alexandral: (Default)
It's holidays! School's half-term! I am also on holidays for a week, and so is Mr.Alexander. We are having all manner of good family time together, all three of us, so I will be off LJ until the next Monday (31st of October).

I hope all of you are having a good time too! Love to all!

PS: We have been caching on some TV as well, and finally watched through the season 3 (and the current episodes of the season 4) of Merlin. So far, I am loving the season 4. It seems somewhat darker and less Disney than the other seasons. What has changed? the new writer? Anyways, I am finally enjoying this show for real, rather than just watching it because my daughter likes to watch it together.
alexandral: (GoT - anim Tywin eyes)
I am in procrastinating mood today (the weather has been very gloomy lately), so I want to post about "Liking a fictional character". These are just my thoughts, the way things work for me, and all your thoughts are welcome!

The questions are:

Can a person like a fictional character that is NOT Good?

Does liking a "not good" character say something about the moral qualities of the person (the answer is no, methinks :D)?

What does "I like a fictional character" mean? I think this might have different meanings for different people..

For me - liking a fictional character doesn't equal liking a person in RL. When I say "I like a fictional character" I mean "I find her/him interesting" and in no way this is related to their virtues or the lack of thereof. Strangely enough, really good characters, as well as complete monsters, are almost never very interesting. There are exceptions to the rule, but in general, this is the case.

So when I say "I like her/him" I don't mean I condone throwing little kids out of the windows. I mean that there are interesting traits, or some interesting character development, or an interesting idea that this character represents. Some of the characters I like are just purely interesting to discuss, or sometimes they touch on some geeky ideas I have (for example, I love tournaments - Jaime, dogs - Sandor, and Joan of Arc - Brienne).

I never like characters "for the cause". I am a feminist and a stand-for-the-rights-of-all-oppressed person, but I don't like agenda in fiction, even "good" agenda". Agenda-driven books never rise above mediocrity, I feel, because the author's focus is not in "creating".
As far as characters go, I don't feel I "have to" only like female characters (because I am a feminist) or I "have to" only be interested in male characters that share my ideas. Because - WHY???? What does this have to do with their ability to be interesting? Like one Russian saying goes - "it is not as if we are going to be drinking buddies!". I find both these characters fascinating because I am interested in "dark recesses of human soul", but of course I don't think they are "good people"! :D

I also very rarely side with a character or a group of characters, maybe because they are not real people, but sort of fictional ideas for me? I mean - I will not dislike the character X just because they have done something bad to the character Y whom I happen to love.
alexandral: (The Painted Veil - Kitty China Day)
This was a rare occasion – we went to watch a movie with Mr.Alexander! He has a no-nonsense attitude towards films and TV , and a film has to be really good for him to watch. He is my litmus paper as far as films are concerned, so I was really happy that he liked “Tinker, Taylor..”

Starting with the best thing, the film was impeccably well-made, with great attention to detail. The usual big problem with USA and British spy films is their total disregard for foreign languages and people of foreign nationalities. Japanese people are always cast as Koreans (or Chinese) and vice versa. Mexican people are often cast as Spanish. Polish people are cast as Russians. The languages suffer badly too. I don’t know about other languages, but as far as Russian is concerned, in 99.999% of USA/British spy films the spies speak Russian terrible enough for any babushka from Moscow to uncover their identity. The state of Russian language in spy films and TV shows is often so bad that you can’t even understand it without subtitles ("Nikita" and "Salt", I am looking at you, and this is one of the reasons I am not very enthusiastic about the new Nikita).

May be no-one cares for this but my foreign self. But I often ponder why such an abhorring state of foreign languages is allowed to exist. Surely, there must be a reason for this. I can’t quite imagine a USA (or British) film director who won’t hope that her/his film will be shown in other countries. The most logical explanation I can see is "They do not care". But I care! The bad state of Russian language usually makes USA (and British) spy films ridiculous. And I don’t take "this is because of the costs" explanations seriously, because I am sure that Russian actors will jump to any chance to appear in USA films and I know that Russian actors don’t get paid as much as USA actors.

But it seems that a huge tectonic shift is happening, because as far as Russian language is concerned, “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy” was perfect. They even employed Russian actors for the roles of Russians! This was such a surprise! The world is changing and I hope this is not just a fluke. Or may be this is just because the director Tomas Alfredson is Swedish? May be. In any case, "Tinker, Taylor .." had such a wonderful attention to every detail and such a fabulous visual feel that you were immersed in the 70s, the paranoia of the time almost palpable.

