tealin: (catharsis)
Greetings, Internet, and welcome to another episode of Metapiece Theatre. Our offering today is, a little bit late, Episode Two of Wolf Hall, entitled "Entirely Beloved."

As with "Three Card Trick," whose writeup you should definitely read before this one, the title of this episode is not a coincidence. The entire hour is a game of beloveds, as we set up the relationships whose ramifications will play out in the rest of the series.

Cromwell is beloved of Wolsey
Wolsey . . . Cromwell
Cromwell . . . Johane
(and then vice versa)
Gregory . . . Cromwell
Cromwell . . . Mary Boleyn
Jane . . . Cromwell

Primarily, though, the overarching Beloved of this episode is Cromwell, of the audience. We come to love him for how much he loves others, as well as some cheaper tricks thrown in for good measure.


Of course, to show the Beloveds in greater contrast, we must have the Unbeloveds:

Cromwell vs Henry
Henry vs Wolsey
Cromwell vs Anne
Cromwell vs More
Cromwell vs The Gentry
Cromwell vs Gardiner

Most of these relationships are set up for an evolution, either of sentiment or of power, over the course of this episode or several. And, as mentioned last week, to some extent the value judgment of a character is directly proportional to how beloved they are of Cromwell – those who aren't on his side (e.g. Norfolk) are made out to be baddies, and those who are, are painted in varying shades of gold.

Such energy is put into garnering our sympathy that an alternate title for the episode might be "Laying it On With a Trowel." It's done subtly and organically, but when you start noticing the agenda, each of these moments begins to stand out. Continuing the legal analogy from last week, you can almost year Cromwell telling his take on things with a 'Yeronner...' Doth he protest too much, mayhap?

Let us go then, you and I, where the spoilers spread out against the sky, and pick apart 'Entirely Beloved' )
tealin: (Default)
The PBS airdate for the first episode of Wolf Hall is coming up. This series made me ecstatically happy when it was airing on the BBC and I am very much looking forward to finding out what the reaction will be from across the pond. What made me so excited aside from the brilliant acting and gorgeous production and general intelligence of the whole thing, was the subtle game it played with the audience – a game which, I fear, may have been too subtle, as I feel like the only one I know to have picked up on it. Usually I'm the one missing something completely obvious in a movie, so I was a little worried I was hallucinating, but in rewatching, and reading what other people have to say, I'm pretty sure I'm on to something. For that purpose, dear North Americans, I shall write out my take on the show, in the hope that when you see it you can check it against my theories and perhaps enjoy it as much as I did. At the very least I aspire to spark some interesting meta.

I should clarify now, when I refer to Wolf Hall, I mean the 2015 BBC miniseries directed by Peter Kosminsky, screenplay adapted by Peter Straughan. I have not read Hilary Mantel's novels, but I have read the RSC stage adaptations by Mike Poulton, which differ from the TV series quite a lot. As such, I don't know who to credit for the storytelling to which I refer, and whether these ideas and the way in which they are presented are faithful to Mantel's vision or an invention of Straughan and Kosminsky's. I shall refer to the creators therefore as 'they', a nebulous hand-wave in the direction of the font from which this all came, and someone who knows more than me about its creation can inform me as to where credit and blame should fall.

First, a little on the Nature of Subjectivity )

This is a big claim to make, on behalf of creatives who have said nothing to this effect.* It is possible they didn't intend it, but I hope to lay out enough evidence to prove that even if it were accidental, it still works. If you haven't seen the show yet and want to watch it for the first time without any influence, stop here – if you wish to play the game from the outset, or have seen it already and are wondering what I'm on about, then read on ...
*Of course, if they had, it would ruin the game.

Catching Out Cromwell: Episode 1 (with pictures!) )

This is what engagement with your entertainment looks like. Have fun! Accept no substitutes!
tealin: (writing)
I actively dislike Up. I know that is something of a heretical stand, and I've spent hours discussing it with people at lunch, but have never been able to go into exhaustive depth because I just couldn't be bothered to do the research (i.e. watch the movie again and waste more time thinking about it). However, a couple years ago I was in a screenwriting class at work and we had to watch it as homework one week – I did manage to get through it all, by taking breaks to do more interesting stuff like make porridge and do the dishes – and took advantage of this enforced re-watching to make a list of what I liked, what I didn't, and questions.

