third Reich to Germany, ended up District Attorney of Hessen, key figure in tracking down Adolf Eichmann (though this became known only a decade after his death - I'll get to the reason why later), key figure and primary mover of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials of the 1960s. The 1950s German justice system, like the 1950s German police forces, had a depressing (though unsurprising) lot of old Nazis in it; Fritz Bauer was one of the few exceptions, and not just an exception but an heroic figure who tirelessly strove against the general 1950s Let's-brush-it-under-the-carpet-and-move-on attitude and made the 1960s start of what we call Vergangenheitsbewältigung in German - i.e. confrontation with (specifically the Nazi) past - possible.

He was also gay. This didn't just make him a target for the Nazis in a third capacity (in addition to being a Social Democrat and a Jew), but continued to make him a target in the 1950s, where the infamous paragraph 175 of German law (which hadn't been created by the Nazis, it was invented in 1872, but they had made it even worse by outlawing even mutual masturbation between two males) was still in full effect. (Sidenote: the paragraph in its entirety wasn't abolished until 1994, though it was reformed in 1969, which got rid of the Nazi addendums, and even more altered in 1973, at which point "only"' underage gay sex remained illegal until 1994. This is why "a 175" for decades was slang for "homosexual"; the term has gone out of use entirely by now.)

Now another movie might have treated Bauer's sexuality as a side issue, or eliminated it entirely, while presenting a conventional "early setback, eventual triumph at court" feelgood dramatic structure. Der Staat gegen Fritz Bauer, however, not only makes this aspect an important point but also makes its most important supporting character, the young state attorney Karl Angermann, gay as well. Now Angermann is fictional, or rather, a composite of various young attorneys working for Bauer, but I think inventing him was fully dramatically justified. Not solely because it relieves Fritz Bauer (who during his exile in Denmark had trouble with the Danish police for picking up male prostitutes a couple of times, but in post war Germany seems to have lived celibate) from being the only gay character (and thus having to represent all), but it creates situations where being gay in 1950s Germany can be discussed believably. Not to mention it gives us a movie whose main characters are gay without being involved with each other but are busy striving to bring Nazis to justice. Can you think of another example? And the mentor/protegé relationship that developes between Bauer and Angermann is affectionate, great to watch and hits all my loyalty buttons.

Another out of the expected choice the movie makes is not to focus on the 1960s Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials, i.e. Bauer's greatest hour. (There's another German movie released earlier this year who deals with the Auschwitz trials, Im Labyrinth des Schweigens.) Instead, it focuses on the hunt-for-Eichmann 1950s years. Fritz Bauer understandably and probably correctly suspected that if he told the BKA (our version of the FBI) about where Eichmann was once he'd gotten a key lead, they'd warn him. (70% of the BKA in the 1950s were old Nazis; the first head of the BKA who'd never been a Nazi but had been a leftist in his youth instead was Horst Herold, who didn't get appointed until 1971, not coincidentally by Willy Brandt, himself a former exile Social Democrat like Bauer had been, who was dead by then.) So Bauer contacted the Mossad instead, which was technically treason (i.e. for a government official to conspire with a foreign government's secret service). However, he also planned to push for extradition once Eichmann had been captured because he wanted to put Eichmann on trial in Germany. Not solely because of Eichmann himself, but because of the need to confront all the former Nazis Eichmann would name with their past and to destroy the 1950s lie that it had been solely Hitler and a few dedicated followers who'd been responsible. No big spoiler to say this wasn't how it worked out historically. So the movie ends on an ambigous note for Bauer: one of his most important goals - finding Adolf Eichmann and bringing him to justice - has been accomplished, but not in the way he hoped it would be; he's still surrounded by a lot of smug former Nazis, and while he has managed to reach some young people with his exhortation to confront the past in order to create a better Germany, he gets hate mail and death threats from others on a regular basis. And something spoilery for the movie though not history also happened. ) So instead of providing its hero with a conventional triumph at the end, the film sees his heroism lying in the fact that he decides to continue the struggle at a low-with-one-silver-lining point. Spoilerly last scene described. )

