Back to work tomorrow after a fortnight off, most of which has been spent at my parents'. @antisoppist had been going to come up for a few days, but fell victim to a cold and so couldn't. I was luckier, managing to spend the first Christmas holiday for a long time with almost no germs - though inevitably, not quite. It was a very nice break and I just need to remember that no, I won't get loads of reading done like I used to, and no writing whatsoever, because we're busy doing other things and that is fine, though sometimes slightly less busy would be nice!
Thoughts on out-of-the-house entertainment, in order of viewing.Star Wars: The Return of Skywalker
. Saw this the Saturday before Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it, partly because I had calibrated my expectations to the fact that (a) this was a Star Wars film, and (b) it wasn't made for me personally (although I have always been pro Rey/Kylo, so it kind of was, and I really liked all of that plotline). Yes, the script is a bit of a mess* and it really needed an extra 20 minutes (not something I usually say), but unlike The Last Jedi
(which I did like), the pointless side quests were much shorter, and the ridiculous furry animals brief. One thing that the sequel trilogy really does deserve credit for is its casting: in brief, every actor is more than capable of their part. I think Daisy Ridley deserves far more recognition that she has got for ability to carry the trilogy as a relatively inexperienced actor. Yes, Adam Driver is terrific and casting him rather than someone who looked Hollywood standard was a great idea, but he also had the sort of scenery-chewing part that lets a good actor get their teeth into it. Rey was a very different part, and Ridley is convincing and engaging in a way that the films would have utterly failed without. I shall be going again before it leaves cinemas.The Snow Queen, Scottish Ballet
. In my teens and early twenties, going to the theatre at Christmas was very much a family thing. We've managed it less often in recent years, partly because what is available is not always attractive (we are united in our total lack of interest in The Wind in the Willows
and The Nutcracker
), but Mum, Youngest Sister and I thought that this was worth a matinee ticket, and so it proved. "Inspired by" (loosely) Andersen, music neatly filleted from Rimsky-Korsakov, I tend not to find ballet very moving, but it was pretty, well danced, and an enjoyable couple of hours. It's on iPlayer
. I went with this expecting the best part of the afternoon to be the pleasure of my youngest sister's company, but it was actually very good. The music is not as strong as the original - 'Into the Unknown' is no 'Let It Go' and highlights the (to me) most annoying aspects of Menzel's voice - but it has a script that perforce was cemented before 'filming', a coherent plot, and looks absolutely gorgeous. I found myself gripped, and left thinking that I really should read something about Hollywood's interest in Jungian archetypes. I'm still not over the revelation that Anna is voiced by Kristen Bell of The Good Place
, though! Honourable mention to the unexpected I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue
. Undoubtedly the best film of the three, although to my mind not quite as original than some of the reviews gave it credit for. The structuring of the narrative through flashbacks allowed a different focus on events than the chronological order, even if the internal narrative of single events was very familiar, and the greater focus on adult!Amy than in adaptations I've previously seen was very welcome for her character, though the flashback structure necessitated the use of a single actress in a part that I think really demands double-casting. A terrific performance from Saoirse Ronan held everything together, although she is far too pretty for Jo, and the decision to highlight a strong physical resemblance to Marmee was an excellent one.** It was very Jo-centric despite the attention to Amy, and Meg and Beth's stories were under-served, though that's hardly something unique to this adaptation, and it certainly got across the feeling of the family life and also how the Marches might be perceived by other people at times as Rather Too Much. It made me think that I really must read some of Alcott's work that wasn't aimed at children, and more about her life.
*It is painfully obvious that the whole trilogy wasn't plotted out in detail in advance. Yes, Carrie Fisher's death meant that they had to rewrite, but there is a lot running through the trilogy that is nothing to do with her and really shows that they didn't have a clear plan. They should definitely have killed Poe off as originally planned.
**I really want an adaptation of Little Women
in which Marmee's role in fucking up her daughter's lives through parental teachings that make them all feel complete failures is given full focus.This entry was originally posted at https://nineveh-uk.dreamwidth.org/284430.html. Please comment there using OpenID.