The little piece of paper on which I'd written this has been kicking around for ages, and as I'm finally trying to do something about the 50,000 pieces of paper floating around my apartment, I need to get rid of it. Clearly the most important thing for me to be doing with my precious free time on a Saturday morning is to type it all out for the general benefit of the internet.

For the most part I'm just going to transcribe it verbatim, without commentary, as best as I can decipher my handwriting, but I need to explain something first: Pixar's Rules )

All right, here you go, see if you can make any sense of this, because after this I am done talking about Up:

Likes, Dislikes, and Questions )

And now into the recycling with this piece of paper ... only 49,999 more to go.
tealin: (4addict)
I have never read 1984. I know this is a gaping hole in my education and/or cultural awareness. So when Radio 4 announced they were dramatising it, I thought: Hurrah! Gap somewhat filled in a cheating sort of way.

I was under the impression 1984 was about the perils and everyday realities of living in an omniscient, omnipresent authoritarian state, NOT about sneaking off to have secret sex as a big 'up yours' to a father figure. You can dress it up in political clothes and hyperbolise it into something that looks mythic and abstract, Mr Orwell, but I know teenage rebellion when I see it and I'm not even a trained Freudian psychoanalyst. You're a grown man and an intelligent one, but you're not past this? I am a little disappointed in just how thinly veiled the lack of philosophical maturity is – but not too much, because it makes me love Fahrenheit 451 all the more, and makes me grateful we studied Brave New World in high school instead of 1984, even though I didn't like it much. For once the American writer beats the Brits at plot and character development, in my estimation! The world truly has turned upside down!

... Or else Radio 4/Jonathan Holloway completely missed the mark and turned what was a lofty exploration of abstracts with a compelling plot and engaging characters into a pretentious but ultimately hollow bit of titillation to fill a Saturday afternoon.

You decide! Episode 1 is Here

In happier(?) news, it's Rocks Fall Everyone Dies week on Les Misérables! This is how you write a noble, idealistic, but ultimately futile stand against an overpowering establishment! TAKE NOTES.

Note: Carl Prekopp is in the latter but not in the former. Coincidence? I am becoming ever more convinced it is not.

Note 2: I am leaning towards blaming John Holloway, but of course I won't know till I read the book. Why must adapters always try to make something their own? Why can't they try to find what it is that makes the original great and prune the source material to bring that to the fore?
tealin: (catharsis)
Hey guess who's on vacation? That crazy lady who goes on and on about things! I wonder what she will do with all this spare time ... Wander amongst some trees? Go stargazing? Savour the fresh air and wilderness she can't get at home? No!* She has written two excessively long movie reviews, one of which is probably too late to be of use to anyone!

PARANORMAN

I have to admit I went into Paranorman with a handicap: I have read and enjoyed Terry Pratchett's Johnny and the Dead, which is a book about a thirteen-year-old boy who can talk with the deceased. I knew this was going to be a handicap when I saw the first trailer, so I tried really hard to put Johnny and the Dead from my mind, and to watch Paranorman on its own terms. For the most part I think this was successful, because they turned out to be rather different stories, accomplishing different things with the premise, so I'm not going to judge Paranorman for not being Johnny and the Dead. But that doesn't necessarily make it better. It wasn't bad! I'm not saying it was bad. It just could have been better.

