Tuesday, March 31, 2015

MEMM - Day 21 - Favorite couple

Kili and Tauriel.


I am very fond of defiant romances.  These two defy their own races’ prejudices, their own individual expectations, and they also defy the movie goers who complain “but it didn’t happen in the book,” etc.  Good for Kili and Tauriel!  I personally love these two.  He’s handsome, she’s beautiful, they’re both so very young and impetuous and wide-eyed about life... why wouldn’t they fall for each other?  I love how they just open up to each other immediately, start telling and listening to each other's stories, how simple it is for them to start sharing things, even when one is technically a prisoner.  They don't care and they waste no time. Their limited time together is delightful.  They make me grin, which I can’t say for any other couple in Middle-Earth (well, except for Celeborn and Galadriel, but that’s naught to do with the two of them and is only because Marton’s on screen.  I’m always grinning if he’s around.)

I also admit, I am very fond of tragic romances.  Hey, what can I say?  My first bondings with fictional characters in life were in opera and, while there are plenty of comedies and operas with happy endings, the majority I grew up did not end well for one or both lovers.  Didn't stop me from loving the characteres, in fact, I just loved them all the more because their time together was limited.  Also, my first Shakespeare experience was Romeo & Juliet, and that was a Profound Experience on my youthful, unsuspecting life, let me tell you.  One of those moments in life so strong that the emotional impact has never faded.  (Hm, randomly, I just realized I have exactly three novels with where the romance ends well.  Out of nine.  Um... yeah.)

So, yeah, I love Kili and Tauriel. I love that they don’t end happily, but they make the most of their time together.  Their whole doomed romance just resonates for me.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Murder on Stage 17 (1977)

This is my entry for Carissa's Jeff Goldblum blog fest.  Click here to view the links to the other entries!

Originally I was going to write about his character in The Grand Budapest Hotel, cuz I'm a sucker for honest characters with integrity, who do the right thing regardless of risk and clear danger... but time slipped away from me.  I did, however, have time to re-watch a second season episode from one of my favorite television series, the 1970's television show, Starsky & Hutch, an ep called "Murder on Stage 17," which guest stars a ridiculously young Jeff Goldblum. How young?

This young!

This episode is not a fabulous episode, but that doesn't mean it isn't a lot of fun.  Because this ep is about making movies, specifically about making a Western!  And I love Westerns.

The basic plot of this second season episode concerns, as the title indicates, a murder on the movie set.  Starsky and Hutch go undercover as stuntmen (!) on a Western movie, to 1) keep the lead actor (Steve Hansen, played by Rory Calhoun) from being the next murder victim, and 2) catch the killer. This is highly improbable, but we just grin and go with it, as what makes this episode so fun is watching them deal with being thrown headfirst (literally) into the movie-making world. They also get to wear cheesy bad-movie Western costumes and be complete dorks. 

("We're not out of our element here, not at all.")

Their first experience on the movie set is participating in a staged fight.  However, when the real stunt guys decide these newbies are idiots and decide not to pull their punches, they get a bit more than they bargained for, not knowing the two are actually cops with plenty of street-fighting experience.  The director of the film, Harry Markham (Jeff Goldblum), thinks it's great and keeps that scene in the film.  Naturally.  Who wouldn't?

Goldblum doesn't get all that much to do, other than watch things intently (when is Goldblum not watching something intently?) and yell "action" and "cut."

 (Markham watching the fight intently)

He's also apparently convinced that the top buttons of his shirt are evil and should never be touched or fastened.  Ever.

 (and I mean ever)

Markham decides to give Hutch a bit part in the film, with one line to say, but Hutch gets stage fright so badly he can't remember his one sentence and louses the whole thing up.  But the scene gives Goldblum more dialogue and screen time, as he tries to get the performance he unfathomably thinks Hutch can give him...

(Markham directing Hutch... intently, of course)

Starsky gets his solo filming moment standing in for Hansen and getting "knocked out" with a chair in a bar room, and Markham is closely overseeing everything, so more screen time!

Then the bad guy guy makes his play, and Hansen is forced to walk alone down the middle of the backlot Western Street, in a classic walk towards a waiting bad guy.  Except Hansen has Starsky and Hutch shadowing him, so of course, they stop the bad guy (not before he does a bit of damage), and all ends well.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Beginning of the End

So, there's this little phenomenon, that only happens (at least to me) when I see a movie six or more times in the theater, on the movies I really really love enough to see that many times.  The more viewings, the stronger the feeling gets.  It doesn't happen to movies I only see once or twice, even if I then watch them a jillion times on DVD.  It only happens in theatrical viewings, where you cannot pause, you cannot stop, you cannot leave, you cannot slow time down, all you can do is immerse and experience.

That phenomenon is... the Beginning of the End.

