awesome folks

Power To The Potter People

Today I was driving back from Nonquitt and listened to a couple Harry Potter podcasts, and I was reminded that I have not yet written about the movie! I don’t know why the heck not, but here we go.

Spoilers ahead, but honestly if you haven’t read the books and seen the movies i have no sympathy if you get spoiled.

Let’s start with some things I really appreciate about the movies as a whole body of work before I discuss HP 7.2 specifically. These are in no order whatsoever.

–Ron Weasley’s facial expressions. Every single one.

–the killing of Cedric Diggory, on film. I really love how completely unsentimental this moment is. Voldemort says “kill the spare!” and then there’s an Avada Kedavra, and then his body just crumples. And when Harry gets back to the castle, the way that Cedric’s father comes rushing at the body, the really primal howls from Harry and Amos Diggory, are really just great pieces of acting and so unafraid to really thrust the audience into what is the first real horror of the story.

–Every single thing that Alan Rickman does over the course of these films. If I had to pick just one MVP of the Potter films, it would be Rickman. The way he clips.his.words, his combination of funny and really frightening, is just great. And Rickman acted the hell out of his death scene and his flashbacks in the final film. That was a extraordinary well acted scene. People often diss the Potter films and I think there is a sense that they aren’t serious enough (because they are based on books? based on “children’s” books? fantasy? is it the wizard thing?) but I defy you to find a better performance than Alan Rickman dealing with an incredibly complex backstory and the loss of his one great love and then agreeing to kinda sorta explain that history to a boy he loathes with every ounce of his being while also explaining an incredibly complex and dangerous double game he played for most of his life and knowing that this boy he’s always hated is about to find out that that boy’s mentor/hero asked him to kill him–my god. I got so confused just typing that. Anyway, Rickman’s acting is amazing.

–Come to think of it, all the acting is amazing. Second place MVP goes to Maggie Smith for her portrayal of Minerva McGonegell, a favorite of mine. The professor is a hardass in the best sense of the word: never mean for the hell of it, deeply caring and concerned, not willing to put up with any of your BS. I want to be her when I grow up. And I LOVED her moments in the final movie–she’s always wanted to do that spell! That was adorable! And her duel with Snape. My goodness. I do wish they’d included one of my favorite line from the final book, when she hears Harry is in the Ravenclaw common room and snaps “Potter belongs in MY house!”

–Evanna Lynch’s Luna Lovegood. Evanna–who is featured on the Leaky Cauldron’s LeakyCon 2011 Pottercast discussing HP7.2–is a delightful young woman, a total Potter super fan, and a great actress who brings the perfect mix of lunacy (see what I did there?) and groundedness to one of Rowling’s most iconic characters. (That lion headdress!) I really loved her moment in the final film, t00, when she snapped at Harry to stop moving for a minute and listen to her.

–Neville Longbottom. OK, first, yes, I am happy that he and Luna got together in the final film. As John said on Pottercast, just because Rowling said once that Neville ends up with Hannah Abbott doesn’t mean he didn’t have a fling with Luna, and they are kind of perfect for each other (also on Pottercast: Evanna said she always thought Luna/Dumbledore would be a good match…) I loved him blowing up the bridge. I loved watching him go from a  dorky little boy  in the first movie to the boy who chops of Nagini’s head in the last movie. I have a lot of respect for our buddy Neville.

–Dumbledore, but I much prefer the Richard Harris version of the first two films to the Michael Gambon version of the last six. That said, Gambon did a good job, and OK, yes, I sniffled my way through the King’s Cross scene. (“Harry, you brave boy, you wonderful man…”)

–The casting of the Trio. My god was that a brilliant job. I don’t think anyone, including the first director, Chris Columbus, could have predicted how well Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe would turn out. Compare their “acting” (mostly just them being 11) in the first movie to their acting in the last. Particularly Daniel Radcliffe, who took one of one of the most iconic and beloved characters of our generation and made Harry his own. Radcliffe REALLY has grown as an actor. All it takes is a look at his work in this latest film to prove that. Grint and Watson, though, have also been fantastic. I’ve really enjoyed watching them both. I want to really single out Watson here, since I opened with Grint’s marvelous ability to make his face do funny things. Watson has made Hermione go from somewhat annoying to a tremendously competent young woman who I admire. And now I’ll point you to this quote from Rowling about Hermione, who is a personal hero of mine:

“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls.”