Fritz Bauer is played by Burgart Klaußner, who is fantastic in the part. Also eerily like the genuine article, complete with Swabian accent (Bauer wasn't from Hessen originally but from Württemberg); the movie has the chuzpe to open with a tv clip of real Fritz Bauer talking, and there is no suspension of disbelief necessary when we meet Klaußner!Fritz Bauer next. His appearance isn't prettified like so many historical characters are when played by actors; he's an old man with stocky figure and a temper. Plus, you know, it's not paranoia when they're really after you. (Just imagine being a Jewish survivor getting hate mail and death threats in 1950s Germany. In case you're wandering why Bauer ever came back or why once he realised what it would be like he didn't emigrate - and you can read the question on the face of the Mossad guys once he contacts them -: he was a patriot in the best sense of the term, someone for whom patriotism didn't mean glorification of one's country at the expense of others but the type of love that wants the country to become better which can only happen via acknowledging and atoning for the horrors of the past.) Bauer is prickly for the best of reasons, and has hours of depression, but his few attachments are fierce, and Klaußner does such a lot with his facial expression alone. Karl Angermann is played by Ronald Zehrfeld, who does a good job with an arc where he doesn't just struggle with his sexuality early on (he's married and Catholic) but also with how to be a decent human being when he has to represent a justice system which is directed against people of his own orientation. (Early in the movie, he's the state attorney who has to prosecute in a 175 case; that's when he first very carefully asks Fritz Bauer for advice.) Our two main villains, Gebhard the BKA guy and Kreidler the state attorney, are played by Jörg Schüttauf and Sebastian Blomberg respectively. More about them when I address the criticism by the English language review, but when I say "main villains" I have to add immediately that the movie makes it very clear they're but two of many and the entire system is (still) largely rotten. It also never loses sight of the larger context: in the later 1950s, Adenauer era Germany wasn't just emerging as an economic power again due to the Wirthschaftswunder but was seen as an essential part of NATO in the Cold War. The US was extremeliy uninterested in destabilizing Adenauer's government, which contained one very prominent former Nazi, Hans Globke (he who wrote the commentary of the Nuremberg Race Laws). Thus, the interest in tracking down Eichmann, Bormann et al (or to prosecute the less prominent but no less vile people still active and working) was at an all time low not solely within the Adenauer government but also by the Allies. (By anyone other than Israel, really.) It's that indifference even more than the occasional hate mail which makes life so hard for Fritz Bauer, who is haunted by the one time in his life as a young man where he bowed to tyranny (signing a subjugation letter in order to get out of that camp, which was then published by the Nazi press).

Female characters: not many: Bauer is married but lives separated from his wife who remained in Denmark (their marriage in 1943 was mainly so he'd avoid deportation), so we never meet her, or his much loved sister (also still in Denmark), though we hear her on the phone when Bauer in an hour of fear and depression calls her. There's his secretary, but she doesn't get characterisation beyond "devoted secretary". And Karl Angermann's wife, who clearly is frustrated with their marriage (without knowing the truth), but doesn't screen time or characterisation beyond that, either. The state attorneys working for Bauer are all male, as are the BKA people, which sadly is historically accurate. But this isn't a movie where "does it pass the Bechdel test?" is a question that's key to its worth.

Cinematography: director Lars Krauma hails from tv, and it shows. Also he only had a tiny budget. No sweeping shots of Frankfurt,Wiesbaden or Buenos Aires, or mass scenes; he goes for the Kammerspiel approach of small rooms and few characters, which btw works with the claustrophobic feel of 1950s Germany. Any and all 1950s pop songs are avoided in favour of jazz for the soundtrack - and three chansons in the drag bar Karl Angermann visits a couple of times later in the movie. The jazz was a smart choice, imo; it conveys Bauer's feeling of outsiderness in an determinedly "let's have our economic miracle now, shut up about the unpleasant past already" society.

