You Need A Giver

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them

I knew that I was going to at the very least enjoy Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, and I walked out feeling satisfied but not overwhelmed. My exact word was “cute.” But the more I think about the movie, the more I think it’s one of the most beautiful entries in The Wizarding World.

It’s not because of the plot, which like most of Rowling’s work amounts to “a group of misfits chase after a Maguffin that is linked to a Dark Wizard” but in it’s small details which gives us glimpses of this world we all thought we knew so well.

The movie takes place in New York in 1926, where New Scamander has arrived, hoping, as it turns out to get out west and set a poached Thunderbird free. He quickly becomes entangled with Tina Goldstein, a former Auror, now working a desk job after she confronted a group of anti magic cultists. This entanglement also brings him into contact with curious and big hearted No-maj (American for Muggle) Jacob Kowalski and Tina’s sister Queenie.

They chase after some of Newt’s escaped creatures, and get lured into a larger mystery involving the sinister seeming Auror Graves and the same magic hating cult, which deals with an phenomenon of child witches and wizards surpressing their magic and being consumed and unable to control themselves. This of course calls to mind, at least for me, the fate of poor Arianna Dumbledore.

Revealing more than that would spoil the twists which makes the movie’s plot anything special, so I won’t do that. As I said, what really impressed me were the myriad of small details. Albus Dumbledore gets a name drop, and we learn that at Hogwarts, Newt was involved with one of the Lestrange girls. We learn that even the Wizarding community was brought into the chaos of World War I (Newt worked with Dragons on the front.) A few of the differences between American and British wizarding culture are interesting, the one that stands out to me most of all was the use of House Elves. Obviously, we know their British deal, but in America, they appear to take on the tasks that in the No-Maj community would be done by people of color in the period (A jazz singer, shoe shiner, elevator operator.) Just really interesting.

Anyway, Fantastic Beasts is a worthwhile addition to the Wizarding World canon, and I’m sure that I’ll analyze it plenty more as I watch it a few more times. But for an intial watch, I greatly enjoyed it and the cast, Eddie Redmayne especially are all wonderful. I’m rarely let down watching Halle Berry and Colin Farell though, so that’s not hard.

Rankings:

  1. The Nice Guys
  2. Don’t Think Twice
  3. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  4. Queen of Katwe
  5. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
  6. Pete’s Dragon
  7. Ghostbusters
  8. Captain America: Civil War
  9. Kubo And The Two Strings
  10. Star Trek Beyond
  11. The Magnificent 7
  12. Doctor Strange
  13. X-Men: Apocalypse
  14. The Legend Of Tarzan
  15. Suicide Squad
  16. Finding Dory
  17. Independence Day: Resurgence
  18. Alice Through The Looking Glass

Trailers

Still no Wonder Woman? Like, what the hell dude? There was good stuff though.

Beauty And The Beast looks so exceptionally beautiful, and I was of course, crying through the whole thing.

Sing – Some new stuff in this trailer, I’m still intrigued by this movie, like not enough to run off and see it, but enough to watch it someday.

The Lego Batman Movie – I’m so in!! I can’t wait for it.

 

Weasley Is Our King

So, I recently reread the Harry Potter series, which is one of those, things I like to do from time to time, also because after The Cursed Child I felt the need to find my way back to The Wizarding World.

But this time, I really found myself focusing on Ron Weasley.

I’ve always loved Ron, and spend a lot of time in Harry Potter fandom defending him because he’s actually quite unpopular. But I relate to Ron and to the Weasley clan in general.

Like Ron, I tend to feel like a sidekick in my own life (ESPECIALLY in high school) at times, I have more popular and conventionally successful siblings, and a big loud, loving family with a tendency to adopt strays. (WHAT UP ALESS & JAIME!) I also get hangry (in a pouty shouty mood when I’ve not had enough to eat!) which is basically Ron’s entire plot line in The Deathly Hallows.

