Lost weekend

November 20, 2005

Yes, I’m living like a member of the supporting cast from Genshiken this weekend. It happens.

***

I liked Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire very much, particularly the first half. It clicks along at a wonderfully brisk pace, and director Mike Newell and screenwriter Steven Kloves don’t burden themselves by retelling everything that’s happened in the previous three. It’s similar to the trust of the audience that Jog and Mark Fossen have found in All-Star Superman.

There’s also a very welcome conversational feel to the scenes with the students. The rhythm is much more natural, and the young cast seems a lot stronger as a result, especially Daniel Radcliffe as Harry. (Newell doesn’t force Radcliffe to gape in stupid wonder at every little magical flourish.)

Oddly enough, the action sequences are probably the slowest in the film. They’re accomplished and feature some impressive CGI work, but they almost stand apart as set pieces, breaking up the pace. Newell and Kloves made sensible cuts to translate the book into a movie, though they do result in marginalizing some of my favorite characters.

Still, it’s a fine way to spend a few hours, and it’s probably the best movie in the franchise so far.

**

After leaving the movie, we went game hunting. My heart leapt in geekish glee at news of the imminent arrival of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I’m sure the first release will be a nightmare of computer-freezing glitches, but I’ll buy it. I’m weak, and it seems like ages since I lost myself in a bleary-eyed RPG haze.

***

One of the highlights of Manga: Masters of the Art is the interview with hit-making hydra CLAMP, so I was motivated to pick up the second volume of xxxHolic. I loved the look of the first and liked the set-up, but I was put off by some of the elements that made it seem like a CLAMP catalog rather than a story.

While the first quarter of volume two is utterly incomprehensible to me (I’m not buying Tsubasa, Del Rey, so you can just get over it), thing improved immeasurably when xxxHolic got down to its own concerns. The characters are slowly but surely growing on me, even if Watanuki is a bit of an hysteric and a lot of a seinen dork (basically decent but hopelessly insecure and hapless).

There are some lovely sequences and a nice mix of spooky and funny elements. Someone once described the illustrations to me as “divine decadence,” and that’s certainly apt. Now, I just need to be reassured that the CLAMPovers are kept to a minimum in future volumes before I invest more time and money in the series. It seems like it has definite bathtub-reading potential.

***

This seems to be the year when I lose patience with a lot of reality shows I used to love (The Apprentice, The Amazing Race, Survivor). I’m really looking forward to the return of Project Runway, though, and I’m glad that Television Without Pity is catching up with the first season.