Kathleen
14 November 2014 @ 03:02 pm
I watched The Hobbit: Batlle Of the Five Armies and on the last film of the series, the director finally gets it right, finding the perfect balance between nostalgia and a compelling new story. While there are still a few flaws - Tauriel remains unnecessary, Fili gets far too little screentime, Kili is obviously pushed to the viewers as the favorite, and we still never get to "know" many of the characters like in LOTRs, the good points far outweigh the bad. Most notably, unlike the others, this film never feels padded or stretched, the pace remains steady, and the removal of comedy elements give it a good solid feel the other films lacked. Bilbo, more likeable now that his acting is toned down, shows the noble heart that's always endeared me to the hobbits, and the highly likeable Bard gets to be the hero in taking down the dragon and leading the army of men. His moments with his children are beautiful, and I was grateful they all got their happy ending. Thorin's tragic spiral into madness is brilliantly acted and compelling, and his, Fili, and Kili's deaths reduced me to tears, even though I was saddened that Kili and Fili didn't get to die side by side as in the book. Legolas, the one addition to the trilogy I've loved since the beginning, was at his very best, showing off his fighting skills as well as hinting at his past - his strained relationship with his father, unrequited love for Tauriel, and, most intriguingly, the loss of his mother. The scene where his father finally tells him that his mother loved him made me sob, and I teared up at the mention of Aragorn as Legolas sets off to find him in the end. The links to LOTRs were skillfully done and never forced as before, and I loved how the ending drifted seamlessly into the first LOTRs. The closing theme was gorgeous - I'm so happy they used Billy Boyd's lovely voice again - and the credits were beautiful.

I went to see Night At The Museum 3: Secret Of the Tomb in theatres, and it was wonderful, a poignant, touching, and funny finale to a wonderful trilogy. Larry was perfect as always, and his friendship with the museum characters never fails to warm my heart. Teddy remains my favorite of the characters, and it made me tear up a little to see his last scenes. Jed and Octavius were hilarious as usual, and I couldn't stop laughing at them watching videos, taking selfies, and using a computer. The new characters, especially Lancelot, were treats, and I loved how many of the old characters they packed in, as well as Ahkmenrah having so much more screentime than in the other films, and even getting a backstory and happy ending after all the nights he spent locked in the coffin. Hugh Jackman's cameo was an unexpected delight, and I couldn't stop laughing all through his scene.

I also saw Mockingjay in theatres and it was painfully excellent, a more grim film than the others but so faithful to the books I couldn't help be delighted. My heart broke for Finnick, a character I never bonded with in the books but have learned to love in the movies, and my favorite part was his speech, including the creepy but fascinating aspect of Snow's poison and roses. His scene with Annie was beautiful and I only wish they shared more, especially flashbacks. While I was disappointed by the Hanging Tree's melody, and didn't care for her voice at all, I loved the other music as well as the beautiful direction style. Peeta was excellent, shattering my heart, especially when enough breaks through the brain-washing that he's able to warn Katniss, and the ending left me broken. Prim was a sweetheart as always, and I loved actually seeing more of Buttercup.