And much like Han and Leia, I appreciate the love story between Ron and Hermione, because as neither of them are our main protagonist, they’re on a narratively even playing field. Also, I love the idea that this totally average dude not only gets the smartest and most talented magical person in his age group but he’s always in total awe of her, but also calls her out on her arrogance or occasional ignorance. It’s a really great love story and a very fun relationship to track, that’s more complex and layered than I think anyone gives it credit for.

It was one of my main criticisms of The Cursed Child that Ron is just a side character while Harry and Hermione get significant action. Even Rowling doesn’t quite know what to do with him, which suits the character quite well. Though defining Ron as “a really good dad” is such a delightful turn, that it’s hard to over complain about it. And my main criticism about Cursed Child is that they went back in time to save Cedric Diggory when REMUS LUPIN IS A PERSON WHO DIED AND ALSO PROBABLY THE BEST PERSON EVER…but I digress.

Anyway, I just wanted to give Ron some love you guys. Because he’s always been my favorite of the main 3 characters. Though not my favorite character.

That’s Lupin. Did I not make that clear? Maybe in the coming weeks I’ll write about that.

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: Something Special

I never dove full in to active Harry Potter fandom. I went to midnight premieres, but never a release party (this is because I usually had dress rehearsal during the release parties, not because I didn’t want to) but I mostly stayed away from internet fandom until most of the fervor died down because it terrified me.

I have learned that this was probably the best choice I could make. But in the time since, what with embracing internet fandom for other things, I couldn’t help but stumble onto the remains of the HP fanfiction community, and thus I was aware of some of the common tropes of HP fanfiction, particularly when it came to “the second generation.”

One of the many fun things about Harry Potter And The Cursed Child was that it managed to fall into some of those tropes, which just proves that often times story telling leads you down unavoidable paths.

Delphi “Diggory” being the daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange is the kind of thing that fandom has been talking about for years. Scorpius Malfoy (the greatest character that JK Rowling has ever created, with the possible exception of Minerva McGonnagal) becoming friends with Albus Potter (BOOO) and having a thing for Rose Granger Weasley is also pretty common. And of course, Draco Malfoy is actually good guy at heart, oh that’s all over fanfiction. (They managed to stay away from Draco/Hermione, thank God, even in the alternate timelines)

So that was fun to see. But how was it as a piece of work on it’s own?

It’s a good play. The stage directions are clear but vague enough to interpret, the dialog is clear and clean. The characters are well drawn, the plot is fun. Overall, it was a fun trip back to The Wizarding World. I love Scorpius Malfoy to an unhealthy degree. (This is a Percy Jackson style love, not a Poe Dameron, fear not!) I think Albus is a good character, if a terrifically unlikable one, as Harry was from time to time. Also, the fact that Harry grew up to be a shitty parent is kind of perfect. And that Ginny calls him out on it.

I liked the plot, because I love time travel and it’s reprecussions. That’s why Back To The Future Part II is my favorite of that series. It’s why Flashpoint is in my top 5 comics. It’s why I can stand to watch The Butterfly Effect multiple times. I also like the idea that the death of Cedric Diggory and The Tri Wizard Tournament are the events upon which Voldemort’s return and eventual final fall depend, because The Goblet Of Fire is my favorite book in the series. It’s also the best movie. (Fight me Prisoner of Azkaban people! It’s both a watchable movie and a passable adaptation of the book!) I’m hoping to see The Cursed Child when it comes to New York, but then again, it’s arrival will make Hamilton tickets easier to get…(maybe…)

Either way, I was into the play, always happy to be back, and if nothing else, I’m rereading the series now!

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: Work In Progress

Sooo, I had today blocked off for my Cursed Child review, because I somehow thought that I’d have time to read four acts of a play during You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown tech week.

That was the stupidest thing I’ve thought in a while. I probably could have finished it, if I’d actually gotten it on Sunday, but I didn’t get it until Tuesday and now, it’s just not happening until next week.