As far as acting is concerned, I liked Garry Oldman, with the only small note that he does seem to be one of those actors who play the same role in every film. But he is well overdue some serous recognition, so I hope he will get some awards for his role. But my personal favourite in this film was Mark Strong who was purely heart-breaking.

I guessed the identity of the Russian spy because it was quite obvious. vague spoilers )

The ending was fabulous and Mark Strong / Colin Firth OTP was incredible. Overall, this was a fabulous "thinking" film, the one to watch when you can give it the full attention (there were so many "blink and you miss it" moments) and both my husband and I loved it. From my own point of view, the lack of anti-Russian propaganda , and the fact that there were no "good" and "bad" sides in the struggle between the spy organizations were particular appreciated.
alexandral: (North and South - Margaret in love)
It is a nice sunny day and I feel nice and sunny. And I don’t work on Wednesdays. I work 4 days a week as my life seems to be as equally important as my work, even though I love my work. So I am at home with my cuppa and I want to go and do some shopping for shoes later. Life is pretty awesome.

I must tell you about the latest Jane Eyre my daughter and I went to see on Sunday.

I have seen several “Jane Eyre” adaptations. The first time I discovered Jane Eyre when I was 15, through 1983 serial with Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton. It is still probably my favourite adaptation. It was my first ever TV obsession. I haven’t seen it since 1983 but I remember it being very close to the book.

Franco Zeffirelli’ Jane Eyre with Charlotte Gainsbourg was pretty average, but I thought Charlotte was the closest to the way I imagined Jane to be looks-wise, as it is a common thing to cast Jane as too pretty.

Of 2006’s miniseries I only remember that it had a very Byronic looking Toby Stephens (I am a fan) and that I thought Ruth Wilson was a bit too gorgeous to be Jane Eyre.

I have also read the book, twice, in Russian translation and in English.

I thought 2011 film adaptation to be lovely, and my daughter loved it too. It was absolutely stunning on all levels: the scenery, the house, the music, the costumes. Everything was just so in harmony and so Gothic. I think this is what I loved the most about the film: the sheer joy of watching and listening. I am glad we watched it in the movie theatre.

At first, I thought Mia Wasikowska too pretty to be Jane Eyre, but she won me over with her performance. She was so beautifully Jane Eyre: self-reliant, but vulnerable, very practical, but romantic. She is my favourite Jane Eyre of all times, as she made me cry few times and I thought I already know this story so well that I will never be able to feel it.

As to Mr. Rochester, I must say that I am already not the 15-year old I used to be, so I do not tend to feel as much for Rochester as I used to. Hiding you mentally ill wife and trying to "marry" a young girl? And among this all managing to feel sorry for yourself, a tragic suffering hero? No , Mr.Rochester , I do not feel for you as much as I used to.

Plus, although Michael Fassbender gave a decent enough performance, and he and Mia had some lovely scenes together, he was so NOT Mr. Rochester. No black hair, no dark bushy eyebrows, no Byronic aura. No broad shoulders neither. And in his manners, he was somewhat too soft to be Rochester. His interpretation of the role was that of "the kind uncle", a common role in British miniseries.

But all in all, this was a lovely film.
alexandral: (Art - Yerko - old souceress)
Dear friends, I am so sorry for the second day of ranting but I feel compelled to tell you all what I think about this over-celebrated character because some discussion on over-celebrated characters arisen in yesterday’s comments.

Disclaimer: These are just my thoughts, and I do not hold the right to absolute truth and welcome discussion. To tell you the truth, this week is the week students are back to Universities, and I am having a case of a terrible cranky. Did I tell you I work in one of UK Universities (in Information services department as "systems analyst" which is another word for database programmer)? I hate the first "back to school" weeks mostly because the traffic becomes unbearable. The situation evens out a bit later on (it is known that one only attends their lectures in September and October), but late September and October is a killer traffic-wise.

So: What about Robb?

One of the most puzzling (to me) phenomena that I see on LJ is immense popularity of Robb Stark. Recently, I have made few polls in LJ ASOIAF communities and he always tends to be near the top. To me personally, this character (although quite sympathetic) never held too much value, because:

Book spoilers )

I have been trying to think of explanations for his popularity, but all I could gather is:

- Robb is played by a young attractive male actor. Is this a good enough reason? I will not go as far as claim any "sexism!" or "ageism!" or any other explanations, but one wonders. :D But if I have ever seen an over-celebrated character, it is Robb in my opinion.

PS: BTW, I think Robert Madden is fabu!

