Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Leave a comment

I went and saw this at the weekend.  I was seeing too many spoilers.  I’ve had enough time to compile some thoughts.  Here’s some of them.

The Empire, or the First Order, marches; the Resistance runs.  This seems to be a significant difference.

If I watch this again it will be to make a list of health and safety violations.  I think I’ve spotted at least two in my first screening: Storm-troopers shuttling down to planetside without apparently being strapped in; later Rey trips some fuses without checking the safety protocols.  Once Health and Safety mobilises I don’t think either the First Order, or the Resistance, stand much chance coming off unscathed.

Rey is cool.  She is not just a Jedi, she is an Engineer.

What is the First Order’s economy?  Even after two Death Stars are destroyed and their dominance over the Star Wars galaxy has been shattered they still have fully functional funding to build a equator-girdling Starkiller Base that can be seen from orbit, a weapon that dwarves either of the earlier Death Stars.

What is the relationship between the Resistance and the New Republic?  Apparently the Resistance is embedded in the New Republic beyond the reach of the First Order.  Does General Leia Organa answer to a Comander-in-Chief in the Republic?  There are potentially disturbing implications if the Resistance is answerable only to itself.

Rule of thumb – if you end up in the Star Wars galaxy, move off the densely populated urban planets.  They get destroyed first.  Even low density settlements get bombed by the First Order, but the planet doesn’t get destroyed under your feet.  They have to find you first so you have a better chance.

Winter’s Tale

Leave a comment

I’ve been to see Winter’s Tale, the adaption of the book of the same title by Mark Helprin.  It’s a book I’m fond of.  I think I first read it in a copy I borrowed from the Southland Polytechnic Library.  I later found a copy at the University Book Shop in Dunedin.  I rescued it from its irresistable drift into the sale books.  It’s a magical realist fairy tale, probably before that genre became popular, a homage to the city of New York, which in this age is the city most likely to be the capital of the world.  I have read it through a couple of times over the years and take it from the shelves every so often to read a few pages again.  It’s a dense fantastic book, just under eight hundred pages exactly that defies readers to consume its prose in large bites.

I have never felt drawn to investigate other titles by this author.  Some recent reviews I have read refer to his other career as a political writer.  By the sounds of things I would not find his politics attractive.  I’m best not to investigate.  I might find his day job was comparable to some of his villains.

I was interested to see the movie that came out in time for Saint Valentine’s Day 2014, good promotion there.  The casting made good choices.  Colin Farrell was obvious as Peter Lake.  The script makes explicit that Pearly Soames is a fallen creature and an agent of darkness, played by Russell Crowe.  Will Smith’s cameos as the dark lord beneath New York City were unexpected and an addition to the story.  I was less familiar with Jessica Brown Findley.  She  played Beverley Penn as more fragile than the magnetic dying consumptive from the book.  Yet I liked the detail that in a frozen mid-winter she wears beautiful summer dresses.

At the beginning I was enjoying spotting details and motifs from the book: Peter Lake’s origin story, his affinity for machines, Pearly Soames’ love of colour and light, the fin de siecle period pieces, Athansor the White Horse.  It works!  This is based on a book that is a love-song to a great city that borders on the edge of faery.

Which means I am disappointed with the last third of the movie which translocates the story to 2014.  In the book version it’s 1999, there’s a milennial fire-storm and an attempt to storm heaven.  Come on! How many times have we seen New York as the scene of this apocalypse!  Yet this time it’s written out!  Instead of being untimely ripped and lost in a modern age, Peter Lake is an amnesiac street artist.  The conventions of Hollywood romance require that good triumphs, the monsters are defeated, and lovers are reunited.  Literature is less certain of these conventions, which allows it greater freedoms.

Thank you for the afternoon’s entertainment.  It’s prompted me to get the book off the shelf again.

A hobbit’s morning at the opera

Leave a comment

So that was La Traviata, the end of the current Metropolitan Opera season.  I delighted in Natalie Dessay’s performance.  I found it fragile and moving.  The pared-down modern setting worked for me.  I was quite weepy by the end.

The highlights of this season for me remain Satyagraha with its combination of vision and music; and Gounod’s Faust, which set in the Manhattan Project was the discovery of a good opera.

Apart from that I’ve been to Parish Council this week, and I will have to act on meeting of the Pastoral Committee.  There is much for us to discuss.