Philip Pullman Death Scenes De-Constructed (Spoilers — The Subtle Knife)

Self thinks they are amazing. She’s near the end of The Subtle Knife, and the tension is beautifully constructed, like a Kabuki play. She thinks that’s because of the double-ness of having a daemon. People don’t just die, their daemons have to die as well. And since the daemons have been actualized — meaning, they’re actual physical beings, but have properties that are not exactly human — there is a gap in the effect of death. Self means, you’re never sure a person is actually dead until the daemon goes down, and thus two have to go down together.

At this point, self has read three Philip Pullman books. And no two deaths are exactly alike.

There is something so stoic about Pullman’s characters. The reader (self) hides under a blanket, screaming — but the characters themselves are  puzzled by their injuries, and don’t make much of them (All the while the reader thinks: Get yourself to the emergency room! Call 9-1-1!) and we live every moment of their disbelief and shock when finally —

UGH. WHY.

She also thinks she won’t watch film or television adaptations of this universe. They’ll either focus entirely on the action, or have the characters feeling tragic because they can almost see the end approaching — and how would we get the curious timing of human/daemon deaths that add so much to the books? The film would have to be directed by a person with deep roots in Kabuki or Noh theatre (She’s seen real live Kabuki performances in Tokyo, theatre is a particular love of hers, just saying) Could they get Kathryn Bigelow? Because she did such a beautiful job with the deaths in The Hurt Locker.

There are only five or 10 pages left to go in The Subtle Knife, and the character self is reading about keeps acting as if ’tis but a scratch. But of course, how would the character know he/she only has that many pages left to live? That’s masterful, keeping that scene going till the very end.

She thinks of another scene in a novel that she read maybe two decades ago, which ended with the main character saying, in the last line: I die.

At that point, PHOOEY. When your main character has to tell you he/she is dead, that is one lousy ending. Self nearly threw the book across the room.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Blood, Romps, and Lashings”: The Guardian Review of VERSAILLES, Season 1

Self is watching Versailles Season 2. She is so happy the series was renewed! It has proved extremely addictive.

The Guardian: With ladies in milky baths, ocular torture and piles of flesh, Versailles returns for more pre-revolution rumbustiousness (Shouldn’t that be rambunctiousness? Whatever). But is there depth beneath the bling?

Where were we then in Versailles, which returns for a second series? The palace is still under construction, and 1,000 workers have died so far. Versailles was clearly the Qatar of its day, and those gold gates are very Gulf State chic, no?

The writer is Sam Wollaston.

Self bows to your wicked wit, Sir. She bows.

From her visit to Versailles, May 2017:

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Versailles, 28 May 2017: It was too bloody hot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Alienist Ends

Self didn’t get to see the final episode. She’s here in Mendocino, reading tweets.

She didn’t get to watch last week’s episode either, but there were lots of tweets about CATS. Wait, what?

Then, there was almost a Twitter silence. For about five minutes. Which meant, everyone was watching and something was going down.

This evening, the tweet-storm began with something about coulottes. Sara?

  • Oh my GOD! THE CAT! I wanna unsee that so hard rn
  • I have anxiety.
  • I don’t understand why they had you go through with that charade. Laszlo could not have shaken them some other way? So what if they followed? They couldn’t be less conspicuous than Roosevelt and his horsemen.
  • Okay so that’s him.
  • I suspect there’s something about this opera specifically that mirrors the plot of this episode. If only I understood Italian opera . . .
  • Geez, does EVERYBODY carry around a chloroform-laden rag with them?
  • Nothing like going after a brutal serial killer in your opera’s finest.
  • Keep making noise!
  • Joseph!
  • HURRY!
  • This seems like a bad idea.
  • I’m barely breathing.
  • The suspense is killing me.
  • Laszlo, your ego might get you killed.
  • What?!
  • Heart is beating so frickin fast!
  • “It’s not only love that resides in the heart, it’s pain.
  • My nerves tho.
  • I can’t take it!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sweet(er) in Redwood City, California

After years of hectic traveling, it is sweet indeed to be back in Redwood City:

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Even sweeter: having The Alienist to look forward to every week.

New episodes air every Monday night on TNT.

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Dakota Fanning is just killing it in the role of Sara Howard, secretary to Teddy Roosevelt. In this incarnation, Roosevelt is the New York City Police Commissioner (circa 1896).

