24 February 2014

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two 2011
  • Director: David Yates
  • Based on the book by J.K. Rowling
  • Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Mark Williams, Julie Walters, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton, Devon Murray, Alfie Enoch, David Bradley, Bonnie Wright, Jamie Waylett, Josh Hirdman, Chris Rankin,  James and Oliver Phelps, Robert Hardy, David Thewliss, Timothy Spall, Natalia Tena, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham-Carter, Helen McCrory,  Jason Isaacs, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, George Harris, Domhnall Gleeson, Clémence Poésy, John Hurt, Rhys, Ifans, Kelly Macdonald, Ciarin Hinds, Jim Broadbent, Miriam Margoyles, Gemma Jones, Emma Thompson, Gary Oldman, Geraldine Somerville, Adrian Rawlins
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • See the previous films for most. The new ones:
    • Kelly Macdonald – No Country for Old Men, Nanny NcPhee, Tristram Shandy, The Girl in the Café, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Finding Neverland, Gosford Park, My Life So Far, Elizabeth, Train Spotting
    •  Ciarin Hinds - Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, The Woman in Black, Margo at the Wedding, Hallam Foe, Road to Perdition, Jane Eyre, Cold Lazarus
    •  Geraldine Somerville – the other Harry Potter films (don’t know why I haven’t included her before), My Week with Marilyn, Gosford Park
    • Adrian Rawlins – ditto on the other HP films, Breaking the Waves
  • Why? It’s Harry Potter!
  • Seen: Four times including now: February 24, 2014
       They did it.
       And I’m speechless.  But there must be some words to describe this epic finish?
       The first time we saw this in the cinema at the Swedish premiere I clutched the arms of my seat for two hours and was so tense that my muscles ached for days afterwards.
       It hasn’t lost any of its power. I still clutch the arms of my chair.  McGonagall is magnificent. Neville is valiant. Snape is after all, a hero and not a villain.
       And Harry rises to the terrible challenge. He sacrifices his life, triumphs and then chooses ordinariness. Perfect.
       I start getting choked up when McGonagall defies Snape to defend Harry and Ginny jumps in front of him to protect him.   And I stay choked up more or less for the rest of the film, right up to when dad Harry gives advice to son Albus. I’m still choked up.
       They did it.  Harry isn’t the only one to triumph. The entire cast and crew have done the impossible – as did J.K. Rowling  – and given us a finale that outdoes even the first seven.

10* of 10

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One 2010
  • Director: David Yates
  • Based on the book by J.K. Rowling
  • Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Mark Williams, Julie Walters, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton, Devon Murray, Alfie Enoch, David Bradley, Bonnie Wright, Jamie Waylett, Josh Hirdman, Chris Rankin,  James and Oliver Phelps, Robert Hardy, David Thewliss, Timothy Spall, Natalia Tena, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham-Carter, Helen McCrory,  Jason Isaacs, Bill Nighy, Richard Griffiths, Henry Melling, Fiona Shaw, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, George Harris, Domhnall Gleeson, Clémence Poésy, John Hurt, Rhys Ifans, Imelda Staunton, Toby Jones, Miranda Richardson, Frances de la Tour, Guy Henry, Andy Linden, Sophie Thompson
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • See the previous films for most. The new ones:
    • Bill Nighy – Hotel Marigold, Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Girl in the Café, The Boat that Rocked, Shaun of the Dead
    • Domhnall Gleeson  - True Grit, Never Let Me Go
    • Andy Linden – Merlin, From Hell
    • Rhys Ifans – The Boat that Rocked, Elizabeth the Gold Age, The Shipping News, Notting Hill
    • Sophie Thompson – Gosford Park, Persuasion, Four Weddings and a Funeral
  • Why? It’s Harry Potter!
  • Seen: Four times including now: February 23, 2014      
       The Dursleys flee. Hermione removes herself from her parents’ memories and sends them to safety in Australia (this is, it occurs to me, a very European story). Snape betrays Harry; his escape with his friends as Polyjuice Harrys is fraught with injury and death.
       And that’s just in the first few minutes.
       Again there are whimsical pranks and lines that bring laughter, and sweet moments of Harry and Ginny kissing, but this is basically a film of tension, fear, violence. And waiting.
       Harry is forced to doubt the greatness and wisdom of Dumbledore.  Ron is hostile to Harry and jealous of Harry and Hermione’s friendship. His inferiority complex is revealed in painful scenes. He leaves and one of the most poignant scenes in all the films is when the grieving and worried Harry and Hermione dance to Nick Cave’s “O’Children” in their tent of exile in the forest. For a few seconds they laugh and draw comfort from one another only to return to their heavy sorrow.
       Snatchers stalk them. Reports of missing and dead come to them on a crackly radio.  Friends betray them to protect their own loved ones.
       The trio wait. And think. And think. And think. And wait. How to find and destroy the horcruxes?
       It ends, again, in tragedy.  How many dear to him can Harry bear to lose?
       This film has not received the high ratings that some of the others have.  Maltin calls it “more of a placeholder than a full-fledged movie.”
       Well, of course it is.  That’s what the lives of these three kids, and their whole world, is all about right now.  Their lives are on tormenting hold while they wait for the final battle they know is coming.
       It’s done to near perfection.