So. Yeah. Hermione, you rock.

–I really appreciated that the movies didn’t try to explain all the mythology from the books. One of the complaints I’ve heard about the movies is that they don’t do this, but honestly, if you are seeing the HP movies and you haven’t read the books, you’ve got no one but yourself to blame if you don’t understand something. Read.the.books.

–Helena Bonham Carter should get a special mention for her brave performance as Bellatrix Lestrange The Fabulously Named. Her insanity and evilness and weird love of Voldemort is truly something to behold.

–All of the supporting cast/characters. There really is not a dud, character or actor wise. Every actor hits virtually every note perfectly, from Jim Broadbent as Slughorn to Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid to even REALLY minor characters, like Bill Nighy as the Minister of Magic at the beginning of HP7.1. They were…great. Seriously. Any British actor who never landed a role in any of the HP films should consider another career.

–The Weasley twins. (and yes, I cried during the final movie when those asshole filmmakers had George say “OK, Freddie?” Were you TRYING TO DESTROY US?) In an episode of Reasonable Discussions, one of the AV Club folks (I think it was Genevieve) pointed out that Fred and George aren’t even really afraid of Voldemort–it’s like they made a very deliberate choice to react to a really frightening world with humor rather than fear. I’d call that a brave choice, and a helpful one. I also think that they are not overused in either the books or the films–they appear in both just enough to be marvelous comic relief, as well as adding a few moments of utter devastation for the reader.

–Sirius dying. Another unflinching look at a character’s death, and again, Radcliffe acts the hell out of this scene. Seriously. His grief is hard to watch. And the way Lupin grabs and holds him gets me every damn time. Also, the moment before that when Sirius tells Harry he’s done beautifully, and then Sirius confuses Harry with James, and then Harry loses his father figure, and then Bellatrix starts her crazed “I killed Sirius Black!” chant…that scene is a killer.


–That really heartbreaking moment when Hermione wipes her parent’s memories at the beginning of HP7.1.

Oh my goodness. OK. I will be adding to this list, but let’s get one thing clear: the midnight showing at the Uptown was terrific. It was just…the way that everyone laughed when Emma Watson pretended to be Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix Lestrange, the strangled sobs during deaths, the gasps when Fred showed up (everyone knew he wouldn’t last long!) the huge cheer when Ron and Hermione kiss..the communal experience was just extraordinary. It made the movie so much better to have everyone laughing and crying right along with me, and of course I loved chatting about HP beforehand with everyone!


Labor Day 2011

Words coming eventually…

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Postcards From Milford

I think this is where Bluster Bluth went to school.

I was GOING to stop in Secaucus, NJ, back when I was having some geography troubles and thought it was after the GW bridge. It is not. So I just kept driving. And, I am pleased to say, I drove QUITE CALMLY over the upper level of the bridge. (When I was a kid, I was totally scared of bridges). I did, however, role down the windows, just in case Zoe and I needed to make an escape. I also left our seatbelts on, though, on the theory that we are more likely to get into an accident than to go flying off the George Washington Bridge.

I love driving 95 North. I know! And not ALL of it, and I hate the truckers with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, but it’s kind of reassuring to hit the same landmarks every day. Zoe, I said, here’s the Bronx! Here’s the New Jersey Turnpike! Here’s the Vince Lombardi reststop!

I am a dork, is what I’m saying.

Zoe was a total trooper. For the first bit of the drive, she kept accidently shifting and putting the car in neutral. This was…unnerving at first.

But then we figured it out, and she settled down on her stretched back passenger seat, covered with a sheepskin, wearing her seatbelt. So stinkin’ cute. For realz.