And now for a brief discussion of the Hollywood Reporter bashing review.

Read more... )

In conclusion: I was moved and impressed by this film. I hope you'll get the chance to watch it as well.
While pondering this year's Yuletide options, I received last night a wonderful, unexpected gift from last year, as one of my prompts from then has resulted in this terrific story:

Lydia Gwilt in the American Melodrama Novel, or The Bride And Some Other People In The Tomb (10462 words) by Blueinkedfrost
Chapters: 13/13
Fandom: Armadale - Wilkie Collins
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Lydia Gwilt
Additional Tags: Adventure, Mystery, Supernatural - Freeform, bloodthirsty murder, antihero protagonist, Mrs Alex. McVeigh Miller

Lydia Gwilt goes to America and has further adventures. There's a bride, a tomb, bloodthirsty murder, Spiritualism, monsters of various kinds, and maybe even a new passion for our brave antiheroine. Epistolary fic.

Lydia Gwilt from Wilkie Collins' novel Armadale is my favourite Collins character by far (she also was my first antiheroine, and remains a favourite redhead), and her witty, acerbic voice as Collins presents it in the various letters and diary excerpts that form his "sensation novel" is a big reason why. So I was delighted that not only did this author come up with a great adventure for Lydia, but one that followed the Collins precedent, voice wise. And managed an affectionate spoof of certain 19th century novel tropes besides. I loved it.
selenak: (Black Sails by Violateraindrop)
( Sep. 29th, 2015 11:55 am)
Aka, the other pirate show, and also the one which was cancelled after the first season, as opposed to Black Sails. Overall verdict: has its moments but not as good as the later, which for me is the inevitable comparison.

They share the era, roughly the geographical setting, and several themes; lots of double crossing, and the pirates versus British Empire nearing the zenith of hits power background. You could even parallel some of the characters' functions, though that to my mind only highlights their differences.

Crossbones basically has two leading men, Edward Teach aka Blackbeard who in this version faked his death some years pre-show, is ruling (though he doesn't call it that) the secret island community of Santa Campana and is played by John Malkovich, which is why he's on every poster or advertisment for this show. And John Malkovich certainly delivers his John Malkovich thing as "the Commodore", which is what Teach now likes to calll himself. But the character who actually has a narrative arc through the season - indeed the only one who definitely has one, which is part of why Crossbones, even just comparing first seasons, strikes me as much weaker than Black Sails - is Tom Lowe (might not be his real name), surgeon and 18th century superspy whose job as given in the pilot is to kill Blackbeard. The guy who gives him said job is the governor of Jamaica, William Jagger, who is the only one convinced Blackbeard is still alive, not least because he's the one who supposedly killed him.

(I googled, and Jagger is fictional; 'twas the governor of Carolina who did Blackbeard in historically.)

Jagger is played by Julian Sands, who takes up the scenery chewing competition with relish and is the most boo-hiss black hat character in the show. Every dastardly sadistic evil government official you can imagine, and then some. Which to me already took some suspense from Tom Lowe's arc, because obviously the big question "will Lowe change his loyalties?" isn't much of one if the government side is presented by Lord Voldemort. This said, the show does a reasonably good job of not woobifying Blackbeard (while he's better than Jagger, this isn't saying much since Jagger is so vile) and making it clear that best answer to "Jagger or Teach?" is "neither". And it gives Tom Lowe reasons other than "good lord, but that Blackbeard is a clever bastard!" to reconsider.

