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21 November 2014 @ 12:01 pm
The Globe is doing Richard II next year!

Now if only they decide to cast Jamie Parker as Richard (and film it, of course)…

In not really related news, we started doing Juliet's "Gallop apace" today in class. Bliss. Stressed syllables and plosives together, how wonderful.
20 November 2014 @ 09:17 pm
If you find this sort of thing interesting (albeit macabre):

Death is All Around Us: The Plague Pits of London

(h/t Matthew Ward via Twitter)
18 November 2014 @ 09:27 pm
Nope, Sleepy Hollow. Just nope. You cannot force me to like a character I really don't like, just by having him make an Austen reference. Nope. (Especially if you're using it to do that thing I can't stand, where people think that Austen's novels are about characters whose dislike for each other actually is evidence of their hidden passion for each other, because ugh, and also, that is not actually how Pride and Prejudice works.)

At least he didn't play the old, tired, "oh, I only know this because some old girlfriend made me watch the miniseries" card, though. I will give him that.

But the Ichabod Crane: Human Cat show is still running, which is nice. (Relaxing into boneless pleasure only to be pulled up short by remembering his dignity? Human cat.) And Nicole Beharie and Lyndie Greenwood were fabulous last night. Shame I still don't care about the apocalypse, but what can you do?
09 November 2014 @ 06:02 pm
So I mostly just feel like I'm glad to be done with that season? There were some bright spots, but man, it was grim. And I didn't like the episode, for reasons that have way more to do with what I like in stories than anything about the episode, probably, but it wasn't the note I wanted to end on. (Like, there were several things that, if they had happened in a different episode, I would have been all over, but instead I just felt like it all felt weary and hollow, to me. This is not objective! I hope everyone who wanted to love it was able to love it. I just didn't.)

And I really hate being That Person, but I miss Eleven and my Ponds more than ever now.
09 November 2014 @ 01:31 pm
I Smell a Gritty Reboot: "Modern Take" on Little Women Coming to ABC

(link via Bookshelves of Doom.)

My actual problem with this is that I simply can't imagine it. Sherlock, and then Elementary, was an easy fit for imagining how modernization might work because people had been telling Holmes-inflected stories on TV for years before that (House, Psych, The Mentalist, a host of shows I've forgotten - and even crime procedurals that aren't explicitly wedded to the "super-smart and observant male detective" model draw on some of the same elements). I don't know how closely Revenge hews to its original source material, but the idea of revenge was still a part of the TV landscape before the show aired.

The thing I keep getting stuck on is that the concerns of the March family, and the ways those concerns are dealt with, are so located in their specific time period - not the fact that the father is away at war (sadly - although I don't understand the "military scandal" part in the synopsis), or the family's straitened circumstances while he's away - but the way self-abnegation is such an important part of the story, for example. (Not that this isn't a modern value, but it's not one we see on TV all that often.) I guess this is the question I have about the difference between "inspired by" and "retelling" or "adaptation of." House is not really an adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories, even though it's clearly inspired by them - and that's fine. Reign would make fifteen times more sense to me if they just told a story inspired by Mary, Queen of Scots, instead of purporting to be based on her life but getting every single detail of it wrong and having no allegiance to anything resembling actual history. A modern story inspired by Little Women is one thing - and actually, the more it makes sure to stand on its own without constantly looking back to the novel, the better it would probably be - but an actual adaptation is another thing entirely, and much harder to figure out, especially when the original has such specific and important values at its heart.

(This is also why the two recent-ish adaptations of Mansfield Park - the Rozema film, and then the miniseries with Billie Piper - annoy me so much; they both rewrite Fanny Price entirely, to make her more "palatable" to a "modern" audience, instead of taking her seriously as a character with values that are important to her role in the story.)
09 November 2014 @ 12:10 pm
I tried to watch Penny Dreadful season one (library DVD), because I'd heard Rory Kinnear was in it. It turned out Billie Piper is in it as well (doing an absolutely wretched Irish accent, which is made more wretched by the fact that her character's being Irish adds just about nothing to her story as far as I can see, except that she can be named "Brona," which apparently means "sadness"), and guest actors I love kept turning up - Alex Price, Simon Russell Beale (!), Helen McCrory. And yet, I could only make it partway through episode 3; I realized that I wasn't actually enjoying anything about the show.