In other new movies I watched What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and despite my dislike of Johnny Depp, I surprisingly loved it. The story was beautiful, moving, and very realistic, and the small town setting gave it a vintage feel decades older than the movie. The acting was amazing, especially Leonardo DiCaprio who did a stunningly convincing job portraying Arnie. Next was the new miniseries Houdini, a uniquely filmed and incredibly entertaining account of Houdini's life and career. Adrien Brody was wonderful as Harry, and I adored Bess and his relationship, as well as his friendship with Jim. The tricks were fabulous to watch, and I liked the voice-overs looking into his thoughts as well as the bits of old footage toward the end. I saw the miniseries The Pillars Of the Earth and completely fell in love with it. The history, a time period I knew little about, was intriguing, the plot twists were fascinating, and I loved the characters, especially Jack and his relationship with Aliena. Many of the other characters, like Prior Phillip, Ellen, and Martha, were all interesting to see their stories, and I loved the happy endings for most of the good characters, and just desserts for the evil. The scenery and cinematography was lovely. I also watched the sequel miniseries World Without End, and it was fascinating, both for the history as well as the personal stories. I liked both of the romances, and was happy to see them both end up together and safe. The plot twists, especially with the Sir Thomas being the king were jaw-dropping, and the entire series was beautifully filmed and made. Then was If I Stay, a lovely and unusual film. I loved Adam and his relationship with Mia, and the ending was gorgeous. Next was L'Homme Qui Rit, a stunningly beautiful version of Victor's Hugo's heartbreaking book, and it was amazing, both for sets and filming as for the talented cast and intriguing characters. Next was Dracula Untold, a beautiful and heartwrenching version of the vampire's origins. I loved how he was shown as a good man who made a terrible choice to save his son, and his relationship with his little family was wonderful. After that was The Maze Runner. I adored the unique freshness of the plot, the oppressive setting, and mood, as well as how character driven it was. Dylan O'Brien was surprisingly good as Thomas - I never thought much of his acting before - and I felt for all the characters, which left me very intrigued for the next film. Next was the fascinating The Rite which I watched solely for Colin O'Donoghue - who was amazing - but ended up loving. The plot was straightforward but affective, and I liked how the story acknowledged true evil and true goodness. The scene where Michael remembers his mother giving him the card and finds the strength to defeat the demon was beautiful, and I felt the ending was largely satisfying. Next was the precious Christmas With Holly which was, like most Hallmarks, beautifully heartwarming and fun. I adored Mark and Holly's relationship, and all the characters were loveable in their own way. I teared up and laughed throughout and loved every moment. Next was the gorgeous miniseries The Red Tent. Dinah has long been one of the most fascinating Biblical characters to me, and I loved seeing her story come to life. Shalem and Benia were both wonderfully kind men, and I was glad Dinah found happiness a second time. I loved how her son came to love her and see her as his mother, and Joseph and Dinah's relationship was beautifully portrayed. Next was the intriguing and oddly beautiful Solomon Kane. I loved the title character - James Purefoy was fabulous and I completely adore his accent - both for his redemption arc as well as his friendship with Meredith. The scene where he pulls himself off the cross to save her was stunning, and I loved their beautiful reunion toward the end. I'm slowly growing to love zombie films and the latest was 28 Days Later. I loved seeing the genre from the British point of view, and the characters, especially the well-intentioned Jim, despite how little is revealed about their pasts, were all intriguing. I enjoyed Jim's relationship with Selena, and was extremely grateful that they went with the ending where Jim survived and the three were rescued. Next was the hilarious short film Incest!: The Musical which was adorable and needed to be so much longer. I couldn't stop laughing, and I loved Alex and Katie's determination to be together. Next was the hauntingly poignant I Am Dina. The story was intriguing, but it was the unusual characters, amazing acting, especially from the child who played little Dina, and stunning scenery that captivated me, along with the beautiful theme. The original version's ending was somehow more fitting, and I teared up at Dina trying to comfort her childish self. Hans Matheson was lovely as Tomas, and I wish he'd had a larger role, but I'm happy he at least got a happy ending, and - I assume - got to still be part of little Benjamin's life. Next was the adorable Sky High which made me laugh and love superheroes a little more than I already do. Will was loveably able to be related to, Layla was sweet, and I adored Warren and his fabulous hair. There were so many flawless in-jokes, too, and the gentle spoofing of the genre was perfect. Next was Mama, an effectively creepy story. The children, both the young actresses and the little girls who played the older versions, were incredible, and I loved Lucas and Annabelle and how they grew to love them. I was saddened by the ending, but it seemed fitting and was bittersweet. Next was the adorable Change Of Heart, the first talkie I'd seen Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor in together, and the first time I'd gotten to hear her voice. Despite the somewhat rushed end (and Madge getting a happy ending which I didn't want) I loved the story, especially the characters and warmly vintage feel I get from old movies. After that was After, an unusual and interesting story. I loved seeing Freddy and Ana's intertwined stories from childhood to present day, and how their escape required both of them. The ending was perfect. Next was the surprisingly beautiful Elizabethtown which had some wonderful messages along with some whimsical and loveable characters. Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst were both wonderful, and I adored their characters and relationship. The plot was a perfect blend of tears and laughter and I loved every minute. Then I saw the gorgeous Italian miniseries Romeo E Giulietta which has quickly become my favorite version. I fell in love with the characters and broke for them, especially Romeo and Mercutio, and I loved the small enhancements to the plot while remaining faithful, such as giving the nurse something of a backstory and more depth. The scenery and score was stunning, too, and I loved the wintery feel of the film. Then was Pearl Harbor, a gorgeous and beautifully moving movie. I loved the vintage feel, and surprisingly didn't mind the love triangle, probably because I loved all three characters. I was sad that Danny died, but I loved that he did so saving Rafe's life, and the ending, with Rafe and Evelyn together and raising Danny and Evelyn's little boy, made me tear up.

In new fairytale films I saw La Belle Et La Bete, and it was a beautiful and unique version of the fairytale. I would have liked more scenes between Belle and the Beast, as her sudden love for him didn't make much sense other than pity once learning his backstory, and Belle often came across as somewhat spoiled and childish, but the film was gorgeous, especially the details such as the weeping statue, the photography, and the costumes - Belle's green dress was stunning. I loved the unusual origin story of the curse, as well as the adorable dogs, and having the film be a story Belle told her children was an adorable touch. After that was another of the gorgeous Sechs auf einen Streich series, Aschenputtel, and it was beautiful. I loved that the version spent more time showing Viktor, the Prince, as well as the fact that he got to meet Cinderella twice before the ball, making his love for her more logical. Both Viktor and Cinderella were sweet characters and it was easy to root for their happiness, as it was to despise the stepmother and sister, who instead of the cartoonish characters they usually are, were despicable and cruel. I loved the birds helping Cinderella, and the magical tree, and Viktor's relationship with his father was adorable. I also discovered the Märchenperlen series and saw my first, the stunning Die sechs Schwäne. It's long been one of my favorite fairytales and it was adapted beautifully and faithfully, with just a few twists to the plot to make it unique and exciting. I loved the characters and the happy ending.

I gave a try to the BBC miniseries of Ben-Hur, and as I expected, there were quite a few changes from my beloved '50s version, but definitely not all of them bad. Being so much longer, this version had the ability to include things I've always wanted to see, like Judah and Messala's childhood friendship and the beginning of Esther and Judah's love story. Joseph Morgan, despite being a little young for the role, made a good Judah, especially the angry, almost unhinged version that returns for revenge. Messala, intriguingly, was more layered than the '50s pure evil version, and the tragedy of his father's disinterest in him was contrasted against the Ben-Hur's family's original love for him that he betrayed. I loved that the film had him survive the race long enough for Judah and he to make their peace. Esther was somewhat disappointing, coming across as immature and too quick to think badly of Judah, and I didn't warm to her, even by the ending. I loved the new character of Athene, though, and her last scene was fascinating.

In new animated films I saw the adorable Bolt. I loved the title character, Mittens, and Rhino, and the adventure and happy ending for all the characters was wonderful.

