Tuesday, February 28, 2006

S.P. - innocent victim or the real entrepreneur of the art of murder?

With regard to the case of Silvo Plut I am shocked how superficial responses people produce on being asked about it. And while I could never be prevailed on to stand for a man who's actually killed and abused three women, I would ask myself in S.P.'s case whether that really happened.

I'm no expert on the case although I've taken an interest in it and read as much as I could. Several things about this case strike me as interesting. According to the information I have, Plut raped and killed the woman in Serbia and was found guilty of the act after a DNA analysis of a woolen hat, which was left (by mistake?) on the crime scene. My sources don't report anything of the matter, but I find it strange that (if this indeed it was a rape) they did not do a DNA analysis on the sperm. There are several possibilities: a) it was not a rape, only a murder and the only DNA evidence was on the hat, b) the DNA in the sperm matched the one on the hat thus almost certainly proving that Plut is guilty c) the DNAs in sperm and on the hat are different and most likely there were two people involved or the person who committed the rape tried to plant the crime to someone else by leaving behind a stolen hat belonging to Plut. My sources (newspapers and TV reports) are scarce with details on the Serbian case as everybody seems sure that Plut is guilty. But given the facts so far, we really could not make a final verdict.

Additionally, let's suppose that what he did to Ljubica Ulčar a few days ago was indeed an accident, who would believe him? The only witnesses were he and the deceased and the public/jury is predisposed to believing he's guilty. In his statement for the media, Ljubica's husband reported that he barely escaped Plut, that once he was done with his wife, Plut approached him saying that it would take far longer to deal with him, but the husband managed to escape Plut in the last second. So if the husband indeed was the witness, he would have heard a noise or a fall and thus would be able to confirm the story about the accident rather than a murder. (Would he want to confirm the accident, if that is what really happened, is less certain.)

And the last piece of evidence that could result in a lighter sentence is the fact that Plut may be suffering from a psychiatric illness that was never properly treated. (Or that long-term alcohol addiction has done irreparable damage to his brain, since he admits that he used to drink quite a lot.) I remember a case from a year (or slightly more) ago, where two youngsters (I think they were barely legal) smoked marijuana in a cellar. In one moment the older one demanded from the younger one his golden necklace, which the younger one refused to give. The older took a knife from his pocket and stabbed the younger one several times in the heart, severing the aorta and severely damaging the heart. The younger died within minutes. In the court it was found that the older suffered from (I hope I remember correctly) a severe form of paranoid schizophrenia and was, by the testimony of a psychiatrist, significantly affected by his illness in the moment of the murder. Something similar might be happening to Plut, because killing three times is not something a normal, healthy person does. Sometimes the brain makes fools of us and it might be happening in this case.

If Plut is definitely found guilty (I'm hopeful that the evidence will be plentiful, since the forensic team did seem to do their best), I hope he gets a fair punishment for what he did. However, there are some "curiosities" about this case that might not point to the 30 years sentence.


...And you thought I would never pass as a law student! I'd even make a decent private detective and it's all because I know my medical stuff. :)

posted by Nadezhda | 09:25 | 0 comments | links to this post

Friday, February 24, 2006

Everything hurts...



...at least it did last week when I went to ballet. I've been out for 2 and a half years and going back after such a long time isn't easy.

Contrary to my expectations, however, I did rather well on my first day back. True, everything was out of place and even standing properly with feet turned out seemed unnatural. But I was not out of my breath (as I was last year when I went back for two lessons then almost decided on quitting entirely) though admittedly, I was sweating almost to the point of indecency. The enchainments (a proper word for a dancing/ballet combination) were rather more complicated than what I was used to, with lots of turns at the barre, but that is good, because it will motivate me to improve and advance even further once I've got used to the posture and control over my legs (again). And it will, hopefully, enable me to finally master the tricky art of controlled pirouettes. It is not the turning, that I find difficult, rather it is the stopping and coming out of a turn that is wretched. (Also, the en dehors pirouettes with left supporting leg are driving me mad, because I start hopping around - to try to regain my balance - instead of turning. I would assume it is hillarious to watch, but really difficult to stop doing it, especially as the alternative would be to fall.)