However, several of those reasons bring me to the weaker points of the show. It should have been an ensemble show, selling us and Lowe on the community of outcasts the "Commodore" has surrounded himself with. But most of them are only brief character sketches at best. Charlie, Blackbeard's loyal sidekick, carries narratively similar functions to Mr. Gates, Billy Bones and Dufresne in Black Sails' first season, but never gains a personality to match either of the three. "Why do I love you?" Blackbeard asks at one point, and I've got to wonder, too, because the narrative isn't giving me anything, and when Charlie argues with his boss re: the plan, I'm not feeling any emotional tension because Charlie hardly got any scenes to get to know him.

Then there's Nenna, the sole important poc character. On paper, Nenna sounds awesome: fierce black female pirate, with a secret agenda that seems cut for spoilers just in case ) We never find out one way or the other, because Nenna abruptly disappears from the narrative two thirds in. Maybe she'd have come back in a second season, maybe not, but as it is, the audience is left with a sense of "huh?", but no more than that. Before her disappearance, Nenna had a short subplot with the local madam, Rose, who cut for spoilers again ) The comparison to Anne Bonny and Max in Black Sails is all all but inevitable if you've watched both shows. But where Anne has a personality beyond "fierce female pirate" and complicated emotions she's just beginning to figure out, not to mention strong loyalties, and Max has both an agenda, smarts and a strong emotional life of her own, Rose does something spoilery stupid ) and doesn't see the end coming. Because she's solely in for the spoiler ), this, the only same sex relationship (not really one) of the show, makes her flirting with Nenna come across as creepy/sexual molestation. I don't think the implication was intended, but it's unfortunate, to say the least.

(Meanwhile, Black Sails has four on screen bisexual regular characters.)

Key for Lowe's emotional arc are the Balfours, James Balfour, Scottish Jacobite lord in exile, and his wife Kate (played by Claire Foy). They are probably the most prominent supporting characters, and if you're thinking "triangle", you're thinking right. The show is going for "complicated" here. Lowe falls for Kate pretty much on sight, but also respects James (not to mention a spoilery secret regarding the past that left James crippled courtesy of government torture); Kate loves her husband and doesn't see that as incompatible with also fancying Lowe; James loves Kate and is for anything that makes her happy, though when he figures out something about Lowe's past, that resolution is tested. As triangles go, I was okay with this one. My problem in the larger context was that we're strictly in the two male povs, Tom Lowe's and James Balfour's, regarding it. They get the emotional weight by the narrative. Kate has essentially the same job Eleanor Guthrie has in Black Sails (buying and selling the pirate plunder), but whereas Eleanor is a woman of power, one of the key political players in Nassau whose support or enmity is crucial for the others, Kate never gets shown in a context outside of her romantic narrative. Blackbeard talks to her husband, not to her. The one time we see her "on the job", so to speak, she has something spoilery happen to her ), i.e. what the narrative is about is to make a point about Lowe (and Jagger, and even Blackbeard), not Kate.

Lastly, appearantly Neil Cross who created the show really liked the "mad wife in the attic" part of Jane Eyre and somehow missed out of not just Wide Saragasso Sea but each and any criticial discussion of the trope. Spoilery discussion as to why ensues )

In conclusion: Crossbones utterly fails at women despite having good intentions. As to where its male characters end up in the finale: Well, that's spoilery. ) Basically, I wasn't bored when watching, but it had too many drawbacks for me to get fannish about, so I'm not sad it's already gone.
selenak: (Werewolf by khall_stuff)
( Sep. 28th, 2015 10:29 am)
Unfortunately, the early morning sky in Bamberg was really cloudy, but every now and then, there was a free spot, and this is what I managed:

 photo SAM_6704_zpsi8jyeqhb.jpg

 photo SAM_6722 - Kopie_zpsibhjsgou.jpg

 photo SAM_6723 - Kopie_zpsfvtikv5d.jpg

 photo SAM_6725 - Kopie_zpswwwoaczm.jpg
In which glasses are cool. :)

Read more... )
selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
( Sep. 26th, 2015 03:26 pm)
Yuletide nominations are open! I also browsed the nomination confirmations and found several fandoms I can volunteer for this year in addition to those I was planning for. Excellent.

