Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pemberley

When I saw Pemberley by Emma Tennant in the library on Friday, I decided to pick it up out of curiosity. I mean, how bad could it be, right? Huge, huge, unforgivable mistake.
I’ve always loved Pride and Prejudice, and after studying it last year I love it more. It’s light and funny and refined and ironic and just a delight to read. A sequel would be fun – just to see a possible alternative “what happens next”.

Well for a start, the timelines are all screwed up. Within a year of Lizzie and Darcy’s marriage, Mr. Bennett is dead, Jane has had one child and is well on the way to a second, and the Wickhams are multiplying like bunnies – four children so far. How, we do not know, especially since the end of P&P seemed to indicate years of Mr. Bennett visiting Pemberley.

Lizzie feels terrible at not having provided her husband with an heir in (gasp!) a whole year. Lady Catherine turns up with a cousin of Darcy’s who is the heir to the estate, should Lizzie fail to produce one. All the characters of the original book show up at Pemberley for Christmas, Lizzie and Darcy have marital troubles (Lizzie lies awake at night, waiting for him to come to her. Oh the tragedy! Does anyone happen to have a violin on them?). Lizzie abandons Darcy, suspecting him of having fathered a child with another woman.
In the final chapter (a whole four pages long) Tennant seems to have got bored, and wraps up the whole story. The illegitimate child is Bingley’s, Darcy is a good man, Jane nearly dies, Lizzie falls down stairs, Lizzie loses consciousness, Lizzie gains consciousness, Lizzie is pregnant, they all live happily ever after. Awful.
Tennant’s language is vaguely Austen-esque, but it’s hard to imagine Austen writing so much sex-stuff. And she doesn’t have Austen’s sense of humour. Read only if you’re the kind of sadomasochist who liked Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett.

Goblet of Fire

It seems...disjointed. Like they'd picked all the important scenes and just filmed them, with no kind of transition between them. But the individual scenes are done brilliantly.

I'm not much of a purist about Harry Potter, so I don't particularly mind the omissions. Dobby and Winky are annoying anyway, and while the Quidditch world cup is infinitely cool it's hard to see that it added much to the story. But it really is a pity so much of the Crouch background had to be cut.

The dark mark at the world cup - brilliant. This could easily have been mishandled and made comical, but it turned out as creepy as necessary. The maze, despite the loss of the fun creatures, was really well done. Snape was interesting...in the background and not speaking. I think they're building him up for the massive role he plays in the later movies. The yule ball was decent, I liked the Wyrd Sisters, naturally. The graveyard scene, though, that was stunning. Fiennes is brilliant, the setting is chilling, and Cedric's death wasn't dwelt on unnecessarily.(Until they got back, and that scene was one of the most painful to watch.)

Casting has been surprisingly good. I continue to be stunned by the brilliance of Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman. Gambon..um. Not really, no. From time to time his Dumbledore seems to slip into an american accent, which is quite baffling. (Speaking of accents, Cho's was so thick that the family next to me kept asking each other what she was saying.)I like Grint - not so much Radcliffe. Emma Watson is going to be stunning when she grows up. Certainly the prettiest girl in the movie - Fleur, Cho and Ginny are all tolerable but nothing special. Both Crouches are perfect. Cedric's a bit too much of a prettyboy, but Krum...Krum is big and military and muscley and thuggish and *drools* I like Krum.

There are no genuinely cringeworthy moments, quite a feat, really. I am suitably impressed. I'd rank it just slightly below Azkaban, which I loved. Good movie.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Screaming down from heaven

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I was sixteen, and I'd never met anyone like Craig. He knew more, had read more, was smarter and nicer and funnier and harsher than anyone. And Craig liked Jeff Buckley, who I'd never heard, he thought Buckley was brilliant and he had to be right because of the sheer Craigness of him. But I was sixteen, and I could be wrong, and I didn't want to be wrong and not like Jeff and have to tell Craig I didn't like him. So even when he tried to direct me to the official website to force me to listen to "Lover, you should've come over", I didn't.

Eventually I gave in, and found myself at the site listening to Mojo Pin. I was...bored. The beginning was long and dreary. And it was about love, and everyone's written a love song, right? (I'd blame this on the fact that I was sixteen too, but I know sixteen year olds who have great taste)

At some point I decided to read the lyrics instead. I'm not sure what it says about me that my greatest loves musically started with the lyrics. But I think I learnt that certain things got written about because they were universal, that the love song will always exist because everyone who discovers the feeling feels it so intensely that they just have to write about it. Jeff made it sound fresh and exciting and beautiful.
I found Grace in a shop I didn't expect to have it. I don't think I've been that excited over an album in years. I could probably rhapsodise over each individual song, but that would bore everyone. I will say, though, that Dream Brother is gorgeous, and must be sung by June at her college thingy.

I'll never forgive myself for not having discovered him before he died. How could I, though, I was far too young.

I'm a bit early, but happy birthday Jeff.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Thud! - Terry Pratchett

I'm trying not to be too fangirly here. I really want to squeal and say this is the greatest book ever. It probably isn't.



SPOILERS! Don't read.





So what's wrong with this book? Well. I don't like Sally. She's just not interesting. You could get away with her character if you stuck it in one of the Rincewind books or one of the standalone books that aren't about any established set of characters (Small Gods, Soul Music, Pyramids, etc) but the Watch books have some of the most brilliant, carefully developed characters in the series, you can't just shove Sally in with Angua and Cheery and Vimes and Carrot. Is she there solely to make Angua jealous? Or for the rather erotic shower scene and references to mud wrestling with Angua? (because lesbianism had to come in somewhere and Angua/Cheery just wouldn't be that hot. Though he already *dealt* with it in Monstrous Regiment)
Also, Vimes agrees to have a vampire in the Watch far too easily. At first I was able to overlook this - He knows his prejudice is illogical, and we know from Jingo how hard he tries to avoid prejudice and just be a good person. But I got the feeling this was one prejudice he was determined to cling to. He doesn't.

The vampire/werewolf thing? Even in The Fifth Elephant it's not that pronounced.

However. Baby Sam! 'Where's My Cow?'! This is quite possibly one of the most touching portrayals of fatherhood I've ever read. The scenes where he's trying to get home on time and the entire Watch helps him made me melt.And the Where's My ow shouty scene near the end.

Also, little touchs of character developement which simply do not exist in the earlier books. Colon's suggestion that a robbery was done by a troll is actually rather impressive (or I have descended to Colonesque levels of idiocy). Detritus' paternal feelings towards Brick. Detritus' maturity in handling the situation when Bunny cleans out the stables for the trolls.

Oh, and I loved Tawnee. It's rather comforting to think that the only reason one is asked out by pathetic men is that the others are too intimidated. Except, of course, that one is not a six ft tall stripper with a perfect body. *sigh*. The thought of Nobby getting some is...disturbing, but it's at least relatively safe from fanfic writers.

It's getting harder and better to read Discworld books, what with issues coming in. Things like Vimes' grudging acceptance of technology are comforting in their familiarity, but Dwarf fundamentalism, gang wars, racism, etc are disturbing for the same reason. I often pick up one of the earlier books in the series for *light* reading, as opposed to serious, makesyouthink literature. I can no longer do that. And I love it. I love that he hasn't let the lightness of the earlier books restrict the potential of the later ones. Thud! is funny and silly, but it's also deeply worrying, and I think that is a major achievement. It's hard for me to be objective about Pratchett, but I'd certainly rank Thud! among the best books of this year.