I also saw Exodus: Gods and Kings, and as I expected I couldn't help doing a compare and contrast to The Ten Commandments which has been one of my favorite movies since I was in preschool. On the good side I liked how the film portrayed Moses as more warrior and hot-tempered, and the sword's inclusion throughout was a nice touch, especially at the Red Sea scene. In both movies I love the elder Pharaoh's relationship with Moses and he was lovely here. Ramses had more of an edge than Yul Brynner's version, and yet a tenderness with his little son that brought tears to my eyes during the funeral scene. I appreciated the over-whelming feel of the plagues, and the larger scale of the swarms of insects and frogs. Zipporah was beautiful portrayed, with her and Moses's love a highlight of the film, and I adored Moses's scenes with his son. Joshua, despite much less screentime, was just as wonderful, and the actor's beautiful eyes were so expressive and fitting for the character. On the downside the film felt rushed, with not enough needed time spent on Moses's days at the palace, and the focus on war and violence sadly limited the character study which would have smoothed out the plot. It was a fine action movie, but not a powerful and inspiration epic like The Ten Commandments, and in the end I think a combination of the two would result in perfection.

I saw the trailer/spoof "Dr. Quinn Morphine Woman" and it was hilarious, spot on to the original show while poking fun at what it would be like today. I loved seeing nearly everyone again, however briefly, and Sully's horrible wig and hair flipping had me howling with laughter. His and Michaela's kiss, complete with over-dramatic Indian music and heartbeating and breathing, was an absolute treasure. The concept of Michaela as a druglord and the town as addicts was brilliant, and everyone was so perfectly in character I only wish it had been far longer. I also got to see a bit of the pilot California, which sadly never became a series. It was wonderful to see Hank get a chance to shine, and I adored his interactions with Zack. It was quite a sweet and touching episode, and I only wish it had been given a real chance.

I discovered the show The Legend Of William Tell by accident and watched the episode "The Tomb Of the Unknown Warrior". The series is unusual, with great world-building, and I love the clever twist on the original legend. The episode used one of my favorite tropes of body-swapping with a fascinating twist, of enemies exchanging bodies by accident, only to have one die, and the injured survivor on trial for killing himself. Dean O'Gorman was excellent at the role and I loved that it turned out so well.

I finally broke down and watched Dean O'Gorman's episodes of Xena Warrior Princess, and despite not being very fond of the show I really enjoyed "Athen's Academy Of the Performing Bards". He played Homer, and I loved the way the historical people were portrayed, as well as the old movie clips.

I've started watching Copper, a heart-breaking yet incredible series. I appreciate the often painfully accurate history, from the filth of Five Points to the past of little Annie, one of the most tragic characters I've seen on a tv show. I love how the show doesn't flinch from portraying difficult elements, and isn't afraid to make its characters morally complex. Corky is a fascinating, haunting character, and I love his friendship with Annie and how he treats her like his own daughter.

Season two of Resurrection is on now and it's even more jaw-dropping than season one, with twist upon twist against an intriguing story arc. The plot took a very different path than I'd expected but for the most part I'm glad. The concept of this being the second time the Returned came back and the storyline of the 1930s flashbacks and discovered bones are both chilling and fascinating, especially the "demon" story of episode four. Margaret is a disturbing character but I'm intrigued to see where her motives lie. I like seeing some character growth of Janine's part, as well as Fred, and it's lovely to see a bit more of Barbara, especially when she gets to share a scene with Maggie. On the reverse side I'm saddened by Marty betraying Maggie by reporting the bones as well as Lucille's troubling down-spiral and Jacob's oddly defiant behavior which seems so out of character for the sweet boy of last season. The mysterious virus is intriguing, sadly taking Marty's parents and my hope of their having a reunion, but thankfully sparing little Jenny, and Marty finally gets a scene with her. Janine's obsession with Rachael's baby, and apparent kidnapping of Rachael has me terrified, and I'm stunned by Tom's death. The finale was nicely done, even if so many questions were left unanswered - I'll forever be saddened the Government Lady's backstory wasn't explored and Tom never came back - it felt overall largely satisfying. Strangely enough I'm content with not knowing how and why the Returned came back, as across the series I've seen that the point was more focused on how they lived life to the fullest with their second chance. I was happy Rachael chose to stay, and her baby was precious - I'm presuming he's okay and Preacher James was just crazy - and I'm incredibly happy Marty got to keep Jenny. Best of all was Fred's character growth when he stops Henry from wanting to give up Rachael. Another happy treat was Marty and Maggie's relationship; I've shipped them from the start and I'm thrilled they ended up together.

Season two of The 100 is on now and it's not quite as amazing as last season, with so many changes. To my gratitude, Finn is alive, and still the light of the show. The twist of Mt. Weather and it's eerily welcoming people who may or may not be what they seem already has my attention, and as much as I'm saddened by how feral Clarke has been forced to become, I love that she seems to be the only one with any sense. Jasper, such a fun character at the start, only annoys me now, and I miss who he used to be. Monty, as usual is flawless and given far too little screentime since the show pushed Raven into his shoes. I still can't make myself care much about Raven, especially after her cruelty to Murphy. As much as he's a bad guy I've loved him since the start and I'm incredibly excited for the hope of a redemption arc for him. I love Lincoln and Octavia as characters but definitely not as a pairing, and I'm not fond of how their relationship keeps being pushed to the point that they're now going to his village rather than Octavia trying to find her brother and even care if he's alive. Kane's storyline is troubling so far, and he seems to have lost much of the growth of character he showed throughout season one. Bellamy's decency and changed personality have finally made me grow to like him, and I enjoy his friendship with Finn. Finn is breaking my heart, especially when he killed the Grounder, and I'm worried as to what will become of him. I finally made it to "Spacewalker" and in many ways the show is over for me. The Grounders were never innocent with all the kids they killed from the start - their first act is to spear Jasper - and I've wanted them wiped out since the beginning so I felt no pity for their village, only anger that they demand retaliation when they've done more and worse. But to actually kill Finn, the one bright spot of the show, by Clarke's hands was too cruel for words.

