Potter late than never

 

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WILD ABOUT HARRY | By growing up on screen in the role, Daniel Radcliffe has the audience vested in his fate.

Final installment of ‘Harry Potter’ makes a fitting end to a decade-long series that even a Muggle can appreciate

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

There’s a tonal shift in the final installment of the Harry Potter series, part 2 of The Deathly Hallows, that’s almost arrestingly apart from what has preceded it. Maybe it’s the sense of finality that the story is truly coming to an end, a sentimental summing up that resolves most of the plot threads, explains just why Harry is so important and how Voldemort will finally be defeated. That coda gives us a sense of closure.

That the film works so well is astonishing, considering that Part 1, which came out eight months ago, was so disastrously heavy and convoluted. This one, dark as pitch, benefits from well-conceived set pieces and a streamlined arc.

Still, this Potter is a good 20 minutes shorter than the average for the series, and includes an epilogue well after the slightly unsatisfying climax. Given how it serves as the grand capstone to a popular series,  you’d think they could have found time to, for instance, remind us what the deathly hallows of the title are. (None of the films has ever recapped important plot points, the way the Lord of the Rings series did — and that was just three films, not eight spread over 10 years.)

So, prepare to go in either expecting to have to relearn some facts: Voldemort divided his soul into several “horcruxes” which Harry, Hermione and Ron are trying to find and destroy; meanwhile, the Death Eaters are ruling Hogwarts under the iron thumb of Snape.

There are still some nearly insurmountable incongruities that only the most devoted fans could heedlessly overlook (how is it Voldemort and Harry can see inside each others’ brains, but never know where the other is? If they can fly instantly through space-time, how does a creaky metal fence act as such a devastating barrier? etc.). And Steven Kloves’ script is problematic and cliché-filled (Snape actually delivers the line, “Some of you are probably wondering why I summoned you here at this hour”).

But director David Yates has assembled some thrilling action sequences and added a Gothic flair that add weight and urgency. The siege of Hogwarts is a special effects extravaganza that evokes some real thrills and awesome moments, such as a phalanx of stone warriors defending the school against an onslaught of giants. It also affords some of the long-standing characters the opportunity to emerge from the shadows of the series, including a defiant Prof. McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and the dopey Neville Longbottom as a surprise hero.

The thrust of the film, though, is explaining just why Harry is so special, and Daniel Radcliffe, who literally grew up before our eyes in the role, shows a remarkable maturity amid all the hoo-ha. I still maintain that the movies border on incoherence, but you can’t deny the sincerity with which Radcliffe has always tackled the material, often sharing screen-time with some of the preeminent British actors of their age. When all is said and done, you cannot help but care for Harry and be vested in what happens to him. On that score, The Deathly Hallows Part 2 does not disappoint.

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On the inside with a wizard: Dallas’ gay-friendly Harry Potter club

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Dallas Voice intern Drake von Trapp (fourth from left) found acceptance in this Potter’s field.

For some people, the Harry Potter series amounts to a good read, a franchise to criticize or a childish fantasy blown out of proportion. For others, though, it’s a way of life, the basis of friendships, even a social necessity.

For me, Harry Potter was the cornerstone of my adolescence. Prior to reading the series, I was little more than a home-schooled recluse. A three-month trip to Australia left me without much to do but read, and during my banishment, I devoured the entire series within weeks.

After returning to the Dallas, I joined the Harry Potter Dallas-Fort Worth club (HP DFW), an LGBT-friendly group of like-minded fans who shared my passion for the series. The group meets twice a month to discuss aspects of the books and movies. I was soon absorbed in the family-like atmosphere of the club and the intricacies of the fandom.

Members get together to not only argue over the pros and cons of house elves, but also to dress up as our favorite characters, attend Potter conventions and hold our own Potter-related parties.

I’m now the co-organizer for the group (“Filch of the Forums” is my formal title), and one of the many LGBT-identified individuals who are active in it. Like the characters in the series itself, HP DFW is an open-minded and supportive family of accepting nerds. And even Muggles are welcome.

— Draconis von Trapp

For more information, visit Meetup.com/hp-dfw

 

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 15, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Joel Burns to speak prior to screening of ‘Trevor’ to mark Human Rights Day in Fort Worth

Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns will speak tonight prior to a film screening to mark Human Rights Day put on by the city’s Human Relations Commission. One of the three films screened will be Trevor, about a gay 13-year-old who attempts suicide. The 1994 film inspired the founding of the Trevor Project, the national organization focusing on crisis and suicide prevention for LGBT youth.

“Movies That Matter: A Night of Human Rights Films” will be at Betsy and Steve Palko Hall, in the Amon G. Carter Lecture Hall on the TCU campus. Estrus Tucker, chairman of the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission, will also speak. The other films screened will be Crossing Arizona and 12 Stones.

Burns will speak during an informal reception that begins at 6:30 p.m. The film screenings begin at 7:30 p.m.  Admission is free, and light refreshments will be served. Seating at the screenings is limited. To ensure seating, RSVP to humanrelations@FortWorthGov.org.

For more info, go here.

