Saturday, May 30, 2015

Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Collective Review

Hello from Princess Procrastinator. Here is my Poirot collection "review" written who knows when after reading who knows when. If you want a shorter version it is this: I am not a fan.

These are pretty silly and melodramatic although apparently some such as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Murder on the Orient Express are supposed to be considered "good" mysteries, and they may stand a little above Christies other works in plot, but the quality of composition and characterization is still considerably lower than Doyle's and Sayer's work (particularly the latter's). And often the plots of Christie's works are so fantastic that they are absurd. Cheap and attention-catching but flimsy.

Oh . . . and the little issue of Holmes-baiting (but, since of course he cannot be baited, it is only an attempt at baiting). Um, DO NOT YOU DARE touch him. You are not worthy to touch the ground he walks on. A few pokes must be allowed in order that Holmes worshipers not be thought pompous but this goes too far.

I have some notes from reading The Big Four (notice the title mock) for example, but I think that they are on my dead computer. I will just have to edit this disgustingly late post even more obscenely later. Everyone will live. Adieu,

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Books and Libraries

After some other bloggers mentioned libraries, I realized that I never really thought much about how all these bloggers get the books they read and realized that I rarely mention how I get the books I read. I mainly use the library; most of the books that I own I have already read and that is what I prefer generally. I want to buy books that I know I love. I do not like e-books at all. I do own some e-books (but no reader), but I really would prefer to buy the hard copy (literally, I want to try to buy hardbacks when available) of the book I want. I just think hard copies are more convenient and comfortable.

I think we have a really nice library system for our state (and said state is not high on any good charts for much of anything). I am quite pleased that working in the county has enabled me to use this system for free (we live in a rural county with a tiny library). I basically order my books online and then pick them up, and now we have self-checkout at the location I use which I think is just awesome.

Over 6 months ago I re-tried out inter-library loans. My mom used this service often when we were little. I tried it at our county library, but I think it might be too expensive for them to find the really obscure books I often want. I feel so adventurous receiving books from all across the country (literally, the first time). I ordered twice successfully, I think the full amount of three, but the third time I tried two could not be found (one did not surprise me) and one the library said it would buy . . . eventually (I should have looked at a different publication date . . . I think I will do that the next time).

I have for the last maybe two years almost constantly had piles of library books in my room. I am rarely without any library books. I have also racked up too many fines because I am not careful about renewing and returning. I am trying to do better at reading all the novels, but I also need to work on seriously looking at the nonfiction.

Our library also has links to old newspapers (I used this during college; I much preferred the city library site and system to the university one), free learning sites, e-books, audio books, e-music, free computer classes, movies (we just borrowed The Music Man; more on this in another post) and etc. I really need to utilize this resource better. Oh, and as of right now I have over 30 books out; I am nuts. But some of them are knitting and such, so there!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Cinderella 2015

I think gushes and squeals would pretty much describe my feelings on this movie. My mom and all the sisters at home and I all went to see it when it came out in March, and we all wanted to see it again. When my other sister gets back from overseas, I think we are going to try and watch it with her. Also, I do not want to hear a word of criticism for this movie.

I felt like the movie was a perfect blend of Ever After and the animated Disney Cinderella.

I liked how Kit and Cinderella meet before, but they still do not know one another well.

There are no really ugly "scenes" (there are many in Ever After).

I liked that Cinderella's father realizes that he made a mistake about her step-mother.

The scene when Cinderella retorts in French is funny.

I like how the film did the mice.

I loved the part with her mother and how Cinderella always clings to her words, "Have courage and be kind." Cinderella is such as sweet character, sweet, but without completely allowing her step-mother to rule over/beat her down (as in Ever After) or to fool/stupefy her (as in the animated version). She did stand up to her step-mother near the end, but she was not arrogant or self-righteous, and then later, she forgave her (which looks especially nice when juxtaposed against the cringe-worthy last step-mother scene in Ever After).