Still, there is ample space for improvement. Firstly, the posture nedds to become second nature again; some more aplomb wouldn't hurt, either. Then I will need to work on my extensions, which were once beautiful and high, but now getting the leg up seems to be rather more difficult than I remember it to be and the extensions are not quite as high; if I manage to bring the leg as high I throw myself off balance and then end up messing the combination entirely.

I need to constantly remind myself to pull out of the legs. When I tire (and that is amazingly quickly) I end up sitting into my hips and then rond de jambes en dedans are a nightmare, especially if you want to maintain the right accent in the movement. Because of this the centre combinations are a nightmare. I still do not have the strength (or I might be slacking off, depending on your view of the situation) to complete a centre combination with control over my body. The moment I'm away from the barre (amazing, actually, just how much you can cheat at the barre!) and there is a en l'air combination, I'm as lost as (probably) you are reading this post.

Anyway, the point is to remain hopeful and maintain a positive approach. And then perhaps some day I will be able to write a post about ballet with less French in it.

P.S. Here and here are some nice examples of ballet combinations and a dictionary.

posted by Nadezhda | 14:28 | 6 comments | links to this post

Monday, February 20, 2006

Watching Brokeback Mountain (2005, Ang Lee)


Brokeback is probably the most notorious film this year. It was practically unnoticed until Venice and only then started getting loads of awards. On Rotten Tomatoes, it scores 85% (90%), which is a rather rare achievement. It is nominated for eight oscars, including Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Supporting and Leading actors. On the other hand, people who've seen it report it is boring, over-long, pointless and empty.

I couldn't agree, though. Watching Brokeback is one of the rare experiences of a "real" film. Film, which is visual, before everything else. Film which speaks with glances, stares and looks. A film which "don't say much, but you get your point across, " as one of the characters says. I like these sort of films. Watching them is an exercise in patience, but it is also a profound experience in humanity. You get to see many films, stuffed full with pointless lines, incompetent actors and boring plots, but only rarely a film, full of life and real emotion where there's no need to constantly stimulate the viewer, but rather let him/her allow the time for reflection.

Even though an unfulfilled, secretive gay relationship isn't a real novelty in film-making, this film challenges one of the last strong-holds of manhood - the cowboys. In reality, they're none the less prone to being homosexuals than other men. Actually, spending a lot of time alone, only a couple cowboys on one mountain, the need to feeling close to someone is overwhelming. As is sexual desire.

The stunning scenery, the bluest of the blue skies and grass as green as it can be, is one of the advantages the film has. The other are its actors. This is not a film with lots of dialogue; in fact, the most important statements are conveyed by looks rather than words.

Brokeback is also a one-man film. If Heath Ledger was a cocky teenager in 10 Things I hate about you and if he was completely unconvincing in The Four Feathers, then this is not his typical film. I never thought an actor in so many ways middle of the form, talentless and awkward, could perform so enchantingly in a film which relies solely on his acting abilities. This is Ledger's film and (almost) his story. The viewer constantly has the feeling that this is Ledger's real story; the emotions are so palpable, so primal, his facial expressions so realistic, one gets the feeling you've known him all your life. (It is ironic that Ledger met Michelle Williams during filming of this project and later had a child with her.)

Ennis, Ledger's character, is a man who doesn't say much (the actor thus cannot hide his poor acting skills behind a fluent stream of words - this is, contrary to my expectations, where Ledger is at his most convincing), who has problems expressing himself, whose inner life seems nonexistent, but these are all the viewer's prejudices. He is a man, capable of a devoted, exclusive relationship with another man, which stretched for decades. There is no cheating from his side, no perverseness in his feelings. He feels just as deeply as the other men around himself, but apart from them, he cannot reveal his secret (love), he is plagued by fear and insecurity and a constant lack of money. His love for another man ruins all his relationships with women, because he can't function with a woman. He loves Jack, he loves him exclusively, he loves him with all that he is, yet he musn't show it, can't be happy with him, is forced to hide his feelings, his inclinations, even though they're honorable. Ennis is a personification of the tragedy of a gay relationship in a conservative environment.