I am about 50 pages in…Here’s my initial thoughts.

  • Scorpius Malfoy is life. I’m obsessed with him. I hope he just keeps getting totally awesome and better.
  • Albus’s teen angst makes Harry’s look mild. Seriously, so far I feel like his entire characterization is Harry’s from The Order Of The Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince but without all the actual PTSD to justify the jerkiness. Kid’s just kind of a dick.
  • Rose Granger-Weasley (love the hyphen) appears to have inherited the worst aspects of her parents/extended family. I…kind of dig that. She’s a haughty know it all over achiever, who’s a little bit clannish. And Scorpius is obsessed with her. (As I have already stated, I love him, so I love this.)
  • HERMIONE. IS. THE. MINISTER. OF. MAGIC. I love this. I love that we didn’t know this.
  • Time. Travel. This is a story about time travel. In Harry Potter. I can’t. I just, I can’t. This is a gift. A marvelous, beautiful, delightful, incredible gift. I’m going to savor it.

I’ll follow up next week, when I have time and energy to finish, but I am really enjoying the play so far.

 

Pukwudgie And American Magic

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Last week we all got some fun Wizarding World stuff. On Pottermore we learned about the Ilvermony, the American Magic School, it’s founding and houses.

I’m a Pukwudgie, and I’m still just starting to understand what that means, but it seems to square fairly well with my closely held Ravenclaw identity.

There are lots of things about Ilvermorny that feel just a little bit off, but it’s also just a lot of fun to further dive into the story. I like that Isolt is descended from Slytherin, ambition and cunning are tied in deep ways to the American character.

Also, she’s an Irish Immigrant who went to Boston, and that’s pretty great.

I don’t have a lot to say. Between the con this weekend and Fourth of July and Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve been neglecting blog things. I have plans for moving forward, to keep from everything get wayyy behind. (It does involve Game of Thrones Season 3.)

Anyway, I’m a Pukwudgie, which means I’m a healer, and fiercely independent. Many of my friends are also Pukwudgies, so that’s pretty great.

Where did everyone else land? And what does it mean to you so far, even though we know very little about all of this at the moment?

(If you haven’t been sorted yet, check out Pottermore, there’s some cool stuff…)

Cosplay Corner: Poe Dameron, Ravenclaw & Turtle Power

For part 2 of this feature, since last week I talked about my laziest cosplay, I figured today I’d talk about my most complex one!

Con Ready Costumes

Poe Dameron

For Atlantic City Boardwalk Con (BEST CON EVERRR!) I dressed as Poe Dameron, in X-Wing Uniform…it still needs some work, but I put a lot of work into it and love it a lot.

The most important element is the orange jumpsuit, which I purchased on Amazon (I’ll be saying that a lot in these features…), and the white vest, which I got for my Princess Leia costume. I ordered a tactical belt and gun holster, as well as a toy blaster, and a few sets on suspenders.

Then came the chest piece, which was about a day of work, which considering I’d never done anything like this before, is not bad. So, how did I do it? I purchased an outdoor electrical switch panel, and used paint pens to decorate it to look like the pilot’s chest pieces. I then bought a vacuum tube and hot glued it to the bottom.

Then I stitched this piece to one of the sets of suspenders, and clipped them to the tactical belt, I worse the combat boots that I’ve had for a few years (actually purchased for Black Canary!) I realized that the look is more complete if I pin the suspenders to the vest, so that happened.

And of course I had the best possible accessory, Kristi as BB-8.


Closet Cosplay

I actually wore one of these last week, but I didn’t have time to write it up. The other is in celebration (???) of this week’s movie season movie…

Ravenclaw House Pride (Harry Potter)


Like many nerds, I can talk about my Hogwarts House for hours and why I feel I belong there. (I can also expound on my Westeros house, but that’s for another day). I’m a Ravenclaw. I’m all about cleverness and reading and school. I’m a confirmed nerd, so I belong in Ravenclaw.

