Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Spoiler-Free Blog Post + Go See Once.

Yesterday was a landmark day for me. I finished reading one of the best books of the year and then promptly saw one of the best movies of the year.

The book: I was expecting big things from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it most definitely did not disappoint when all was said and done. Even though it read like a greatest hits album at times, with J.K. Rowling pointing out various quotes and objects we’ve heard and seen along the way, she wrapped up the story magnificently and in such a satisfying manner.

Now, she isn’t going to win any style awards anytime soon, that’s for sure. As a writer, I couldn’t help but read it wearing my Editor Cap, and seeing things like “Ron said sycophantically” sure made me cringe. However, the Potter universe has never been about groundbreaking prose along the lines of Michael Chabon or Susanna Clarke—Rowling excels at character and story, and both can be found in full force in the final book.

I’ve read reviews from fans saying it’s “the greatest book ever,” which... not even close. Let’s not get carried away. Yes, it’s the best Harry Potter book, and in terms of wrapping up the series, it’s masterful, but it ain’t Hemingway or Dostoevsky. Come on.

Then there are fans who are mad that JKR didn’t answer every question they ever had (to wit: What were James and Lily Potter’s occupations? Really? You’re obsessed with that?). These are people who would never be pleased unless Rowling had chucked narrative momentum out the window and cranked out a 2000-page compendium of every possible factoid in the Potter universe. Rumor has it, she’s planning on compiling an “encyclopedia” of just that. After she takes a break.

So, what did you think of the book? Have you read it? Will you? Do you think Harry Potter is of the devil? There’s a comments section a-waitin’ below for you. However, please refrain from posting anything close to a spoiler.

And now, the movie: When I first saw the trailer for Once, I had no idea what to expect. My interest was piqued, to be sure, but I couldn’t quite get a read on the movie, what it would be like. I’d heard it was a rethinking of the movie musical, where the songs really flowed in the narrative, sort of like an Irish Dancer in the Dark, but without the flashy numbers. These songs aren't happening in anyone's imagination, so there's no choreography or jazz-hands; just quiet, acoustic guitar/piano songs that sound like hearts breaking.

The soundtrack is magnificent; the movie is breathtaking. Yes, it’s about music, but it’s about more than just that. It’s about that mystical bond that music makes between people. There’s about a ten-minute sequence early in the film when Glen Hansard (of Irish band The Frames) shows Marketa Irglova (some Czech pianist who was seventeen at the time of filming) a song he wrote, teaches it to her in a shop that sells musical instruments. So he fumbles through the song, laughing at the silliness of it, then asks if she wants to give it a try. And when they sing and play? There’s as much, if not more, magic on the screen than in the very magical Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, playing next door.

It moved me.

You remember how, when you saw That Thing You Do!, you wanted to rush out and tell every musician you knew, or every person who’d ever been in a band, to go see it? This movie, while completely different, has the same effect. It is a wonder to behold, and if you love music, you will love it.

Do yourself a favor and see it. [NOTE: The movie was made on a shoestring budget and therefore has a very “indie” feel, with choppy editing and some bad sound in places. Also, since it was made in Ireland, where the F-word is often a substitute for the word “the,” it contains copious amounts of swearing. Just thought I’d warn you.]


Good-ideal said...

I SAW THE movie--music&lyrics
It is comedy kind of

PS:I lived in Taiwan,nice to meet y blog...

Adam said...

Music & Lyrics, eh? I haven't seen it, but the idea of Hugh Grant as an aging '80s pop star is inherently hilarious.

Thanks for stopping by! I checked out your blog, but as it is in a language unfamiliar to me, I couldn't really enjoy it. But I liked the layout! Wow, I'm using a lot of exclamation marks in this paragraph!