Jack, on the other hand, is the one who feels more openly, who is willing to let others know of his relationship, who even flirts with other men, has meaningless one-night stands in Mexico, because he can't be with the one whom he loves. He's talkative, more direct, appears to be more in contact with his feelings, is willing to risk everything he has, to be able to be with Ennis, but is constantly rejected by him. Ennis doesn't want their relationship to become public, because he fears (and rightly so) that they'll be scorned, condemned and possibly physically assaulted for their sexual orientation.

The film is one long mourning for that which we must have in order to exist, but cannot. It dispels the image of a gay man, who looks for sex and hardly anything more, who is devoid of feeling and full of lust and who is seemingly unable to have a life-long relationship. And though I haven't seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (I know I'm missing a lot) I am quite certain that Brokeback is one of the best films Ang Lee's made. (I did see Sense&Sensibility, though.)

When President Bush was asked whether he's going to see the film, he did not want to answer the question. United States, for all their talk about the freedom of speech/expression remain the most conservative in their approach towards this film; it's R rated which is curious for a film where nudity is brief, carefully controlled and to the point; and the most you see of sex is in the darkness of a tent (or a car or a room), a scene perhaps 10 seconds long. At least to me, the more painful were scenes about marriage "felicity" than the gay sex, which is, if I remember correctly, only in one scene.

As for whether the film will triumph at the Oscars, one cannot tell. It is good to bear in mind that the ones who cast their votes are mainly older conservative men, who despise homosexuality, consider it a sin and against human nature. Certainly, Ledger's performance is worth the statuette, but there are other very solid performances also (most notably Capote and Walk the Line). We'll have to wait and see.

As for the film, I highly recommend it, but treat is as a unique piece. Ease into it's slow pace, enjoy the scenery, watch for the facial expressions and be prepared to understand more about the plot from them than from the actual words.

posted by Nadezhda | 23:15 | 12 comments | links to this post

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Because I can't (or won't) shut up on the subject...

It wasn't the lack of literary talent that prevented me from writing the "ultimate" (and don't challenge the term) post on Lord of the Rings, but rather the fact that my memory resembles that of a goldfish in one striking way: it's short.

So the more I think about it, the more certain I am that I forgot to mention a load of things connected with the LotR films.

The question: could you (willingly) endure another (just one more, I promise!) LotR post or do you think it would be better for your sanity that I shut up on the subject?

posted by Nadezhda | 11:31 | 12 comments | links to this post

Friday, February 17, 2006

On friendship

You know someone's NOT your friend when he mistakes you for a bird and shoots you on Saturday, sending 150 small-shot cartridges towards your body and only remembers to apologize and wish you "get well" on Tuesday.
And you might suspect he wouldn't even have done it was it not for the media's discovery of the event.

So, for future reference, if you don't want to get shot, do try to look less like a quail (even less than you do normally).

posted by Nadezhda | 14:10 | 3 comments | links to this post

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Watching Lord of the Rings (2001-2003, Peter Jackson), part two

After a refreshing break I intend to continue writing about the film trilogy.

I mentioned a couple of scenes from The Two Towers that did not make much sense when compared with the books. I feel that by including these scenes the screen writers tried to create more tension and suspense. (The question, whether the plot as such really needs these additions remains.) The second book (and thus, also the film) has less material (plot-wise) to work with; the book substitues it with extensive descriptions of the battle at Helm's Deep, the people of Rohan, their habits and offers many plot twists, that only make sense in connection with the final book (the whole fiasco regarding the palantir).

