The Verge on Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2: “Stormborn”

Self had to sign up for Amazon Prime solely in order to be able to watch Game of Thrones Season 7. She got the first week of HBO free, but now she’s being charged $14.99/month. It’s all good because if she weren’t able to watch GoT Season 7, especially now with confirmation that Gendry would be returning (At last! My Gendry is in the House! Gendry is back, people!), she would just die.

Under the foolish assumption that having HBO deliver the show directly to her feed means she can watch Episode 3 about 12 hours ahead of anyone else, she keeps checking her Amazon link to make sure it is “good” and that the signal is strong. As of right now, there is nada.

So, here she is, all lonesome and frustrated and wondering how she is going to fill the next 12 hours. And then she stumbles on The Verge. Wow, whoever writes the show re-caps is so on point!

There’s this:

We’re back in King’s Landing before you can say “the feature-film debut of pop sensation Britney Spears,” and it seems to me like we could have just stayed here and held off on the 90-second greyscale explainer video until later, but it’s not my show. Cersei and Qyburn take a stroll through the Red Keep’s basement collection of skulls, where he unveils his dragon-slaying plan: a sinister-looking mechanical crossbow loaded with an enormous spear, which he claims “the finest artisan blacksmiths in King’s Landing” have been working on for months.”

  • Wait a minute: Did Qyburn actually use the words “finest artisan blacksmiths in King’s Landing?” Or did he just say “finest blacksmiths”? Because there is a difference. At this point, any mention of the word “blacksmith” has self going waaaay waaaay back in time, to Seasons 2 and 3. Because reasons. Anyhoo, end of digression.

I don’t know, I mean, it’s just a crossbow loaded with a spear. It looks to be only about 1.5 times larger than the one Joffrey was using to pick off prostitutes six years ago. But it successfully shoots a centuries-old dragon skull that is sitting perfectly still . . .  on the ground . . . about 15 feet away. Oh baby, here is a foolproof plan if I ever saw one. And artisanal!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 2: Minutiae, As Usual

If you still haven’t seen Season 7 Episode 2, then obviously SPOILER ALERT

Gendry did not show his lovely face, but almost every second of screen time was a reminder. D & D love messing with us! Just cut it out, you two!

Here’s a list of times when self couldn’t help thinking of The Last Baratheon:

  • Dragonstone war room. Many, many things happened in this room. Such as: Stannis. Such as Stannis and Melisandre on the map table. Such as Gendry’s first meeting with his uncle Stannis grabbing his face and saying, “Half Robert and half lowborn.” Remember poor Gendry’s look of bewilderment?
  • Melisandre. She took Gendry from Arya! We will never forget the leeches. Never.
  • The conversation between Dany and Varys: Almost every sentence had the word Baratheon in it. This has got to be foreshadowing, right? Since both Cersei and Danys seemed to sneer every time they made reference to King Robert, self thinks Gendry is pretty smart to stay out of sight and under the radar. Keep rowing, Gendry!
  • Not only was the word Baratheon sprinkled liberally throughout the convo, Varys also brought up his concern for the common people. And we all know Gendry is a commoner. (Varys knows about Gendry! Oh my Lord! Mebbe he is Gendry’s Secret Protector!)
  • Cersei going with Qyburn to the crypts where he unveils a fantastic dragon-killing machine, forged by “the finest blacksmiths.” You say blacksmith, self thinks Gendry!
  • Arya bumping into Hot Pie. The missing member of this threesome was very much in the room, even though neither Arya nor Hot Pie ever mentioned his name.
  • Someone tracking Arya in the woods. That could be Gendry! He’s hiding behind a tree, observing Arya (100% wishful thinking. Again.) Self wonders if Hot Pie and Gendry ever get to share a scene; mebbe Hot Pie brings up the fact that he’d just seen Arya?

Moving on.