Vonda M. McIntyre about writing Star Trek novels. For verily, hers were among the best. Also, her beef with the third TOS season reminds me there's nothing new in fandom - it's exactly the reaction anyone has today when a current day series stops matching one's own ideas of characters. Cautious phrasing is deliberate: I've become disenchanted of shows myself, but I'm also aware that I've loved seasons which for other fans were hateful, and vice versa. And there's nothing more tiresome than someone insisting that you MUST despise season x/movie y/book z, and if you don't, you're doing fandom wrong. (Which is a mind set depressingly many people seem to share, says the woman fond of the Star Wars prequels, season 4 of Angel and Wesley Crusher, among others.)
selenak: (Ten and Donna by Trolliepop)
( Sep. 25th, 2015 10:50 am)
This already made my day: Big Finish, having at last secured the rights to New Who characters as well, will give us more Donna and Tenth Doctor adventures. My absolutely favourite Doctor and Companion combination from the New Who era returns! More magical Tate & Tennant banter: these two had such superb comic timing together, even off screen when they did radio interviews, so I'm pretty confident Ten and Donna will translate well to the audio format.

In conclusion: I'm a happy, happy Doctor Who fan this morning. YES!
Other than the Cameron/Pig revelations (btw, of all the puns, I think I like "Snoutrage" best), this has been an infuriating and depressing week politically. I feel like strangling the entire top hierarchy of the CSU (= Bavarian branch of the Conservatives, the head of same is currently in a power struggle with Merkel) for the vile kowtowing to Orbán the Fascist they've been doing (which I find even more revolting for the fact that it happened near my hometown, Bamberg, and Orbán was staying overnight in Bamberg, not half a mile from my home - ugh!), abd then there are the greedy manager lot responsible for the VW scandal which promises to be a long term disaster of unknown proportions (every seventh job in Germany is within the automotive industry) for whom strangling would be too good and who deserve a life time of toilet cleaning in refugee camps.

And now I've learned that Ellis Kaut has died. This is one of those deaths which objectively you can't call tragic - she lived to be 94 years old, she was a very successful writer who managed to create the most beloved her of any post war German book/radio/tv show (he was all three), full stop. But that's precisely why I'm sad. There are few writers who managed to give me something that was so big a part of my early childhood, and adolescence. Or life, because whenever I come across an episode of Pumuckl, I still can't resist listening or watching, as the case may be.

Her hero was a little red haired goblin called Pumuckl who usually is invisible to humans but at the beginning of the story by accident gets trapped at the work place of a Munich carpenter, Meister Eder, which means Eder can see him now. Pumuckl is basically a cheerful, anarchic, hyperactive child; Meister Eder is a slow, gemütlich carpenter settled in his routines and somewhere between middle aged and old: it's the odd couple charm, of course, though the pair has one thing in common from the get go, they love food (and beer). (Why, they're Bavarians living in Munich, of course they do.) Ellis Kaut wrote their stories first for radio, then as books, and then they became tv. Meister Eder was acted by Gustl Bayerhammer and Pumuckl voiced by Hans Clarin in both the audio versions, which I first listened to as a small child, and on tv when I was entering teenagedom. You couldn't imagine anyone else in the roles. On tv, Pumuckl was a cartoon character, the rest was live action. Shot on location in Munich; you couldn't imagine them in a non-Bavarian setting, either, and when much later, after Gustl Bayerhammer had died, the producers tried to shoot a movie with Pumuckl in a northern setting and without Meister Eder at his side, it promptly flopped. And when this year for an upcoming book anniversary a new illustrator prepared an edition where Pumuckl instead of having a belly is slimmed down to look "more like a energetic kid's hero of today" (so they phrased it), not just author Ellis Kaut - who had sold the rights, and thus legally couldn't intervene - but all of Germany revolted and was indignant, and so the publisher hastily had to scrap this and take it back, and thus republished Pumuckl still has his belly along with his passion for rhyme ("huch, das reimt sich ja, und was sich reimt, ist wahr!") and pranks and annoying Meister Eder's neighbors.

