Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cheap Shots

A mixture here of a new movie, relatively young literature, and old music.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2

All things must end, yes, and so it is with the Potter film franchise. The film series as a whole was uneven, but at least it can say it's gone out on a high note. Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2 shares the same strengths and weaknesses that have characterized every film since Goblet of Fire: To its credit, it is visually stunning, and the casting is mostly wonderful. To the film's detriment, it is plagued by issues of pacing. There is, simply, too much material to get through. Half-Blood Prince suffered worst of all the films, and Hallows, Pt. 2 probably suffers the least, but suffer it does. The normal complaints and compliments aside, this is the most consistently entertaining Potter film since the genuinely wonderful Prisoner of Azkaban, and, if it doesn't come close to exceeding that movie in quality, it doesn't embarrass itself, either.

The Wild Things
Dave Eggers
I've never been able to figure out what makes Eggers such an effective writer. He writes with economy, and at first glance, there is nothing to separate his prose from a thousand other fiction writers. But his writing is better. It is. I just don't know why. The Wild Things is the novelization of the film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are that Eggers cowrote with director Spike Jonze. Eggers has written here a very entertaining, very quick book. The first few chapters, when Max is at home, are stunningly good at getting inside Max's head. You feel for him and, most crucially, for the people around him. There aren't any stock characters in the family. The chapters with the Wild Things, which make up the majority of the book, kept me interested, but I'll never tell anyone they need to read it, and within a few years I doubt I'll remember having read it myself.

Stands for Decibels
by The dB's

This album is a recent discovery for me. I don't remember how I picked it up, but at some point I put it in my iTunes library, and, at another point, I got around to listening to it. Six months later, I'm still in love. It's listed in the family with R.E.M. (Contemporaries) and Big Star (Influences). I'm not a big fan of either of those bands, nor am I fan of most of the bands Big Star are credited with having influenced, but The dB's are different. I put them in the general family with XTC, though that has more to do with an intangible attitude than it does anything musical. Stands for Decibels is considered in the critics' circles to be a minor classic, and that's about right. It was, and remains, too weird to be a popular hit, but, for those to whom it will appeal, it offers a combination of great writing, musical risk-taking, a fabulously tight but raw sound, and a brilliantly-sequenced album. Likely to remain an all-time favourite.


Anonymous said...

Hey do u know the graphic artist who did the cover art for the music album?

CC44 said...

I don't own a physical copy of this album, and a Google search didn't turn up an answer, so I couldn't tell you. Sorry about that.