The Gothic is definitely not my aesthetic, and I'm not interested in vampires (the Timothy Dalton character says - or intones; nobody just "says" anything on this show - "My daughter was taken," and I snarked "by the fairies," and then thought, disappointed, "…oh. I would so much rather have that show").1 And I really hate the character of Frankenstein, just in general (despite the number of times the National Theatre has screened the Miller/Cumberbatch Frankenstein - including once more this year, for Halloween - I have not been able to muster up enough enthusiasm to try to go). Like, how did you not think this through, idiot? You brought what is basically a corpse puzzle to life, and then thought, "oh no, this is terrible, run away"? And then were not at all concerned that your animated corpse puzzle wasn't there when you went back? Like, "dum de dum, glad that's over, it's probably not out terrorizing people with its very existence or anything, on with the rest of my life!" Victor Frankenstein, you are the worst. And then the whole "Romantic bros locked in primal combat" thing is also not that interesting to me. But I think I never recovered from the fact that it looked like the creators of Penny Dreadful were going to take the Frankenstein story in a different direction (and also make Frankenstein less terrible) - and then, nope, right back in that soup. Without spoilers…I feel like the decision they made, which was to end the one part of the narrative that looked like it might have been about that rare commodity, joy, in as abrupt and bloody a way as possible, essentially summed up the show for me. Humor and joy and happiness - even the hard-won sort - don't exist in these kinds of worlds (so what are we fighting for, exactly?), and it's foolish of you, viewer, to look for it or invest in it if it seems to be there for a few scenes. Well, I learned my lesson, and that's a big part of why I stopped watching. That might be to someone else's taste, but it is emphatically not to mine.

(And then Frankenstein's creature tells this backstory about how he fell in with a bunch of theater people and became a stagehand, and that sounded so much more interesting to me than the whole "I hate my dad creator, but I will hound him to the death to force him to make me a mate" thing, which sort of only works if the creature hasn't…just made friends who still live around the corner? And also just basically looks like Rory Kinnear with some scars and a partially shaved head? The theater guy he meets actually says to him when they meet, "Oh, was it an industrial accident?" not, you know, "Vile thing, avaunt and quit my sight!" So it feels really dumb, this whole "I can never join the humans" line that they've taken with him. I…guess the creature is immortal? But it feels like he hasn't been around long enough to have a) figured this out; and b) have exhausted the possibilities of connecting to other humans, since he meets theater guy on his very first night alone in London, and has been working at the theater just long enough to have tracked Victor down? I don't know; time is mushy on this show. Anyway, the point is, the creature learning to be human from a bunch of actors and through art was suddenly so much more interesting to me than this "Time to make the donuts lurk in alleys and stalk my creator" narrative that I was pretty much over it before it had even begun. Also, he had this terribly clunky line about how Victor likes Keats and Wordsworth, but poetry is Over because of the Industrial Age or something - "did you think we would find eternity in a daffodil? Who's the child now, Victor Frankenstein?" and it just bounced off my head entirely and made me giggle for several minutes, because daffodils are still a thing, you can have flowers and steam engines, it's not like they cancel each other out; and also it's just so "You so don't get it, dad!" that I couldn't take it seriously.) (Also, it's weird that Victor, fictional character created by the wife of a Romantic poet, can read Keats and Wordsworth…but not Shelley, I guess? - Wait, no, the creature totally mentions Adonais, what the hell.)

Also, Dorian Gray is…there? For…reasons? Maybe he gets something to do other than random uncomfortable Sexytimes at some point, but I won't be finding out.

In sum: If you are going to throw all the 19th-century monster tales into a blender, you should actually do something more interesting than the usual "everything is grim, there were no colors in Victorian London / look there are opium dens so it's not your grandma's period drama / let's go hunt the creatures of the night / guess we'll enlist some shady dudes without giving them enough information to properly protect themselves on a bloody vampire hunt, that's totally responsible of us and not at all done just so we can seem Mysterious / ha ha, coherent mythology, that's not a thing, silly" world that they've set up.

1Seriously, where are my fairy shows??? Even aside from the fact that I love that mythology and never get to see it onscreen except for Pan's Labyrinth a billion years ago, at least it would be different. Penny Dreadful basically exists in the same murky, blood-drenched, scabrous, consumptive world of Copper and Ripper Street and The Crimson Petal and the White, and you can't throw a vial of holy water without hitting vampires and werewolves and End Times and Creatures of the Night Set to Blot Out the Sun and Destroy the Age of Man, and bleh. I can't even think of a supernatural show that has had much to do with fairies; I guess they don't mix especially well with the Apocalypse?
02 November 2014 @ 12:00 pm
- It's snowing. Boooooooooo.

- I just realized I forgot to listen to "Tam Lin" on Halloween like I usually do, and now I am sad. :(

- My mother was apparently looking at a Doctor Who book in a bookstore, and someone who worked there interpreted that as a sign of her own interest in the show. Apparently my mom had a whole conversation with this guy (although she did inform him that she didn't actually watch the show, her daughter did), and the subject of "favorite Doctor" came up. My mother couldn't remember whether my favorite was - her words - "the one with the floppy hair" or "the one who looks like him."

("…they don't actually look alike at all, but is the one with the floppy hair the one with the bow tie," I asked. Yes, yes he was.)

So I told - well, reminded - her that obviously, Eleven is my favorite, and now I am having all of these unwieldy Eleven feelings, which are helpful in no way at all.