The film itself, and my opinions )

While I was willing and, for the most part, capable of putting aside Johnny and the Dead, I couldn't help thinking that Paranorman would benefit significantly from the mind of the mighty Sir Pratchett, who would take it from an adequate little Halloweeny story into something with greater meaning. Johnny and the Dead is about respecting where you come from, but also moving on, and to some extent grappling with the idea of death and taking the teeth out of the scariness of the 'undead' – after all, they're just us. Paranorman's intended story doesn't really go to these places, nor should it, necessarily, but it has a hard time figuring out what it is about, when a Pratchett book has that as its cornerstone. So for the sake of greater understanding of storytelling (because it's too late to do anything to fix Paranorman) and with Spoiler Alert Level raised to Orange, let's play a little game:

What Would Pterry Do? )

Verdict: A good enough movie, however much it may have fallen short of what it could have been – worth a watch if only for the art, which may sustain your interest until it hits its stride about halfway through. Then go read Johnny and the Dead for an example of doin' it rite.



FRANKENWEENIE

As with most movies I see, this one was screened at work, though because it was Disney we got to see it a few days before it opened rather than a month after. The producer even came to present it and do a Q&A afterwards! Exciting, right?

No. )

Verdict: Not entertaining enough to be good, and not bad enough to be entertaining. Probably best consumed as a family night in, where you can get up for snacks, chat amongst yourselves, or check your email when things get slow.

*Actually yes; it has been lovely

Falstaff

Aug. 8th, 2012 03:24 pm
tealin: (catharsis)
I've been very slowly picking my way through The Hollow Crown, partly out of a desire to savour it, and partly because of limited time, but mostly because the ISC's summer season is on so my Shakespeare needs are amply met.

Another reason my consumption of the series has slowed dramatically is because I saw Henry IV Part I, and am not overly keen on sitting through whatever Richard Eyre has done with Part 2.

The Matter of Fog and Batting )

The Matter of Verse Speaking )

Adding to the frustration was the awareness that, hidden somewhere in all the batting, was a really excellent story with some intriguing themes that could really have been taken advantage of if they'd been brought to the surface. The same goes for the characters: I wanted to like the characters – shoot, I would have been happy just to get a good sense of who they were – and it was entirely within the capability of the talented cast to bring them vibrantly to life, but decisions on how to portray them, and further muddying in the shooting and editing, did them a tremendous disservice.

While the Internet seems interested solely in Tom Hiddleston's Prince Hal, I'd like to direct your attention to his friend Falstaff, because my disappointment with this adaptation was sparked by him, and it's easiest to demonstrate what I mean by all the above rambling with Falstaff as an example.

The Matter of Falstaff )

tl;dr - Still safe in saying the ISC has spoiled me for Shakespeare forever, though I may invest in the Globe's Henry IV Part 1 to see the potential of the play more fully realised.
tealin: (catharsis)
For the first time in I-don't-know-how-long last night, I actually went to see a movie at a theatre that was not on Disney property. I had heard generally positive things about Cabin in the Woods* and I trust Joss Whedon to deliver entertainment that's head and shoulders above the status quo. And ... it was. I say this coming to it as someone who is not terribly familiar with the Teen Horror Slasher genre (what horror movies I do know are more in the Hammer vein) – I know there are references that I missed, but it played so well on so many tropes that are in the collective consciousness, and the story was good enough on its own, that I never felt like I wasn't 'getting it' at all. The writing was, of course, excellent, the pacing great, the premise interesting and (to my limited exposure) original, and because it was all about subverting tropes it was, for the most part, unpredictable.
*one of my friends threatened to disown anyone in his acquaintance who did not go see it

The more observant reader at this point will probably get the sense that I am leading up to a 'however,' but for that I have to go into spoiler territory, so it goes behind a cut.

However ... )

Further However, now with spoilers for Dr Horrible )

In summary: Good film overall, cleverly written, feels a bit like it could have been a grand story arc for a season of Buffy but in a good way ... If you like Joss Whedon, this sort of horror, or puncturing archetypes in general, you will probably want to check it out at some point. I saw it in a small theatre in 2D and can't imagine what the benefit of seeing it in 3D could possibly be (especially as it's all post-process, which sets my teeth on edge); I also think it won't lose much in the transition to the small screen, so if you have to wait for the DVD release don't feel bad. I do request that if you wait and watch it at home, you pay for it in some way, because the studio took a chance on making a smart film with a good script and letting the director have his way with it, which should be rewarded in our creatively bankrupt age.

