Fiction books

Bookstore plunder

I had a bit of time over the weekend to browse a used bookstore. Not as much time as I would’ve liked (I can browse a used bookstore for many hours if allowed), but I did find some interesting stuff.

rhapsody

Didn’t have time to browse the film soundtracks, but I did snatch up some symphonic metal from the Italian band Rhapsody of Fire. Their album The Frozen Tears of Angels features narration from the late great Christopher Lee; his deep cinematic British voice compliments the fantastical metal very well. It’s a concept album that’s part of a larger saga of albums, none of which I have… yet.

lesmiserables

Also music related is the blu-ray of the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables. I think it came on PBS or something once, but I missed it. But now I can watch it over and over!

hugo

Picked up a movie companion to one of my favorite films. Looking through it, it looked awfully familiar, but I double-checked my bookshelves and I don’t have it. I could swear I’ve browsed a copy of it somewhere else before though. Maybe there’s another copy somewhere else in the house? I have no idea…

elantris

I haven’t read Brandon Sanderson in a while, but I picked up Elantris for someday.

straub

I’ve been reading Peter Straub’s Shadowland recently and have been enjoying it very much, so I picked up pretty much all the Peter Straub I could find, which amounted to nine books. They’ll take me forever to read, but they all look interesting… I’ll probably dive into one after I finish Shadowland

mozart

Picked up some books on Mozart and classical music because I’m such a classy guy.

pdqbach

Finally, I happened upon a biography of one of the great classical composers who most music scholars, in their snooty snobbery, ignore completely.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Year's best

My 2012 favorites

A bit late posting this, but I was too busy celebrating and spreading Christmas cheer earlier.  As I say each year: I hate to compare things I love.  But for the sake of a more interesting blog post, I’m going to anyway.  In real life, I don’t really like playing favorites, because different books and movies and stuff all have their own spirit, and are ultimately incomparable.  But let’s disregard that for a few moments.

For books, the nominees are books I finished reading for the first time this year, regardless of their release date.  Movies, TV shows, and film scores must have been first released in the USA in 2012.

Year’s best live action film:

lesmis

Year’s best animated film:

arrietty

Year’s best TV show:

house2

Year’s best film score:

hobbit

Year’s best nonfiction book:

infinity

Year’s best fiction book:

reamde4

Best whatever else:

Year’s best book on writing:

storybeat

By S P Hannifin, ago
Movies

Wobble through Les Miserables!

A small collection of clips from the upcoming musical film Les Miserables were uploaded to YouTube a couple days ago. For example, this one:

My thoughts:

Musically, sounds good. The singing sounds good, save for Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, who’s rapid vibrato makes it sound like she’s singing while driving over a bumpy road. I’m not sure the “live singing” adds anything spectacular, at least not in these brief clips, but it certainly doesn’t take anything away.

Camera-work wise, GAH!! I don’t mind the close-ups and the wide-angles, which I think will look awesome on the big screen, but why the wobbly handheld look? Is this a home-made movie? Is this a British TV show? Why can’t the English learn to hold a camera steady?

The worst example is in this clip, at about 35 seconds:

Oh, yes, let’s glance down at the letters and then back up at his face…? Very unprofessional looking. It makes me, as an audience member, feel like I’m not there, like elements of the scene are being concealed from me, like I’m being forced to watch something through the eyes of a tipsy drunken man. Ugh.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Movies

Les Miserables teaser trailer

A teaser trailer for the upcoming film version of the popular musical Les Miserables came out recently:

My comments:

This is only a teaser, so it’s hard to know how representational these little glances will be of the finished product. I see some things I like, and some things leave me scratching my head.

We don’t get much in the way of music, which is too bad, since this will be a musical after all, but it’s only a teaser. I don’t like how I Dreamed a Dream begins with no instrumental accompaniment at all; it sounds empty. And even when the instruments do come in, the voice and the instruments just don’t mix right; the voice is too “small” as if she’s singing to herself in a small room. It sounds like it was amplified in post so that it would not be drowned out by the orchestra. (“But the tigers come at niiiii….” Pronounce your T’s, woman!) I hope this sort of recording is not representational the style of sound we’ll hear in the movie, or it will be truly awful.

As for camera work, some shots look fantastic and amazing, others look very bizarre. Wobbly documentary-style wide-angle close-ups look very odd to me if I don’t understand the shot’s context. (Is it a character’s POV? Is it part of a long shot?) I’m also not a big fan of the tilted camera, but, again, it depends on the context; the tilted shots featured in this trailer make me fear the camera tilt will be overused. However, the wide-angle shots panning the barricade, tracking people walking the streets, or looking straight down on the factory workers look brilliant. Regardless of whether or not all these shots will work in the context of the film, I think we’re in for a visual feast.

By S P Hannifin, ago