I acquired the Harry Potter audiobooks recently. I read the Harry Potter novels for the first time when I was in my early teens. I knew about these novels, and about how popular they are, long before I picked them up. But, since I’m not the kind of person that usually goes with the flow, I didn’t read them. When I was 15 years old, however, I overheard some girls in school talking about the Harry Potter novels. Now I don’t remember exactly what they said, but their talk made me interested in the novels. One of the girls said that the fourth novel in the series is the best one. So, out of curiosity, I then decided to read these novels. I picked them up at my local library, but I had to wait for days, and even weeks, to get hold of some of them because they were hugely popular at that time. The novels are meant for children, but even teenagers and adults can enjoy reading them because they’re quite well-written and because the story is quite interesting. Well, I have to admit that I enjoyed reading them so much that I read them for hours at a time. The only other novels that I read with this much interest at that time were the Death Gate Cycle novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Therefore, I finished reading the Harry Potter novels quite quickly. The novels made the author, J. K. Rowling, a very wealthy woman. Some people don’t like the novels because of their popularity and because they’re fantasy novels. But, objectively, these novels aren’t bad at all, and I’m not surprised that they became so popular. It’s obvious, however, that these novels have been specially promoted by the publishing industry and by the media. In England and in the USA, books don’t just become popular. If a book or a film becomes popular, this usually means that the establishment wants them to become popular. In the world of the novels, English society is divided into very distinct classes. Wizards are kind of like the nobles of this world. There aren’t many of them, they have their own hidden world, and they have powers and privileges that ordinary, non-wizard people (muggles) don’t have. There’s even an insulting word in the world of the wizards for wizards that aren’t of pure wizard blood. This word is “mudblood”. Therefore, I guess that it’s understandable why the Harry Potter novels are so popular in oligarchical, right-wing, and anti-democratic states like the USA, England, Poland, and the Russian Federation. Not surprisingly, the Harry Potter novels were soon adapted to film, with some of the most famous British actors playing the roles. The films are enjoyable as well, and it’s clear that an effort was made from the beginning to make them entertaining and well-made. So, some weeks ago, after seeing the films again, I decided to read the novels again. Instead of getting the novels, I later decided to purchase the audiobooks because sometimes I prefer to listen to audiobooks. However, when I read some of the user reviews of the audiobooks that were narrated by Jim Dale, I decided to get the audiobooks that were narrated by Stephen Fry. It seems that many people didn’t like listening to Jim Dale’s narration. The only problem is that the audiobooks with Fry’s narration aren’t readily available for purchase, especially in North America. It’s not even easy to obtain these audiobooks in used condition for a low price on eBay. Fortunately, I was able to find the audiobooks in MP3 format on some website after realizing that I may be able to find them for free on the internet. So far, I’ve finished listening to the first few chapters of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ (1997). I’ve got to agree with the user reviews on Audible. The versions with Stephen Fry’s narration really are good.
I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post that Ready Player One is one of my favorite films of the 2010s. The race for the first key at the beginning of the film is a favorite of mine. It’s a fast-paced race, but I specially cut out and saved this segment of the film on my computer. I’ve seen the race many times since then. Moreover, I watched the race in slow motion on a number of occasions, almost frame by frame. I think that just about everything in the race looks really good. Wade Watts’s avatar, Parzival, drives the DeLorean car from the Back to the Future films. Samantha Cook’s avatar, Art3mis, rides on the famous red motorcycle from the film Akira. Also worth noting is that Parzival’s color in the film is blue and that Art3mis’s color in the film is red. The DeLorean and Kaneda’s bike are shot very well during the race, from various angles. In fact, every item of pop culture looks really good in Ready Player One. One example is Daito’s Gundam, which looks phenomenal in the fight with Mechagodzilla. Many frames of the race, as I’ve noticed, look very good by themselves. If you take screenshots of the race, they wouldn’t look bad as a poster or as wallpaper on your desktop. There are some beautiful views of New York City during the race, for example. So, the people that designed and created the race can be applauded, in my opinion. Nowadays, special effects in Hollywood films rarely impress me, but the CGI in Ready Player One looks fantastic. There are other standout sets in the film too, like the Overlook Hotel and James Halliday’s childhood room. Another scene that I often watched is the talk between Parzival and Art3mis in Aech’s garage. Parzival and Art3mis look good throughout most of the film, but, in Aech’s garage, they look particularly good. And their conversation isn’t dull either. In fact, I like the designs in the film so much that I bought the book ‘The Art of Ready Player One’ (2018) by Gina McIntyre. Anyway, since I enjoyed seeing the film, I got the novel by Ernest Cline some time later. I bought the audiobook on Audible first. When it comes to the novel, it seems that some people love it and that some people hate it. The people that hate it usually hate it because they think that it glorifies “nerd culture”. The people that love it usually love it because it’s rich with nerd culture. I don’t consider myself to be a nerd, but I still like some aspects of the novel. I’m not going to lie. I like just about all of the pop culture from the 1980s. I think that, in the USA, the 1980s was the last decade that consistently delivered well-made and original cultural products. By the 1980s, the USA was already in a state of degeneration, but, when it comes to pop culture at least, the Americans could still make some good things. Anyway, there are many pop culture references in the novel. Soon after I finished listening to the audiobook, I bought a used copy of the novel as a reference of 1980s pop culture. The novel turned out to be a page-turner the first time I listened to it. But there are some aspects of the novel that can be criticized. For example, the novel isn’t particularly well-written. The world-building can be criticized because it’s often hollow and unimaginative. The author’s humor is also not for my tastes. So, I think that I probably won’t read or listen to the novel from beginning to end a second time, but I wouldn’t call it awful, especially for a novel published in 2011. However, this is my review of the novel, and the film is somewhat different. As some people have already pointed out, the film is considerably better than the novel, partly because it excludes the cringy things from the novel. The characters are more appealing in the film than in the novel as well.
