Girls on Film

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Melissa:

Hermione has been assassinated in these movies, and i mean that genuinely, by giving her every single positive character trait that Ron has - they have assassinated her character. In the movies she’s been harmed by being made to be less human - because everything good Ron has she’s been given. 

So for instance:

'If you want to kill Harry, you're going to have to kill me too.'
Ron - Leg is broken, he’s in pain, gets up and stands in front of harry and says this. Who gets this line in the movie? Hermione.

'Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself'
Hermione doesn’t say Voldemort’s name until well into the books - that’s Dumbledore’s line. When does hermione say that in the movies? Beginning of movie 2. 

When the devil’s snare is curling itself around everybody Hermione panics and Ron is the one who keeps his head and says ‘are you a witch or not? use fire’. In the movie everybody else panics and Hermione keeps her head and does the biggest brightest sunlight spell or whatever..

So you know, Hermione - all her flaws were shaved away in the films. And that sounds like you are making a kick ass, amazing character and what you’re doing is dehumanising her and it pisses me off! it really does. In the books they balance each other out because where Hermione gets frazzled and maybe her rationality overtakes some of her instinct , Ron has that to back it up. Ron has a kind of emotional grounding that can keep hermione’s hyper-rationalness in check.

——

Sound clip from film plays:

Harry: You are brilliant Hermione, truly

Hermione: Actually, i’m highly logical which allows me to look past extraneous detail and perceive clearly that which others overlook

Harry: ..Yeah..

—-

Melissa: Sometimes Hermione’s super-logical nature grates Harry and bothers him and isn’t the thing he needs even if it’s the right thing. Like when she says ‘you have a saving people thing’. That is the thing that Harry needed to hear, she’s a 100% right but the way she does it is wrong. That’s the classic .. she’s super logical, she’s super brilliant but she doesn’t know how to handle people emotionally, at least harry. So in the books they are this balanced group and in the movie - yeah in the movie? Hermione? Hell, not even harry is good enough for Hermione in the movies.

No one’s good enough for Hermione in the movies! God isn’t good enough for hermione in the movies! Hermione is everybody’s everything in the movies.

Harry’s idea to jump on the dragon in the books - who gets it in the movies? Hermione who hates to fly. Hermione overcomes her withering fear of flying to take over harry’s big idea. Why does Hermione get all these moments?

John: [sotto] It’s because we need to market the movie to girls..

Melissa: I think girl’s like the books, period. And like the Hermione in the books just fine before hollywood made her idealised and perfect and if they would have trusted that it would have been just fine.

John: What percentage of people that watched the Harry Potter movies do you think had read the books first?

Melissa: i don’t know, in the beginning a lot of them.. in the beginning most of them. Now, who knows..

But what’s wrong? Would the movies have been bad if hermione was as awesome as she is in the books and as human as she is in the books? Would the movies get worse?

John: i’m sure there was a conversation that said something like ‘we need to have a strong girl character in there… [cut off] 

Melissa: SHE IS A STRONG GIRL CHARACTER!

John: Like, have you read articles about why they added all these female characters to the Hobbit movie that were never in the hobbit specifically so girls watching would feel like they.. [cut off again]

Melissa: See, but this is the thing that pisses me off  and I’m not saying that you are doing it, (to John) I’m saying that they are doing it - they are equating strong with superhuman. To me, the hermione in the book is 12 times stronger than the completely unreachable ideal of hermione in the movies. Give me the hermione in the book who’s human and has flaws any single day of the week.

John: I think it’s just it’s easier for that to play well in a book format than it is to watch it on screen..

Melissa: BS! Make it work.

John: [laughs]

Melissa: You’re the people who get millions to write scripts and get paid millions to direct.. figure it out! Earn your money!

[..]

John: Well, it helps them sell their merchandise..

Frankie: I mean it didn’t hurt at all that Emma Watson happened to grow up to be a beautiful woman..

Melissa: And here’s the thing! Right, it doesn’t hurt at all… So great! She ended up being beautiful. They didn’t need to also make her perfect.

 ——-> From Pottercast 253 ‘Pottercast Filch’ 

This, all of this.

Review: The Cukoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

More consistent than The Casual Vacancy (although its highs were higher and lows lower) I found this to be an enjoyable, easy going whodunit that for the most part kept me engaged. Whilst the central characters felt quite cliched at the start they were fleshed out well throughout the story and by the end of the book were well poised for a sequel.

If I have any negative comments it’s that there is a strange combination of page-turner and long-windedness present in both this and The Casual Vacancy. Buried inside this book is a really gripping yarn half it’s length although unlike The Casual Vacancy it’s not as obvious to pinpoint where the extraneous information is. I never really felt bored while I was actually reading it, more that it just seemed to take far too long to get to the point. I’m a pretty gullible reader and never guess the endings to these things but in this case I did - I suspect mainly because I had so much prelude during which to wander through all the possibilities in my mind.