Pumuckl, of course, is immortal. Ellis Kaut has left us today. I'm so grateful for what she gave. Here, in case you know at least a bit German or want to have a visual impression, is an episode of the tv show, "Pumuckl and the first snow".

Back in Europe, and here are the results of another 12 hours with Lufthansa's inflight entertainment program:

Woman in Gold: Trufax: When I was in Los Angeles this last week, I visited a friend of mine, the fabulous Barbara Schönberg, who asked whether I had seen this movie yet. I hadn't. "I'm in it," she said, "well, an actress supposed to be me, strolling through a cemetery with Helen Mirren. Also my son Randy is one of the two main characters, and the other is my friend Maria. But my parents aren't in the flashbacks, when they were Maria's best friends! That was wrong. But they are buried in that cemetery Helen Mirren is walking through, so at least they are in the film in a way."

So I watched the movie, in which Barbara's friend Maria is played by Tatiana Maslany when young and by Helen Mirren when old. Her son Randy is played by Ryan Reynolds. ("He ought to be flattered", said a mutual friend who also asked me whether I had seen the movie. "I mean, have you met Randy? He does NOT look like Ryan Reynolds.") (I have met Randy, and no, he doesn't.) The director is Simon Curtis, who also directed My Week with Marilyn, and it's the same type of film, a good acting vehicle, playing on add couple dynamics, without ever being great. Helen Mirren and Tatiana Maslany are both in fine form as Maria, offspring of a wealthy Jewish Viennese family and niece to Adele Bloch-Gruber whose portrait (painted by Gustav Klimt) gets stolen (along with everything else) by the Nazis; Maria's effort to get it back decades later is the main plot of the movie, and Barbara's son Randy is her lawyer. The movie's non Jewish Austrians are smug soulless jerks except for earnest investigative journalist Hubertus Czernin who is played by Daniel Brühl and the main reason why Austrian reviewers were indignant about this film, as I just found out via googling. According to every Austrian article the internet has available, the late Hubertus Czernin (he died in 2006) was "the true hero of the story", who as a part of his investigations into the fate of stolen art for a series of articles that was already being published came across the Klimt painting case and contacted Maria Hartman in the States, whereupon the whole thing got rolling, as opposed to waylaying her at the airport of Vienna as in the movie and joining her and Randy Schönberg belatedly. The articles to a writer also complain To me, this sounds a bit like the indignation about Argo, re: the role of the Canadian ambassador in movie versus reality, with the complaints in both cases being that it's downplayed in favour of an American character getting the central white knight role. Though a) dear Austrian reviewers, wouldn't you say the true hero of the story is Maria, not either Randy or Hubertus, and b) from what I've read about the late Hubertus Czernin, he wouldn't have minded. In the easily availalbe interview you can google about the case, he mainly talks about how amazing Maria is. (Not that he's not an interesting and sympathetic figure both in reality and in the movie; he was a life long crusader against cover ups of the Nazi past, with his most famous case probably being Kurt Waldheim's.)

Anyway, making young Randy central isn't the only obvious Hollywoodism; young Maria in Vienna with her husband also gets a chase scene in which she and her husband run from the Gestapo and escape to the airport, which according to said reviews never happened, either. (Also she didn't leave Vienna until after, not before as in the movie, the death of her father.) Old Maria and Randy hunt down a copy of Aunt Adele's will via secret mole/pal of Hubertus Czernin in the archive via going through endless dusty folders when in reality there was no problem getting a copy officially (and it wasn't kept in that particular archive, either). But none of this takes away of the core of the story, Maria as a survivor of monstrous injustice to whom the point isn't simply who has physical possession of the painting in question but a way to retrieve something of her identity and her lost family. (While Randy's arc is going from glib young lawyer to whom the Holocaust was eons ago and not something that concerns him personally to literally throwing up once the reality of it all hits him in Austria. (Btw, as opposed to Maria's reaction when visiting Austria - very much against her will - for the first time since she left it due to the legal procedings, I doubted Randy's reaction, if only because I know his mother Barbara visits Vienna every year, and I can't believe she never took the kids along, so real Randy Schönberg in all likelihood would have been already familiar with Vienna before the Maria Hartmann suit.)