I feel compelled to state that this is a really, incredibly, gruesomely gory movie, just in case anyone might have a problem with that or is going into it with different expectations. It ain't pretty! But it does do a good job of maintaining the audience's distance, quite often with humour, and other times with just being so ridiculoulsy gory, that (at least to me) the gore wasn't as upsetting as it would have been had everyone been taking it seriously. It falls somewhere between Kill Bill and Shaun of the Dead gore and tone wise. Fun, if you can do that sort of thing, but unbearable if the sight of blood makes you faint.

P.S. I agree wholeheartedly with everything in [personal profile] nextian's much more specific and necessarily spoilerific post!
tealin: (actually)

Inspired by a comment on the last entry – the awesomeness was too much to deny.

When thinking up this series I didn't want just to feminise male characters, and I intend to stick to that for the most part, but this is a good excuse to bring up another topic I'd done some musing on:

People are People, so Write Them That Way (spoiler for Monstrous Regiment) )

That's my rant for the day – I think I've got it all out now. Anyway yes, female Enjolras, awesome or WAY awesome? I'd watch it.
tealin: (4addict)
It's the last episode of satirical show Tonight! Its run was brief but I loved it all. More, more!

The pain of its passing is lessened by the return of one of may faves, Listen Against! I am ambivalent about sharing: on one hand, it brings me great joy, and I want to spread the love, but on the other, if you're enough of a Radio 4 fan to get most of the jokes then you probably know about it already. Radio 4 rewards the faithful simply by existing, but Listen Against practically encourages fanaticism. All the same, everyone can enjoy the idea of chasing Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time Machine through time and space in Simon Schama's time-travelling Delorean ... right?

When I was in college, and shortly after, I was deeply interested in serious authentic fairy folklore, which in its original form is creepy and weird and bears far more resemblance to Miyazaki films than A Midsummer Night's Dream. That interest had more or less subsided once I got all I could out of it, but it was rekindled a little by the new episode of Off the Page – it claims to look at the evolution of fairy lore from folk tradition to pink sparkles, but mostly it's just people with different expertise sitting around a table talking.

And this week's representation from the CBC:

Jason Siegel talks about The Muppets, why they are so universally appealing, his own career, and other interesting things, on CBC's Q. Mostly I'm pointing it out because he reiterates my big point about 'family entertainment' and 'kids' entertainment' not necessarily being the same thing, but it's just interesting in general. I can't link directly to she show, so if you want to hear the whole thing: go here, find October 27th, and click 'Listen'. This interview starts at about 26:00.

HAMLET!

Sep. 24th, 2011 03:56 pm
tealin: (catharsis)
It is pretty much impossible to overstate how much I loved the Independent Shakespeare Company's production of Hamlet, though people who have to deal with me in daily life will tell you I've been giving it a pretty good try. I've kept mum about it here, though, because I've been waiting to finish this:


Click for Biggar!

Process )
tealin: (4addict)
Hey, so the world is falling apart: what we need is some comedy!

CABIN PRESSURE: ST PETERSBURG

I don't ordinarily like sitcoms, but this is damn fine comedy writing. I want to sit the Disney story department down in a room, lock the door, and play this for them. I would say things like:

"Comedy isn't funny things happening to ordinary people! Comedy is ordinary things happening to funny people!"

and

"Gags don't have to be mere filler between plot points! Gags can be the plot points!"

But then I'd get arrested for unlawful detention and probably one or two fire code violations, and they wouldn't listen to me anyway. They should bring in John Finnemore to talk instead. I would sit in the front row, and maybe bring flowers.

... Actually no, they'd probably book him to come in after I'd made irrevocable plans to be out of town on that day, as usual.
tealin: (catharsis)
tealin: (catharsis)
I'm jotting this down mostly for my own nefarious purposes reference, but I thought others might be interested in the idea, especially as it might relate to storytelling (in any medium) as much as music:

Paul Robertson, violininst: So is part of the value of the experience for us, the performer or the listener, actually the challenges of unpacking the meaning -- I mean, is that part of the process that makes the music special, do you think?