I think the film makers (contrary to the books) tried to make Aragorn a flawed character. That or at least they wanted the viewer to be unsure of his fate, whereas in the books Aragorn's fate is made perfectly clear. I think that as one expects Frodo to deliver the Ring to Mount Doom, so (if not even more assuredly) one expects Aragorn to become King. The films try to make this conclusion less certain, because Aragorn (aside from Frodo) is the only member of the fellowship who gets hurt in battle. It's not just a scar - he almost passes away. His near-death experience provides a good foundation on which they base the "passing away" theme that becomes fully developped at the end of TTT in Sam's speech. (I really like this speech of his.) Also, he passes Theoden the vital information abo0ut the approaching army of orcs.

(There is a crucial, tiny scene where they forshadow the destruction of the wall by showing the wall's weakest point - the river. One just has to love it, because even as you watch the film for the first time, there is an eerie feel to that scene. I remember myself thinking as I was watching it for the first time - "You've got to watch the river; - how come no one's noticed the river; - why don't they do something about it? Aragorn, are you blind?" It's scene very much like the one in Godfather 1 where Al Pacino almost walks out of the restaurant holding a gun and regardless of the times you've seen the film, you always want to scream: "Just drop the gun.. Drop it!")

However, if they ventured as far as to almost kill Aragorn, why didn't Legolas and/or Gimli have an accident or a nearly fatal wound, also? It is very curious, that apart from Aragorn, Eowyn, the hobits and Gandalf, the other characters are almost not developed. One does not know much about Legolas or Gimli. The latter serves as comic relief ("Nobody tosses a dwarf."/"Toss me.") and, obivously, as a very brave fighter, whereas with Legolas, you only see the perfect-aim, light-weight, nature-friendly creature and hardly anything more, almost as though he did not have a chracter. I would have to see the films again to prove this point further, but looking back I cannot remember a memorable line, delivered by him. On screen, Legolas is a very visual (in the way he moves, listens and observes) character, but he hardly ever speaks. And while I do not find Orlando Bloom (lovely name, though) a very talented actor, I cannot really blame him for not having created a stronger character out of Legolas. He really wasn't given much material.

I have no idea, however, why they made such hideous hijenas instead of some vicious, blood-thirsty wolves. Additionally, why did they have the elves come to help? The point of this battle was that the forces of Light (Gandalf in his pure white Armani cloak being quintessential of the alliance against Sauron and Saruman) were too few and their victory was not to be expected. By having several hundred elves coming to help, they make it an easier win and thus far less surprising. (I don't mind that they made Eomer an outcast and that it was his eored which came to help instead of some west fold army. The point is to use familliar characters. We get to know (and like, especially his moustache) Eomer fairly early and it makes sense to develop his role further, primarily by such courageous acts. Would they have had the West fold army at their disposal, the viewer would think he was cheated, because it appears there are several armies around, waiting to get into battle and the circumstances aren't really as desperate as they would have to be. The books have more time to continually remind us of the remains of the army, scattered around Helm's Deep and when they do come to help, it is not surprizing; but it would be in the film.) The help should come at the last moment, at a time, when they were almost defeated. And it does. However by having elves come to fight, they ruin the careful balance the books are trying to convey - the elves are a self-contained species; they last forever and thus do not partake in the trivial events in the world outside their dwellings. This, in my opinion, is one of the most serious flaws the films have.

Also, moving the people of Edoras makes no point. The scene is there, I feel, because they've got to get Aragorn and Eowyn to talk and make it OBVIOUS how she feels for him and how he fails to share these feelings. (The scene where she brings him soup being very representative of this duality.) Further, the point is to develop Eowyn into a more prominent person, because she will be crucial to the victory in ROTK. Additionaly, her performance matters, because she is one of the only three women; and the women watching the film should not feel excluded. (I've commented on the lack of women in the book before, so I shall not dwell on this point further.) In the book, there is only one short paragraph where Eowyn notices Aragorn and realizes what his destiny is; this is also the scene where she falls in love with him; but it is done in a very platonic manner (love being one of Tolkien's weakest points); - the films are much elaborate on that point, thus "correcting" (what I see as) flaws in Tolkien's plot. Love offers a good contrast to the war(s) going on; war/battle is always won by the one who wants it more - those who love have more reasons to want to stay alive. Love as the propelling force is a good (and well developed) theme in the films and while it attracts more ladies to the film, it also offers a good contrast, which is essential in any fight against the "evil of our time".

