Saturday, July 21, 2007

you want reviews? i got reviews.

Two big events occurred for me yesterday: I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and I finished reading Valencia. Wanna know what I thought? Ok, here you go.

Valencia gets three out of five stars. This is not a novel, it's basically a diary of Michelle Tea's life during one long, sexy and druggy year in the Mission district of San Francisco. It's told in a frenetic, "oh-my-god-I-have-to-tell-you-about-my-crazy-weekend!!!" voice, and at first I kept up. I gave myself to that frenetic pace and let it pull me along. But at some point I realized all the rushing was getting us nowhere. Each chapter is about a new girl Michelle is fucking (or wanting to fuck, or trying to stop fucking) and nothing seems to tie together and none of it seems to really matter.

Not to give it too much credit, but it reminds me of Kerouac's On the Road just a little. His is also basically a diary of a crazy time, full of sex and drugs. But there was a depth in his story, a cosmic, mystical tilt to all his adventures, at least in his own eyes, and I never stopped in the midst of yet another chapter on driving across the country and thought "what's the value of reading this?" The value was always self-evident. Not so with Valencia.

But read it anyway. It can be interesting to learn about her grungy, punky life, her bad outfits, her bizarre and often bad sex. If I'd read this book ten years ago, when I was much more impressionable, it might've actually had an impact (no doubt a bad one) on my development. But don't look for a narrative structure or momentum or characters you can care about it. Its all just a disconnected blur, like sitting in a doorway, slightly stoned, and watching the traffic pass by before you. It can be entertaining, but you'll get bored with it eventually and then, when it's all over, you'll forget what you saw and move on.

Sadly, I don't have much better news about Harry Potter. Again, three out of five stars. I love the books (LOVE THEM) and I will always enjoy watching them come to life on the screen because the actors, kids and grown-ups alike, are all so fantastic. Except Daniel Radcliffe who is a dorky little strip of cardboard (sorry Roro). But the books are just too good, too dense and complicated to translate well into movies sometimes.

That's especially true with Order of the Phoenix which is the longest (isn't it?) of the series so far. It is/was also the darkest and it introduced a ton of new characters. The movie tries too hard to cram in too many bits of this story and it all ends up feeling choppy and rushed. I went with SK, who isn't a big fan of the movies and hasn't read any of the books (I know, sacrilege), and it helped to have her perspective. The movie didn't explain itself very well to someone who didn't already know the story inside and out, which is a bad sign.

And for those of us who DO know the story inside and out (and who love every minute of it) this movie didn't give us much to feel good about. There's a lot of cranky Harry and not nearly enough Ron and Hermione or anybody else I want to see. And speaking of what I want to see, what happened to that phase in the movies when all the boys had long, shaggy hair? That was really cute! What's up with this dorky short hair?? At least Hermione is still cute as ever... with her flaring nostrils and her arching eyebrows... and her flowing curls...

Sorry, where was I? Oh! Here are the shallow things I liked: Luna Lovegood is really precious. And Gary Oldman (as Sirius Black) is HOT, with the best facial hair configuration ever. And. Well. That's about it. Sorry Harry Potter. You kinda disappointed me.

But it still gets three stars instead of two because... well because it's Harry Potter, for christsakes! It can't *completely* suck.

5 Comments:

Blogger Zoe said...

Sounds like my kind of book. At the moment I don't want deep meaning, just a little voyeurism.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, but your review sounds on par with everyone else's. Sigh. I LOVE the books and the movies are like the visual Coles notes. I look forward to seeing it (even if you felt my pal Daniel Radcliffe kind of blew - did you like him in the other films? 'Cause I think that he's been great so far and Hermione has been the crappiest actor out of the three main characters. Have the tables turned? HAVE THEY?)

Blah blah blah. I am a Harry Potter nerd. Thank you.

11:51 AM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

zoe: if you want voyeurism, this is the book for you. one thing she does really well is write about awkward, bad sex. b/c you know, most first sex is awkward and bad. and most of the sex in this book is first sex.

roro: dude. what is wrong with you? danny radcliffe is the one who blows and hermione (all flaring nostrils and arching eyebrows) has been AWESOME since day one.

but since you love little danny so much, i'll tell you a funny story. as you may know, my beloved sk was over in europe for awhile and, as you may also know, your boy danny was starring in that naughty, fucked up play equus. as you still also more might know, the advertisements for that production include large pictures of his naked torso. however, while sk was in greece (a much more sexy and permissive culture, apparently), the ads included THE FULL MONTY!!

i can NOT believe she didn't bring me back a greek newspaper with a picture harry potter's weiner in it. i'm thinking about sending her back for one...

12:32 PM  
Blogger heather said...

i had the same reaction to the latest HP, even though i haven't read the books. they're still fun tho, i love the promise they hold.

thanks for the book review! in a different way, i think i'm reading something just as rambunctious yet plotless. at least it is so far. ;-)

7:41 PM  
Blogger Andygrrl said...

i can NOT believe she didn't bring me back a greek newspaper with a picture harry potter's weiner in it.

ohmygod. Thanks, RPP, thanks a lot, now I will *never be able to watch another HP movie ever again*! Brain floss! Need brain floss!

12:11 PM  

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