Season two of Atlantis has begun, and it's somewhat darker while still, thankfully, retaining some more light-hearted moments. Minos has sadly died; I grew to enjoy his character so I'll miss him, and Ariadne is now queen. Ariadne has never been one of my favorites, and more screentime for her does nothing to make me happier, and she seems worryingly willing to tip into darkness if necessary, even if her intentions toward Atlantis seem good. Jason and the Oracle's relationship remains my favorite on the show, and I'm already concerned by her warning that Jason will turn evil if he learns the truth about his mother. As sad as the vision makes me, I was thrilled to see confirmation, through the glimpse of the Argo, that Jason is THE Jason of mythology. "Telemon" returns to my favorite setting, the arena, with a fascinating story that raises more questions than answers regarding Ariadne's new suitor. "The Marriage of True Minds", the season's best so far, is beautiful and touching, featuring a gorgeous score and some much missed banter between the main trio. "The Day of the Dead", an odd, and somewhat plotless zombie fest, nevertheless features the first intriguing meeting between Jason and Medea, who seems to care in the scene where she heals Jason's leg, and yet ends by stabbing Ariadne.

Onto season ten of Supernatural and the demon!Dean storyline I've dreaded since last season. While I'm so grateful to see the writers have finally put Sam back in the character he used to be, and it's wonderful to see his determination to find and save Dean, I'm saddened by the disconnect between the characters. Dean isn't the scary demon I assumed he'd become but rather a strange, jerk version of himself, chasing women, getting into fights, and singing, and apart from his coldness toward Sam he seems more bitter than non human. Castiel and his steadily declining health has me terrified, even as I'm saddened at yet another season's storyline that distances him from the brothers. I miss Team Free Will together, and I've grown tired of the constant angels storyline, as Castiel is the only one of the angels I've ever enjoyed watching. "Reichenbach"'s revelation that some of Castiel's grace still exists makes me happy, yet I'm proud of Cas for refusing; he's come such a long way and learned so much. Demon!Dean is progressively spookier, and the final scene made me shudder. "Soul Survivor" was superb, and I'm so grateful to have caring!Sam, human!Dean, and healthy!Castiel back again, the way it should be. The twist that Sam forced a man to sell his soul to find Crowley and Dean was fascinating, and I'm intrigued to see if there will be further fallout. I'm also shocked by Crowley saving Castiel. "Ask Jeeves" is a delight, much like an early seasons' ghost hunting episode while still with a glimmer of worry regarding Dean and the Mark. "The Executioner's Song" was stunning, driving Dean closer to a dark ending, while showcasing Team Free Will, a recipe that always forms the best episodes. I teared up when Cain tells Dean he'll kill Cas and Sam, and cheered when Dean was strong enough to give up the blade to Castiel.

I gave a try to the new series Galavant, and despite a shaky pilot, fell in love with it in the second episode. It's hilarious, outrageous, and the characters, even the bad guys, are all loveable. I already ship Isabella and Galavant, and I can't wait to see what happens.

In other new shows I started watching the intriguing Eye Candy and I'm already hooked. The premise is interesting, the acting and emotions are excellent, and I can feel for the main character. I was incredibly sad they killed off Ben, though, since he was so sweet and I loved Lindy and he together. But I'm starting to love Tommy and even ship Lindy and he.

I also discovered the new series 12 Monkeys and I'm in love with it: a sci-fi show with an actual science basis, bound by laws that make sense for a refreshing change. Cole is a likeable and tragic protagonist, with shades of grey - I teared up during the scene where he says how much he wants forgiveness - and I already ship him with Cassandra. My favorite character, however, is Ramse, whose goodness shines through the dark future and friendship with Cole keeps me interested in learning about their pasts. I love the concept, too, and the jumping between time periods.
 
 
feeling: discontent
calliope tune: "You Belong To Me"-Duprees
 
 
Kathleen
Continuing with my superhero obsession I watched Daredevil, a visually gorgeous and superb adaptation of one my favorite and first beloved superheroes, rich in colors with a recurring theme of red. Rex Smith's sensitive and ninja take on the role will always be my favorite but Ben Affleck did a brilliant job as Matt, capturing the subtle nuances and inner struggles of the character. The story was more tragic and thought-provoking than most of the genre, and I loved the beauty of it, like how Matt can "see" with the rain, how he watches people's hearts, and the contrasting imagery of the church vs. his devil costume and darker side of his personality. I was surprised but a little glad that the film didn't take an easy way out and bring Electra back to life, even as sad as it made the ending. After that I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine and it was stunning, an awesome and quite in character exploration of Logan's tragic past. I loved his early backstory with the idea of him going from one war to the next along with the ill-fated relationship with his half brother, even if I'm not quite sure how his brother fits with the same character in the first film. The idea of Wolverine having claws before the experiment was fascinating and unexpected to me, but I loved the idea as well as how he used his steel claws to free all the mutants on the island. I teared up at the brief inclusion of Xavier, as well as little!Scott and his first set of sunglasses. After that was X-Men First Class, and I loved seeing the beginning of everything. James McAvoy made a perfect Xavier, capturing the deep caring of the later version while including a uniquely youthful spirit, and for the first time I felt for Mystique - or Raven here - as well as the tragedy of what will become of her, even as shocked as I was that she choose Magneto over Charles in the end. Her early friendship with Charles was sweet, though, and surprising since I wasn't expecting it. Charles becoming paralyzed was incredibly haunting, as was his friendship with Erik and how he tries so hard to prevent Erik from turning evil. I loved the other characters, too, especially Sean/Banshee and his fascinating and fun gift.

