In Olympic News:

Irish teen Evan McGuire powers to Olympic record – National News – Independent.ie.

The voice of Brendan in Secret of Kells won the first Olympic 100-meter race!  (“I can’t believe you!  The Olympics are coming and here you are acting, acting, ACTING!!!”)  He set the record at the age of 17.  Now he’s planning to compete in the 2016 Olympics!

This is the reason I love the Olympics.  All these odd things from around the world come out of the woodwork abruptly filled with awesome.   I feel people should know and remember this so we can cheer for Brendan in the next games.  (And look for the inevitable Abbot guy in his team while intoning, “Waaaaaaaaaalls!”)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – YouTube

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – YouTube.

 

These things are fantastic!  About 3.5 minute increments of a modern day Lizzie Bennet video blog.  She has two sisters.  Jane is spot-on Austen and Lydia is hilariously updated to modern obnoxious boy-crazy.  She dresses up and does voices for her parents.  I think my all time favorite things are when she’s being her mother.  It makes me smile and is surprisingly hard to stop watching, considering I know where it’s going.  Perhaps it’s the editing touches (done by Charlotte), or the true-to-life sibling interactions, or the minimal costumes, or the stronger connection to the character in this setting.  After all, I am also a ‘DREADED MIDDLE CHILD’, etc.  It’s a wonderful, fun pick-me-up that makes me smile.

The Borgia Bulletin (The Confession) Finale spoilers!

*claps hands in glee*  I am incredibly satisfied right now.

 

On Cardinal Sforza: Every time they let this guy act I like him more.  I know my Rome and Papal family well enough to know where to search, thank you.  I will just pick up that slack.  Good on him!

 

On Savonarola: New question: why bother with the rack when clearly his biggest horror is being caressed by a sodomite?  I’m sure someone somewhere could be paid enough money to sodomize him, especially since the threat alone might suffice.  Or, you know, there are artificial ways of doing it that might not be as morally horrifying, but could have helped perhaps.  I know it might be a tad awkward to explain to Cesare, but the man is often busy elsewhere-Micheletto could do it on his own power, at least the artificial kind.  Nevertheless, didn’t matter in the end so long as Machiavelli’s there to point out the obvious, wasn’t the pose of the people with burning torches picturesque, and isn’t it wonderful to get such a huge weight off Micheletto’s ass?  Yes, yes it is.  I was a trifle disappointed the Pope’s offer of clemency wasn’t phrased in the form of, “Just say this…and all is forgiven.”  Then the audience would’ve known that Savonarola had no chance in any case, so no matter what he did from that point on there would have been a least a smidgeon of doubt as to whether he would have ultimately given in or not.

 

On Lucrezia: Her game has been amped again!  This time she chose the more traditional route of posing as an underling.  I don’t believe for a moment that she did it purposely to gage Alfonso’s true feelings for her as opposed to her status and wealth, but it worked out anyway.  Besides, making quick decisions and acting well enough to stick it out are both excellent qualities for anyone in power, particularly a Borgia to be in accordance with their reputation.  I did rather wish that Alfonso recovered better after Lucrezia’s grand reveal, but if fits her reasoning about his goodness/sweetness.  Her reasoning works for her character and I think Holliday Grainger did a good job of portraying this as both natural progression and a Borgia girl’s assertion of will.  Also, the way the costumer gave them highly complementary costumes that were close to matching but avoided matchy-matchy was marvelous.  Also, cute.  There is one thing that could have made that whole thing better, though…PANTHER.  I miss panther.  Hopefully we will find out what happened to it next season.

 

On Giulia Farnese: That is dedication.  Pretty sure not many mistresses would agree to a midnight jaunt to all the off-brand corpse spots.  Of course, Giulia’s found the position she wants to be in and she is going the distance to stay there.  This scene also made me go ‘aww’ though-she so clearly didn’t want to be there, but was still clearly both willing and caring for Alexander VI.

 

On Cesare: Look at you!  I love derobed Cesare.  It was your turn to step up and take charge and you went for it like a panther for its first decent meal off-ship.  Your mistake about Lucrezia asking you to marry her and offering to run away and live simply was adorable.  You play the blurring of that incest line for all it’s worth wonderfully well, don’t you?  Your exchanges with your father held up to Jeremy Irons-always a feat, but even more so in this episode.  Kudos to you.  Hopefully you’ll soon get non-clerical garb that fits in at parties like Lucrezia’s engagement now.

