02 January 2008


Well, we're in holiday mode in this house, which means getting out and doing things and seeing movies. As well as catching up on some reading and writing.

Just before Christmas we went to see Phantom of the Opera. The kids and I all love the movie, but none of us had seen the live show. I knew I'd love it because I know some of the music and really enjoy it. My brother and his wife, who consider themselves connoisseurs of theatre, and my mother are all keen Les Miserables fans and say that nothing stacks up to Les Mis. Mum even says she can take or leave Phantom. I'm the opposite (but admittedly I've only seen amateur theatre productions of Les Mis, albeit very good amateur productions). I loved Phantom and would happily see it next time it's on. We didn't see Anthony Warlow -- Simon Pryce played the phantom -- and I'd heard Warlow was brilliant so that was a little disappointing, but only a little because Pryce was excellent in the role. (It's just that thing that you always wonder about what you might have missed, but I can't imagine Warlow doing it any better. Friends have raved about Warlow's performance, but I could just as easily rave about Pryce's.)

In the last couple of days we've been on the cinema trail, first of all seeing Enchanted and then The Golden Compass.

Enchanted was interesting because of the structure. The first ten or fifteen minutes are animated, and set up the "fairytale" world before the main characters cross into the "real" world and become "real" characters (ie played by real actors). And was the fairytale world full-on fairytale -- the princess was just like Snow White only more so. It's a fascinating structure because the first fifteen minutes of a film usually set the film up so that the audience knows what to expect, but this film, instead of giving more of the same, then does a 180 degree turn and becomes something incredibly different. The tone particularly is different. We could look at it as a hero's journey kind of set-up, establishing the status quo, but the first fifteen minutes have such a different feel that I wonder how children will take to it. I took my two (who are in their teens), and my son wanted to walk out of the animated part, but enjoyed it more once the film got going. But I'm thinking that small children might be disappointed when the film moves away from the fairytale feel, which was far too saccharine-sweet for me. Overall, I found the film enjoyable. A fun movie.

Yesterday we saw The Golden Compass. I've read Northern Lights as it was published in Australia (and the UK and no doubt various other places). It's been a while since I've read the book, and my feelings were the movie felt true to the book. Various people/reviews have said that there's lots missing, but I didn't feel that there was. Sometimes, too, I wonder if it's that they remember bits that are revealed later (because it is a trilogy) in the other books. Maybe. But maybe not. Parts of the film seemed dull in terms of lighting -- the Svalbard parts, which are no doubt set in winter so the dimness is obviously intentional, but I just didn't feel it aided the experience. They left the film feeling almost colourless in parts. On the positive side, I thought Dakota Blue Richards did a fantastic job of Lyra. Great to see a child actor who can really act a la Jodie Foster. The acting all around was fantastic. It's a film I could easily sit through again, and yet don't feel driven to see again, as I did with Lord of the Rings or Gladiator, which is a shame, as I like nothing better than a mild obsession to get me through the summer. Not this year, it seems. Which all sounds a bit damning, but it shouldn't. Definitely a movie worth watching.


Snail said...

Happy new year!

I'm fascinated by the fuss over The Golden Compass. All those religious types clutching their pearls and reaching for the sal volatile. To steal a quote from Sarala (who said it in response to a post on my blog about Dr Who) "Anyone who feels [this fictional story] threatens their religion needs to get a life or another religion."

Yeah, I'm stuck at work on my own. I need to vent.

Tracey said...

Ha, I was just putting comments on your blog, and nearly responded to the Dr Who one -- I read it a few days ago and was going to comment, but went off to look up the Christmas special instead. All mad keen Dr Who fans in this house.

Yes, I'm with you and Sarala (and it's so funny that I had just read her comment in the last few minutes). I don't see what the fuss is about either. Some people are so precious about religion -- if they see something as a challenge, even if it might get people thinking, well, that's it. Isn't thinking a good thing? Evidently not. No thinking, just blind obedience. Even in my religious education, I was not brought up that way.

Are you doing VTAC?

Tracey said...

Ooh, and happy new year to you too!

ellen said...

Hi Tracey

While you post comments on my blog, I'll post comments on yours. It must be blog day.

Re The Golden Compass: I agree with your thoughts on how well it reflects the book. Like you, I couldn't spot anything glaringly lacking. No doubt for those who have recently read it, though, there are differences. Also like you, I could easily watch it again, but am not planning my next viewing. Whereas with LOTR FOTR I saw it 4 times in about three weeks! Gee that movie blew me away. (sigh) fond memories.

And with regard to Phantom, I can attest to Warlow's brilliance, but have also experienced his understudy (although not for Phantom - for the secret garden some years back) and was not disappointed. I also saw Warlow as Phantom years and years ago when he first played the role, and I think this time round he was ten times better.

Snail said...

VTAC? Oh yes. And not just for my course, either. Haven't done it before, so it's a bit unnerving. We don't have portfolios or interviews, though, so the process is pretty straighforward. (Maybe we should interview?)

Tracey said...

Ellen, it certainly seems the time for it. Snail and I did it, and then you and I. How strange. Yes, I knew you loved it. It was actually you who put me onto the movie, so thank you for that!

Snail, I don't know about interviews -- it's a lot more work. It is another filtering tool. And we have a grammar test, a bit of writing on the day, and their statement and portfolio. Helps make a more complete but still not perfect picture. Still not foolproof. Who else are you doing VTAC for?

Sherryl said...

I've also just seen The Golden Compass and totally could not see what all the fuss was about religion. I think, from memory, it was more about the religious right fearing the movie would lead children to read the books, which do have a lot more in them re the anti-church stuff.
Pullman and others have commented quite negatively about how Weiss sanitised the script to keep the Hollywood $$ men happy.
I enjoyed TGC but was not blown away by it. Husband wondered when the next one would be coming out, and I said maybe never, because the campaign against it in the US has had an effect on ticket sales. Then he said "Oh nobody takes any notice of those campaigns" - he obviously missed the documentary on the ABC about the evangelical churches!

Tracey said...

Yes, I heard that New Line were very noncommital about the next one because it hadn't done as well as expected. Yes, perhaps more menace would have been good. I was never really on the edge of my seat -- and if they went deeper into the anti-religious stuff there might be more menace. I'm not sure what more I wanted, but something. But I think I felt that way about the books too.

I commented on Ellen's blog that I find it funny that some people say how innovative Pullman is to come up with parallel universes, when that aspect is almost a cliche to SF readers. (Though use of the subtle knife to move between them as happens in the second and third books is new for me.) But what we SF readers see as innovative is the whole daemon thing. Very nifty.