PS2: I think Rhaegar and other "white knights" are also over-celebrated, just not as much. For one thing, Rhaegar was the Crown Prince
alexandral: (Rome - Pullo/Vorenus)
Friday is a good day to post pictures! I have saved some Emmys pictures from various sources:

The rest )


If you are a fan of Jaime, and a member of [ profile] ontd_asoiaf community, vote for Jaime in Westerosi Madness Poll!!!, Click here to see the poll!

alexandral: (Rome - Vorenus - Soldier)
Having finished both of Neil Marshall’s films (The Descent and Centurion) close together, I noticed one shortcoming of his style, namely the lack of character development and character depth. What Neil is good at is visual world-building. Both films look good enough to be windows in the real world. But the characters? They don’t seem to be his main concern.

The Descent

This was the better of the two, a very strong horror film, scary enough to be something I would not feel comfortable watching in a movie theatre on my own. Fear of the dark is something I was very familiar with as the child. I have outgrown my fears and phobias so now I can sleep in complete dark and pick up spiders if necessary, but darkness (and spiders) is still not something I like. So when a group of outdoor-loving ladies in the film decided that crawling deep underground in a cavern is the best way to heal their friend’s psychological trauma after the death of her family, I thought “BAD IDEA. VERY BAD IDEA”. And of course, it was a bad idea, as the cavern managed to collapse on their heads, plus it happened to be infested with nightmarish creatures.

"The Descent" felt as a study into the nature of fear, and the characters , at least the two main characters, received much better attention than in "Centurion". The fact that I had to Google the pre-story and the names of the characters was probably not a good sign, but the unraveling of their humanity under the pressure of fear and claustrophobia was done superbly.


There are some very good things about Centurion: the world of Britain AD 117 looks so real you sometimes forget that this is a film and the action sequences are fantastic. This is most definitely the way I want "Game of Thrones" to look, so I can't wait for Neil Marshall’s episode in the season 2 (he has been commissioned to direct one of the episodes). If Neil Marshall’s episode is going to be the battle of Blackwater (as I have seen reported) , I would rejoice. There was a moment in "Centurion" involving Dark Forest and fireballs and it was one of the most visually stunning moments I have ever seen. I think Neil Marshall can do great things with fire.

But on the whole, "Centurion" was not a very good film. The characters were flat, and the plot disintegrated into something quite ridiculous at the end. Imagine Britain beyond the Adrian Wall , Roman times. Then imagine a beautiful young lady in what looks quite a modern dress living ON HER OWN in the middle of the forest and having no problems? I can not imagine this easily.

Besides, I have to say a couple of words about Michael Fassbender. Namely, I do not understand what the fuss is all about. I have seen him in few films recently and I can safely say that although he is not a bad actor, at the same time he has nothing to write home about.

I thought Dominic West and Olga Kurylenko did much better job with their roles. And I also think I am not a very suitable person to watch "Roman Britain" films, as I always want Picts to win, because this was their land and Romans were invaders, you know? But we always get the same thing: "terrible savage evil Picts against noble civilized Romans" (read: Big Empires are always morally superior).
alexandral: (Pink Panther - Shocking)
Finally! I found a way to read more! Audiobooks! I used to read an awful lot when I was younger and my vision was better (my vision used to be perfect once). Now my vision is not perfect anymore and I find that reading anything after a day spent on computer (I work as a software programmer) makes my eyes terribly tired. I can only read in big volumes during holidays, when my eyes aren't strained as much.

I was unhappy with the fact that I don't read as much as I used to, and I think I finally found a solution - AUDIOBOOKS. I started listening to them when I drive (at least 1.5-2 hours a day), before going to bed and even sometimes when I work as I can easily multitask if I am not doing anything too difficult. I finished "A Dance with Dragons" and now I am quickly sailing through one of the series I liked when I was younger, "Black Company" (Glen Cook). I am almost at the end of the book 2, "Shadows Linger". Once I finish "Black Company", or at least get bored with it as I am told that the later books aren't all that good, I am going to properly listen to The Vorkosigan Saga. I have read several books from these series, but never the whole thing.


I have also decided that I should watch at least 1 film per week, and won't allow myself to rely on TV series only. :D I started this week but I didn't have a particular good start:

Thor (2011)

Films like this are better watched in a movies theater, where any thoughts in your brain can be successfully blown away by fabulousness of CGI special effects. When watching at home, on your TV set, it is unlikely that you will be able to reach the stunned enough state to not notice the lack of everything else. Well, apart from the gratuitous shiftlessness and the extreme length of Chris Hemsworth's eyelashes. So, in short: Thor is made of : 3/4 of special effects, 1/12 of shirtlessness, 1/12 of Chris Hemsworth's eyelashes, and 1/12 of strange horned helmets that definitely must get in the way of lighting-striking as their horns are long enough to act as lightning rods.
Or, I have almost forgotten, the dialogue is really deep. Thor says "I will return" at least once.

