Vissi d'arte

from lullaby to requiem

Monday, November 21, 2005

Well-mannered frivolity

A few years ago, I sat in a seat at a Glorietta cinema with some of my friends to watch the opening of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As I recall, I was seated at the third row of the middle column – smack in the middle of the theatre. The movie, of course, turned out to be as different from the book as it was with the other movies. Now, I realize that having a different director really changes the look and overall feel of a film – especially if it’s a sequel.

The same is true of Mike Newell’s interpretation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. So far, I’ve read the book about 4 times, maybe more; it’s easily my favorite book (rivaled only by the Half-Blood Prince), and I am not ashamed to admit that I am deeply in love with this particular book.

Now, I find that I am also deeply in love with the movie. I know that everyone keeps saying this every time a Harry Potter movie comes out, but this one is truly dark and genuinely horrifying. It is also, in my opinion, the most human and most soulful of the four movies… Allow me to explain.

The movie opens with the death of Frank – the Riddles’ old gardener; he was, of course, murdered by Lord Voldemort (read: VOL-de-mor), and then Harry wakes up, or rather, is woken up by Hermione at the Burrow. They then troop to the Quidditch World Cup, of which only the opening numbers by the two teams are shown, unfortunately.

The film is, mostly, too fast-paced for non-readers to appreciate, but for us fans, the pacing might just actually work as an advantage. Scene after scene, we see Harry as he watches the arrival of the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students; being picked as the fourth Triwizard Champion; battling a fierce Hungarian Horntail; dancing miserably at the Yule Ball; naked in a tub with Moaning Myrtle (gosh… He is soooooo hot!!!); under the Black Lake rescuing Ron and Gabrielle; running through a gigantic maze; resurrecting – and surviving – Lord Voldemort; and bringing Cedric’s body back to Hogwarts.

After four films in the title role, Daniel Radcliffe has finally disappeared into the persona of Harry Potter. You can barely see where the actor ends and the legend begins – except in one scene when he’s showing off the Golden Egg which he’s just gotten from a dragon; that, in my opinion, is distinctly Daniel Radcliffe. Dan’s acting is so believable that he towers above all the other actors, and makes him seem as alone and lonely as the real Harry Potter.

Emma Watson’s Hermione, in this movie, is a stark contrast to her whoop-ass Hermione under Cuaron’s direction. Hermione, in this movie, has only two characterizations: the worried friend/sister, and the-girl-who’s-annoyed-that-her-boyfriend-doesn’t-know-he’s-her-boyfriend.

Rupert Grint, as always, is lovable in the role of clueless Ron Weasley – from covering himself with his blanket as he’s woken up by Hermione, to his not-so-friendly demeanor against Viktor Krum who has shown that he might just have feelings for Hermione.

The other kids, unfortunately, play such minor roles they almost become insignificant as individuals. Together, though, they seduce the audience into a Hogwarts that is – above all other things – a High School complete with popular kids, losers, and star-struck first years. The new additions, however, are worth mentioning.

Robert Pattinson as the campus heartthrob Cedric Diggory does as good-enough job; he is, after all, as cute as is humanly possible (BUT!!! Dan is still cuter!). Katie Leung’s Cho Chang has been too underplayed, she’s not even included in the screening credits. I do love her accent though, and the dress she wore at the Yule Ball! Clemence Poesy as Fleur dela Coeur is perfect – she’s as pretty, and as fragile, as a flower! Stan Ianevski’s Viktor Krum, as with all the previous three, is under-used. I really think that giving these guys more dialogues and more scenes could have helped develop the “International Magical Co-operation” theme.

The film’s darkness is clearly evident in some scenes. The first time I saw the First Task, I was actually scarred for Dan (basically because Dan=Harry, Harry’s in danger, therefore Dan’s in danger – imagine filming all those stunts yourself!). The horntail was great – really scary and it looked extremely nasty!

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort is another aspect which contributed to this film getting a PG13 rating. Ralph Fiennes is probably one of the best character actors around, and he’s able to completely conceal himself behind his roles: Red Dragon anyone? As the Dark Lord, he’s extremely creepy – even though he didn’t have a nose; as in the books, he only has two slits on his face that act as nostrils. He’s also extremely thin – when he touched his finger to Harry’s head, you see his arms are so skinny, he actually looks like someone who’s been ill for a long time, and been recently cured.