Wins:

  • That sea battle was so kickass!
  • Yara. Just, more Yara. Yara putting her legs on the table. That moment when she realizes all is lost, and gets a really determined look on her face. Gemma Whalen is fanta-ma-tas-tic! Self knows this because she has seen Gemma in RL and she is such an itty bitty thing. This actress projects huge.
  • Olenna Tyrell, always a scene stealer.
  • Varys. Loved his conversation with Dany.
  • Cersei. Lena Headey, you are such a queen!
  • Jon almost strangling Littlefinger. More!
  • Hot Pie. Good at any time, but especially good at dropping Easter Eggs.
  • Theon abandoning ship. It is so perfectly in character. Plus, his backstory (and continuing evolution) is fascinating.

Fails:

  • Ser Jorah. Just got itchy looking at him. Fast forward over the “cure.” You’ll know it’s over when Sam stops retching.
  • Surprisingly, the absolute bulk of Nymeria. She looked like she’d wandered in from a Ray Harryhausen movie.
  • Euron’s grand entrance. Hey, this isn’t Scaramouche!

Meh:

  • Missandei/Grey Worm. She just can’t get excited about these two. Although Grey Worm is pretty fabulous, especially from the back. Three cheers for D & D, finally showing us what the character’s hiding beneath all that armour.
  • Tyene Sands’ long hair. This character is going to die, and all self could think was: Why did she decide to grow out her hair? Somehow, self can’t get past it.

In closing, self would just like to say that the reddit user who, a few weeks ago, posted a blow-by-blow of Season 7 (since taken down) was correct in every little plot detail. Here’s what he said about Gendry’s return: it happens in Episode 5. And Arya and Gendry don’t meet until the final episode of Season 7.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

USA Today Review of Game of Thrones S7 Ep. 1: I FEEL This

from Kelly Lawler’s review in USA Today, 16 July 2017:

Game of Thrones returned for its seventh season Sunday with expectations higher than ever, following a strong, forward-moving Season 6. It seemed like we were in for something bombastic in the premiere, titled Dragonstone, after the ancestral home of Daenerys Targaryen, one of the series’ more fiery characters. But while Thrones moved at a speedy pace last season — and now has just 12 seasons in total — the episode played out like the slow-moving and exposition-heavy premieres of seasons past. And there isn’t really time for that, not anymore.

Sure, viewers were treated to an opening scene soaked in the blood of the entire Frey family. But they also sat through an almost agonizingly unsubtle Ed Sheeran cameo, monologues from minor characters and overlong meetings. And even Arya’s mass murder felt like an unnecessary extension of a better scene in the Season 6 finale. Who knew the epic story of Westeros had this kind of time?

And that’s self’s beef, too. They had time to give Euron Greyjoy a sexy make-over and they forgot about Gendry? He’s plenty sexy enough, no need to sexy up Euron. Or even develop Euron. It’s the penultimate season. Do we have time for this? Do we even have time for Missandei/Grey Worm hook-up? (Hope it’s over in five minutes; that part of the story feels so blatantly fan service)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Ep. 1: Fashion and Other Minutiae

Wins:

  • Cersei’s leather top
  • Snow. Hard, blowing snow. When Sandor buries the family. Repentance!
  • Wun Wun is a wight!
  • Arya’s eyebrows are still the best!
  • Squirrel on a stick — campfire gourmet!
  • Dany’s lone walk across the beach — I kept expecting Gendry to pop up, but other than that, it was a great moment.
  • Brienne, as always, in any scene, kills.

Fails:

  • Knowing Sam’s poop/slop-like-poop scene was coming (from perusing last night’s Twitter feeds), I avoided looking at the screen just at this moment.
  • Euron rigged up with clothes more be-fitting a rock star than a warrior. He’s too pretty-looking.
  • GoT loves profanity but for some reason last night’s seemed (and I am including Cersei’s cold-blooded speech which seemed strangely empty, vacuous, BLANK, even with her use of the “c” word) pretty limp. Or perhaps I was just in a bad mood because I had watched vid of Gendry x Arya: “Pull your cock out and take a piss” and that, methinks, is an excellent use of another “c” word.