I finally got to see The Man From the 25th Century, an Irwin Allen pilot that sadly never got picked up for a series but had a fascinating premise and awesome cast. James Darren stars as a man taken as an infant and raised in a technically advanced but emotionally bankrupt alien world with the sole purpose of turning him into a destroyer of earth. His target is a top secret base - The Time Tunnel! which made me desperately want a crossover - but he gets a change of heart - evidenced at the beginning when he protests the killing of an alien - and winds up helping protect the base which sends the aliens toward earth to kill him before his information can be revealed to earth. Unfortunately his most intriguing skill - telekenesis - was only briefly explored, and we never get to see what sort of character he'd become in his further adventures of helping earth and fighting aliens. Still it was a fun show and rich ground for crossovers and ideas.

I finally watched I Dream Of Jeannie: Fifteen Years Later and it was a mix of the surprisingly good and very disappointing. Roger and Dr. Bellows, both played by the original actors, were flawless, effortlessly slipping back into character and providing the vast majority of the few laughs in an otherwise strangely serious reunion. Barbara Eden took a while to fall back into the role, and never quite captured the bubbly personality or even some parts of Jeannie II's scheming personality, but it was wonderful to see her in the role again, and her being older gave me ideas of whether Jeannie would have traded her immortality for a normal, more human existence with Tony. Despite ignoring the twin children implied in one of the episodes, T.J. was quite good and believable as a mixture of Tony and Jeannie. I loved him slowly discovering his genie powers across the show while still retaining the realistic behavior of an '80s teen. The weakest part of the show was Tony, a different actor who lacks both the talent to pull off the part as well as the chemistry Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden had. Still the plot had some fun moments - my favorite was the hilarious scene in which Jeannie accidentally blinks everyone's clothes off in a restaurant and Dr. Bellows, upon arriving, assumes it's the thing to do and starts taking off his suit, and the final plot was surprisingly poignant, despite my confusion over why she simply didn't blink Tony home or in a different direction. Still her trading Tony's memories of their life together in return for his life was haunting, and I loved the hopeful, adorable finale when she bumps into him again, magically fixes his tie, and walks away with him following her.