Just because any post should include some positivity: Idris Elba in the strange horned helmet.

Not for the first time, IMDB's ratings are making me me raise my eyebrows (7.2 for Thor). The site is obviously populated by large numbers of people I don't see eye-to-eye with.
alexandral: (Downton abbey - Violet)
Finally have gotten to watching Downton abbey and am loving it. Consumed the series 1 in one day.

There is not much to say apart from "This is a fabulous gem!!!" . May be just 3 things:

1. I think the show is a little bit unfair to poor Thomas, the only evil guy in the series. I am not drawing any "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" conclusions here, but I am just back from "Equality and Diversity" committee (did I tell you that I am an Equality and Diversity champion in our work area? I guess my outspokenness is known) and I am on my high horse.

2. Violet Crawley/Isobel Crawley is the best love/hate relationship I have ever seen on TV . I can enjoy a show just about them alone.

3. How do I love the way they make shows in Britain. Everything seems so REAL and at the same time everything is just so easy on the eye. I can't help but compare everything with HBO "Game of Thrones" at the moment, and I must say comparison is not into "Game of Thrones" favour. As much as I love Game of Thrones, my feeling of reality in this show is quite often broken by some prop that just doesn't look real. And this is not about the fantasy elements (they are actually good) , and not about the grunge feel as I love grunge feel. I can give you one of the examples I keep repeating again and again - the wigs. But there are many other little things too. I have heard Game of Thrones creators' complaints about budgets, but surely, "Game of Thrones" has a bigger budget than "Downton Abbey" (I checked, GoT's budget is at least 5 times bigger)? Plus the things that are bothering me are not expensive CGI dragons, it is the little everyday things that feel "fake". Besides, they could have let many characters (like Loras) use their own hair which would have saved them money?
alexandral: (GoT - Winter the watch oath)
The third part of the book was the best , most likely because all the characters are back !

My thoughts, on the third part of a Dance with Dragons )
alexandral: (GoT - Winter the watch oath)
The North remembers

A Dance with Dragons continues to be uneven, but for me this might become my favourite book in the series. The biggest (and the most interesting) part of ADWD takes place in the North, and I love it (the snowstorms, the Northern gods, and all).

Spoilery thoughts on ADWD's second third )

Also, because I feel so nostalgic after all the descriptions of snow storms in ADWD, snow in Siberia:

alexandral: (Harry Potter - Sirius)
I have been recommended this video by my daughter - they showed this to them at her school, apparently. The video ( Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise ) is hilarious, but I do wonder: what are they teaching the kids at school nowdays?

Also: this is probably the catchiest video in the Universe

[Error: unknown template video]
alexandral: (GoT - Jaime I at the door)
Some new promo pictures from "Headhunters" (and related festivals), a film adaptation of Jo Nesbo's thriller, that is going to be released on 26th of August, so very soon:

The rest )
alexandral: (GoT - anim Tyrion I'll give you this)
"They'll prune you when you least expect it."

I am finally getting somewhere with the proper read of ADWD. I have done a spoilery read-though already but this is not the same. Actually, I cheated bit. I found my several attempts to get through the first 1/10 of the book to be a bit hard going, so I acquired an audio version for my Scotland travels and the audio version worked very well (now I know how all the names are supposed to be pronounced!). I am through the first 1/3!!!! Woo-hoo!

First, the unspoilery part:
I think Martin needs a strict editor or someone else to tell him “NO”. In the first third only, we had so much unnecessary stuff. I have roughly counted how many times chamber pots and people relieving themselves were mentioned, and the number is over 20. Martin seems to be drawn to certain things again and again, like already mentioned toilet habits of various people (especially Tyrion), and the same phrases seem to pop up again and again. But this is not the main problem. Martin seems to like to list things and people, to the point of new information overload. We are given lists of everyone: wildlings, people in White Harbor (Wyman Manderly court), people asking for Dany’s counsel at the court in Meereen (exacerbated by strange names) , etc, etc. The problem is that there are two options here: either Martin is going to provide future storylines for all these people (please, no!), or why do we have to be given the names and descriptions of people we will never meet again?

But, this all said, A Dance with Dragons might even become one of my favourite books in A Song of Ice and Fire series, because there is so much mind-blowing good things there too.