The reason why Faramir took Sam and Frodo to Osgiliath was, I believe, to show the destruction in Gondor. The state was in ruins, literally. Frodo thus saw what could be gained by destroying the Ring. And they got to have more fun with the Nazgul destroying the near-wasteland of Osgiliath. (Don't you just love names with "th" in them? Theoden, Osgiliath...) I imagined the Nazgul a little differently as well. In the film they look like flying dinosaurs (really loooong necks), I imagined them more like overgrown horses with wings.

I'm completely fascinated by Gollum. Let me repeat myself, (which I aspire not to do too often) - completely. However rarely I openly acknowledge it, this time I could not have refrained from saying it. Not only the way he looks - like a skelleton of a fish, his glossy, repulsive-looking blue skin, stretched over his thinning bones, conveying the image of a wasted soul, his hair (what remains of it) and the big eyes, encapsulating the whole of his essence. The way gollum moves, the way he speaks... left me speechless. Andy Serkis, you are officially my idol and I'm sorry for your back, which must have been killing you by the end of each day's shooting. There is nothing wanting in Gollum, everything is perfect. (And don't you dare oppose me.)


So - final words about The Two Towers: I love the film, but it has the unfortunate fate of being stuck between
two very fascinating films, which both have more to offer plot-wise. The first part has lots of information regarding the Ring and the start of the voyage, whereas the final part ends it in a spectacular way. The lack of a definite ending is a bit depressing in FotR, but TTT substitutes this gap at the end with a longish speech, delivered by Sam. He speaks about the world we once knew and how all that was familliar to us was about to pass. This is where I feel TTT is at its strongest - the feelings of nostalgia, melancholy and mild depression it conveys is just amazing. It is were (at least for me) the film communicates the essence of the series - how worlds pass from knowledge, how everything has to pass, even the greatest things of our time... The ending of TTT is emotion-powered in a way that none of the other two are. FotR ends in the manner "And the adventure continues..." which is captivating, but fails to effectively function as an ending; RotK has the ending, but few emotions. The ending in RotK is what you'd expect from any sort of a heroic story, thus it fails to surprize. Seeing the destruction of Osgiliath moved Sam in a way which contributed to his speech - his affection, his grieveing seemed genuine. It is - and I repeat myself - where the film comunicates on an emotional level, which is not common occurence in mainstream/blockbuster Hollywood production.

Many people complained that the ending in RotK was too long or at least lengthy, but I for my part never found it such. Once you've endured eleven hours of battle, travel, danger, battle, orcs, Shelob, danger and battle, you could take 20 minutes to enjoy victory. If Jackson finished the film 5 minutes after Gollum falls into the abyss, I would have been disappointed. An epic film is all about balance between good and evil (sometimes (platonic) love and hate) - otherwise it's boring. Almost from the moment Frodo starts his journey, there is hardly a moment of feeling safe. Surely, when they're in Rivendell you feel everything's all right, but you know they must press on and finish what they started and face numerous dangers on the way. That's why I'd like to be able to enjoy peace and victory of everything that is good - I do not need to feel rushed. "I" faced numerous dangers and now I want to celebrate.

There were, however, two moments where I couldn't refrain from using crude language; I exclaimed bullshit and it was. The first such moment was when Gandal's wand explodes, when he faces the Witch King. Perhaps they tried to underline the fact that no man could kill him(it). But Gandalf is not a man. Perhaps they tried to emphasize how important Eowyn's share was. Gandalf should have avoided confrontation with Witch King, he wasn't upposed to tackle him; because he would be able to kill him. The important part was that he had better things to do.

The other weird moment was when the ghosts of the dead refuse to help Aragorn and the skulls almost kill them. This is another pointless example of trying to build suspension, where there's no need for it. The caves/underground way is (or should be) frightening enough (they exemplify it wonderfully with the fleeing horses, and here I do not object at all to going against what's written in the book, because it serves a purpose) and why would the ghosts need to refuse, anyway? You've got enough suspension in other scenes to keep the film going and make it interesting.