I'm watching season five of Merlin now, and wondering what happened to my beloved, silly little show. Merlin has, in his own words, "grown up", and it's heartbreaking to see how jaded and even callous he's become. Merlin was once my favorite, until Lancelot took his place, Arthur grew on me, and I adored Gaius, but up until this season I still had a fondness for him, even in fourth place. Now I find myself annoyed and angry at him most of the time, and saddened at what the writers did to him, turning him into a twisted, dangerous person who won't even give Mordred a chance and has no one to blame but himself when everything falls apart. Almost everything he does is only for Arthur, with no thought to anyone else, and he's more than willing to kill for him, all of which gives the series a desperate yet hopeless feeling as Merlin struggles against the prophecy of Arthur's encroaching death, Gwen worries, and Arthur runs headlong into one danger after another. There's a new and older Mordred this season, and despite my reservations Alexander Vlahos completely won me over. He still seems too old to convincingly play opposite Arthur and Merlin, but he's a superb match for little Asa Butterfield, complete with the same vividly blue eyes and a disconcerting smile that flashes on and off so quickly I almost miss it. Yet he's softer and more endearing than little!Mordred who always send chills up my spine, and despite the fact that I thought I'd never love any Mordred except Hans Matheson in The Mists Of Avalon, I love his take on the character. The writers did a somewhat better job shifting him from good to evil, but his complete acceptance - with only one brief scene of hesitation - of the girl's evil seemed out of character. Despite that the scene where he yelled and his magic threw down the door sent chills up my spine. Alexander Vlahos was incredible in the episode. Merlin's betrayal of Mordred shocked me, and showed how very much he's changed from the days when he saved Freya, an almost parallel to "The Drawing Of The Dark". Bradley James is still excellent as Arthur, proving himself a just and honorable king who cares deeply for all his people, and even goes as far as to spare the life of a woman sentenced to die for sorcery. As the creepy "Death Song Of Uther Pendragon" shows, Arthur is about as far as his father as it's possible to be, and all for the best. Strangely enough I found myself disliking Gwen this season, both for the completely evil and murderous enchanted Gwen in the mid-season story arc, as well as the almost harsh way she rules. Also the writers, despite some promising hints in past seasons, have completely failed to convince me of Arthur and Gwen's romance which seems more tepid by the episode. Arthur says he loves her, but they behave more like two people sharing a kingdom instead of friends or family, and hardly husband and wife. The knights are a little underused, but still the best part of the season, and even Gwaine who I dismissed as a replacement Lancelot has finally won me over. However Elyan's senseless death gives me one more reason to hate how the writers use, or rather misuse, the knights. Elyan never got much of a role or chance to shine, but I liked him, and it seems pointless and cruel to kill him off just so the writers can try to infuse some life into their Arthur/Gwen ship. The Round Table is gorgeous, though, exactly as I imagine it should be. My favorite episode of the season is the superb opener "Arthur's Bane" which manages to craft a perfect blend of gently funny moments with tragedy and strong character building, reintroducing Mordred and even giving a dash of humanity to Morgana's twisted and usually over the top personality. There's a gloomy feel cast across the whole season, marked with disturbing, almost gruesome concepts such as the tragic crippling of the little dragon Aithusa, and the relentless torture and cruelty inflicted on the characters, making five an anti-climatic and sad end to what began as a fun and clever twist on the legends, and I can't help thinking the writers lost their way or rushed to the end without giving enough time for the important part. It's supposed to be the Golden Age of Camelot but it only crumbles more and grows darker by the episode, and I can only shake my head at all the wasted potential if the writers had given more time to plotting and pacing the series instead of falling back on the tiring and nearly sickening trope of Morgana vs. Camelot with some enchanted object and much throwing of people up against walls and trees. The problem, I think, was rushing everything instead of giving the series time to grow and fill the shoes of the legends. The first two years were perfect, three still had promise, and even four had some excellent moments and even whole episodes. Five sadly doesn't measure up, and only the season's opener and finale held my interest. "The Diamond Of The Day" was very good...not perfect, but close, breathing a little life and nostalgia into the series. Merlin seemed more his old self, the inclusion of him trapped in the cave was cleverly done, and Arthur's last "for Camelot" put tears in my eyes. I've grown to love Arthur over five seasons, warming to him as he grew from a hated bully to a prince with a good heart and finally the once and future king, but I was prepared for the heartbreak. The battle was epic, far more than the usual scene which focuses entirely on Arthur and Mordred, exactly as Camlann should be. Mordred stabbing Arthur and killing him was quietly underplayed, and I couldn't help tearing up for both of them, especially when Mordred gives that last smile before he falls. Gwen putting the pieces together and realizing Merlin has magic was beautifully done, subtle yet perfectly acted, and Gwen finally seems to be the sweet and kind character she used to be. Surprisingly I found myself shipping Leon/Gwen, mostly because of the talk about their childhood and the way he looks at her. It's adorable and I like to think after Gwen had mourned for Arthur that she eventually grew to love Leon, too. Avalon was beautiful, and I got a thrill when it first appeared, one thing I'd been looking forward to in the finale. I loved the magic reveal, somewhat anti-climatic - I'd hoped for a full season of Arthur coming to terms with it and magic returning to Camelot - but it was moving, and superbly acted by both Colin Morgan and Bradley James. I loved how Arthur gradually gains respect for Merlin and all he's done, eventually accepting him and not wanting him to change. Percival had a slightly larger part than usual, which I enjoyed, but I hated that Gwaine had to die. If he had to die I wish it had at least been a noble death like Lancelot, instead of the senseless and horribly cruel death he got. I must say I've never been more grateful to the writers for killing a character as I was when Morgana died. Five seasons late, but still good. Arthur's death was heartbreaking, perfectly filmed and acted, and if I wasn't crying before that I would have broken down and sobbed when Freya's hand came out of the lake for Excalibur, not to mention Merlin - the real Merlin and not the cruel one that's been here most of the season - crying; I can never have dry eyes when Colin Morgan cries. I liked the open ending somewhat - leaving room for imagination and fanfiction - but was saddened by all that wasn't shown - Merlin returning to Gaius, Gwen's acceptance, Gwen's reign, Leon/Gwen, and so on. But immortal!Merlin was tragically beautiful...if only the series had shown Arthur's return in the future. To cheer myself up I watched a different Arthurian film, The Last Legion, a unique and fascinating spin on the legends. Thomas Brodie Sangster was superb as young Caesar Romulus Augustulus, a child caught between killers and a small but loyal band willing to die for him. I found Aurelius the most fascinating of all..at first glimpse he seems a cruel, hardened warrior, but his friendship and loyalty to the child quickly won me over, as did the tinge of sadness around him. Mira was quite interesting, too, both warrior and woman with a caring for Aurelius. And Ambrosinus(Merlin) being Uther's teacher as well as Arthur's was unusual and an intriguing thought. The film was beautifully done, too.