So this outfit plays on that. I should note that this entire outfit is from the H&M basics collection, so it probably costs a total of $20, which is why I love the H&M basics collection. (Also all those clothes fit me really well.)

Anyway, high waist black pencil skirt, with a blue tank top under a sheer black crop top. Add in a snitch necklace, my long chain with a pair of wings to represent the raven, and the blue bead earrings that I got as a bridesmaid gift from Chrissy! I just wore black flats with it, because work day.

Heroes in A Half Shell! Turtle Power! – Raphael (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)


If I wake up in time to get a half price morning ticket, I’ll be going to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of The Shadows, (tonight I’m hitting up Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping and on Wednesday I saw The Nice Guys) but on Wednesday I managed to throw together a Turtle closet cosplay. Raphael has always been my favorite, so I leaned into that.

The Red Tank Top reps Raphael for me. The green skirt and brown leggings are supposed to represent a turtle shell and the combat boots get the “ninja” idea across.

This one was really lazy, but that’s sort of the point of closet cosplays, right?

Always.

AlanRickmanPictures.jpg

Most people in my position are going to talk about Alan Rickman today and they’re going to talk about Professor Snape, or Hans Gruber and how this really unique actor touched their lives.

And he meant a lot to me. I loved his Professor Snape. Die Hard is a perfect action movie and he’s a perfect villain in it.

But that’s not how I think of him when I think of Alan Rickman. When I think of Alan Rickman, I don’t want to turn to page 394.

All I can think of is simply, “Oh really, what are you going to do? Hit me with that fish?”

To me, in spite of the countless times I loved this man’s performances, the one that’s always stayed with me, is his portrayal of The Metatron, the voice of God in Kevin Smith’s Dogma.

I was twelve when I first saw that movie and his performance gripped me. Snape came not long after, and in college I discovered the adaptation of Sense & Sensibility where he played Colonel Brandon (It’s probably my favorite straight Austen adaptation, with all apologies to Mr. Firth.)

In particular the actors who were a part of Harry Potter series are going to leave a massive hole in the world. Because as I’ve said before, Harry Potter is such a different animal than anything that came before or after it.

But Rickman and the films he’s been a part of have touched me in such a real, huge way, even outside of that collection of beloved performances. He was the Angel who spoke to my insecurities about my faith. He was the teacher that I hated. He was the gentle and kind friend I wished for. He was the nerd icon I often deserved. He was the cheating husband I hated.

It’s weird to think that we lost these two titans this week, and I feel off my axis about it. Yesterday on facebook, I was more eloquent about it, but I wanted to feel this out a bit more, so thank you all for your patience on this.

Anyway, thank you, Mr. Rickman for all of it. You will be remembered. Always.

 

Everybody Dance To The Pumpkin Song

Happy Halloween!

Due to Birthday Party and other socially exhausting things, I don’t have real Halloween plans. I did this on purpose, and may hit a bar or something, but more likely I’ll be in, watching a movie. Since I don’t do the whole horror thing, my Halloween choices tend to range into the silly and campy. So here are the things I’m going to be considering watching tonight.

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

OK, I probably won’t watch this, since I watched it with my mom last night. But it’s always a good pick. It’s so silly and perfect, and pretty brief. Like really brief. At just over 30 mintues, it’s probably the fastest on this list, but it’s still a good one. Charlie Brown and the gang are at their best here, going trick or treating (I got a rock) and Sally’s melt down after realizing she wasted her Halloween waiting for The Great Pumpkin is completely epic.

Double, Double Toil And Trouble

OK, a confession, I haven’t watched the Olsen Twin Halloween Movie since I was little, but I mean, come on, they were so cute at that point. Not quite at the height of their powers, (That came a few years later, when they were tweens/early teens. I think they actually ruled the world then…at least my world.) but still good.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: “Halloween”

I wasn’t going to leave you high and dry without a Buffy recommendation, and this episode, the one where everyone turns into their Halloween costumes is absolutely the one to watch. So good.