In summary, I would have difficulties deciding which film is my favourite. While FotR is all that is good and almost flawless, I am more drawn to the other two parts. But which one is better, I couldn't really decide. I think the extended editions improve the film, because they allow for more backstory and develop certain relationships further. This helps the films, because they are not, essentially, character driven stories. Upping the characters makes the film more realistic, more appealing. And also, the scenery is as wonderful as you could hope it to be.

In conclusion there is only one thing to say: I've exhausted myself on the subject and will dedicate my time to writing about other things for a while.

posted by Nadezhda | 11:00 | 12 comments | links to this post

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Reading Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination (by Helen Fielding)


Frankly, could you hate a book which contains the following: "It was a perfectly simple problem: she had fallen in love with a man. It was the sort of thing that could happen to anyone, apart from him being an international terrorist. The symptoms werefamiliarr: only thirty per cent of her brain was operational. The rest was taken up with a combination of fantasy and flashback. Every time she tried calmly to evaluate her situation and make a plan, her mind was overwhelmed by images of an entire future with Feramo, beginning with scuba diving in crystalline Caribbean waters, followed by shagging in Bedouin tents in the Sudanese desert, concluding with Grace Kelly-Prince Rainer-style married life in yachts, palaces, etc.[...]." ?

I suppose not. Because even if you could, the paragraph continues witsomethingng that is bound to invoke at least a smile if not a laugh. "She tried desperately to pull herself together. I am not, she told herself, going to follow a man anywhere. Women have evolved and learnt to do everything that used to be men's work and they have responded by regressing. They cannot even mend things any more."

Ladies and gentlemen and dear Googlebot, I introduce you to Ms. Olivia Joules. A self-invented woman, a freelance journalist, a stunning beauty, who also, should the need arise, transforms herself into a superb detective, who surpasses even the most shining CIA intellects. And who, completely involuntarily, of course, falls for a senior member of al-Qaeda.

After having read (and LOVED) Bridget Jones, I decided to read the fourth novel by the same author. When I opened the book, I expected a modern romance turned comedy, but I was served a different dish. This book is more a female thriller with romantic intermezzos than a sequel to Bridget: Edge of Reason. (I say female because it is not a hard core thriller and saying it is a "soft" thriller would be ... strange.) Despite the cliches, this book vibrates with life and freshness.

So, by the time I reached the part where Olivia falls for this international terrorist, I was disappointed. No more shy, sexually repressed Mark Darcy, no more Bridget's being late for work every day... Also what is terrorism doing in such a book? But once I left the prejudices behind and realized, this is not going to be predictable, at least not entirely predictable, certainly not a spinoff from Bridget, I had lots of fun with this book. It surely is funny, though not quite Bridget-funny. It is predictable to an amount, but unpredictable enough to keep you going and though the characters are a bit cliche, they never cease to be entertaining.

"Concentrate, Olivia, she said to herself. Concentrate. We are not a skittish backpacker on our gap year. We are a top foreign journalist and possible international spy on a mission of global significance." Perhaps, just perhaps the book has a Bridget aura to it. Perhaps that is also the reason I liked it. It would be impossible for me to read the above paragraph and NOT find the book amusing. It reminds me mightily of Bridget's mantra. And this is no coincidence, because if Bridget did manage to lose her weight, became a semi-competent reporter and decided that shyness was no longer fashionable, she would morph into Olivia.

This is a lovely book to read when you want to take your mind off things, but don't expect it to be an intellectual challenge. And if ever the plot gets slightly too fantastic to be true, just sigh and say: it's fiction. Olivia Joules with her hat pin and a special underwired bra is the new "Fielding" heroine, even though you might sometimes wonder why she's so fearless. If you have a spare day or two and want to read something light, I highly recommend this book. (Or Bridget, if you prefer romance to thrillers.)


