[Pickups: January]

(Note: “Pickups” is a new feature collecting quick reactions at the end of the month for films I won’t file a complete post on.)

* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One. First film of 2011, seen with a friend & fellow HP fan when I was in BC for the New Year. It still works better than most of the previous ones — except my beloved Azkaban, of course — and I still can’t wait for Part Two in July.

* Blue Valentine. Fantastic performances, particularly from Michelle Williams who very much deserves her Oscar nomination (her & Jennifer Lawrence I approve of; any & all of the other three I would trade in a heartbeat for Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go). Great concept of cutting back and forth between time periods in a relationship, but it felt about 20 minutes too long.

* In the Mood for Love. This is often one of my top five favorite films of all time. It depends on my mood; occasionally I’m all about Happy Together. Even with the inevitable technical difficulties of digital it was stunningly beautiful. (I feel an entry on format coming)

[A non-review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1]

Writing about Harry Potter movies gets harder each time. On top of everything else, this one bears the particular pain of being the middle film of a trilogy.

But wait, you cry. It’s the seventh book! Yes, that’s true. But the final three movies were written together, something I tried to keep in mind when I saw Half-Blood Prince. Pacing for three movies is different from the pacing for two novels. Blah blah blah.

Also, I’m a fankid. I first read The Deathly Hallows in the middle of the night in a college in London, surrounded by Harry Potter conventioneers. Do I get a little bit of a pass if I point out that I only attended the convention that day, for the reading experience & then the chance to talk about it with other people who finished it as ridiculously quickly as I did? And that really the high point of that weekend was probably my solo trip to the Maritime museum? Because OMG. The Maritime museum was *amazing*.

But really, I don’t want a pass. That is the truth of how I read it: in a room full of fans, with snacks & drinks & tissues, wearing headphones so I wouldn’t hear anyone further ahead than me reacting to anything. Listening, in fact, to the Master & Commander soundtrack on repeat.

And as we roll ever closer to the end of everything, when people complain about the mere existence of the films, taking an absolutist view because obviously no one can care about Harry Potter *and* the State of the World, nor can anyone enjoy the books and also consume challenging adult literature, when reviewers take pride in not knowing anything about the series, when bloggers claim that no one with taste has any interest at all in the films, well. Perhaps no one with taste does. But I am not going to sit here and pretend that I’m not a fan. They are books & characters & a world & a fandom that means something to me, and there are far worse things in the world than shared reading & film experiences.

I mean, come on. I’m an English major, a librarian, and a film blogger. It could be argued that to me, there is little in this life that is *more* important than shared reading & film experiences.

So it goes. I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One at the sold-out midnight opening at the Cinerama theater. I was far from the only person wearing fannish garb. I thought the kissing scene was ridiculous and looked like bad fanart. I thought that the animation for the Tale of the Three Brothers was *gorgeous*. I thought that Remus was beautiful and tired and sad, that Ron’s Splinching was surprisingly hard to watch, and that it was a relief to finally see Domhnall Gleeson as a Weasley. I want to rewatch Half Blood Prince & then see this one again. And I can’t wait til July to see it all end. I wish they’d run a trailer for it after. Spoiler alert: I particularly can’t wait to see Neville kick ass.

If the worst thing you can say about me is that I’m enthusiastic about a series of seven children’s books where friendship & loyalty triumph over prejudice and where love really is the greatest weapon, or that I get excited about a series of eight films which, among other things, made Emma Watson into a star & fashion icon for playing a bookish, know-it-all *nerd*?

That’s fine. Mischief managed.


Okay, this is ridiculous. I was doing so well, and then I went to a preview screening of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and had some sort of a meltdown. Do I write about it as a movie person? Do I write about it as a fan? Wah! So I will just say that I enjoyed the experience (Cinerama!), that I need to see how they’ll do the final two films before I can pass judgment on what was cut out, and that it ain’t no Prisoner of Azkaban. (This is where, if I was writing as a fan, I would draw hearts around Alfonso Cuaron. Don’t judge.)

What else since then?

I saw more 69 movies: Downhill Racer (Redford!), Topaz (spy thriller, and most un-Hitchcock Hitchcock since Mr & Mrs Smith), Dillinger is Dead (which was really upsetting — I am losing my edge in my old age — but one hell of a performance from Michel Piccoli), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (which is what you should see, if you see only one of these, and not just because it stars Maggie Smith), and If…. (which was a surreal satire, and an interesting double feature with Brodie).

Then, a few ostensibly kids movies: Up, which I had wanted to see all along (the teaser trailer was a perfectly formed short film), but apparently it took record breaking heat to get me into the theater. I liked it better than Wall-E, I think, because it was good all the way through and in Wall-E I stopped being interested once humans were involved. (And have we talked about the trans character already? Yes, probably.) And I got to see a free screening of Ponyo, which was adorable. More Totoro than Mononoke, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

The Metro started its classics series again, but I have only made it over there for The Informant! I nearly forgot, which I suppose is probably a sign. It was lower-key than I had expected, but I am quite curious how it’d play on second viewing. Really rewarding, I’d suspect. Another thing I forgot about: the Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Hey, maybe it won’t suck this year. There’s a first time for everything.

Not that there’s any shortage of film. I have three-and-a-half more months of 69 movies coming up, SIFF Cinema is back from its summer break (oh, how I missed it!), and buzz from Toronto has me anxious for the big award season releases to start coming out. It was 80 this weekend but I am dreaming of fall, caramel lattes, and plenty of time at the theater.

[Everything else]

* I saw Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix while recovering from jet lag, so I don’t have anything useful to say about it, except that Neville rules. I’m going to try to catch it on IMAX, if I have time.

* The advantage of not seeing a lot of genre films is that when something like Sunshine comes along you miss all the references and enjoy it on its own merits. Which were mighty. Sure, the science makes no sense and the ending has the hint of cheese. Doesn’t matter. The film is *gorgeous*.

* I do go in for some popcorn films, and as such, The Bourne Ultimatum was by far the three-quel I was most looking forward to. Worth it, as it delivered fully on its promise of awesome.

* Then, to the surprise of no one more than me, I caught a free screening of Superbad. What the trailers don’t tell you is that it’s all about the relationship between Seth & Evan, and their angst about going off to different colleges. It is funny and sweet and crass (particularly Seth) and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. In that, I thought I would only like it for my strange affection towards Michael Cera, but I wound up laughing kind of a lot. So there.

…and now we are caught up. Yay!