—  John Wright

Gay film director James Ivory at SMU for screenings of his works this week

James Ivory

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: Ivory will not be in attendance for the Q&A sessions tonight and tomorrow. Those will be hosted by Sean Griffin. Ivory will be doing his master class today. I regret the error.

James Ivory, who with his collaborator and partner Ismail Merchant made some of the best period dramas of the last 30 years, is coming to Dallas for a series organized by the SMU Division of Cinema-Television’s gay chair, Sean Griffin.

Ivory’s best-known films as a director, which netted him three Oscar nominations, include A Room with a View, Howards End and The Remains of the Day, but his output also includes the gay coming-of-age romance Maurice, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge and his last film with Merchant (who died in 2005), The White Countess.

Ivory, who despite his European/colonial sensibilities is American, will participate in a series of master classes and presentations of three films (followed by Q&As) on consecutive days this week: Heat and Dust on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Surviving Picasso on Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m.; and The Remains of the Day on Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. (two Merchant-directed films will also be screened). All showings take place inside the Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art. For tickets, go here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Movie Monday: ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’

‘Hornet’s Nest,’ the final film in the Millennium Trilogy, is a talky, gloomy affair

If you haven’t read one of Stieg Larsson’s books in the Millennium Trilogy, centered on a bisexual, semi-autistic, tattooed Swedish computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), you’ve missed the literary event of the decade. Since they emerged, Larsson’s books have sold better worldwide than John Grisham and Stephen King.

If you haven’t seen one of the film versions, however, you’re not so bad off. So far, the three films — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and the latest, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest — have been, at best, moderately entertaining disappointments. All are Swedish-made (American versions start coming out next year), and while the stories don’t require a Hollywood gloss to be interesting, they could use some punching up as movies.

Director Daniel Alfredson has created a style that’s gloomy but without a sense of moodiness. From the photography to the pacing of the courtroom scenes to the unsatisfying final moments, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest more closely resembles an installment in a rambling made-for-TV miniseries than a punchy feature film. Where’s the crescendo, the heart-racing action, the “big reveal?” Even a thinking man’s thriller can try to get the blood boiling. (Rapace, who had a steamy lesbian sex scene in Played with Fire, doesn’t have any sex this time — a definite hole in the structure.)

Hornet’s Nest really doesn’t stand alone, at least not as well as the other two. It’s a direct sequel to the second film, with Lisbeth recovering from injuries after she fought off her father, a Russian gangster who survived her attack. If any of that confuses you, it’s not much clearer watching it onscreen.

For more about the film, click here.

DEETS: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest with Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist. Rated R. 145 minutes. Now playing at the Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station.

—  Rich Lopez

The Bjorn supremacy

‘Hornet’s Nest,’ the final film in the Millennium Trilogy, is a talky, gloomy affair

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

SWEDISH MEATBALLS  |  An assassin tries to kill muckraking journo Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist, right) after bisexual hacker Lisbeth Salander ‘Kicks the Hornet’s Nest.’
SWEDISH MEATBALLS | An assassin tries to kill muckraking journo Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist, right) after bisexual hacker Lisbeth Salander ‘Kicks the Hornet’s Nest.’

If you haven’t read one of Stieg Larsson’s books in the Millennium Trilogy, centered on a bisexual, semi-autistic, tattooed Swedish computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), you’ve missed the literary event of the decade. Since they emerged, Larsson’s books have sold better worldwide than John Grisham and Stephen King.

If you haven’t seen one of the film versions, however, you’re not so bad off. So far, the three films — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and the latest, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest — have been, at best, moderately entertaining disappointments. All are Swedish-made (American versions start coming out next year), and while the stories don’t require a Hollywood gloss to be interesting, they could use some punching up as movies.

Director Daniel Alfredson has created a style that’s gloomy but without a sense of moodiness. From the photography to the pacing of the courtroom scenes to the unsatisfying final moments, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest more closely resembles an installment in a rambling made-for-TV miniseries than a punchy feature film. Where’s the crescendo, the heart-racing action, the “big reveal?” Even a thinking man’s thriller can try to get the blood boiling. (Rapace, who had a steamy lesbian sex scene in Played with Fire, doesn’t have any sex this time — a definite hole in the structure.)

Hornet’s Nest really doesn’t stand alone, at least not as well as the other two. It’s a direct sequel to the second film, with Lisbeth recovering from injuries after she fought off her father, a Russian gangster who survived her attack. If any of that confuses you, it’s not much clearer watching it onscreen.

All of Larsson’s books, and the movies from them, are concerned with social justice as much as crackling plots. And while set in Sweden, many of those issues feel influenced by American politics (although cultural differences, such as the legal system, make the story much harder to identify with): Creepy older men abound, all corrupt, conspiratorial doctors, policemen, lawyers, cops or politicians. It’s easy to tell the good buys from the bad guys — the only good guy is Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a crusading journalist out to uncover all the baddies targeting Lisbeth.

Nyqvist makes for an implacable, slightly dull leading man. When the first real action of the film comes 90 minutes in, his cred as an action hero starts to emerge, but it’s a little too late.

Almost more intriguing is Christer, the gay co-owner of the magazine Millennium, who is upstaged by Blomkvist even though he craves some action.

I know how he feels.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas