Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Great and Stupendous, Smaug.

Yesterday was long and the the end of a very long week, so I didn't post anything last night as I went to bed quite early. I then turned around and got up very early this morning to go see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. And yes I did see it in IMAX 3-D which was very nice, although I must be getting used to it now, because I don't remember many things popping out at me except large bees. How was it? Hmm.....I think I have to see it again. There was a lot of superfluous story within the film, since they had to stretch it out to three films rather than just two. There was also a love triangle of sorts, which was boring, and also a focus on a rather insignificant character and location from the books in the film, which I didn't care for either. The action was fast paced, but not really that impressive either; Peter Jackson has some difficulties with his action sequences. That said the film was entertaining and relatively well done. Martin Freeman reprises his role as Bilbo and continues to deliver an excellent performance and his relationship with the dwarves deepen, as well as his relationship with the ring. All of the returning cast from the previous film continue to perform well. Orlando Bloom comes back as Legolas, and I think he does a much better job in this film bringing the fictitious elf character to life than he did in the The Lord of the Rings films. Stephen Fry (Master of Laketown), and Luke Evans (Bard) are two new rather prominent characters that I could have lived without elaboration on in the films, along with a female elf called Tauriel played by Evangeline Lilly. Essentially boring characters, although the actors the played them were of course of high caliber. The characters that were new that I liked most were of course Thranduil played by Lee Pace, and the best addition to saga for this film was Smaug voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, although the digital artists who brought him to life also deserve a good deal of the credit. That has got to be best dragon on film to date, topping only Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. So the characters make their way through the Mirkwood where they encounter big spiders and nasty elves, and then they get to the mountain, after passing through a city of men where they are less than welcome, only to deal with a dragon in its lair. Meanwhile, Gandalf works on unmasking the growing evil of Sauron. I've heard from critics that it is supposed to be better than the first one, but I'm on the fence right now with that. I only remember bits and pieces from Howard Shore's score, but it seemed pretty good. Costumes and set design were of course beyond top notch, as was the cinematography. If there is one thing Peter Jackson is as a director, he knows how to make beautifully crafted, and breathtaking looking films. I think they could have done The Hobbit in two films rather than dragging it out into 3, which is really what it seems like to me due to all of the superfluous content in the film. I loved the scenes with Gandalf during his investigation into the Witch King's tomb, and then his close up inspection of Dol Gul Dur. Bilbo and Smaug were also a great set of scenes to watch. The scenes that happened with Bard in Laketown were dull, and the love triangle that was going on between Legolas, Tauriel and one of the dwarves was more than annoying. Off first viewing I am giving it an "Admirable Ability" although that may change after seeing it again; as of now I like the first one more. Go see it though and consider yourself entertained, please though leave your younger children, infants and babies at home as this film was intended for at least individuals over the age of 10. Well today we have "Deck the Halls" with information provided by Wikipedia below:

The tune is that of an old Welsh air, first found in a musical manuscript by Welsh harpist John Parry Ddall dating back to the 1700s. Poet John Ceiriog Hughes later wrote his own lyrics. A middle verse was later added by folk singers. In the eighteenth century the tune spread widely, with Mozart using it in a piano and violin concerto and, later, Haydn in the song "New Year's Night."
Originally, carols were dances and not songs. The accompanying tune would have been used as a setting for any verses of appropriate metre. Singers would compete with each other, verse for verse—known as canu penillion dull y De ("singing verses in the southern style"). The church actively opposed these folk dances. Consequently, tunes originally used to accompany carols became separated from the original dances, but were still referred to as "carols". The popular English lyrics for this carol are not a translation from the Welsh.
The connection with dancing is made explicit in the English lyrics by the phrase "follow me in merry measure" as "measure" is a synonym for dance. A collection of such sixteenth and seventeenth century dances danced at the Inns of Court in London are called the Old Measures. Dancing itself having been previously suppressed by the church was revived during the renaissance beginning in fifteenth century Italy.
The Welsh melody with English lyrics appeared in the December 1877 issue of the Pennsylvania School Journal, with the melody, described as a "Welsh Air" appearing in four-part harmony, and unattributed lyrics. The melody is substantially today's, except that the third "Fa la la" is omitted. An identical printing appeared four years later in The Franklin Square Song Collection.
Charles Wood arranged a version, the words from Talhaiarn; translated by Thomas Oliphant. Oliphant died in 1873 and the English version of the 1881 publication (The Franklin Square Song Collection) is also attributed to Oliphant. he melody of "Deck the Hall" is taken from "Nos Galan" ("New Year's Eve"), a traditional Welsh New Year's Eve carol published in 1794, although it is much older. The Welsh and English lyrics supplied there are as follows:
O mor gynnes mynwes meinwen,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:
O mor fwyn yw llwya meillionen,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:
O mor felus yw'r cusanau,
[instrumental flourish]
Gyda serch a mwynion eiriau

fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:

I know news hasn't been something I've been mentioning a lot lately, but let's just say that it will not be a very merry Christmas for either the people of Syria or the rebels fighting against the Assad regime. Let's not also forget about North Korea as Kim Jung Eun begins solidifying his power by executing his uncle after branding him a traitor (he was the second most powerful man in North Korea up until that point) most likely not making him a man of change, but rather a man just like his father. One day left for this term for graduate school!!! I am so relieved. So much stress will be off my shoulders it will be amazing, and the perfect time for a vacation, or rather a "staycation." Well time to sign off. Take care peoples and remember only 11 more days until Christmas!

Julie Andrews singing "Deck the Halls"

Interview with Benedict CumberBatch

Interstellar teaser trailer (Christopher Nolan's new film, not sure what it is all about though; should be interesting.)

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