9 * of 9

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince


Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 2009
  • Director: David Yates
  • Based on the book by J.K. Rowling
  • Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Mark Williams, Julie Walters, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton, Devon Murray, Alfie Enoch, David Bradley, Bonnie Wright, Jamie Waylett, Josh Hirdman, Chris Rankin,  James and Oliver Phelps, Robert Hardy, David Thewliss, Timothy Spall, Natalia Tena, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham-Carter, Jim Broadbent, Helen McCrory, Gemma Jones, Jason Isaacs, Elarica Gallacher, Jessie Cave, Frank Delane
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • See the previous films. New characters:
    • Jim Broadbent –  Another Year, Young Victoria, Vera Drake, Gangs of New York, Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Little Voice, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Life is Sweet, Brazil, Black Adder
    • Helen McCrory – Hugo, Becoming Jane, The Queen, Interview with a Vampire
  • Why? It’s Harry Potter!
  • Seen: Four times including now: February 23, 2014
       We certainly thought about this film as we crossed the Millennium Bridge in London last summer! 
       Things are getting so bad in this one that even Muggles are dying.
       But oddly, the film has some light hearted moments. Harry is flirted with by the beautiful girl in the café. Dumbledore says, after tidying up a destroyed Muggle living room using magic, “That was fun,” and he reveals that, “I do love knitting patterns.”  The romance problems of Ron and Hermione and Harry and Ginny are bittersweet.  They all end up with the right person. Professor Slughorn is comically tragic in his intoned eulogy of Hagrid’s dear departed Aragog.
       There are more laughs, in other words, than there have been for two or three films. And through much (not all) of it, the dangers seem somewhat distant. There is more mystery than excitement.  We know Draco has been ordered by Voldemort to kill Dumbledore but what is he up to as he skulks around Hogwarts? We almost feel sorry for him as we see him fall apart under the pressure.  And what is Snape really up to?  What dark secret does Slughorn hide? Where does Dumbledore disappear to now and then?
       The sombre tone thickens throughout and the atmosphere in the essentially black and white filming gets steadily heavier and more dramatic.  The climax seems to be in Harry and Dumbledore’s terrifying quest on the stormy rock island.  But they survive that only to –
       The ending still comes as a shock.  It really does. Even knowing it’s coming and the whys and the what-happens -in-the-next –film/book, it’s a shock.  It just can’t be happening.
       As first Professor McGonagall, then everybody, all raise their glowing wands in tribute  – that’s when my tears start.
       This is getting to be heavy going.  But I already miss the films though there are two left.
      