 

On Vanozza: Calm, sensible, and fiery truth-caller.  Really, how did it get this far without me realizing how much I like you?

 

On Antonello: Good.  Now that you’ve done your job this plot can boast real movement!  Also, perhaps Colm Feore will get to actually do something again third season.

 

On Pope Alexander VI: Oh, Jeremy Irons, how are you this compelling?  From clinging to hope to undergoing all levels of disillusionment and betrayal, you were perfection.  The scene with you picking up Juan and seeing him as your precious little boy wrung my heart.  I did wonder for a moment that no one was set to guard you between your chambers and the lawn as it seems like something Cesare or Cardinal Sforza would do even if that wasn’t the norm, which it would be, but then we wouldn’t have got to see you burying your favorite child.  That scene, Jeremy Irons, is priceless.  You wept, you dug, you finally began your hardest journey: saying goodbye to something that truly matters to you.  I bow down.  My favorite scenes were the confrontations with Cesare, Lucrezia, and Vanozza, but damn if you didn’t pull me into this one so it’s hard to stop imagining it, too.

 

The music in this episode was spot on.  I loved the part with just Cesare walking through the Pope’s suite of rooms so for the first time it really demonstrated just how small those rooms are.  The ensemble cast pretty much all got their chance to play in this episode, which I love.  The confrontations between family members struck such delicious chords that I’m still vibrating and happy.  And Jeremy Irons…you were better than all PANTHERS tonight.  I will miss my show.

 

 

 

 

Snow White and the Huntsman

I wanted to see “Snow White and the Huntsman” primarily for Charlize Theron, who’s clearly having a ball as the wicked witch.  I also am always interested in seeing new versions of fairy tales, but factors such as Kristen  Stewart made me nervous for this particular one.  Having seen this film yesterday, I am satisfied that it exceeded my expectations.  Charlize Theron was all that I wanted her to be.  The gender issues brought up with her character were fascinating, they could have built on that more.  Second in importance to me was the way they presented the fairy tale itself.  I found it very gratifying that this movie actually presented a fleshed-out version of the fairy tale, instead of following simple tropes like modernization, or flipping the “good” and “bad” characters around.  No, they worked from the tale itself, added in things, and kept it within the fairy tale realm of the fantastic, which is my favorite place to be.  I also really appreciated how the romantic part of the story developed.  Many stories where two guys are involved invariably make one of them either a type of person who is obviously wrong-foolish, boring, hateful, etc., or they make one of the guys the romantic unrequited-love type whose clearly dead-end relationship ambitions grow old fast.  “Snow White and the Huntsman” presented both men as having issues and flaws and while one of the relationships clearly had more potential, the other one stayed reasonable and was not allowed to encroach on the other man’s character.  Helpful to all of this was that the role of Snow White’s love was kept understated, but vital, just as the fairy tale indicates.  I expect some people will be dissatisfied with the secondary nature of the romance here, but I found it perfect for the Snow White fairy tale.  Also, the truly disturbing elements of this film were handled very delicately, there but not taking over scenes or minds, simply allowing awareness without pushing shock value or crudeness.  I genuinely respect that.  Last but not least, this movie pleased me by being very, very pretty.  The effects played wonderfully, the shots were lovely, and the costumes, while I would have altered a few choices (such as the neckline of Stewart’s gown at the end), were marvelous.

 

This is not to say the film had no problems.  The writing fell down in several places, most notably in Snow White’s inspirational speech and her last words to Ravenna, the wicked queen.  Luckily, this is a largely visual film, so the weakness in the writing doesn’t appear that frequently.  The ending fell remarkably, and awkwardly, flat.  It needed more lines, more direction, more of almost anything, really, in order to be a real resolution.  This was the only time that Kristen Stewart actually bothered me.  I really liked her acting in the first half of the film, likely due to the large amount of action.  When she began having to deliver more lines, the poor writing let her down.  This made her less likeable, but I will hardly blame her for that.  I feel like she did the best she could with what she was given.  This applies to the ending, too-her acting got insipid and a little ridiculous, but given what the director asked her to do and that the writers gave her nothing, and even her costume here didn’t work for her, I cannot blame her.  Again, I think she did all that she could and tried her hardest to deal with the bad situation this director ended on.  The good news was that my mind automatically came up with reasons why that situation would be awkward in the story, that the credits immediately go back to showcasing the pretty, shiny aspects of the movie, and that it is the end so it doesn’t effect anything else.