The beginning of the end is that moment in the movie where the real world intrudes on your viewing and you suddenly have that awful thought, "aw man, the movie's wrapping up and isn't going to last forever."  It's a mix of sadness, because it means the glorious viewing is going to come to an end soon, and also excitement, because usually there's good stuff you can't wait to see in the ending either.  Every movie I've ever seen many many times in the theater has that really intense realization moment, from the first movie I saw over twenty times in the theater (Star Wars) to current day viewings.  It only happens after about the sixth viewing, because before that, I am just watching the movie, taking it in, still learning it.  After about six viewings, the movie viewing experience changes into something different, and then the beginning of the end becomes a Thing.

So, since we've been talking Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, I thought I'd share two of my beginning of the ends.  Why only two?  Because I've only seen two of the films more than six times in the theater:  Fellowship (17 times) and Battle of the Five Armies (9 times).  I didn't see the other four films combined enough times to even equal Battle's viewings.  And watching them repeatedly on DVD just never develops that same acute feeling of the impending ending as the theatrical viewings do.  At home, you can always back it up and watch it again.  You can start over.  You can pause without missing something.  It's on a small screen with distractions like children and cats and dogs and the doorbell.  It's just not the same thing as being in a movie theater at all.

In Fellowship, it's this moment:

The famous log that Saruman's orcs are about to step on as they chase after the Fellowship.  And one orc steps precisely in the worn-down spot and always cracks me up.  Hitting that moment in the movie would always be the  "aw" moment, the "we're wrapping up," the "there's only one more awesome fight left," the "this movie won't last forever and we're heading for the ending" moment.

In The Battle of the Five Armies, it's this moment:

That's the first time in the movie I start realizing the ending's approaching.  It's the beginning of the end.

My sister, who has been my primary multiple-viewing partner over the years, experiences the same "beginning of the end" intense emotional feeling (in fact, she's the one who coined that phrase), but her beginning of the end moments are quite different from mine 99% of the time.  Same feeling, but evoked by a different section of the movie.  The only two I know we share are Star Wars and Fellowship.  The beginning of the end in Battle for her is much earlier, right after Fili's killed.  That still feels like the middle of the movie to me.  I'm way too caught up there to notice the end is nigh. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

MEMM - Day 20 - Favorite moment/line in The Desolation of Smaug

1.  Smaug busting out of Erebor, covered in liquid gold, and that spiraling flight into the air to shake it off.  Glorious!  I wait the whole movie for that moment.

2.  Every time Thorin taunts Smaug, and every time Smaug gets even more pissed off and either sprays the ceiling with fire or thrashes around in fury.  Both make me laugh with delight.  "You have grown slow -- and fat -- in your dotage... slug!"

3. Bilbo and the butterflies.  Because it is just so beautiful.

Favorite lines:

Thorin's "What did we miss?" Also very fond of "Is there no end to this accursed forest?"

Sunday, March 15, 2015

MEMM - Day 19 - A location you never want to visit

Dol Goldur.  This place is flipping creepy and unnerving, and you couldn't pay me to go there.  (Okay, I might go there with Elrond at my side, but still not willingly.)  All those staircases going every which way but not making much logical sense.  All the construction.  All the spells and illusions.  The necromancer, the nazgul, and orcs all in close and twisty confines.  No, thank you!  Dol Guldur makes Mordor look positively inviting to me. 


Friday, March 13, 2015

MEMM - Day 18 - The Hobbit character you relate to the most

Fili.  Ahhhh, Fili.  There’s almost nothing about him I don’t relate to, other than I’m not heir to the throne.  LOL!  (I do find it rather amusing that Aragorn is heir, as is Fili... coincidence?)

But, as the older sibling... yeah.  Fili’s always the one looking out for Kili in these movies, not vice versa.  In Five Armies, when they’re scouting Ravenhill and he takes the more dangerous route and sends Kili the other way, that would be me.  When he stays behind in Laketown to look after Kili.  Yep.  Trying to help Kili to the boat when they're evacuating from Bard's house.  Leading the way up to Erebor afterwards, making sure Kili’s not carrying anything.  Even when Bilbo tells them to stop, and Fili takes off to get deeper into Erebor’s halls and see the treasure, I would totally do that.  I relate to the sheer quantity of weapons he carries about him (Why, look!  Fili’s another very well-armed character).  I really relate to his last words:  “Go!  Run!”  Yeah, that’s what I would be yelling at Thorin too.  Don’t worry about me, just get away from here now. 

Fili’s quiet, alert and watchful, a good fighter, always looking out for Kili.  I love the way he yanks out of Thorin’s grip when Thorin tries to force him to toss Bilbo over the rampart, and how when Thorin starts to do it himself, he's actively telling Thorin “No!”  And the way Fili pushes Bilbo over to Bofur to get him safely away.  Kili tends to get Fili in trouble with Thorin, and having a younger sister, I relate to that!  I love when he tosses Kili a shield while they’re arming themselves.  It's a “here, try this one,” which I also do with my sister.  And I'd totally be saying, "I'm going over the wall, who's with me?" when the fighting starts.