Originally posted on September 26, 2016:
I’ve got to say that I miss Granville 7 Cinemas. I remember the first time when I saw a film at this cinema. It was in 2004, when I attended high school. I found out that Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is being screened at this cinema. Granville 7 Cinemas was one of the few cinemas in the city that was screening this film from Japan. So, I made the decision to go and see the film there. Back then, I checked movie showtimes in newspapers. It may have been the first time that I saw a film at a cinema in the center of the city, and I had a good time because Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is visually a fantastic film. In my opinion, it’s one of the last great anime films because already in the 2000s the anime industry in Japan began releasing dull and unoriginal films and series. The last anime film that I saw in a theater is Your Name (2016), by the director Makoto Shinkai, and I wish that I hadn’t gone to see it in a theater. Not surprisingly, this dull and unoriginal film got praised by the bought and paid for film critics, and the gullible public actually turned this film into a hit by going to see it and by believing that this boring film is actually good. Well, if you compare it to the many other bland and unoriginal films that get made nowadays, perhaps it doesn’t seem bad. For me, however, this film is just another example of the growing irrationality and anti-scientific thought in the West, in Japan, and in other states (like the Russian Federation) that can be called economic and cultural colonies of the West. The story in Your Name is a kaleidoscope of New Age nonsense. The animation is technically fine, but it’s still bland. None of the scenes struck me as being memorable. The characters aren’t interesting. There is no brilliance in the film. I think that the fact that some people are calling Shinkai the new Hayao Miyazaki is laughable. None of the new anime directors in Japan can be compared to Miyazaki. Even Miyazaki himself hasn’t made a good and memorable film since Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). By the way, Howl’s Moving Castle is another anime film that I went to see in a theater. I saw it several times at Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas, in the center of the city, and I have good memories of seeing it as well because seeing it in a theater was actually an experience. Anyway, I enjoyed seeing Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence so much that I decided to see it a second time, and I brought a girlfriend of mine with me. I’ve got to admit that when I was attending high school, I rarely went to see films in theaters. I wasn’t into doing this. Only when I reached my twenties did I begin going to theaters often. So, in 2012, when The Dark Knight Rises was being screened, I decided to see the film at Granville 7 Cinemas. Seeing the The Dark Knight Rises in a theater was a good experience for me. It’s a flawed film, but, artistically, I think that it’s better than The Dark Knight (2008), which is a ridiculously overrated film. It was summer and the weather was good. The showtime was in the evening. It was then that I found out that the cinema is going to be closed soon. This was a gloomy surprise for me. It definitely made me feel sad. Another memorable viewing at this cinema for me was of Thor (2011). Perhaps this is the reason why Thor is one of my favorite Marvel Studios films. If I had known that this cinema would close so soon, I would have gone there more often. Granville 7 Cinemas was one of those old style cinemas, with large, wide auditoriums and halls with fine decor. Sure, it wasn’t that old, and it wasn’t a movie palace, but it still had its charms. It opened in 1987. In the 1980s, well-built buildings were still being constructed. It was clear that some thought went into designing Granville 7 Cinemas and its interiors. It wasn’t like the bland cinemas that began to be built in the 2000s. In the early-2010s, it remained as one of the three large cinemas in Downtown Vancouver, the others being Scotiabank Theatre and Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas. Some people claim that the closure of Granville 7 Cinemas was due to growing competition from home video and television. Others claim that attendance was affected by the fact that Granville Street became a place where homeless people began to hang out. These factors may have played a role in the poor attendance. But I think that the main factor was the economic depression that began in 2008. Since the media in Western countries is controlled by an oligarchy, it’s rarely mentioned in the news that the depression that began in 2008 hasn’t gone away. Economic growth in Western countries since 2008 has been almost nil. I think that the depression is the factor that caused the closure of cinemas. Almost no new cinemas have been built since 2008. There have only been closures of cinemas and of other businesses. People aren’t spending their money like they did before the financial crisis of 2008. I think that another factor contributed to the closure of cinemas in Vancouver. If I’m not mistaken, almost all cinemas in Vancouver are now owned by Cineplex Entertainment. This means that Cineplex Entertainment now has a nearly complete monopoly in the city and in the rest of the province. Since Empire Theatres left the movie theater business in 2013, prices for tickets have gone up by several dollars at the cinemas owned by Cineplex Entertainment.