Howard Gardner of the Harvard Graduate School of Education: Absolutely. If it was all clear the first time, you'd do it, and you might want to listen to it a few times, and try it a few times, but then you'd want to go on to something more important. If the challenge in front of you is too great, you become anxious, and I could easily see a fledgling violinist or fledgling audience member finding some of these solo later works of Bach to be too challenging. And maybe we could say that the greatest works of art, the ones we come back to over and over again, we find additional challenges in them, as we mature and grow. I guess Bach hit the right combination, because here we are several hundred years later, still intoxicated by what he'd accomplished.

From The Innermost Master, a program on finding hidden intricacies and meanings in Bach's solo violin partitas. There's also an interesting bit on music not necessarily pointing to a specific emotion so much as describing 'the feeling of the feeling.' Link works till Sunday.
tealin: (catharsis)
Every time it comes around on BBC7, I try to give Treasure Island a listen. But I am coming to the realization that, having been introduced to the story through Muppet Treasure Island, I am forever spoiled. It moves along at a good clip but doesn't feel rushed! All the characters are appealing in some way and have interesting dynamics with each other! It's hopelessly silly but at the same time contains unexpected emotional depth that rings true!* There are songs! And his finger hired the crew!

In further news of unexpected poignancy in the midst of absurd comedy, this week's episode of The Brothers Faversham does a masterful turn at its end. Curse you British comedy, how do you manage to ambush the audience with moments of genuine feeling and make it not feel completely fake? Hooowww?? [fistshake]

It doesn't go any way towards answering the question, but Terry Jones' documentary on Theatre of the Absurd (with bonus commentary on its influence on the Pythons) is very interesting and perhaps slightly related.

*I maintain Muppet Treasure Island, for all its wackiness, has a deeper and more poignant relationship between Jim and Long John than Treasure Planet ever did, despite the latter obsessing over it for the entire span of the movie. Once I crack how they did that the world of story will be the mollusc of my choice ...
tealin: (writing)
Transcribing this mostly for my own reference (you never know when these things come in handy) but in case anyone else finds it interesting:

Although superheroes have this wonderful sense of being able to deal with and so forth, what a supervillain does is it gives us an understandable centre of evil, and evil is something we find hard to deal with in its complexity. Real evil is a horrible big amorphous thing. One single person with evil intent, you can begin to understand that, and you can somehow or other deal with them, in the same way that Neanderthal man* possibly was drawing paintings on the wall of his cave to represent the animals he wanted to control and hunt. So in the same way by imagining evil as a single person we can deal with it more easily.

Neil Brand on The Film Programme**



*Educational Footnote: Neanderthal man is somewhat famous for not having art; that is one of the clearest cultural divisions between him and modern humans. Later Neanderthals seem to have been capable of parroting Homo Sapiens' creativity but they do not seem to have any of their own. Dunno why I felt like I had to point this out aside from being a know-it-all, but there you go.
**The segment was not on villainy so much as linking The Sorcerer's Apprentice to German expressionism (stranger things have happened)
tealin: (catharsis)
Last Friday's Front Row had a segment on a revival of Aspects of Love and one on the photographer for Shackleton's famous and aptly-named Endurance expedition.

I am not ashamed to be a fan of musicals, yea, even of Andrew Lloyd Webber. I've probably memorized every note of Phantom, Joseph, and Jesus Christ Superstar, and learned an awful lot about story structure, character, and the cathartic arc from the years I was obsessed with Sunset Boulevard. Aspects of Love, though ... )

Now obviously I am much more into Scott than Shackleton (or, rather, the Terra Nova than the Endurance, as the actual leaders of each expedition are not what hold my interest) but ... )

... And to round it all off the final segment is on 'mockbusters,' with emphasis on Megapiranha. Oh, Front Row, you are so well-rounded.
tealin: (catharsis)
I know you've all been waiting on tenterhooks for my judgment on this matter, so at long last I can finally announce that after much diligent research* I have decided on my favourite audio recording of Othello. Details (rambling) )

So ... I've listened to it a few times now ... and in doing so I've picked up some subtler things in the plotting which get missed the first time through because it's hard enough to keep up with the language. The cool things will be discussed later; tonight is for frivolity!