P.S. Must find a synonym for "also".
P.P.S. Yes, Bo, I'm writing the LOTR review. I'm half-way through. Patience. :)

posted by Nadezhda | 13:21 | 0 comments | links to this post

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ridicule?

At the time when the islamic world roars in rage and vengefullness I read Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination. Olivia, the one who always has with her a hat pin, falls for a man who looks very much like Osama bin Laden and follows him around the globe. What could a takfiri have to offer her? A female thriller slash romance deluxe.

With all the threats voiced by the Muslims, with all the terror and threats and killing and building-burning, I feel compelled to read The Satanic Verses. I want to resist. In the unforgettable words of Elizabeth Bennet: "There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me."

Bring the full force on. Condemn me for planning to read The Satanic Verses. I am not afraid.

I am not being foolish, neither am I being childish. But I do not let myself be intimidated.

posted by Nadezhda | 15:00 | 7 comments | links to this post

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Having a boyfriend who snores...

... need not be a nasty business. Should the male in question produce soft, wheezing sounds, that would have been a lullaby to me. It is much to my displeasure that I find the sounds, produced by my snoring boyfriend, to be of quite the opposite quality. They (in the most ruthless manner imaginable) prevent me from falling asleep.

You might be thinking I'm a whiner, but you would be wrong. When I do fall asleep, I sleep with my eyes tightly shut and my ears completely insusceptible to outside sounds. Should a bomb explode under my bed, I couldn't care less. The difficult part, therefore, is actually falling asleep. For the last few years I've been rather a night owl; getting to bed at two a.m. (or later) and getting up when normal people have already had their lunch. Boyfriend is different. He can (and he does) fall asleep regardless of the time of the day. The moment we cuddle up and cover ourselves with the duvet, he falls asleep. Myself being rather inclined to having long monologues about the meaning of life (and other such important things) in the late hours does not help the matter.

(I am actually quite suspicious of this habit of his... "Don't you want to talk to me, honey? Is that the message you're trying to get across? Aren't you interested in my view of things?" I contemplate desperately. But this is beside the point.)

I am usually in the middle of one such long monologue, when the snoring starts. And then, only then, falling asleep suddenly morphs into mission impossible. So last night, getting really desperate, I whisper his name and - miraculously, like a divine magic revealing itself to me - he stops snoring. He stops and doesn't start again. (All right, he probably does, but by that time I was very much asleep.)

Naturally, such an occurrence is bound to arouse suspicion. If he really heard me, then he must have heard himself snoring. He knows I can't fall asleep when he snores, so why would he snore if he knew (heard) he was?
Should you be ignorant of the fact, let me enlighten you: relationships are complicated. Especially when one asks too many questions for her own good.

posted by Nadezhda | 10:12 | 2 comments | links to this post

Friday, February 03, 2006

Watching Lord of the Rings (2001-2003, Peter Jackson), part one

It is that time.

As already mentioned, I saw the films before I've read the books. After reading I felt compelled to watch them again, because I liked them the first time (and I do like to repeat pleasant experiences) and also because some time had passed and I didn't remember the films much. Luckily, boyfriend was keen to see them once more, too. And to show you how diligent we were, let me tell you that we watched them all in one week.

I liked Fellowship of the Ring, the first film, immensly. (I like the trilogy, yes, ill-advised, trilogy :) immensly.) It does a good job of summing up the plot, introducing the Ring, its history and it shows clearly what is to be done with the Ring. Such memorable quotes as "A Wiz(z)ard is never late" make the experience all the more enjoyable. It's ironic that at first, Peter Jackson didn't want to do the prologue, yet I feel that the prologue does a fine job introducing the twelve-hour-long saga and it summarizes the history (of Sauron) neatly. The prologue sets the atmosphere and so it's essential to the film/trilogy.

I cannot complain much about Fellowship. It follows the book, it is (essentially, not by fan standards) correct and the storyline is clear. The acting is believable and the story also has a few humorous bits ("What about second breakfast?", "It comes in pints? I'm getting one."), which work well in easing up the tense atmosphere.