So we went over the bridge and then got stuck in traffic. I had a full tank o’ gas when I left and I kept waiting to find cheap gas to refill…then, in Connecticut, I discovered that I had maybe an 8th of a tank. Do you KNOW how much gas cost? DO YOU KNOW?

Four dollars and thirty three cents a gallon, that’s how much.

I told the guy (it was full service station) that this was a bit pricey, and then we had a little bitch session. He was all, everyone LEFT THE CITY AND NOW WE ARE A SUBURB AND WE USED TO BE A NICE QUIET TOWN. hee.

(I did not fill the tank).

Then I got a little more lost but finally wound up at a hotel. I was very excited to see that it had On Demand, because I LOVE me some On Demand in hotels. But then the TV made this loud buzzing noise that would.not.stop just when I started Cedar Rapids, so I had to call the front desk and ask for a refund. Then I was FURTHER foiled by the lack of good wifi here, and also the lack of Season 1 Veronica Mars streaming on either Netflix OR the WB website, and that made me sad. So now I’m watching Parenthood.

But I had a nice dinner and Zoe is being adorable and tomorrow I will hit my cousin Sarah’s house, and I am excited to see her. And Saturday Then…Sunday I need to find a place to stay, any suggestions near New Bedford, MA? And then Nonquitt. Whoa. Lots and lots of stuff.

Freaky moment of the day: I logged onto facebook and WHO POPS UP BUT MY SHRINK. At a book reading. I happen to be FB fans of the bookstore, and I was all…wait a minute. That’s my shrink. On my facebook page. Because THAT’S not weird or anything.

Also annoying: My Stupid Ankle. Which hurts to drive, and will not let me jump off the diving board, or go for walks on the beach, or basically ANYTHING FUN EVER.

Ho hum.

Oh! Links!

The A.V. Club is reviewing The X-Files, Arrested Development, AND Veronica Mars (“Hi everyone! Say repressed homosexuality!”). This makes me very, very happy. Reasonable discussions FTW!

What Happened That Night in Abbottabad? (New Yorker)

Melissa Summers has an incredibly brave post about her suicide attempt.

“This war on information is a battle. This war on information is injustice. This war on information is a strategically arranged set of operations designed to victimize and control a specific group of people. This war on information is war.”

Obama Turns Fifty Despite Republican Opposition. (GOP Vows to Say No, No, No).

Stephen Colbert Says that Obama is…well just watch. Also watch his Summer’s Eve bit.

Minimalist Posters for Children’s Books! (WANT. ALL OF THEM).

Read Around The Web

the dangers of hotel housekeeping (in which the NYT op-ed page is actually halfway decent about sex crimes!)

let’s play Spot the Institutional Racism! (the comments on this post are mostly good…until you get to “Ashley” and “Katie” who are all, well we are colorblind and you all suck since you SEE RACISM OMG. ::headdesk::

Oh look, Daily Kos actually addresses White Privilege in a way that doesnt scream “STOP WHINING you overly sensitive people!”

OMG its an eight year old shark conservationist! I LOVE THIS KID.

The Feds Finally Borrow Hillary’s Balls to refuse defunding Planned Parenthood

Apparently there’s gonna be a Sarah Palin movie, and not the Tina Fey kind, either. Too bad, because the Tina Fey kind is the only kind worth watching.

This may be the worst thing I’ve read about the prez candidate, and in a world that includes Palin, that’s saying something.

ETA because the girl scouts are apparently abortion pushers!

OH AND LOOK A PSA I ACTUALLY LIKE and it aired during Glee which means people actually saw it, hooray!


Reading Rebecca Traister’s fantastic book, Big Girls Don’t Cry, was…hard. In the three years since the 2008 elections, in the drama of Obamacare and insane birthers and Gitmo and in Hillary Clinton’s rise to one of the most beloved women in America and perhaps our best Secretary of State, I’d more or less forgotten about the need for Shakesville‘s Hillary Clinton Sexism Watch. I’d forgotten about those on the left, the purported liberals, who let loose with such stunning misogyny that I was left speechless and raging, both at the time and in reading BGDC. (REALLY, Chris Matthews? REALLY, Keith Olbermann? Why are you still around? REALLY, tons of other people?)