Hocus Pocus

Celebrate Halloween by watching the Sanderson Sisters run amok (Amok, Amok, Amok, Amok) in Salem, Massachusetts. Also, Thackery Binks, best name in the history of the world.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Not to be watched alone. Not because it’s too scary, unless you have a thing about Tim Curry, but because there is nothing fun about jumping up and doing “The Time Warp” by yourself. You need other people to make that fun.

Army of Darkness

“Alright you primitive screwheads. You see this? THIS IS MY BOOM STICK!”

The Cabin in the Woods

Really creepy. Really funny. Not at all what it seems. Features Hemsworth. Pure Whedoney goodness.

Harry Potter

Any of them. There are 8 movies. But for creep factor, you’re not going to meet the middle three. The Prisoner of Azkaban, The Goblet of Fire The Order Of The Phoenix are the creepiest and most atmospheric of the series, and certainly the best of of them.

Shaun of The Dead

Come on, do I need to sing the praises of Edgar Wright & crew again? No, I think we’re covered there.

Young Frankenstein

This is probably what I’ll end up with. I love this movie so very much. I watch it any time, but it’s a lot of fun to watch at Halloween time.

Ghostbusters

There’s never a bad time to watch Ghostbusters. Never.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The end all be all of non scary Halloween movies. You know how sometimes you forget how good something is? Like you remember loving something, thinking that it’s completely wonderful and everything, and then you encounter it again. And you remember. You remember how something can scare you, and make you laugh, and cry and feel all those things at once. That’s how I feel every time I watch The Nightmare Before Christmas. I was listening to the soundtrack in my office yesterday and giggling like crazy.

So that’s what I’m looking at for tonight. Anyone else have some fun stuff lined up for Halloween tonight?

10 Points For Gryffindor!

I mentioned this theme week to my brother, and listed like 10 that I wanted to do. He helped me weed them down because he’s very good at telling me when I’m being a moron. So when I mentioned that I wanted to talk about Gossip Girl, Harry Potter and Twilight, he sighed loudly and was like, “Reenie, maybe just Harry. I mean, I know you liked Twilight and Gossip Girl, but they kind of had limited impact.”

He was right. But don’t tell him I said that.

The thing you may have noticed is that every time I’ve written about Harry Potter here it’s generally been in relation to something else. I find it enormously difficult to analyze and quantify this series and it’s impact on me, and since I’m no longer a student and no one is making me write this blog or  challenge myself, I’ve never really spent much time analyzing my love for the Harry Potter series.

This has not been for lack of trying.

Earlier this year I even reread the series in order to try to get some fresh perspective and the only thing I could do was try placing superheroes in different houses. (Again, with the relational)

And I think I know why.

Harry Potter is such a deep part of my nerd DNA, so much a part of my vocabulary, that there’s no point in trying to analyze it or describe my relationship to it. The only other thing in this category is SNL, which has been a part of my day to day life forever.

But Harry Potter has been a part of my pop culture vocabulary for about 15 years (Ugh, that’s a horrifyingly high number.) and was such a pervasive part of my life for that time, between then books and movies, and rereads and then catching news about Pottermore (meh) and The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter (A-MAH-ZING!) and then of course going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, well, it’s something that’s just always been with me.

I have a Ravenclaw banner on my wall, and can say things like, “I’m a Ravenclaw” in everyday conversation, even with normals, and not be looked at as though I was a weirdo. Actual weirdos (some of whom are related to me) played Quidditch as a club sport in college. I’m not saying that isn’t bizarre, I’m saying that no one said, “What’s Quidditch?” People just know what it is.

And that’s what I’m taking away here. Harry Potter just is. Which is quite zen of it, I guess. But it’s acted as a massive gateway for me into lots of things, midnight screenings, and book parties. Following a serialized and endlessly long narrative. Shipping. British-y stuff.