A word re: language - to its credit, the movie has everyone in the Vienna flashback talk in (subtitled) German. (In the present, Maria refuses to speak German, until eventually near the end she says one sentence, so Helen Mirren just has to say that one sentence as well.) This means Tatiana Maslany had to do all her acting in a language she doesn't speak (that I know of), and yet she's as amazing as usual. She also must have trained the intonations and speech rhythms, which are right. You can still hear she's not a native because the ch occasionally trips her up - it's the toughest thing to get right for original English speakers - but it still sounds excellent. If there ever is a Katja flashback in Orphan Black, she's ready for it.

Jane the Virgin, pilot episode: another show about which I'd heard a lot of good things. The pilot episode was delightful and funny; between Jane, her mother, her grandmother and the doctor who spoiler for pilot ), there are already four female characters whom I'm already looking forward to find out more about.

Far from the Madding Crowd: gorgeous cinematography, which I hope won many awards. This is one of those films where you could still frame every screencap, basically. (Who knew dead sheep could look beautiful? Here they do. Also devastating, because of what their death means.) I must confess I haven't read any Thomas Hardy - neither te book this film is based on nor any of the others, and only one or two of the poems -, but because his reputation via pop culture osmosis is for ultra depressing, I was expecting a darker ending than what we got. Carey Mulligan - btw, given what a star she's become by now, it's a amazing to I hadn't seen her as anyone but Sally Sparrow in DW's Blink only a couple of years ago - is fine as Batsheba Everdeen, the heroine, though I must say: male 19th century authors really seem to be wedded to the idea that a woman will first go for the shallow rascal rather than the worthy guy truly devoted to her, don't they? Ah well, it means a lot of UST and smouldering.
I'm all conferenced out; yesterday was the last day, and in the evening I had the chance to catch the Doctor Who season premiere on BBC America. Since my head still half crowded with academia and the transatlantic sense of being out of time hasn't abated yet (and won't have a chance to, since I'm flying back today), I'm feeling a bit groggy, so excuse any incoherence or inconclusiveness.

Spoiler realise a Big Finish audio has just gotten jossed )
selenak: (Henry and Eleanor by Poisoninjest)
( Sep. 16th, 2015 07:16 am)
Transatlantic twelve hour flights: made for movie marathons. So, en route to Los Angeles, I watched:

Spy: was as amusing as I was told, and made for someone like yours truly who enjoys both feminism and the occasional Bond film (and spoof of same, not for nothing is Our Man Bashirone of my favourite DS9 episodes). Melissa McCarthy rocked, and everyone else seems to have had a great time as well. (What the professional reviews never mentioned, though the fannish ones did, was that this isn't a one joke (watch the overweight 40s woman out-Bond them all) or one special woman movie; all but one of Susan's important relationships are with women. Her friendship with fellow analyst Nancy (odd to see Miranda Hart not as a midwife, though!), the traditionally prickly spymaster-agent one with her boss (Alison Janney's spy mistress is clearly C.J.'s (from West Wing) having to do the job for a while after a losing a bet with Kate), and the arch nemesis one with supervillain Raina (Rose Byrnes). The biggest surprise for me though was when what I thought was an obvious twist telegraphed from the start turned out to work out differently then I expected. Spoiler alert! )

: Cinderella, live-action version: nice, but nothing outstanding. But then, my favourite Cinderella movie will always be the Czech one which in German has the title Drei Nüsse für Aschenbrödel. It's shown every Christmas and as a girl I must have watched it dozens of times. (Czech Cinderella also meeets the Prince first hunting, but that's because she's a proto Katnisss and secretly hunting in male disguise on a regular basis.)