Meh:

  • Ed Sheeran needs a spray tan. Other than that, his moment with Arya was the sweetest of the episode.
  • Podric as the new Gendry: I’ll take what I can get.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Sentence of the Day: San Francisco Chronicle, 26 January 2017

In a review of Silence! The Musical by Lily Janiak:

Lambs don’t actually appear in the 1991 thriller Silence of the Lambs; they’re a metaphor for the lifelong inner suffering of Jodie Foster’s character, FBI agent Clarice Starling.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WSJ Bookshelf: 24 January 2017

William F. Bynum begins a review of Is It All In Your Head? by Suzanne O’Sullivan with this amazing paragraph:

Over a century ago, Alice James (1848 – 1892), sister of the novelist Henry and the psychologist and philosopher William, spent her life going from doctor to doctor with vague symptoms, tiredness and pains most prominent among them. Like Henry, she eventually gravitated to England, where she was happier, because “the god Holiday (was) worshipped so perpetually and effectually.” There at last she got a definite diagnosis: breast cancer. Although it was her death sentence, she was ecstatic, recording in her diary: “Ever since I have been ill, I have longed and longed for some palpable disease, no matter how conventionally dreadful a label it might have.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Surgeon’s Life

Fascinating review by Joshua Rothman in The New Yorker of 18 May 2015 (Self is sooo behind in her reading!) of a memoir by London neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. It’s an unflinching look by Marsh at his medical career and the failures that haunt him (“It’s not the successes I remember, but the failures.”) Incredibly, so much of his success or failure depends on, not training, not intelligence, not skill, but luck.

Rothman compares a neurosurgeon’s life to a soldier’s. Both are “deeply shaped by” something called “moral luck.” To perform under the burden of this awareness is impossible unless Marsh can successfully control “his own emotions. If he can’t control how a surgery turns out, he will control how he feels. He tries not to let his feelings add to his patients’ fear and unhappiness; at the same time, he tries never to lie. He yearns for feelings that are strong but realistic, fully voiced but even-keeled.”

In writing his book, “Marsh has seemingly violated his code; he expresses many of the feelings that he’s worked very hard to keep hidden.”

Fascinating.

Marsh’s book is called Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery.

Subsequent research on Goodreads shows that it’s garnered a number of nominations and one prize: the J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography.

Stay tuned.

Matt Zoller Seitz Reviews “Love & Friendship” (Another of Self’s Favorite Movies of 2016)

Really nice review. Read it in http://www.rogerebert.com.

Kudos to Director Whit Stillman, lead Kate Beckinsale, and Xavier Samuel, who plays the man Beckinsale’s character sets her sights on.

  • “Love & Friendship feels like it was inevitable. The director Whit Stillman adapting Jane Austen is one of those ideas that sounds like it’s made up because it’s so perfect, like Wes Anderson announcing that he’s going to make an animated film about foxes based on a book by Roald Dahl.”
  • “Stillman’s films are comedies of manners . . .  the more brazen or ambitious characters run roughshod over people who have, well, manners.”
  • The main character, Susan, “is distinguished by her audacity, not just in her wants and desires but in the way she talks to other people, turning subtext into text in a way most people would not do unless the person they were talking about was in another room, or another state. But they’re standing right there! And they can’t get their minds around how staggeringly rude and entitled Susan is — most of all Reginald, who’s played with great precision by Samuel as a decent man who is so stunned by Susan’s nerve that he can barely bring himself to reprimand her: he’s too busy marveling at her existence.”

In addition, self is looking forward to seeing the following films, hopefully in the next few weeks:

  • Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson
  • Paul Verhoeven’s Elle
  • Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences
  • Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea
  • Disney’s Moana

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A. V. Club Review: PASSENGERS

As a committed Everlark fan fiction writer, self still hasn’t gotten over J-Law.

But the fandom is up in arms over Passengers.

Do dear blog readers know that there are a number of Hollywood screenplay writers who write Everlark? For fun?

Neither did self, until the rumbling about Passengers started.

First, there was a tremor over the photoshopping of Lawrence’s eyes in the promo posters.

Next, the trailers.