Seriously, I do not think any American who wasn’t a Potterhead could stomach being a Whovian or Dowton Abbey, I have a basic understanding of not all things, but many things British due to these books (and other things that I picked up later, again because of Harry Potter.)

And of course, it was the first thing that made me realize that, “Oh, all of these stories are the same! I get it.” When I realized that Harry was the same as Luke Skywalker, was the same as Buffy Summers, was the same as King Arthur, was the same, was the same, it was the first time I understood what criticism is. And that’s the other legacy, aside from opening up fandom to a lot of people, it opened up analysis and academia in a big way for a lot of people.

It’s going to be interesting to see what the legacy of this thing is going to be. Plenty of phenomena have faded over time, but I think that Harry Potter’s at least going to last as long as Star Wars, because people are going to share it with their children, and hopefully they’ll take hold.

Time To Get Personal: On Girly-ness

The inception of this post was going to be talking about the podcasts that I’ve been listening to, and why I like them, why other people should check them out, and that sort of thing.

Then I listened to Less Than Live With Kate Or Die, Kate Lethe’s amazing podcast about comics and feminism and funny things, and I realized that:

  1. I listen to a lot of podcasts that are just dudes talking about comedy
  2. I don’t know when I became that person.

So I actively started seeking out podcasts that were hosted by women, and of course stuck with Kate, started listening to Call Chelsea Peretti, and reaffirmed my love for Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend. But the main thing that I’m loving about Kate’s podcast, twitter and tumblr is that I’m starting to find more people who are into the things that I’m into, and are women and enjoy them as women.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m really, really, girly. And it’s for that reason that I kind of kept my mouth shut up my love of geek culture for a long time. Because even though I knew other girls that were into those things, (One of my college roommates, Beth, especially.) those kick ass awesome women weren’t so much into like shopping, and shoes, and glitter. So I convinced myself that these were two aspects of my personality that just didn’t belong together.

There was Reenie who liked to be girly, and Reenie who like superheroes, and Star Wars, never the twain shall meet.

Then Doctor Who came into my life and I realized, maybe not everything has to be separated, because women love this show, and they love it the way I watched women love One Tree Hill or Gossip Girl. But still, it took another two years for me to realize that these girls and women are out there in every fandom I’m into!

And while yes, the fabulous ladies on the internet I’ve been tracking lately are a part of it, there are also amazing women in my life, who over the past two years or so, I’ve realized fangirl hard on various things.

Aless, obviously. But I’ve talked about that. You guys know our origin story. But, Lisa, one of my best friends from my second senior year of college, another Whovian, but also super into Marvel stuff. Joanna, one of the TomFools, is a massive Star Wars fangirl. My sister, Mary, is obviously my foremost authority on all things Coheed & Cambria and I defy anyone to go toe to toe with her when it comes to Harry Potter. My friend Sumona, who you have to tap if you want to know about comedy or YA Literature. Nancy Sue, there for all things Veronica Mars, and Katherine for TV, just TV in general. Christine, my cousin’s wife for A Song of Ice And Fire. I could keep going.

This isn’t to dismiss the other women in my life, the more, for lack of a better term, Tom-Boyishish ones who also love these kinds of things. Chrissy, Beth as I mentioned before, Jen. I love nerding out with these women, I love living life with these women, but these were also the women who looked at me and rolled their eyes as I staggered out in my way too high heels, or looked at me blankly when I discussed Anna Wintour’s influence on my life. (Massive, hugely massive!)

So I’m really happy that I’ve found my niche here. I’ll wear my Her Universe dresses and talk about shipping and keep campaigning for Black Widow, Captain Marvel & Wonder Woman. I’m going to keep watching Sailor Moon and sing the praises of Gail Simone! And I’m going to hug the women in my life. I’m going to love them for the ways they’re the same as me and different than me, and for accepting who I am.

So, that’s what I’m feeling at the moment.