 

In short, this movie has some serious faults.  It  made some odd choices and allowed specific issues to mar some key points.  Nevertheless, overall I found it very enjoyable.  Perhaps because I’m a very visual person and this film played up beautifully for my eyes or perhaps simply because I found their attention and respect for the actual fairy tale layer of their plot wonderful and refreshing (especially after “Tangled”), it gave me a lot of pleasure.  I cannot really recommend it without knowing individuals, because I think the problems will outweigh the good for a lot of people.  On the other hand, as a great lover of fairy tales, I can tell you that I want to own this film someday.  Plus, Charlize Theron’s performance is unequivocally killer.  The rest of the film could have been far worse and it still would have been worth seeing once, just for her.

 

Spoiler: In case anyone’s interested, my solution for the ending is that clearly under Ravenna’s rule the Master of Ceremonies didn’t get to plan any parties.  He got so excited to organize the coronation that he forgot he needed something to continue it after the action coronation, itself.  I imagine the minute the cameras panned away that poor man leaped into the middle, beckoned to the fanfare and made some announcement about the queen leading the way to the dance hall or something, since he’d forgotten how to get people there gracefully and is now trying to cover up for it.  During the rest of the festivities the dwarves rib him endlessly about this.

 

 

The Borgia Bulletin (Take the spoilers by the horns)

I found The Borgia Bull  difficult to react to.  On the one hand, for a setting of the scene, a reminder of where we are and who we’re dealing within this show, or the opening of a movie, it was excellent.  I prefer Micheletto without his scruff, but other than that-things are in motion, conflicts are set up, and it’s a splendid spectacle.  On the other hand, as a single episode on TV…I’m less than satisfied, for the first time, with The Borgias.

 

Here’s the thing: everyone is feeling the same, simple thing.  They’re all jealous.  Last season each episode took us through love, hate, fear, manipulation, self-identity issues, doubt, jealousy.  This season premiere left everyone with the same emotion, which is far more monotonous than I expect the Borgias to be.  Cesare is jealous of Juan’s fighting and, of course, Lucrezia’s lover.  Juan is jealous of Cesare and is power.  Guilia Farnese is jealous of the apprentice.  The apprentice is jealous of boys and men in general and artists in particular.  The Pope is jealous of his old self’s philandering ways and the other families’ considerable power.  Lucrezia is jealous of time spent with her child and her family, in the knowledge they won’t last forever.  Every one of these things is perfectly valid and would make a good addition to the show, but to have an entire episode filled with no greater thing than JEALOUSY is simply not as intriguing as it could be.  Also, many of the characters’ reactions to this emotion were highly immature, which led to a general aura of…childishness.  In The Borgias!  Inconceivable!  While again, these immature reactions were perfectly fitting and credible, they should not have occurred at the same time.  Juan’s and Cesare’s rivalry, for instance, could have been much more suspenseful and lively-seeming if the childish dynamic was set against graver problems and deeper turmoil in the family realm.  Thus they would be acting juvenile with each other as a relief for their other actions instead of being wholly portrayed as willful children.  Jeremy Iron’s always superb acting would have been much more clearly showing a besetting sin of a flawed character with many sides if his most dangerous moments had not been simply the outline of a vague plan to his sons.  Even the French King’s interaction with his physician is written in very childish language, while Alfonso frankly IS a child realizing the extent of his punishment.

 

All of these elements were well done, I find them individually interesting ideas, but they could have been really great viewing if they had been timed and arranged more separately.  However, it was an Easter show and as a piece of holiday fluff, I approve.  Bulls!  Fire!  Cross-dressing!  Really, I’d like to think that if the Borgias had a television show they ran themselves (which they undoubtedly WOULD), this would be the kind of thing they’d show in their weekly bulletin.  Choose your favorite Borgia child: vote on the website!  A real Borgia party, attended by Heidi Klum and Kate Middleton!-which pagan personas they adopted!  Vanozza hosts a workshop for keeping your man ogling!  …Wow, now this exists in my head.