And the Prince.* What an absolute darling. He was sooo sweet, and I just loved the scene with his father just before his father died. He was respectful but resolute. I am glad his father was not such a bully as kings are often portrayed. I love how the Prince is clever and the Duke does not deceive him completely. That scene when he takes off his helmet! Cinderella and Kit are such a humble, sweet, yet strong pair!

I loved the leitmotif of Lavender's Blue. I loved that the filmmakers used a folk song period, but to have it as Cinderella's theme is wonderful. The dance of the future royal pair is marvelously choreographed and beautiful.

I want her wedding gown. Her ballgown is gorgeous and I loved the butterflies on it. The whole movie is so bright and beautiful. But I am going to have a wedding gown like hers; it is so elegant and lovely and modest, and I loved the embroidered flowers.

So much of this movie is so harmonious, peaceful, graceful. The Prince and Cinderella are so gracious. The buildings, clothing, animals, outdoors, and etc. is all so fresh and bright. The music is old-fashioned and sweet. It is literally a fairytale of a fairytale movie.

*Do not for one moment think that I still do not love spoiled, silly, darling, bratty Prince Henry. I still think he is awesome in his complete not-awesomeness.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

Yes, I know this is horrifyingly late. You are welcome.

I think this is a mediocre movie on its own, but it is a travesty as a Tolkien adaptation. The film is so hectic.  I think the film cut back and forth too much between its too many plot lines (Bard and his group plus their mini-plot lines, Dale, Gandalf and company, Legolas spying, the dwarves, the orcs, and etc.). The Laketown tragedy felt shortened, less severe, and the film did not show the trip to the mountain. That whole saga felt rushed. The battle itself felt unrealistically short (I know a movie cannot give justice to the length of battles with such weapons, but I know the directors could have done better than this . . . by cutting out some of the additional fluff such as the earth eaters and Legolas's spying trip and by leaving such things as the desolation of Smaug to the movie of that name).  In addition, this movie like the two before it, fell far, far short of the quality of The Lord of the Rings films even as they in turn fell far short of doing justice to Tolkien's work.

The first film had so little in it and the last so much (including as others have noted the actual desolation of Smaug). I understand that the filmmakers wanted to tie in the Hobbit with the rest of Tolkien's story. I think that one film would have made the story seem rushed, but cut out the orcs until they belonged and shorten the Necromancer section, and we would have enough to make two grand films.

The film also contained waaay too much melodrama. Actually, it was a melodrama. I think many of my family thought that the crowning absurdity was Legolas' falling rock hopping. But I thought also that the the earth eaters and the white orc under water (and the white orc period) beyond too much.  I thought the Necromancer scenes quite over the top as well.

Then there are some of the "smaller" issues. That Alfrid character received far too much screen time and his role was quite silly. Tauriel did not exist in the novels, and so I felt that she ought to have died along with Kili. Instead she had this weird interlude with Thranduil. I wonder if we are supposed to think this whole Tauriel drama is the reason why Legolas is so eager at the end of the Return of the King to go West; he was not one of the High Elves after all, he could not feel with the same intensity as they did the desire to West.

Legolas may not have been literally in the book, but he was alive in the Tolkien universe and so likely would have fought. Unless of course Thranduil grounded him and left him in Mirkwood smoulder-sulking, which is totally plausible.

Thraduil is so awesome.

But while we are on the topic of elves, why must the film makers put the elves in a negative light constantly? There is this absurd ignoring of roles and raising the lower people. If anything, the greed of all dwarves, should have been shown more. But since the elves are beautiful, they must also be selfish or somehow lesser. In Lord of the Rings the films omit to show THAT LOTH LORIEN WAS BESEIGED. Do you really think that somehow the elves are untouched? Of course Loth Lorien would be besieged; it was in a rather central location, and the elves there had harbored the Fellowship. Instead the elves come to help the Rohirrim (as if they would choose them over Gondor, the kings of which descended from the elves). In the same way, Theoden expects the king of the nation that bears the brunt of the problem and who is LIEGE LORD to the Rohirrim is somehow responsible to help fight his battles. Yeah, no, you live on land granted you by Gondor, you pay service to Gondor. 
I disliked the confrontation between Legolas, Tauriel, and Thranduil; it was ugly, tasteless, ill-bred (and therefore, un-elvish).

