here lies harry potter (1997-2016)

(his creator killed him)

Let's get this out of the way: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them isn't a particularly good film. It's like J.K. Rowling tried to combine the childlike whimsy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with the rather grown-up plots and characters of her Cormoran Strike novels. If that sounds like it wouldn't work -- well, it didn't work. Fantastic Beasts doesn't have a cohesive "feel": it never quite decides whether it wants to embody the spirit of its namesake book or be, uh, vaguely American Gothic? (Who knows, honestly?) Rowling also seems to have attempted to write a novel instead of a screenplay: Fantastic Beasts is full of throwaway dialogue that works beautifully as character development in her later, 800-page Harry Potter books, but that sort of thing doesn't work so beautifully in a two-hour film whose most interesting character is a Niffler.

Now, if you ask the Harry Potter fanbase, many of the eight Harry Potter movies aren't particularly good films either -- but the books they're based on are wonderful. After all, that's why Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone became a film in the first place. Fantastic Beasts is a blatant attempt to cash in on the franchise's enduring popularity, and its inspiration isn't a beloved children's story, but a spin-off book that was itself a blatant attempt to cash in on the franchise's popularity (for charity, so I won't complain too much). Like most mistakes, the Fantastic Beasts film would be forgivable if Rowling and Yates promised to never do anything like it again, but --


the real john latham

An Ornithologist, Probably John Latham?


a choice bit of titus andronicus 3.2, before it becomes thoroughly objectionable

Peace, tender sapling; thou art made of tears,
And tears will quickly melt thy life away.

[MARCUS strikes the dish with a knife.]

What dost thou strike at, Marcus, with thy knife?

At that that I have kill'd, my lord; a fly.

Out on thee, murderer! thou kill'st my heart;
Mine eyes are cloy'd with view of tyranny:
A deed of death done on the innocent
Becomes not Titus' brother: get the gone:
I see thou art not for my company.

Alas, my lord, I have but kill'd a fly.

But how, if that fly hd a father and moth?
How would he hang his slender gilded wings,
And buzz lamented doings in the air!
Poor harmless fly,
That, with his pretty buzzing melody,
Came here to make us merry! and thou hast
kill'd him.


la gloire + la guerre

The current political climate makes particularly relevant Combeferre's little anti-imperial staircase-ditty at the end of Les Misérables III.V*, which goes like:
Si César m'avait donné
la gloire et la guerre,
et qu'il me fallût quitter
l'amour de ma mère;
Je dirais au grand César,
"Reprends ton sceptre et ton char!
J'aime mieux ma mère, o gué!
J'aime mieux ma mère!"**


how do you solve a problem like marija?

Only a few months ago, I described a particular HAUNTING and promised updates --


ten books i can in good conscience recommend to almost every single one of you (+ some i can't)

[out of all the ones I read in 2015, the full list of which you can find here.]

10. A MADMAN DREAMS OF TURING MACHINES (Janna Levin) if you like the idea of logic more than you like logic itself.
A brilliant little book that's highly speculative in its detailing of the lives and loves and genius and internal suffering of Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing: but Levin doesn't seek to depict these men with total accuracy (this is a work of fiction, after all) so much as she wants to make us feel the beauty and revolutionary nature of their ideas, contrasted with the ultimately tragic lives they led -- wracked as both were with loneliness, illness and the myriad punishments of nonconformity. Their ideas intersect as their lives parallel each other (resulting in a few genius storytelling moments) and (bonus!) the book's held together by the ever-present Wittgenstein. (I maintain that he's haunting me.)

#9 through #1 + extras, under the cut.


2015 in film, with blinders on

Yours truly was truly bad at watching Great Films outside of my preferred genres this year. That aside, these are the five films of 2015 which I enjoyed the most and which I am very invested in all of you watching and talking about with me. (I guarantee you I did watch more than five -- more than ten -- films that came out this year, and that not all of them prominently featured the letter 'M' in the title. I'm not scrounging for films to fill up this list. These are the cream of the crop, y'all.)