I've discovered another silent film actor to love: the wonderful, handsome, and talented Charles Farrell. I gave a try to the film Lucky Star and fell in love with it - and him - at the same time. He played such a sweet character that I couldn't help loving him, and Janet Gaynor was adorable as the girl he falls in love with, both making it a lovely film with a perfect ending. My favorite so far is the gorgeous 7th Heaven, a beautiful and poignant romance that made me smile and sob and love them both dearly. Chico and Diane's relationship was realistic and so lovely, and their "wedding" brought tears to my eyes, as did the incredible and moving ending. I'm also learning to love his films with other actresses, starting with City Girl, a movie with some beautiful scenery, lovely photography, and an adorable scene where he and his co-star run through the wheat field, pausing for him to pick her up and kiss her. He played a very sweet character, too, who was impossible not to love. After that I saw The River, a sadly fragmented film with part of it only able to be told through still photos and inter-titles, but still highly unusual and lovely. It's quote "The river, like love, cleanses all things" sums up the film in which the river stands as a character, much in the same way of Our Mutual Friend, washing away the past of one of the character and redeeming them through another, as well as a character nearly dying and surviving through love. While I wasn't as impressed by the actress, Charles Farrell did an excellent job with the role, a mix of awkward country boy and determined man who wins her over and breaks her out of her hard shell when he nearly freezes to death and she's nearly unable to save him. It had a happy ending, too, that part, like the beginning and two other scenes, lost and told only in a photograph. I wish they'd find a complete copy, but still the part that exists was well worth seeing, since I love his films. Last was Liliom, a delightfully non-musical version of the lovely musical Carousel, with Charles Farrell in the title role. It turned out to be a talkie, so for the first time I got to hear his voice. He didn't sound like I expected, but his voice grew on me and I loved his accent. He was great in the role, too, and I grinned ear to ear at the carnival scenes. Charles Farrell has a lovely, nearly frail vulnerability, and cute shyness about his acting, combined with a tendency to get whumped that is exactly what I love in acting and characters. And on a completely shallow note, he's very easy on the eyes, too. Catching up on my love of Shakespeare, I saw the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet and it was utterly gorgeous. Beautiful sets, lovely actors - Romeo especially - pretty dancing, and of course the glorious theme. I loved that it retained the original lines and setting, just a flawless film overall. After that I saw Flyboys, a gorgeous and sweepingly old-fashioned film about the men who fought in the skies of World War One. James Franco was wonderfully sweet as Blaine, and I adored his interactions with Lucienne and the children. Among other new films this week I saw the adorable Penelope and fell completely in love with it. James McAvoy was wonderful as Johnny, and stunning with those beautiful blue eyes. He had a perfect mix of sad sweetness and gentle humor, and my favorite scenes were the lovely ending in the park and the hilarious scene where he sings "You Are My Sunshine" out of key while attempting to play an assortment of instruments. Penelope was easy to like, too, and I loved that Penelope and Johnny got their happy ending. Then I saw the gorgeous and bittersweet fantasy The Odd Life Of Timothy Green which completely broke my heart and put it back together again. Timothy was adorable, and I loved how he touched each person and made them better. Next I watched Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to Clash Of The Titans, and surprisingly liked it even more than the first. Perseus, now a widower, has a young son, and finally Perseus/Andromeda became canon, much to my delight, even if I prefer the first actress who played her over this one. Hades finally got redemption in the end, and Zeus came across as a kinder and more loving god toward his son and grandson. Pegasus was back, too, just as beautiful as ever, and I found the plot easier to follow than the first. Next was The Crucible, a stunning, heartbreaking, and disturbing look at the motives of the Salem Witch Trials. Despite being somewhat fictionalized it was still a fascinating image of the events, both extremely well acted and directed, and incredibly powerful. By the end of it I loathed Abigail even more than I always have, since the film painted her as a scheming girl drunk on power and revenge, but the actress did a good job with a very difficult role. Little Betty, much more able to be pitied and sympathized with, was also quite good, and Daniel Day-Lewis did a superb job as John Proctor, one of the victims I've always had the most interest in. His scene of being accused as well as his moving final speech were stunning, tear-jerking, and should have won him an oscar. Joan Allen was also excellent as his caring wife, Elizabeth, and I sobbed at her final line. I happened to run across Daniel Day-Lewis again in my search for a good version of The Last Of The Mohicans, the 1992 version, and he had big shoes to fill as Hawkeye, since I love both the book and the tv series Hawkeye which remains my favorite version of the story. But he was excellent at the role, and as much as I adore Lee Horsley's more lighthearted and friendly approach to the role, Daniel Day-Lewis actually fit my image a little better - lighter and swifter on his feet, more woodman-ish, and a stronger, slightly rougher character while style having a kind and gentle tenderness beneath it all. Cora was also a great character, a strong match for Hawkeye, and I loved their relationship. The film seemed a little too short, but maybe that's just because I enjoyed it too much so it felt like it sped by, and Uncas wasn't shown as much as I would have liked but it was a beautifully filmed and acted adaptation, with the gorgeous backdrop of North Carolina against impressively accurate sets and costumes. Duncan's redemption was haunting, turning a character I disliked into one I admired in the ending. Alice was frail and lovely and I wish her hinted at romance with Uncas had been shown more, but still their tragic and earlier foreshadowed deaths broke my heart, as did the words of Chingachgook in the last scene. The theme was pretty, too, and familiar to me for some reason. On a shallow note, I also loved Hawkeye's hair...the tv version's got nothing on him there! I finally watched the film version of Highlander, and as I'd suspected from the pilot of the tv show, I quite enjoyed Christopher Lambert as Connor, a different, more world-weary, but still fascinating and easy to sympathize with hero. He's a unique, more unusual sort of handsome, too, with a little bit of Robert Lansing's eyes and forehead with an awful lot of Misha Collin's lower face and build thrown in. In fact, between his looks, expressions, and trenchcoat, I kept having flashes of some sort of awesome Supernatural crossover. But his looks make him appear more old-fashioned and non-1980s which helps make it more believeable. The flashback scene of him finding little Rachel and later, with her much older, were precious and made me wish for more scenes or fanfiction of him raising her. Likewise, the love story of Connor and Heather was heartbreakingly beautiful, against the song "Who Wants To Live Forever" that I've always had a weakness for, even though it makes me tear up. But the resolved, happy ending was perfect, exactly what I'd hoped for. In other new films this week I watched An Old-Fashioned Christmas, and despite the fact that it didn't measure up to the original, the very sweet An old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, it was still enjoyable, even if I kept wanting to shake some sense into both Tilly and her grandmother. Gad was still the same loveable character of the first film, and despite everything I felt a little sorry for Cameron. I wish he'd had some redemption in the end beyond his new-found ability to stand up to his mother, even as much as I appreciated that. His accent, despite attempting to be Irish, sounded a lot more English to me, no matter how hard he tried, which made me giggle everytime he spoke. I loved Tilly's grandfather, though, such a feisty and colorful character, and her relationship with him. I saw the cute fairytale Ever After, a perfect and beautiful version of Cinderella, and fell in love with it. The Prince had far more personality than he ever has, and I loved how headstrong and bold Danielle was, even saving him from the gypsies in a clever and hilarious way. Then I saw the underrated and fun The Last Airbender. The concept of bending the elements and fighting with them was original and fascinating, and I loved the characters, especially the believing and good-hearted Katara. Aang's tragedy of being alone in accepting his role as the avatar, and Yue's death were especially moving, and I felt for all the characters. Following that was The Indian In The Cupboard, a gentle and lovely adaptation of the book I loved as a kid. Little Bear and Boone were perfect, exactly as I imagined, and I loved the ending. Next was the fabulous Night At The Museum, a fest for a history and that sort of fantasy geek that I am and I loved every second of it and all the characters; followed by the even zanier and more hilarious Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian. I giggled through all the oldies songs, and loved the cupids, the octopus, and, of course, Jedediah and Octavius, even better than in the last film. After that was the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still and was happily surprised to discover as much as I enjoy the original, I actually loved this version more. Keanu Reeves was more believable as Klaatu, alien yet learning to be human, and I loved how he changed slowly and with the most subtle moments over the course of the film. Helen also had more personality, even if the sparks of a romance were stripped away, and little Jacob was adorable and an incredibly good actor. Also the plot was more coherent than in the original, with a better conclusion, and I loved the idea of the "arks". Next was the wrenching and poignant The Flowers Of War, a deeply moving character study of a diverse group of people in China during the midst of the Second-Sino Japanese War. The historical setting drew me to the film but I fell in love with the violent beauty of it, and the incredible acting from everyone, especially the always amazing Christian Bale. The ending, along with many other moments, made me cry, and I loved how vividly realistic everything seemed, from the small moments such as John hugging Shu to the Chinese soldier's sacrifice. After that was The Confession, the sequel to The Shunning, and in some ways, although I really enjoyed the first film, I liked this one even better. Surprisingly the cast changes all seemed to be equal or for the better, and the story was intriguing and touching. I loved seeing more of Daniel than simply flashbacks, and the last scene gave me hope for his and Katie's relationship. I don't mind Justin, though. I loved that Katie finally got to meet her mother in the end, if only for a little while, and the ending left me waiting patiently for the final film, hopefully coming soon. Next was the haunting and offbeat Desire Me with the surprisingly delightful pairing of two of my favorites, Greer Garson, who I've adored since seeing Mrs. Miniver as a small child, and Robert Mitchum. Next was the excellent Bend of the River with an excellent cast and final twist. Next was two childhood favorites Miracle On 34th Street and Meet Me In St. Louis, both of which I loved. Then was the poignant Goodbye Mr. Chips Which I loved as a child and hadn't seen in years. Next was the fabulous and hilarious Christmas in Connecticut which I adored. Last was the beautifully sad Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, the theme of which I've loved for years.

I watched the fascinating Peter Pan prequel Neverland which offers an intriguing and poignant backstory for Peter, Hook, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys. The boy who played Peter was quite good, impressing me despite not looking exactly how I imagined, the orb was an unusual and interesting addition, and I liked the explanation for the Indians and pirates being in Neverland. Tiger Lily was wonderful, given much more personality than in most versions, and I ended up surprisingly shipping Peter and her. The origins of Hook and Peter's hatred for each other was also a fascinating twist, and I liked the ending with the tied-in elements to Peter Pan including the watch being swallowed and Peter leaving his shadow behind in England.

I've been on a roll of animated films lately, starting with the flawless The Emperor's New Groove this week, definitely the most zany and hilarious animated film I've seen yet. I couldn't stop laughing, and I loved the colorful characters, especially the endearing Kronk. The animation was perfectly done, especially the llama, and I loved the slightly steampunk design of Yzma's lab and the lever that drops into an alligator pit. Following that was the sequel, Kronk's New Groove, nearly as hilarious and just as adorable as the first. I loved all the clever nods to older Disneys, as well as the "Gollum moment", and the cute Disco sequence. The ending was wonderful, and I loved how Kuzco inserted himself into the story, I only wish he'd been in the film more. Next I saw Atlantis: Milo's Return, the fun sequel to the wonderful and underrated Atlantis: The Lost Empire. While I missed the original Milo's voice, everyone else was the same, and the story, a series of three adventures, was a lot of fun. I loved the fairytale-like ending, too. Following that was the precious The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina, a completely adorable version of the stories with a different twist here and there. I loved Tom and Thumbelina's relationship, as well as the side characters like Albertine and the mice, and the lovely ending. Then I watched the beautifully animated The Rescuers, a gorgeous and adorable film with loveable characters, especially the darling little mouse heroes of the title. Last was the delightfully French and utterly precious Ratatouille which made me giggle and restored my faith in modern animated films with it's big heart and loveable characters, especially the too cute for words Remy. After that was The Hunchback Of Notre Dame II, and despite the fact that it didn't rival the original, I still enjoyed it. It was sweet, and lovely, and Quasimodo finally found someone to love and be loved by. I also liked that Phoebus and Esmeralda had a son, cute little Zephyr, and his friendship with Quasi was precious. Then I saw Atlantis The Lost Empire, a fun, steampunk-filled adventure that has to be one of the most underrated Disney films ever. It was beautifully done, though, a perfect blend of humor and action with a loveable and geeky hero in Milo.

I've been binge-watching Gomer Pyle USMC, a childhood favorite, and loving it. The Sgt. and Bunny are always a treat, and the guest stars are delightful.
 
 
calliope tune: "Dream Weaver"-Gary Wright
feeling: sore