9 * of 9


23 February 2014

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 2007
  • Director: David Yates
  • Based on the book by J.K. Rowling
  • Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Gary Oldman, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Fiona Shaw, Richard Griffiths, Harry Melling, Mark Williams, Julie Walters, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton, Devon Murray, Alfie Enoch, David Bradley, Bonnie Wright, Jamie Waylett, Josh Hirdman, Chris Rankin,  James and Oliver Phelps, Robert Hardy, David Thewliss, Emma Thompson, Timothy Spall, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, Natalia Tena, George Harris, Peter Cartwright, Imelda Staunton, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham-Carter
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Daniel Radcliffe  The Woman in Black, December Boys, Extras, David Copperfield
    • Emma Watson – My Week with Marilyn
    • Rupert Grint  Driving Lessons
    • Gary Oldman – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Prick Up Your Ears, Sid and Nancy, Friends, Léon, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Bok of Eli, The Dark Knight, The Scarlet Letter, Immortal Beloved, Romeo Is Bleeding, True Romance, Dracula, JFK, Nil by Mouth (director)
    • Robbie Coltrane – From Hell, Henry V, Black Adder, Tutti Frutti, Absolute Beginners
    • Maggie Smith -  Hotel Marigold, A Room with a View, Gosford Park, Keeping Mum, David Copperfield, Tea with Mussolini, Richard III, Sister Act, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
    • Alan Rickman – Alice in Wonderland, Snow Cake, Sweeney Todd, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Love Actually, Michael Collins, Sense and Sensibility, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. The January Man, Die Hard, Romeo and Juliet
    • Fiona Shaw – The Butcher Boy, Jane Eyre, My Left Foot,
    • Richard Griffiths - The Merry Wives of Windsor, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sleepy Hollow, Gandhi, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Comedy of Errors, Withnail and I
    • Harry Melling – Merlin (Gilli)
    • Michael Gambon – The King’s Speech, The Book of Eli, Brideshead Revisited, Cranford, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Being Julia, Angels in America, Gosford Park, Longitude, Sleepy Hollow, Mary Reilly
    • David Thewlis – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Kingdom of Heaven, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith, The Big Lebowski, Naked, Life is Sweet,
    • Emma Thompson – The Boat that Rocked, Brideshead Revisited, Nanny McPhee, An Education, Last Chance Harvey, Stranger than Fiction, Angels in America, Love Actually, Wit, The Remains of the Day, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Peter’s Friends, Howards End, Dead Again, Fortunes of War, Impromptu, Tutti Frutti
    • Mark Williams – Hustle, Merlin (Goblin’s voice), Stardust, Tristram Shandy, Shackleton, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith, Shakespeare in Love
    • Julie Walters - Billy Elliot, Educating Rita, Mamma Mia, Driving Lessons, Calendar Girls, The Young Jane Austin, Wah-Wah, Titanic Town, Prick Up Your Ears
    • David Bradley – Another Year, Nicholas Nickleby, Our Mutual Friend, Prick Up Your Ears, A Family at War
    • Timothy Spall – The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd, All or Nothing, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Our Mutual Friend, Hamlet, Secrets and Lies, Life is Sweet, Gothic, Quadrophenia
    • Robert Hardy – Shackleton, Sense and Sensibility, Frankenstein, Middlemarch, Twelfth Night, How I Won the War
    • Brendan Gleeson -  In Bruges, Beowulf, Kingdom of Heaven, Troy, Cold Mountain, Gangs of New York, Twenty-Eight Days Later, My Life So Far, The Butcher Boy, Michael Collins, Braveheart
    • Natalia Tena – Mrs. Henderson Presents, About a Boy
    • Imelda Staunton – Another Year, Alice in Wonderland, Cranford. Taking Woodstock, Freedom Writers, A Midsummer Night’s Dream Retold, Nanny McPhee, Vera Drake, David Copperfield, Shakespeare in Love, Twelfth Night, Sense and Sensibility, Much Ado about Nothing, Peter’s Friends
    • Helena Bonham-Carter - Sweeney Todd, The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Howards End, Toast, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Les Misérables, Grat Expectations, Life’s Too Short, Enid, Terminator Salvation, Conversations with Other Women, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Planet of the Apes, Fight Club, Howards End, A Room with a View
    • Ralph Fiennes – The Reader, In Bruges, The Constant Gardener, Maid in Manhattan, Sunshine, The English Patient,  Spider, Strange Days, The Quiz Show, Schindler’s List, Wuthering Heights
  • Why? It’s Harry Potter!
  • Seen: Four or five times. Now: February 22, 2014
       We don’t even get a few minutes of fun in like a Quidditch World Cup. This one starts with dementors attacking Harry and Dudley and Harry being expelled from Hogwarts for using magic in front of a Muggle.
       Battle lines are drawn.  The Ministry of Magic refuses to believe Harry and Dumbledore that Voldemort is back and calls them dangerous liars.  Harry is still in shock after Cedric’s death and he’s angry and afraid. 
       There is disagreement within the Order of the Phoenix. The adult resistance to Voldemort - Arthur Weasley, Molly Weasley *, Sirius, Mad-Eye Moody, Lupin , Snape (Snape!?) and newcomers Tonks and Shacklebolt  - argue about how much to tell Harry about the danger he’s in.
       There is excitement, courage, hope and great advances under Harry’s enthusiastic and skilful tutelage in Dumbledore’s Army – then crushing betrayal.
       Harry’s mind is invaded by Voldemort’s and he’s terrified that he’s turning into his dark enemy.
       Parallels to Nazi Germany are clear. In Fudge’s frantic speeches heard in the Common Room on an old-fashioned radio. In the oppressive and sadistic dictatorship of Dolores Umbridge, giggly and pink and frighteningly played by Imelda Staunton. In the system of informing on one’s classmates.
       In the midst of all this looming disaster Harry kisses a girl – is he in love?  He sees Neville grow in courage and confidence. And he gets a new friend in the fey and sweetly kind Loony Luna.
       But in the tragic climax he loses the one he values most and runs up against the demonic Bellatrix Lastrange played by Helena Bonham Carter as only she can.
       The evil forces of Voldemort and his many followers loom higher. The adults who remember mutter, “It’s changing out there, just like last time.”
       Harry tries to install courage into the hearts of his friends with the words, “We have something worth fighting for.”
       Whistling in the dark, I fear.

8 * of 8


* Happy birthday, Julie Walters, who turns sixty-four as we watch the film