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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Links and Updates

Last Friday I came home to a trifecta of exciting news. Firstly, that Sense8 was being given the chance to wrap things up with a final two-hour special. Secondly, that the covers for Philip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage had been released. Thirdly, that the first trailer for The Changeover, an adaptation of Margaret Mahy's novel and one of the seminal books of my early years was out.
I went to sleep that night feeling very satisfied – and woke up with the flu, one that I'm only now just starting to shake off.
So let's go through everything one by one. By now you've probably already read Lana Wachowski's letter to fans about how their commitment to Sense8 ensured a final two-hour special to wrap up the plot. Is it as good as a renewal? No. But it's certainly better than nothing, which is what we were faced with just a week ago.
The cover art for Philip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage has been released, and it certainly looks intriguing. Knowing that it covers periods of time both before and after the events of His Dark Materials, I get the feeling this depicts the prequel aspect of the story. Though it's sure to have a double-meaning, La Belle Sauvage clearly refers to the boat (you can see the name on the prow) and daemons will be involved in some capacity.
(And Pullman would hate this comparison, but the figures in the boat somehow remind me of C.S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy – you know, when Shasta is brought ashore by one of his father's men).
Finally, The Changeover is starting its promotion! It's hard to understate what exactly this book means to me: Margaret Mahy is one of New Zealand's seminal writers, and The Changeover was not only published in the same year I was born, but set in my own suburb (in the book it's called Gardendale, but it's a pretty blatant facsimile of Bishopdale).
It's about a fourteen year old girl whose brother comes under psychic attack by a demonic creature who drains away his life-essence to sustain his own immortality. To help her fight such a creature, Laura enlists a boy at school that she suspects is a witch – this hunch turns out to be correct, and his mother and grandmother convince Laura to undergo a changeover: a ritual that will awaken her own latent abilities.
What's so compelling about The Changeover is that it's quite a simple story (to save her brother, the protagonist unlocks her own power) but Mahy's incredible prose turns the whole thing into a beautifully complex journey of self-discovery. I've done essays, blog posts and articles on the novel, and it's something I can recommend to almost anyone.
And from the looks of it, the film has captured the tone of the book: that of normal suburbia with the supernatural lurking beneath. Even better, they haven't white-washed Laura, who is described in the book as having a strain of Polynesian blood in her. Can't wait!
***
As has come up frequently on my Tumblr, Anastasia has recently been adapted into a Broadway musical and the soundtrack is now available. I've been listening to it over the past two weeks, and – wow. It's a real trip getting new songs and story material for an OTP that pretty much defined my tween years.
It's hard to really describe what this movie meant to be when I was younger, as so much of my love for it is wrapped up in my vivid memories of anticipating it. It's almost like there are two versions of the film: the real one that I loved to bits, and the one in my head that I looked forward to for so long: making up head-canons, getting my friends excited, searching for any scrap of promotional material in the days before the internet was freely available...
There was something so inherently magical about this movie, so you can imagine that going to see the musical is now at the top of my bucket list.
So if you're following me on Tumblr, you're about to get hit with a lot of Anastasia stuff. My queue is piled high!
***
Here's a great video essay entitled: Sherlock is Garbage and Here's Why. Now I wouldn't link to something that was just mad ranting – this is a very detailed and concise look at why Sherlock was bad storytelling on a number of levels.
My favourite part would have to be when he mentions the conspiracy theory the fans came up at the end of season four, one that postulated a secret fourth episode would be released under the codename Apple Tree Yard and retroactively make season four suck less. Naturally it didn't happen, but it's another fascinating look at how the hive mind can lead people to truly extraordinary conclusions.
An interesting look at how Marvel's success is bad news for storytelling on the big screen.
A little essay on how Rey's loneliness in The Force Awakens resonated.
These are a few years old now, but watching Professor X fire all the X-Men because their powers can't be controlled is still pretty funny.

5 comments:

  1. I would like to take this opportunity to shamelessly plug this article I wrote on Sherlock's descent into awfulness back in January: http://cwickham.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/the-signs-of-fourth.html

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    1. Just checked it out! I have to admit I was never a super-fan of Sherlock, though I liked the first two seasons enough to buy the DVDs. Looking back, some of the problems were always there: namely a desire to be clever that overshadowed plot (that stupid SHERlocked password which made no sense whatsoever) and a strange lack of interest in Arthur Conan Doyle's original texts - which is bizarre considering this was ostensibly pitched as "modern day Sherlock." The further Moffatt/Gatkiss got from their original premise, the shakier the show became.

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  2. I want to marry that Sherlock video, what a perfect takedown. I liked the show to begin with but the nonsense of the first season 3 episode put me off the whole thing - and along with Doctor Who has led to my serious dislike for mystery boxes/puzzle arcs. Had no idea about the season 4 conspiracy theories, obviously they didn't learn from the lack of payoff from the two year "how did Sherlock survive" mystery and got burned again. But these days I tend to look more charitably towards the fans who search desperately for meaning in something no matter how outlandish than to the creators who first foster speculation and then mock them for it.

    Going to spend some time this weekend absorbing the Anastacia broadway soundtrack - my childhood!

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    1. Re: Sherlock/Doctor Who. I think a LOT of what's wrong with Moffatt is that he's great at making promises but pretty much ALWAYS trips on the finish line.

      Going to spend some time this weekend absorbing the Anastacia broadway soundtrack - my childhood!

      Check in with me afterwards! I've totally fallen down an Anastasia-shaped black hole so I'm after people to discuss it with. I've plans to rewatch the movie this weekend and do a whole new blog-post on it. As a tween I loved it, but I think it'll hold up really well watching it as an adult.

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  3. Agree, Moffat is a great ideas man (much like George Lucas) who needs someone to reign in his excess and Gatiss certainly wasn't that person. It will be interesting to see what Chiball does with Who - an Ellie-like companion (or first female Doctor) would be interesting.

    And will definitely let you know once I've listened!

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