Never Let Me Go: like the novel it's based on, the creepy horror of it lies in the way it never even occurs to the characters to revolt against the horrible premise; they've been far too well indoctrinated. I do have a problem with something utterly unrelated to the premise or the main themes, though. Spoiler and complaint ensure. )

Empire, pilot episode: [personal profile] zahrawithaz described this to me as a modern day The Lion in Winter AU, which as the pilot shows is indeed the case. (Though the pilot, as opposed to Goldman's drama and film whichleft her out, includes a Constance of Brittany equivalent as the wife of the Geoffrey character. I wonder whether this will spell doom for any kids they have...) Finding a current day equivalent for Eleanor's 16 years as Henry's prisoner after her failed war against him, or for the importance of the duchy of Aquitaine in the Plantagenet family power plays, I imagine was hardest, but lo, the writing team came up with something: Cutting for spoilers, just in case. ) I thought that was a far better modern equivalent than what Susan Howatch found in Penmarric. Though I have one nitpick: for me, one key to the Eleanor and Henry relationship is that neither of them is the sole wronged party, is the one always in the right while the other is in the wrong. They both did terrible things to each other. Whereas with Cookie and Lucious in the pilot at least, there's a clear "she's right, he's wrong" narrative, added by the fact Lucious is the archetypical underappreciative and homophobic dad to Jamal, the Richard Lionhart character. I hope the season as a whole is a bit more subtle. Otherwise, I'll try to get the dvds as soon as they get released in Germany.
On the 25th, Yuletide nominations start, so I'm pondering which I'll nominate this year. The Americans again, and I'm already coordinating that over at the community. Black Sails, of course, and here alas there is no community (that I know of, and I continue to avoid tumblr if I can). Since it would be lovely to have more than four characters to choose from, I have to ask: gentle readers of these lines, are you watching Black Sails and if so, would you care to nominate it for Yuletide in coordination with me so we can each nominate different characters? I like almost the entire ensemble! (And it's a huuuge ensemble.)

That leaves two more fandoms. I think I'm going to nominate the Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom in the hope that someone will write me a story about Guy, but I'd also take case fic, or a Tamasin pov story that fleshes her out, or a story set post Lamentation in which Matthew settles in his new job for Elizabeth, or backstory (young idealistic Matthew meets Cromwell, gets hired, maybe?), or, well, anything. Again: huge ensemble. If there are other Shardlake readers out there, would you be willing to nominate a few characters? It doesn't mean you have to write anything!

Fourth fandom: Agent Carter is out of the question due to the MCU connection, but Better Call Saul should qualify, and I want Jimmy & Kim, or Jimmy/Kim. Backstory, first season era story, Breaking Bad era story speculating what happened with Kim during that time, post Breaking Bad era story in which Kim meets "Gene" - don't care, gimme. Since I have no other wishes in this fandom, I'm game to nominate whichever other two characters you want, gentle reader, should you also wish for Better Call Saul characters at Yuletide. (Wait, on second thought, I do have another wish, but I don't think Daredevil is a tiny enough fandom, because again, MCU connection. But I still dream of that crossover where Jimmy temporarily ends up working for Nelson & Murdock.)

In other news: BBC Radio 4 did a radio production on Ava Lovelace, starring Sally Hawkins as Ada, Anthony Stewart Head as Charles Babbage, and Olivia Williams as Ada's mother, Annabella, Lady Byron. It was broadcast today, which means you can listen to it for another week at least here.
How do we call this arc? The Zelena arc? The Oz arc? Wouldn't fit the way "Neverland" fits as designation for the first half, though. Anyway: I finished it, and the season, and thus the rewatch.

Observations beneath the cut )


selenak: (Default)


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags