Saturday, November 19th, 2005

Do The Hippogriff

So just what kind of person ends up at the midnight screening of Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire? Excellent question. Let’s just say I’ve only recently been, um, encouraged to read the books and while I was looking forward to seeing the film, being one of the first in Eastern Standard Time to do so wasn’t MY idea. Anyway.

Most reviews will begin or end with something to the effect of, “The best Harry Potter film yet”. Which is both true, but also very relative – the first film wasn’t very good at all, so they really only had one way to go. But beyond that faint praise, Goblet Of Fire is not only the best of the Potter films so far, but it really satisfies in its own right. I was surprised at the selection of Mike Newell as director, after all – success with Four Weddings And A Funeral and Mona Lise Smile doesn’t necessarily guarantee results with a property as beloved and under as much scrutiny as the Potter franchise. But Newell pulls it off, and hats are off to him.

He succeeds where Chris Columbus and Alfonso Cuaron did not by not getting caught up in showing off how wonderful everything looks or leaving his personal stamp on things. He’s ruthlessly efficient in cutting subplots and superfluousness and demonstrates laser-like tunnel vision in telling the central story and letting that alone carry the film. There’s minimal exposition – it’s pretty much assumed that if you haven’t read the books or seen the earlier films, there’s no reason for you to be there – and the pace is breakneck. Unlike Rowling’s text, the film has no interest in documenting the entire Hogwarts school year. All that matters is the tournament (and the Yule ball) and the incidental detail that is excised really isn’t missed. Also, by removing some of the cutesiness that with each book seems increasingly at odds with the darker tones of the story, Goblet gives the series its first actual moments of drama and emotional heft. You could hear people all over the theatre crying…

It also helps that Goblet has by far the best special effects of any of the films, hell, they’re better effects than I’ve seen in almost any film in recent memory. Also, the young cast turn in their most natural performances yet. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call them good actors, but they’ve definitely grown comfortable in and now pretty much define their roles. It helps that they’re also at the age where they’re simply more interesting people, though I think the whole “raging hormones” angle is a little overplayed in the media. Just wait till the next film… Ralph Fiennes is perfectly cast as the resurrected Voldemort – he demonstrates great restraint in a role that could have very easily descended into scenery chewing. Instead, he (and his serpentine snout) comes off every bit as sinister and evil as you’d hope. Gary Oldman, on the other hand, does his best in his only scene as a pile of cinder and though the Wyrd Sisters barely appear, Jarvis Cocker does get a good close-up.

So yes, I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire. I note that the next film, Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix, isn’t due out for two years – will that be before or after the final book? I’ve not really been keeping up. Also, the fifth film will also see yet another directorial change. Some guy named David Yates is currently attached to it. I see nothing on his resume that I can base his ability on, so I just hope that he’ll be able to pick up the baton and we’ll still be saying “this one is the best one yet” in 2007.

One thing about going to the midnight screening was that there were not trailers, which normally would suit me fine but the Superman Returns teaser was supposed to be attached to Harry Potter. Good thing it’s already online here.

The Stranger and Daily News talk to Laura Veirs. Also, check out the video for “Galaxies”.

And in the southern rock section of today’s post, The Pitch runs the standard Z questions by My Morning Jacket bassist Tommy Tu-Tone while Creative Loafing talks to Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell, who reveals the working title for their new album as A Blessing And A Curse. Links via Largehearted Boy, a southern rocker himself.

The Guardian wonders aloud if the Arcade Fire have any hope for “success” in the absurdly charts-obsessed UK.

Stylus follows up their favourite b-sides feature by celebrating that format’s cousin, the EP.

iThe much-beloved CBC Radio 3 will be coming back to life in early December as a Sirius radio station, featuring around 85% Canadian content, and not the Bryan Adams, Celine Dion and Burton Cummings sort. The website will return early next year as some sort of amalgam of,, and and feature a BLOG. Like the cool kids have.

Arrested Development’s Michael Cera (aka George Michael) tells JAM! he has no idea what’s going on with the show’s future while David Cross is a little more direct in his thoughts on the situation. And Prefix reports that the reduced episode order will be joke fodder in an upcoming episode… again. They took some jabs at that last season as well, when Fox decided to pass on the last four episodes of the season.

Had one hell of a time recovering from my little hacker attack yesterday. I eventually traced the point of ingress to a vulnerability in Nucleus. Not surprising, in hindsight, considering that I hadn’t upgraded the software in, um, three years? But everything is now rebuilt and patched up and that should hopefully be that. I’m still having some email issues though, so if you’ve written me, be patient.

np – My Bloody Valentine / Tremolo

By : Frank Yang at 9:43 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Justin says:

    this has nothing to do with today’s blog but i went to the okkervil river, man man show in baton rouge last night and okkervil river didn’t play because of health problems. let’s just say i was extremely dissapointed, i was so looking forward to seeing okkervil river. when i read a couple weeks back on your website that they put on a great show when you saw them i thought their problems were behind them, but, apparently not. bummer.

  2. matthew says:

    I really enjoyed the movie, but part of me was disappointed at how much they had to cut. I knew that there was no way they could’ve included everything from the books, but it still felt like they were jumping from point to point as quickly as they could.
    That said, I thought the director did an amazing job of getting good performances out of the main actors, particularly given that none of them had shown much ability in the first three films. I’m not sure if it was my favourite — I’ll have to watch it again and see how it holds up — but it’s definitely at least as good as Cuaron’s take on Prisoner of Azkaban (which was, of course, infinitely better than the first two Chris Columbus movies)…

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