Traister is very honest about her own shifting feelings throughout the contest, and the book is peppered with anecdotes about her experience covering the campaign, hearing Bill Clinton talk, sobbing at Hillary’s concession speech…she is a really gifted writer and a really gifted observer, and she was watching very closely. The book’s story about gender and class in the election is really important reading.

I remember meeting Gloria Stienem. I was sixteen and writing for Young D.C. and covering some sort of pro choice concert with Ani Difranco. Wish I could remember the exact event. At any rate, they sent me to interview Stienam. It was, obviously, a huge thrill. One of my favorite parts of reading Traister’s book were the Gloria Stienem Stories, especially her conversations with Shelby Knox, who was living with Steinem at the time. Knox reported telling Stienem that not only did she (Knox) want to see a woman president but she wanted GLORIA to get to see it.

So there were lots of gutting moments in this book, and there were lots of goosebumpy moments, lots of enraging moments and of course lots of joyful moments. But none–none–left me as gutted as this exchange:

“It was in this same interview that Stienem first told me that she voted for Clinton because she did not believe she could win her party’s nomination. Believing Stienem to have misspoken, I interrupted her. ‘Because you knew she couldn’t win?’ I prompted, waiting for the correction. ‘Right,’ she said gently. ‘I’ve always known she couldn’t win.'”

It’s not that I wish Clinton had won. I’m glad of the way things turned out, very glad. It’s just that I wish so much that she could have won.

Favorite Feminism Sundays

Do You Trust Women? (Bitch PhD, and possibly my favorite post on abortion ever).

Rape Culture 101 (Shakesville; I sometimes find Shakesville a bit…much somehow but I love this post, and in fact I tend to love everything Melissa McEwan writes about rape and rape culture).

I Know I Can Fight Rape Culture By… (Feministe: some of the comments are especially interesting, although as always some are just fuckwits).

Abortion Manual (from the now defunct blog Molly Saves the Day: I remember reading this post when it was first published in 2006, just after the South Dakota abortion ban. And yes, I think having coherent information about how to safely perform abortions is important–although I hope we never, ever have to use it).

The Incredibly Tremendously Awesome Amy Poehlar At The Time 100 Gala

Well when I met Jim five minutes ago, I told him, “Move over! I’m a righty. And don’t let me follow a preacher.” Thanks for nothing, Jim. When Seth Meyers from Saturday Night Live and I hosted this awards show in 2008, I remember thinking it would be really nice if we were to make this list together. And tonight, I am happy to say that it is just as sweet making the list without him. I have so much influence; I am lousy with influence. I am what you call a connector. Bruno Mars is not here, but if he was, he would meet Aziz Ansari tonight, because I would introduce them. Chris Colfer, have you ever met Martha Stewart? Because I can I make that happen. Jonathan Franzen and Patti Smith are sitting at the same table. I know that because I’m on the list. If you shook my hand tonight, you might not want to drive home because you may be pulled over for a DUI. [Editor’s note: This was her recycling a joke she’d used on us earlier in the evening … Still delightful!] But tonight, I’m genuinely very humbled and honored to be part of this evening, so I would like to take my remaining minute to um … I have thought very hard and long about what has influenced me over the past couple of years, and since I have been at this dinner in 2008, I have given birth to two boys and I’ve left Saturday Night Live and I started my own TV show, and it’s been a crazy couple of years, and I thought who besides Madam Secretary Clinton and Lorne Michaels have influenced me? And it was the women who helped me take care of my children. It is Jackie Johnson from Trinidad and it is Dawa Chodon from Tibet, who come to my house and help me raise my children. And for you working women who are out there tonight who get to do what you get to do because there are wonderful people who help you at home, I would like to take a moment to thank those people, some of whom are watching their children right now, while you’re at this event. Those are people who love your children as much as you do, and who inspire them and influence them and on behalf of every sister and mother and person who stands in your kitchen and helps you love your child, I say thank you and I celebrate you tonight.