This has been on my mind for about three or so weeks, about what people give to us. Not physical objects like gifts or presents on our birthday but the taste in things we like.
On Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 I received my copy of Neil Gaiman’s new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane at Symphony Space in New York, right after hearing Erin Morgenstern (author of The Night Circus, which I have never read but may pick up in the future) do a little interview with the author himself, followed by two readings from the novel and a little Q&A.
“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just *were*.”
and like myths, all the magic in the book doesn’t need to be explained, it just is and it works perfectly. You just accept it for what it is, you become convinced that there is indeed an ocean at the end of the lane where the narrator lived growing up.
Enjoying the small things in the book isn’t just about food, it’s about a certain part of your bedroom made just for you, that small crack of light in your open door that let you read past your bedtime, that secret way through your backyard that you think only you are aware of, but also it’s about food.
Now, this is coming from a guy who has no complaints about George R.R. Martin’s description of food in his A Song of Ice and Fire series but the food in The Ocean… is quite different from a kids perspective. There’s such a joy with every little thing the narrator eats that you sometimes forget as an adult. You’re not thinking about calories, fat content, or worry you’re eating too much or too little. It’s just a matter of being hungry, and then enjoying the food you’re given whether it’s good or not.
This is definitely THE Neil Gaiman book, and so are the rest of them. If you don’t like Neil Gaiman books then this isn’t the book for you. If you’ve never read a Neil Gaiman book and can remember what it is like to be a child or want to remember then I highly suggest picking this book up. If you’re not interested then…
On the April 22nd edition of The Indoor Kids podcast with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon they discuss Bioshock Infinite. One of their guest Film Crit Hulk on the discussion of spoilers planted in my brain this radical idea that he’s been doing. The idea is that he doesn’t watch or read previews for television, movies, or video games.
After hearing this random guy talk about avoiding trailers and how it changed his excitement and reevaluated the idea of watching trailers at all.
The only movies I know I will 100% go see is The World’s End and The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I definitely have interest in Pacific Rim, Elysium, Anchorman 2, Thor: The Dark World, Ender’s Game, Oldboy, and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For but I was interested in those other three film I didn’t go see and I don’t know if I will be compelled to see these in the theater either.
If you read my last post about 2012’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey then you know the jist of what this one was about. Also, I suggest reading my posts about adapting books to movies for my views on that sort of thing. Let’s get right to it.
Last year’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was met with mixed reviews ranging from people who were either expecting the book, or people who were expecting The Lord of the Rings films. I, on the other hand, loved it. I saw it three times in the theater and about eight times repeatedly on blu-ray. The movie is a strange case for movie adaptations because it takes a lot of liberties with the story of the book, but it manages to keep in little aspects of the book that you’d think would be cut day one for a movie script. What else it manages to do is keep to key themes Tolkien often included in his books.
But in slapping all his pockets and feeling all round himself for matches his hand came on the hilt of his little sword – the little dagger that he got from the trolls, and that he had quite forgotten; nor fortunately had the goblins noticed it; as he wore it inside his breeches. Now he drew it out. It shone pale and dim before his eyes. “So it is an elvish blade, too,” he thought; “and goblins are not very near, and yet not far enough.” But somehow he was comforted. It was rather splendid to be wearing a blade made in Gondolin for the goblin-wars of which so many songs had sung; and also he had noticed that such weapons made a great impression on goblins that came upon them suddenly.
The scene in the film yet again establishes Bilbo as a humble hobbit and not an adventurer or someone who intends to use a sword, setting up the scene in which he shows Gollum mercy, but it takes this turning point away from Bilbo in the film. It’s after he realizes his sword is the stuff of legends that he decides there’s no going back. It’s an important moment for him, on his own, without Gandalf or the dwarves to help him when he encounters Gollum. Sting is just as important to Bilbo’s development as is the One Ring and the film sort of fails to establish this.
Additions to the film I enjoyed.
Radagast the Brown – Even though he does a terrible job of drawing off the Wargs and Orcs the addition of Radagast the Brown imbeds An Unexpected Journey with a theme very familiar to Tolkien’s work that the Lord of the Rings film trilogy failed to realize at times. The theme of nature and the natural world being affected by the dark power infected Dol Guldur as well as the theme Gandalf mentions to Galadriel later in the film.
Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.
His addition also brings a lighter tone to the film that I believe is refreshing.
Dol Guldur, The Necromancer, The Witch-king of Angmar and the Morgul Blade – While everyone was complaining that they turned the Hobbit into three films, I got excited because this meant everything only mentioned in the appendix of The Lord of the Rings would come to fruition in these movies. In the book Gandalf just disappears for a bit, says he took care of the Necromancer and wanders back into story. Now in these films we have Sauron in his Necromancer body bringing back the Nazgul, including the Witch-king of Angmar who I believe was underused in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Gandalf and the White Council basically on their own side-quest that will have grave repercussions for The Lord of the Rings. I really hope we get to see the Necromancer in the two films, as we know Benedict Cumberbatch did some acting for it.
Everything changed about the dwarves (so far)- Until the very end of the Hobbit, after Smaug has been taken down the dwarves are kind of goofy, falling over each other, getting captured by trolls, orcs, and elves. None of them are very distinctive at all except with a line or two here and there until later on when Thorin becomes infected with dragon-sickness. In the films, they’re much more unique with drastically different physical appearances, personalities, speech patterns and motivations though sometimes subtle. In the film you can see Balin and Bofur taking a liking to Bilbo, and how Fili and Kili are young warriors trying to prove themselves to their Uncle Thorin, with a bit of youthful mischief still in them. You can see Ori as the baby of the group, a bit more naive than the rest of them and Balin is the eldest, wise grandpa dwarf, friendly but a bit cynical and cantankerous.
Then there is Thorin Oakenshield, the tragic king of the likes of Hamlet or Macbeth as compared to Aragorn’s King Arthur. Thorin is kingly but filled with anger and mistrust, unable to discern friend from foe, easily holding grudges against those who have wronged him. His progression from dismissing Bilbo to embracing him was great for this story and I am even more excited to see his development in the next two movies.
Keep reading for Part 2 in which I discuss what I am glad they left out from the books and what I was surprised to find they put in.
Ah, a short reprieve from Thesis to do some writing. I’ve been working on Thesis since May 10th and the time it takes up has made me antsy to write so badly.