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bleak House Review

So I did not entirely like this novel. Oh, I enjoyed it while I read it, but I found many aspects that I did not like.

I found Esther rather irritating. I thought her false modesty and silly "innocence" of why other people like her was extremely annoying; true humility and goodness do not focus on self at all. She spoils her character by speaking, and her character would have been better not displayed in first person. I thought her silly humility rather out of character for Dickens; I feel like he usually caricatures this type of person.

Mr. Jardyce annoyed me because he avoids issues instead of repairing them. I loathed Mr. Skimpole* and the way Mr. Jardyce aids his leech behavior is disgusting. Speaking of disgusting, how gross and selfish of Mr. Jardyce, who might almost be Esther's grandfather, to propose to Esther?! I had wondered before I reached this point in the novel whether or not he had been in love with her mother.

I did not really feel sorry for Lady Dedlock. She is so selfish and proud. She had married into great wealth and made herself famous. She does not help Rosa, except to thwart Mr. Tulkinghorn, I think. I felt sorry for Captain Hawdon. I want to know why Hawdon and Lady Dedlock had not married. What happened? Whose fault was the separation? I kind of wondered/wished she had been the one who broke off the connection. Had her sister a hand in it? I did not think that Hawdon was the Willoughby type at all. Plus he had kept her letters. He had sent her letters of instruction. He helps poor Jo. If Lady Dedlock did not know that the baby survived, I wonder if Hawdon ever knows about the baby at all. What were those letters of instruction George Rouncewell delivers to Esther? George seems to be very loyal to Hawdon as if Hawdon deserves some help or has some merit. I do not like all these unfinished ties.

Ada Clare and Allan Woodcourt do not have enough character development. Except towards the end they have hardly even any personality. I liked what glimpses and shadows of Allan I saw until I received a chill at his reaction poor Jo.

Jo is probably my favorite character in point of unmixed favor. George Rouncewell comes next in that respect. Poor Jo. What cruelness and neglect and manipulation he endures at the hands of the evil and/or more noticeably selfish characters and the world in general. What cold "pity" and "aid" the "kind" characters extend to him! And this: "He wos wery good to me, he wos" . . . and his tears!

I felt the number of the characters more in this novel. Everything seemed less developed and every character either barely connected (the Jellybys)* or too connected. I know Dickens has random characters, but often they are harmless and/or turn out to be more important than first appears. Not so in this novel.

* All of these characters are typical Dickens caricatures or displays of certain types of troublesome people; I appreciated them for that because, as is usual, these descriptions of error and selfishness ring quite true.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review of Little Dorrit

The miniseries preview first somewhat inspired me to know this story. I was not ready for Dickens at this point, and when I picked up the book and perused it, Mr. Clennam's age and that awful Pet disgusted me. I still loathe Pet and her family. How dare she exist for Clennam to love. How dare he love a young woman who is not Little Dorrit. I hate that it hurts him for so long, and it is not him that separates them but her. If he had ceased to love her, that would make all the difference in the world. I wish she had turned out shallow, so that he never could have truly loved her.

I do not mind his first love; he was younger then and does not love her at the time of the story. She and her "mermaid" manner and her extremely convoluted speech and Clennam's  reaction to her, both his diffident gentlemanliness and his embarrassment are quite interesting, if not often hilarious, moments in the story.

I loathed Mr. Dorrit; his conceit is tangible. And of the most irritating kind, sensitive. The rapier sort. I pitied poor, sweet Mr. Frederick Dorrit, and later I pitied the ill-fated Edward Dorrit. Fanny and Edmund Sparkler. They provided another rare glimpse of humor in this novel. The way Fanny "shuts him up like a box"!

I feel like the story had some loose ends with Arthur's story, with not fully explaining (at least to my understanding) Mr. Merdle's story, and with the mystery surrounding Miss bitter.

But oh, the end when Arthur is in the Marshalsea. When he finds out Little Dorrit loves him. When he loves her. Oh.