The spoilery part,combined by POV chapters: )
alexandral: (Default)
I rarely rant about political matters, but I do so occasionally. This is the day for ranting because I have not seen anything as scary as current British riots in my life (and I lived through the fall-out from the collapse of USSR which at the time I thought to be the scariest time of my life). I do find it doubly-scary because I have always thought that the level of life and opportunities existing in Britain (even now), even in the poorest places, are much higher than in many many places in less developed countries. So I can not quite understand: why? When there is rioting in third-world countries, like China, it is often attributed to the countries' "regime". What are we to attribute the British riots to? Democracy?

I find the situation scary and I find it appalling. But the thing I do not understand personally is what is happening with the Police and other forces responsible for keeping the peace in the country. Where are they?

For example, there is an article explaining "What could the police do to stop the rioting?" on BBC: What it says is that Britain is not comfortable with the use of Water Canons, Baton rounds or Army forces. This is a typical phrase: "British policing traditionally did not rely on such methods" and that "In other countries they'd be deployed in the blink of an eye" (meaning Army forces). But seriously, may be this is the time to reconsider?
alexandral: (GoT - anim Drogo come at me bro)

Just last Friday I was in Prague, doing many things in this gorgeous city: walking long walks along Prague's beautiful streets and parks, eating nice food, and visiting Prague Opera and Prague Zoo (which is one of the top 10 in the world).

Now I am back, and as much as I love my job it all seems like a bit of a shock. It also seems that the sub-system that I have just started doing for the Uni's new Website needs to be ready for the 1st of September which is very very soon, so I will probably have to work like mad for the next few weeks (also I am going to Scotland to visit my friend this weekend). In short - crazy times ahead and my head feels empty.

Game of Thrones

I haven't heard any casting or other GoT news and I haven't really done much of the "proper" reading of "Dance with Dragons". I skimmed very quickly once, but now I am reading very slowly. I took the book with me on holidays but I am still at the beginning of the book.

Please let me know if there have been any exciting casting news.

The only good piece of news I have seen is from Shadowlocked, here. It seems that HBO has good intentions towards "Game of Thrones" . HBO co-president Richard Pepler apparently said that "We told George we’d go as long as he kept writing" . This is a bit vague and unclear, but at least thins means we are going to have at least 5 seasons.

Photographer Amanda Killen has made some awesome pictures from the Game of Thrones season 2 filming sets. I adore the photographs of what everyone thinks are the New Gods of Westeros (The Seven: the Father, the Mother, the Warrior, the Crone, the Smith, the Maid, and the Stranger):

More pictures )

Other fannish things

I have watched few films and TV shows on the laptop whilst on holidays:

- Mentalist. I am so thankful to the show's creators for everything, especially for the great closure of Red John storyline.

- Nikita. I might and I might not continue watching this show. I have periods of interest followed by periods of non-interest.

- We went to see a classic motorbike show yesterday, so I am re-starting my "Sons of Anarchy" watch.

- Midas (Korean drama) which suffered badly from Kdrama second-half syndrome. Jang Hyuk was very hot with a short haircut and wearing sharp suits, but I was more interested in No Min Woo's character.

- Royal Family (Korean drama) which was GOOD but I didn't like the ending.

- I finally watched "Inglorious Basterds" which I liked much more than I expected to. Christoph Waltz (the Nazi Colonel Hans Landa) makes the movie and steals the focus from Brad Pitt and everyone else.

- I also watched a Canadian zombie movie "Stake Land" which was good (if you like zombie movies).

PS: How have you been? I hope everything is good!
alexandral: (Default)
I could not access LJ at all for several days - another DDoS attack? Just managed to do so by using an old version of IE I have for testing, still can't access it through Firefox or Chrome.

Does this mean the final death? It has been more than three days!

Just wanted to say good bye as I am going to Prague for holidays with the family. My love to you all!!!!!! Happy birthdays to everyone having birthdays soon and all good things to everyone!!

** big hugs **

I will be back around 8-9th of August!!!

PS: If you know any news about the LJ issues , please let me know!!!

PS 2: Does anyone know if Dreamwidth cross-posting to LJ feature is working?
alexandral: (Default)
I could not access LJ at all for several days - another DDoS attack? Just managed to do so by using an old version of IE I have for testing, still can't access it through Firefox or Chrome.

Just wanted to say good bye as I am going to Prague for holidays with the family. My love to you all!!!!!! Happy birthdays to everyone having birthdays soon and all good things to everyone!!

** big hugs **

I will be back around 8-9th of August!!!

PS: If you know any news about the LJ issues , please let me know!!!

I am alexandral on Dreamwidth - I hope some of you are there!

alexandral: (GoT - Sansa happy)
I tried to chose not-so serious pictures because - it's Friday! I am off on holidays for two weeks! Life is fabulous!

Peter Dinklage

The rest )


alexandral: (Default)

January 2012

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