So to sum up..
A decent holiday read if not something that will blow your mind. Less divisive than The Casual Vacancy but ultimately less interesting too.
Hopefully there will be a slightly more brutally edited sequel to look forward to at some point soon.

Read it if you like: Colin Dexter, Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth George

7/10

Steve Kloves: There was this part in the script, when he was in the cupboard, I invented him a spider named Alastor, who he talked to. And he used to nick broken soldiers out of the rubbish bin, and he lined them up on the shelf. This broken army that Dudley had thrown out.

J.K. Rowling: It was such a great image, the broken army.

Kloves: And he used to talk to them, and the point was that he seemed slightly mad when I wrote the first draft. When Hagrid appeared, you thought he was out of his imagination for a minute. He had summoned this guy –

Rowling: I think that’s a fabulous point, and that speaks so perfectly to the truth to the books, because I had it suggested that to me more than once that Harry actually did go mad in the cupboard, and that everything that happened subsequently was some sort of fantasy life he developed to save himself.

Kloves: No and that’s where it came from. It came from the book. When you read the book, you make it pretty clear that he’s an abused boy.

Rowling: Totally. Of course he is.

Review: The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

(mildly spoilerish but no actual plot details)

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way before I start:

  1. This isn’t a Harry Potter book.
  2. The idea that Jo Rowling has any ongoing obligation to the children of the world when writing for adults is absolute bollocks. 
  3. If the writing style or the content surprises or shocks you and you have actually read the Potter series then you clearly weren’t paying attention.

With that out of the way let’s get down to what I thought of the book itself.

It took me a little longer to get into in than I would normally have persisted with a novel and although I enjoyed the tone from the offset I found the lack of discernible plot in the first chunk slow going and would probably have given up on it had it not been the new JK novel etc. It’s worth pointing out that I’m a pretty impatient reader though and often give up on books after a half dozen pages, sometimes even less, if they haven’t grabbed me  - however I still suspect it could have been edited a little more toughly in this opening section. Somewhere around the 200 page mark it suddenly clicked with me though and from that point on I found it pacey and highly enjoyable with the last quarter being un-put-downable. 

Typically of Jo’s writing the highlights of the book for me are the plotting and the characterisation, particularly of the teenage characters and the odious Howard Mollison. 

The writing style and characterisation was *exactly* what I expected it to be. Pagford is basically Little Whinging dragged into a more invasively adult scrutiny. Like her previous writing every character is flawed and many of them fairly unlikeable but in almost all cases we are encouraged to empathise with them too. We are given all sides of each nobly story to mull over in a way that real life rarely allows us to. A few reviews have criticised the writing for being stiff or two dimensional but I think that’s largely an illusion. Whilst she does occasionally have a tendency to slip into trite phrases or slightly overwrote metaphors there is this odd aspect to her writing, which I love and which is also present in the Potter series, where she gives you the feeling of something slightly pompous and old fashioned (Enid Blyton or Agatha Christie often come to mind)  then punctures it repeatedly with moments of humour, horror or realism. I can understand how people could take it at face value but it has an unsettling push-me-pull-me quality that I adore -  in much the same way (albeit not quite as twisted) as Twin Peaks where the cherry pie and strong jaws are just as integral as the madness and terror.

I’m not sure if this will make any sense but the plotting is the book’s key strength but not the plot itself. The way the various character’s lives weave together - finally crashing into each other in an operatic and somewhat melodramatically Hitchcock-esque final act (also reminiscent of the end of the third League of Gentlemen series) is fantastically enjoyable but the main story itself is not all that involving. I did enjoy the device of the pivotal character being dead (reminiscent of The Virgin Suicides or Twin Peaks again) and revealed to us only in drips and drops through the lives of the remaining characters and their own intricate stories, but the larger arc concerning Pagford and Yarvil and the council itself felt more like a vehicle for the message she wanted to deliver than a fleshed out story.

I was quite concerned in the opening chapters that the class war between Pagford and The Fields would become naive or cloyingly liberal and while at points in the early stages of the book it does feel a little like having a finger wagged at you I was relieved that as it progresses the moralising becomes much more evenly spread and complex. If there is an over-riding message to the book it is a borderline-nihilistic suggestion that we should all try to be more aware and kinder to each other but that life itself makes that almost impossible to achieve - that social conscience of any kind is an almost Herculean effort when combined with your own desires and needs. And that’s *very* Jo.

In summation - it’s not the best book I’ve ever read but it certainly wasn’t the worst either and although it’s not really like these author’s books I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys slightly gothic character based thrillers like Donna Tart, Patricia Highsmith and Louise Welsh . Or - and this really is the target demographic - Agatha Christie fans with a stomach for sex and swearing ;)

7/10