Fellowship also has very good pacing, you don't feel the story is rushed or slowed down for no reason; the anticiaption, the excitement, the fear are all well timed and make you feel with the characters. The music, is nothing short of fantastic. (When in good mood, I hum Return of the King theme.)

All that aside, there are two issues I have with Fellowship. Gimli (to me) sounds clueless about Moria. He doesn't know what happened to Balin, whether he's still alive (he expects him to be) and kicking or not. This does create a big change of the mood, as the viewers expect an easy pass through the mines, but are unpleasantly surprized. However I would have expected a "Durin" to be better informed. He could say that Balin went there, but no one knows what became of him, however, he expects him to be well, although he finds the silence around him upsetting. This, in my opinion, would work well, it would create a sense of foreboding, an anticipation mixed with fear.

The second issue I have with Felloship is Boromir suggesting (much towards the end of the film, before they fight the Orcs) that Aragorn fears his destiny. This is downright outrageous. Aragorn is careful in his approach; he doesn't feel he can simply walk into Minas Tirith and claim the throne, he wants to do it in a noble way, a way which will present him as the King, that will be representative of his power, ability and wisdom. I do not know whether the film makers tried to show Boromir oversimplfiying complicated matters or they truly felt Aragorn's afraid of his destiny. I do not find Aragorn a man who is easily frightened, but he is a strategist. Something Boromir is, too. Anyway, that quote oversimplifies, but exactly why it is there, I do not know.

The Two Towers is the film I'm most undecided about. It takes off where Fellowship left, but it fails to create such drama. There are no innocent beginnings in the Hobbitton, no birthday to celebrate and no kind hearted, white beared wizard. The story begins to unfold, but the problem film makers have, is that there is only one climax - the battle at the Helm's Deep.

While the film itself continues to display the qualities seen in the first film, the story gets more complex. The script writers have, in my opinion, fiddled with the time-lines a bit too much. They change the sequences of events and make the plot suit their needs, they change facts and make some bigger mistakes along the way. I do not mind, however, that they make Legolas slide down the stairs on a pliece of wood, thus making him the first known skateboarder.

What I do mind is that Aragorn gets hurt in battle. He is Isildur's heir, he is destined to be King, he wields Narsil, he is not, by all means, easily defeated and much less easily hurt in a fight. This is not his "ranger" training anymore, this is where he will prove himself worthy of the throne. If they made a slit down his cheek, I wouldn't have minded in the slightest. Since they almost make him pass away, was it not for his faithful horse, I do mind.

Before Aragorn gets hurt, they fight with the wild wolves. (This is not in the book, at least not in such a context, however they want to show Saruman's many defences and armies. Oh, and I just love the bit where Grima speaks about an army of ten thousand.) The problem here is that the "wolves" look much more like overgrown hijenas to me. Additionally, the army is also helping move all the people of Edoras to Helm's Deep. Why would they do that? Edoras is only one of the villages; by moving the people of Edoras, they would have only saved a tiny percentage of all the Rohirrim (if indeed they feared Saruman might want to hurt or kill them). Where would the other villagers go?

Also, elves coming to help at Helm's Deep was a bit of an exaggeration. It would take elves days (if not weeks) to come to Rohan and Helm's Deep and the decision to go to war against Saruman (Don't you just love Christopher Lee with his overgrown brows and his deep, mysterious voice?) was made by Theoden only a couple of days ago. Even if the elves knew, they couldn't have come at such a short notice. Let's also leave aside the fact that elves only fought when the enemy was basically on their doorstep.

Another time when I couldn't sustain myself from saying (even though it sounds crude it's true) "bullshit" at the top of my voice was when Faramir suspects Frodo and Sam (and Gollum) and takes them to his father in Osgiliath. Not only does this go completely against Faramir's character, it also endangers the Ring by placing it within the reach of Denethor.

(Join me in a couple of days for part two, where I will write more extensively about The Two Towers and also about Return of the King.)

posted by Nadezhda | 13:48 | 13 comments | links to this post