And finally, the screenplay. Apparently, Lawrence’s status as a feminist is strained to the utmost in this movie, where she is presented as a kind of trophy for Chris Pratt. There are, of course, worse things in life than becoming the trophy/girlfriend of Chris Pratt, but Lawrence surely deserved more than just to play that role.

This is a kick-ass woman, Hollywood! Self things she’s moved past the girlfriend roles.

From A. V. Club:

A spaceship malfunction wakes up Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) 90 years early “and he’s now doomed to live out the rest of his life surrounded by sushi bars and infinity pools, but not a single human companion.”

Unbeknownst to all (or maybe not unbeknownst to all!), Jim has developed an obsession with one of the sleeping passengers, of course a gorgeous blonde (played by Jennifer Lawrence) named Aurora. But, just so you know J-Law’s character is no bimbo, the script has her playing a journalist.

Preston “deliberately wakes her up early so he has someone to talk to.” (I’ll bet!) He then “proceeds to present an innocent face to his new friend/captive and to charm/manipulate her into” a “sexual relationship.”

As Yoda himself might say at this point: The ICK factor is high in this one.

Passengers becomes —  Barbarella???!!

Jane Fonda played Barbarella and she was good in the role.

Lawrence cannot play this role because, no matter how high the hot-ness factor, that gaze of hers is just too knowing, too capable of pinning a man to the floor.

So, who could play this role as space girlfriend? Someone curvy, since this is a male fantasy movie. Scarjo, perhaps? Margot Robbie? Or that woman in the TV series Quantico?

But there is a problem here because Lawrence for the life of her cannot play anything but shrewd. That’s just who she is. And whatever role she plays, big or small, the hugeness of the Lawrence bullshit-detector cannot be hidden, much less effaced. So it is really, really asking a lot of the audience to swallow the fact that one of the shrewdest actresses in movies today is playing someone who cannot read through a man’s intentions. Especially since the screenplay has her playing a journalist. And surely it doesn’t take a journalist, or even a whole village of journalists, to deduce that Jim Preston has an ulterior motive in waking Aurora up early? Because why wake up a journalist in outer space? Wouldn’t it make more sense to wake up an engineer? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have J-Law play an android? Space ship + woken up early + by Chris Pratt = yes, do go there.

Who wrote this?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Hell Or High Water”: Brilliance

For weeks, self had been wanting to see this movie. Why? First of all, Ben Foster doesn’t make that many movies. But every time she stumbles across a Ben Foster performance, no matter how small the supporting role, she’s noticed him. Admired what he brings to every part. Especially his eyes!

So, come on, you’ve probably seen the trailer and read the rave reviews. And self had been trying to see it for weeks. Weeks. So, finally, today, she succeeded in her quest. And, dear blog readers, her verdict:

FAN-TA-MA-TAS-TIC

She could see the legacy of Fargo and the Coen Brothers all over it. At least, in the first third or so. As the movie continued, she realized the director (who she’d never heard of before) was of a more melancholy bent.

She can’t say enough about the chemistry between the two leads, and even about the chemistry between the two supporting leads. Actually, this movie isn’t just about money and bad fortune and how when bad luck hits, it hits you from all directions.

It’s also about a kind of manliness that is perfectly embodied in Chris Pine. There are several shots of him with his back to the camera, and self swears: even his back is acting. His back, his shoulders, his legs. Chris Pine, who knew?

MILD SPOILER. JUST MAKING SURE. THERE ARE NO REGRETS.

Her favorite scene in the movie is not, however, one with Pine. It’s a scene with Jeff Bridges and a walk-on. A walk-on whose presence is so, so grounding that self will never forget his lines:

“You look pretty winded, you ought to let me take the shot. That’s my gun.”

“Not on your life.”

There’s also another scene — involving a waitress — that recalls Jack Nicholson’s “Hold the Chicken” ordering-in-a-restaurant scene in Five Easy Pieces for scratch-your-head befuddlement. Self was in absolute stitches. Watch for it.

Brilliance. Just brilliance.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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