It is also grrrreat to see Brian Geraghty in the cast. Self lost track of him after The Hurt Locker. Geraghty plays Roosevelt! (When self watched Geraghty in The Hurt Locker, all those years ago, she never imagined that the next thing she saw him in would be The Alienist, portraying a future American president)

Also great are Daniel Bruhl (who self hasn’t seen on the big screen since Inglorious Basterds) and Luke Evans (who self has seen in the Lord of the Rings movies and in Immortals)

Stay tuned.

Movie # 7: FIFTY SHADES FREED

Self has liked the other movies in this franchise. But this one — well, let her list the ways:

  • The lack of chemistry between the two leads is never more apparent.
  • Dakota Johnson’s flat, affectless voice, while perfect for the role, is really annoying once she gets everything her heart desires. And, oh wow, someone is stalking her but she’s sooo ready for flirting. And sex. And romance!
  • There is no ending.
  • What is with Christian Grey’s brother’s affair? It’s a red herring.

Pluses:

  • Marcia Gay Harden has a small scene.
  • clothes, Anastasia’s
  • lipstick, Anastasia’s
  • Self didn’t hate it enough to walk out.

Stay tuned.

 

#amreading GRRM’s A CLASH OF KINGS

In preparation for Game of Thrones‘ final season, airing sometime 2019, self has set herself the task of reading the books. She’s read one so far; it was in her cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig two years ago, and it was still there when she returned last year.

Writing dialogue is hard. Writing Game of Thrones fan fiction dialogue is even harder, especially when one hasn’t read the books. George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones dialogue is so on point!

Examples:

Maester Luwin to Bran Stark, p. 442, A Clash of Kings:

“We look at mountains and call them eternal, and so they seem . . . but in the course of time, mountains rise and fall, rivers change their courses, stars fall from the sky, and great cities sink beneath the sea. Even gods die, we think. Everything changes.

“Perhaps magic was once a mighty force in the world, but no longer. What little remains is no more than the wisp of smoke that lingers in the air after a great fire has burned out, and even that is fading. Valyria was the last ember, and Valyria is gone. The dragons are no more, the giants are dead, the children of the forest forgotten with all their lore.

“No, my prince. Jojen Reed may have had a dream or two that he believes came true, but he does not have the greensight. No living man has that power.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Maze Runner: Death Cure

So excellent. Self can’t even. The best wrap-up to a YA series ever.

Three out of four stars.

Self knows of what she speaks: she’s a big fan of YA.

Just to show you this movie went beyond, self cried at the end. You’d think she was watching The Time-Traveler’s Wife, not Maze Runner.

There were a lot of high-powered actors in the cast: Patricia Clarkson, Aiden Gillen, Barry Pepper, Walton Goggins (sporting truly disgusting facial make-up: five stars!), Thomas Brodie-Sangster. Half the time self kept wondering when Woody Harrelson was going to show up. Self loves it when a YA action movie is way better than anyone has a reasonable right to expect.

The only thing that bothered self about the movie (Almost 2 1/2 hours long, and the time just flew by!) was that every time Aiden Gillen was on-screen, she kept thinking: Littlefinger! There is one scene in which Gillen stares creepily at Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and it reminded her so much of all the times on Game of Thrones when Littlefinger is perv-ing on Sansa.

Movie’s best moment? In her humble opinion, when Min Ho gets up in Teresa’s face and yells: TRAITOR! So cathartic.

P.S. There was a preview for Jurassic World. Bryce Dallas Howard is truly growing into a Jessica Chastain-level beauty. In fact, for a moment that’s who self thought she was watching

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

1st Month Back, Fourth Movie: MAZE RUNNER, THE DEATH CURE

Self is all for action movies. She absolutely loves them.

If she doesn’t watch an action movie, it’s at least got to have Frances McDormand.

And now, woot hoot, the Maze Runner is back. For a few years, there was some doubt about whether star Dylan O’Brien was okay. He had a horrific accident while filming Movie # 2 of the Maze Runner, and filming shut down completely, which meant the accident was bad. But he made a thriller last year, and looked no different. And this year, he starts out with a bang, with the closing movie of the YA trilogy, and critics have been saying that it’s the best installment yet.