For me, the movie’s human-ness is its best and most unique feature. As I mentioned, you actually feel scarred for Harry in the First Task. You also get this sense that Harry’s all alone now – no more Hermione, no more Ron – at least not when he has to face his worst enemy. There’s a scene at the very end of the movie where everyone is hugging and saying their goodbyes, and Harry’s just looking at all of them as he passes a corridor. You sort of start seeing here that Harry is, essentially, alone – and that he has to face death alone (death, meaning either his death, or the destruction of the Dark Lord); that in the next films (and books) Harry must face his challenges on his own (especially since Dumbledore’s dead now!).

Cedric’s death, in my opinion, is the single most touching moment in all the films so far. When Harry brings his body back to Hogwarts, everyone cheers, not realizing that Cedric’s actually been killed. Then, Fleur screams, and Dumbledore rushes to both Harry and Cedric. He peels Harry off Cedric’s body, but he refuses to let got – muttering that he just couldn’t leave Cedric “in that place.” Dumbledore calms the boy down, but Harry doesn’t stop sobbing until Amos Diggory (Cedric’s father) rushes to his son’s body and cries for him as well. This part gets me all the time (especially the part with Harry not wanting to let go of Cedric). I’ve seen the movie four times so far, but I always get teary-eyed when this scene comes up. Whether it’s great acting on Dan’s part, or me facing mortality, I don’t really know. But I do know that this scene makes me want to hug Dan, and cradle him until we both stop sobbing.

Some major differences from the book though: no Dobby, no Winky, no House-elf Liberation Front, no Rita-bug, and Barty Jr. is a little too visible. These deletions however, are only minor, and (except for the Rita Skeeter Bug) serve to make the book more movie-able. I really regret Rita’s being under-used. She’s such a colourful and devilishly devious character, but we barely see that in the film. I don’t know where they’re going to go with Skeeter’s not being an animagus either, because this is an essential part of the Order of the Phoenix book. Plus, the great Miranda Richardson is playing her, that alone should have made the part much bigger than it was.

All in all, the movie is great! The score is in no way comparable to John William’s, but it works – especially with the dances. The scenes are too short, and too fast-paced, but then again, no one wants to see a 5-hour long movie. Dan is too hot to be playing a 14-year old kid, but then, who cares? This movie is, by far, the best and most moving of all the Harry Potter movies. I think I’ll go see it again this weekend… ^_^

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Death wish?

NO! I do not want to die... but just in case, here's a few things that I want done when I do kick the bucket. Anyway it's Holloween so... oh, and it's also Nelson's birthday, so Happy Birthday Nelson!!!

First off, the moment I die, I know they send bodies to a morgue and then they embalm them at a funeral parlor - I do not want to be embalmed!!! I want my body to be immediately cremated, and then put in a cute little urn - blue marble? - for the wake. I don't want people to see me lying inside a wooden box. Walang poise eh, I think it's a lot more tasteful for people to mourn you when your ashes are already in an urn, and your portrait is right beside it - smirking at mourners for their being still alive.

Next, my entire family has plans of being put in the repository at St. Peter in Commonwealth after they're cremated. I do not want to be put there!!! I want my ashes to be scattered off in the sea a la Callas - the Pacific Ocean, or at least somewhere where the water is actually blue! Wak naman sa Pasig River or sa Manila Bay no!!!

Should someone want to keep a little bit of me, go ahead - pero konti lang ha! Put a handful of my ashes and just keep the urn I'll be put in, sayang naman! Keep the urn at home, or somewhere, parang decor! Hihihi! Or better, put it near an altar at home (and worship me for the rest of your lives! /gg).

I want the engraving on my urn to read:

Mikee Nuñez-Inton
August 4 - ???
I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.
(and at the back of the urn)
Mischief managed!
As for my earthly possessions, KEEP MY OPERA CDS AND MY HARRY POTTER MEMORABILIA!!! Anyone who wishes to sell them or dispose of them (by giving them away), I shall haunt for the rest of their miserable lives!!!
I know it sounds sort of morbid, but I believe in being prepared for my own death. I also wrote this here because my mom won't heart anything about my ashes being scattered off into the sea, and a wake with me in an urn - so when I die, somebody please print this out and show it to her!!! If my wishes are not met, I shall haunt my own wake!!! Lam nyo naman nakakatakot ang aking golden voice, kaya beware!!! *wink wink
In other news... I've been going to Greenhills a lot lately. I've started with a new derma near GH, she's my mom's former classmate, and she gave us a lot of discounts!!! I also got to browse (finally) Fully Booked. WAAAAAAAAA!!! The third level has sorta-rare opera cds!!! I was with my mom the first time, and she disapproves of me spending all my HARD-EARNED money on CDs, so I was only able to buy 1 - Turandot (hence, the Tale of Turandot post). So I went back there yesterday because I had this immense desire to make waldas my money...
I went to GH and said (to my mom) that I would be meeting Randy and Nelson for coffee and maybe a movie (because it's Nelson's b-day!). Anyway, I got there and I went insane. I saw a 2-CD collection of La Tebaldi, and I bought that. It's a collection of arias and scenes recorded by Renata Tebaldi, Callas' rival. I read the write-up for the collection, and it's completely biased against Callas - it made Tebaldi seem like the innocent victim of Callas' raging Diva-hood. The songs are great though! It's almost like the 2-CD collection I bought of Callas, Voice of the Century. Now I can really compare the two Divas!
Again, let me say that La Mamma Morta is my absolute favorite aria - Tebaldi sang it, and now I hate it. She missed a couple of lines, and throughout the aria, she was either screaming or whispering. Sayang ang drama ng aria!
Anyway, I looked around for more CDs. I found Aida, it's another of my all-time favorite operas; mom bought me Callas' 1951 (?) Mexico City performance of that opera where, at the grand finale of Act II, she belted out a resounding E-flat (about the highest note a soprano could produce without killing herself). The note towered over the entire orchestra, chorus, and Callas' co-singers (which included the immensely big-voiced tenor Mario del Monaco, the stiff Guiseppe Taddei, and the rich-voiced Mexican mezzo making her debut as Amneris Oralia Dominguez). It is in this opera that you also find the Graduation March - also known as the Triumphal March! It's the one usually played as the graduates march across the stage to receive their diplomas - the march with all the trumpets. Unfortunately, when someone stole my CD player, they stole the first CD of that record along with it. STUPID WHORE/NEIGHBOR!!!! PUÑETANG MGA HAMPASLUPA!!! *summons Gods of hell and channels hellish rage to the neighbor's windows...
*calming down now...
The Aida CD that I'd just bought has Placido Domingo and Katia Ricciarelli - the same leads for the Turandot CD that I bought last week; plus Leo Nucci (baritone; I have him in La Traviata), Ruggero Raimondi (I think he's in my Lucia di Lammermoor?), Elena Obraztsova (no match for Dominguez' Amneris). May I just note, there is no E-Flat in this record, although I believe Ricciarelli could have done it. I am disappointed... But I love Aida, so... ^_^
I also bought Puccini's Madama Butterfly! It's amazing!!! I LOVE PUCCINI NA!!! I have like three of his operas (Tosca, Turandot, and Butterfly) and I love all of them! All of them center on a stereotypical Diva. Tosca is a singer who is also the jealous lover of Cavaradossi - this jealousy leads to their downfall (literally, as Tosca leaps off Castel Sant'Angelo's highest tower). Turandot is the man-hater who is actually just afraid to fall in love for fear of being "weak" (aka. hurt and spurned!). And finally, Butterfly, also known as Cio-Cio-San (read: Cho-Cho-San), is the quintessential I-will-give-my-life-for-my-son-and-my-husband heroine.
Of course, everyone should know the Butterfly story now. 15-year old Geisha bought and impregnated by an American soldier, left by the neanderthal, she still remains faithful to him. American comes back, now newly married, and they (the American couple) want to raise the kid in the States away from Butterfly. So Butterfly consents, but only after killing herself for her son... Miss Saigon, need I say more?
This CD has the incomparable Mirella Freni as Butterfly. Her voice is perfect for the 15-year old Butterfly role - soft, smooth, tiny, and insignificant. But in the last act, she looses control as she stabs herself and dies for her son... *iyak... Jose Carreras is also here, this is the last opera he recorded just before her had leukemia. His voice is as tenorish and as macho and full-blooded as it comes, and it perfectly matches Freni's soft spinto soprano. Another important element in this CD is Teresa Berganza, the great mezzo-soprano in the role of Suzuki, Butterfly's friend and maid-servant.
So that's how I spent my Holloween - thinking of things to do when I die, and killing myself softly because I'd just spent an absurd amount of money on CDs that I can't play because my other CD player is busted... ^_^