There are quite a few moments of what would probably be considered lazy storytelling by today's standards. A boatload of expository dialogue, for one (which suits it for radio dramatization), and things like people coincidentally wandering into the scene right when they're needed, etc. One of the more amusing examples of this appears to be Shakespeare writing himself into a corner and then using a cutaway scene to weasel his way out of it. I call you out, William Shakespeare:

An Illustration of Mr Shakespeare's Creative Process )

Anyway, this (and the other episodes like it) just goes to show that you can have moments of inelegant writing, bits where the story 'math' doesn't add up as nicely as it should, but if you're bang on the money in the Human Truth and Emotional Resonance departments, your story will still be enjoyed four hundred years later.
tealin: (catharsis)
My friends page (which is to say, the two people on it who have been posting a lot recently) has spent the last week obsessing over Torchwood, which I know almost nothing about (yet). Well three can play that game! Take this!

Actually this was drawn in response to Mark Gatiss Week, in which I heard his Doctor Who documentary, the Worst Journey DVD came in, and BBC7 had both The Man in Black and The League of Gentlemen. Some might call it an overdose but I do not believe this is possible.

The wonderful and generous [livejournal.com profile] my_fox_rocks recorded the much anguished-over film adaptation and sent it to me (thank you thank you thank you), prompting another bout of obsession and a fair amount of squee. I've saved it all up for this post because it seems like everything I've drawn outside of work for the last year has been Cherry-related, and I do sort of feel like I'm talking to a brick wall (or perhaps a padded cell) in my sad little one-person fandom, so this one post will be nice and easy to skip!

Screencaps and Drawings and Commentary, Oh My! )

... If you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore. If you are a brave man you will do nothing: if you are fearful you may do much, for none but cowards have need to prove their bravery. Some will tell you that you are mad, and nearly all will say, 'what is the use?' For we are a nation of shopkeepers, and no shopkeeper will look at research which does not promise him a financial return within a year. And so you will sledge nearly alone, but those with whom you sledge will not be shopkeepers: that is worth a good deal. If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg.
tealin: (catharsis)
I found this part of On the Outside It Looked Like an Old Fashioned Police Box really interesting, as I've been thinking a lot about character development lately. An easy way to make a character more real is to get inside their head, recording their thoughts (if it's a book*) or filming things from their point of view (if it's a film**). But the following segment made me realize you don't have to do this to have a strong character – we have no doubt who The Doctor is, but we only ever see him from the outside. I suppose this makes a lot of sense, really; you know your friends very well – what they like and dislike, would do and wouldn't do, how they would react to a given situation – but you never ride around in their heads. Anyway, enough from me:

Mark Gatiss and Russell T Davies on Writing the Doctor )

*Going Postal is one of the very best, in this regard
**Not literally P.O.V. shots (though that's not out of the question) but telling the story, visually, as they would tell it ... everyone has a different version of events and if you can find how your character would tell a story, what they would notice and how they would present other people and situations, that says almost as much about them as it does the story at hand.
tealin: (catharsis)
DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN DOCTOR HORRIBLE'S SING-ALONG BLOG.

Got that? Got it? Okay:

Doctor Horrible on TV Tropes
Just look at this page! This is for a 44-minute web program. What the hell is wrong with us?

What I particularly like, aside from the overall brilliance, is the joy and love apparent from the writers. :D

Fortunately, this website has reminded me I need to type up my What Makes Dr Horrible So Awesome notes on Acts II and III, but unfortunately, its mesmerizing brilliance has kept me engrossed for far too long to start on that tonight. I shake my fist at you, [livejournal.com profile] lunylucy! My fist of gratitude and affection! [shake, shake, shake]

And for just a little bit of Lasseter-baiting, Expospeak! [runs away]

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