So, #pointsDylan.

From the way self got into 12 Strong, she knows she is ready for this.

Christy Lemire over on Roger Ebert, the review site, even compares the film to Mad Max: Fury Road. Of course, it’s not as good. Nothing can be as good as Mad Max: Fury Road. But to even earn that reference — that’s cool.

Tim Robey, writing for The Telegraph, has good fun classifying the series’ main characters into the following camps: Absolutely, Hell No, and I’ll Get Back to You on That.

On Team Hell No are the heroes. These are played by Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Dexter Dardin. Let’s also throw in Rosa Salazar’s character, as self finds her so darn cute.

On Team Absolutely is a beauteous turncoat played by Kaya Scodelario.

And then Robey forgets who’s supposed to be on Team I’ll Get Back to You on That or maybe he just gets bored with his own review because he never says who.

But there are enough bits to convince self that she has to see this movie. Cinema’s just 10 miles north on 1, in Fort Bragg. And it’s not even raining.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Punisher: Season 1

A colleague on TV Series hub reviewed this show, which led self to give it a crack, she is so good at multi-tasking (while writing her #historicalfiction). She wasn’t focused on the screen the whole time, but while she was working, the sounds coming from her laptop let her know that something very violent was going down: grunts, gunshots, screams, things getting smashed or knocked over, on a recurring basis.

Gah, this show!

Anyhoo, a few days ago, someone tweeted that it was nice that Ben Barnes got to play against type.

Hold on . . . WHAT? Did someone just tweet BEN BARNES? In The Punisher?

Wasn’t he in the the Narnia movies? And wasn’t he also in the only other good movie Jessica Biehl has appeared in during her sadly truncated film career?

She tweeted the tweeter: Did you say Ben Barnes?

The response: Yes. Ben Barnes. How could you miss him? He’s in every episode!

So self went back to re-watch everything starting from S1:E1 and OMG it IS Ben Barnes! Only with facial hair!

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

Ben Barnes plays Billy Russo, who at first self thought was a good guy — until he murders his mother.

Mother is lying comatose in some nursing home (Kudos to the actress on playing comatoes so convincingly), when Ben Barnes (Billy Russo) comes in, looking dapper in a suit. He sends the nursing home attendant away, rips the blankets off his comatose mother (which self would think would be a very humiliating experience, just saying) and kills her.

Later in the same episode, Barnes tells his clandestine lover Dinah about how he grew up in a boarding house, he never got to know his mother, blah blah blah

And you simply cannot get the death scene that preceded out of your mind!

Worse, his GF’s partner, Sam, a mild-mannered agent who reminds self of Paul Giamatti, is murdered during a shoot-out. And he was the one who kept telling Dinah that Barnes/Russo is “pretty” (subtext: pretty = dastardly) And while he’s dying in GF’s arms, all self can think is:

BILLY RUSSO YOU DIRTY RAT!

Self never dreamed she would be rooting AGAINST a character played by BEN BARNES of all people but it is what it is.

Of course, this thread is not a MAJOR one: the major one is that The Punisher keeps visiting the wife of a colleague, even though every visit is viewed by his colleague (Surveillance satellites! They’re everywhere!) who is still in love with his wife (who is falling for The Punisher) but unfortunately for the husband, he can’t see his wife and family because he faked his own death.

Meanwhile, The Punisher kills again and again and again and again and never mind how many times but it’s a lot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwritingfantasy: Year 2118

The first Hunger Games movie is on the telly.

What self notices right away is that Jennifer Lawrence’s face is so expressive. Every time the camera moves in for a close-up, her emotion is right there.

Hope Hollywood doesn’t ruin her.

She’ll always and forever be, for self: the young woman in Winter’s Bone, and Katniss.

In the meantime, self worked a bit more on the new story she started in Cork, a few days ago (In honor of NaNoWriMo, of course she is writing short stories. She’s letting her rebel flag fly free!):

  • The budget crisis has impacted everyone in my line of work, most particularly transporters. There were 51 of us at last count. The only one I’ve met personally is Hector. He lives or lived in Cienfuegos. There were a couple of freelancers working in his area and I don’t know if he had help or how he handled them. Last year I got an assignment to transport from Isla de la Juventud. Isn’t that Hector’s area, I nearly said, before I realized I didn’t want to know.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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