I’ve got a wee bit of Kili in me.  Jumping out of the barrels to run up and open the river gates is the first thing I would do in that situation.  But Kili’s generally far more reckless and outspoken than I am.  As much as I’m thinking, “I will not hide behind a wall of stone while others fight our battles for us!” I’d be quiet like Fili and let the younger, louder sibling spout off what we’re all thinking.  But I will be right beside Thorin when the fighting starts.  Kili also falls in love too easily.  I’m much more guarded and skeptical.

Monday, March 09, 2015

MEMM - Day 17 - Scenes/things you cry at

Oh dear.  Many things. 

The only guaranteed tears:

The eagles.  The very first time I saw Fellowship in the theater, I burst into tears when Gwahir glided into view out of the night shadows, and Gandalf jumped onto his back.  And I mean burst into tears.  Not a slight welling up, or a tear slipping down my cheek, but blooming burst into tears.  I did so on each subsequent theatrical viewing (of which there were a great many). These are good tears, happy tears, tears of power, because I react so strongly to the eagles, I simply have no way to express the reaction other than tearing up.  But I often cry at beautiful things.  I probably cry more at beautiful things than sad things.

Return of the King... here come the eagles again...

An Unexpected Journey... I completely forgot the eagles were even in this movie when I first saw it, and that first viewing I started crying as soon as the moth appeared and didn’t really stop until everyone got dropped off on the rock. 

The Battle of Five Armies... I didn’t remember eagles here either, and I was gone when Azog looked over Thorin’s shoulder and saw them incoming.  Oh man, GONE.  Completely lost in sobs.  There was no moth warning in this one, so it really caught me by surprise.

Why?  I have no bloody idea, really.  But I bawl at the eagles every time they appear.  I will cry sometimes just listening to the scores and reaching that part in the music.

Besides the eagles, let’s see...

Fellowship... not really any other tears shed in here, other than at Gwahir's rescue.  I do not cry for Boromir because his is such a good death.  I do not cry for good deaths.  They are not sad to me.  I have occasionally gotten teary when Sam tells Frodo in the boat “Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee... and I don't mean to...”

The Two Towers... Not every time, but I tend to get teary when the elves arrive at Helm’s Deep, and when the ents go to war.  My sister had to point out that the music when the ents go to war is the eagles' theme... Ahem.

The Return of the King – Lighting the beacons, when Gandalf takes Pippin with him and Merry watches them ride away, Eowyn’s “ride with me” to Merry, “I can’t carry it, but I can carry you,” eagles, the reforging of Narsil into Anduril.  Theoden's speech occasionally gets me.  The very end at the Grey Havens when the other hobbits realize Frodo is leaving. 

An Unexpected Journey – only the eagles

The Desolation of Smaug – a safe movie!  No tears!

The Battle of the Five Armies - eagles, Bilbo’s reaction to Thorin’s death (not Thorin’s death itself, as that is, like Boromir, a good death and is not sad in itself), but Bilbo... oh, Bilbo’s reaction is devastating. Bilbo not being able to say Thorin is his friend to Balin and saying goodbye to the dwarves. Thorin and company busting out of Erebor and Dain yelling “To the king! To the king!”  Thorin’s reaction to Fili’s death, that silent mouthing of his name.  And in the beginning, Bain appearing with the arrow and The Look he gives his father after he says "this might."

Thursday, March 05, 2015

MEMM - Day 16 - Favorite song sung by a character(s) in the films

Let's see, if we define favorite as "most sung" song throughout the years, then my favorite is Aragorn’s coronation song.  I still sing this song to myself a lot, have always done so, since I first saw Return of the King.  It's a very appealing melody to me, probably why I still sing (or hum) it all the time.

But my favorite of all the songs characters sing that I love most to listen to is the Misty Mountain song from An Unexpected Journey.  I do hum this one quite a bit, but I'm almost always hearing the full orchestral version in my head from the "Over Hill" cue, not the version with lyrics.  (I am not a lyrics person, so no surprise there.  That is also the cue that goes with my second favorite moment from An Unexpected Journey, so... again, no surprise that that's the version in my head.)  But for sheer listening pleasure, I'll take Thorin and the dwarves any and every day.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

MEMM - Day 15 - Favorite moment/line in An Unexpected Journey

1.  Bilbo putting himself between Azog and Thorin.  Sheer love!  This whole scene really, from Azog and his warg completely trouncing Thorin, to Kili, Fili, and Dwalin coming to the rescue.  But the best part, and my favorite part of the entire movie, is Bilbo standing between hunter and prey. 

2.  Crossing over into the Wild after leaving Rivendell.  Again with the gorgeous scenery and awesome music.  And I want to go hike these places so badly!


3.  Bilbo wandering around Rivendell.  No dialogue, just Bilbo taking it all in.  His expression says it all.

As for a favorite line in this one.  A toss up between Bilbo's "I have some skill at conkers, if you must know, but I fail to see why that's relevant" and Gollum/Bilbo's "If Baggins loses, we eats it whole" "Fair enough" exchange.