8 January 2015

We've all done it at some point. Ever wondered why? Ever happen to get upset yourself about someone else bringing you offence? I'm going to talk about a trending topic... and no, perhaps you won't like it.

The free speech right is often used to give way to offensive attitudes. The offenders claim it's a basic right to insult and it shouldn't be censored, but when others confront them, the double standards apply. They will silence the offended or anyone criticising them. How is that free speech then?

When we are truly at peace, happy and content with ourselves, there is no need to offend. We are simply at peace. But when we feel frustrated, angered, weak, when hate starts to dwell in us... we start looking for weapons. Sharp words are the easiest to use.

Why do you need to offend? What is there in you that has already caused you harm that you need to leash out onto someone else? What makes you feel so inferior that you must take the other down in order to get up again?

Offending is a frequent thing in childhood and teenage. It has an infantile thing about it. When you keep on doing it in your adult age, you look like you've never grown up. It can only be a good move if you back it by real facts and arguments. If you simply make a statement that's based on nothing (say, "Your mother is a whore" or "God is not real, you're stupid"), you're only talking volumes about your low level. You haven't proved a thing about the other, but about yourself.

When you take the freedom to offend, you must also accept any of the possible consequences. Do you go into the forest and poke the bear? That bear may not be at the same level of understanding as a human being... therefore it won't understand when you tell, "Stop, I was only having fun!". No, that bear will come to get you. It's silly to make any excuses after poking a bear. You should've known what you were getting into.

I frequently offend, too... and each time I do it I know it comes from a place of weakness.

7 January 2015

Posted by Anna Notaras | File under : , , , , , , ,
We should all be free to express our opinions and criticise, right? Then the following one should be equally free to our western world, I believe.

Imagine you are dealing with wild animals. A group of savage beasts has invaded your territory and caused loss and destruction. They've done it repeatedly in the past and they are doing it now, too. What do you do? Do you go out and talk to them or do you use something that actually works to get rid of them? Do you show them drawings? Do you talk to them? Do you laugh at them? Here they come again to wreak havoc and spill blood, in spite of your 'clever' ridicule.

Here begins the truly rational take on the recent events. While doing what those terrorists did is an abomination, some reactions to it are equally disturbing. You can't say - no one can say, in fact, they didn't know how the Islamic State reacts. Everyone knew they're violent and unreasonable. Then why in the world they kept on using the same triggers instead of doing something that would actually get them rid of such threat? For the sake of logic, why do westerners think they're so smart by making satires when they know that a group like this will only react in a violent way?

"Feedom of speech bla bla". Ok, of course we should have it. But you already know their reactions. The whole world knows it. Remember the comparison above. If you're going to 'arm yourself' with papers and words in front of the wild creatures, expect to be defeated by their force. If this happens and you're complaining and victimising yourself, then you're not as smart as you believed.

You're not there for the humour of it or for a legitimate critic, you are there with the sole purpose to offend. Only the weak and the mentally troubled find pleasure in offending like that, that's a fact. You just want to pick on religion because you're a hate-ridden, intolerant anti-theist.
You're just like those extremists. You are an extremist yourself.

You saw they started a war and you kept on fuelling that war.
That doesn't make you a pacifist.
You don't tolerate a different world view, but you expect to be tolerated?
You say you hate fanatic extremists, but you have a fanatic extremist attitude yourself?

You're a special breed of hypocrite.

Then comes a rebellious writer to spill more of his ignorance. I won't name him. He's just like the Islamic terrorists, albeit he sees himself as superior and enlightened. Unlike most people, he fails to see that it's only a small group to do these horrible acts, not the entire Muslim community, nor the other religious people of the planet. This dude uses the supreme weapons of ignorance and stupidity by making a general attack on all religions. You got it, it's one of those 'rational' haters who can't miss an opportunity to spill hate on the entire spiritual community of this world. His dream? "Oh, if only all religious people would just go away... I can't tolerate anyone who's having a different opinion" Get it? See the hypocrisy?

This makes me wonder, are these western critics really superior to those barbaric and violent terrorists? Apparently not. Good thing that most people won't buy this. Most people still have discernment and can grasp the differences. Shame on those who use this terrorist attack in Paris to aggressively display their ignorance, narrow views and hatred.

Later edit:

A routine check on Twitter has actually shown me that my take on this topic is not unpopular at all. In fact, people are showing they're no longer that easily fooled into hostility and attitudes of separation and hate. Way to go!

6 January 2015

As of 20 December 2014, I joined the ranks of those who could proudly wear a t-shirt with the "I survived BOFA" inscription. Many tears were shed, priorities were re-checked and all hope was lost. Not sure if that qualifies as proper surviving though...

Much has been speculated, many endings envisioned... Like some dedicated fans have said, this version that we saw on screens was probably the best possible for a story that was, sadly, rather carelessly written by master Tolkien (all made worse by the film team's efforts to make it more mature and more fitting to LOTR - therefore more tragic for the audience). I'm not meaning to be disrespectful to the author. It's just that The Hobbit as a book was not intended as a piece of writing for adults, nor was it meant as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings. It became so only much later. The difference was huge and, when this book had to be filmed, they had an almost impossible task to deal with.

Did I like it as a work of art? Oh yes! Did I find anything to criticise? Sure, but that was too little in comparison to all the things I applauded. The 'sins' of this 3rd installemnt can be easily counted as below:
  • poorly inserted comic moments (I know there is a rule of breaking tension or tragic moments with a comic relief, but it didn't work here. Yes, I'm looking at Alfrid.)
  • subplots and story moments that were important to the theatrical version but were left for the EE
  • too much fight scenes with Legolas, for the sole purpose of pleasing his fans
  • rushing events and leaving too much to the EE.
Generally, there was this obvious struggle of having to please both the old fans of the Elves and the new ones, of the Dwarves. I understand it was a tough thing to do, both sides demanded to be pleased. As for the often-mentioned 'rushed pace' of the film, it's the whining viewers to blame. Honestly, I have no idea why they were even cared for. they were the ones to complain about the length of the two films (and no real fan would ever want less of what he loves!) and now I bet it's the same ones that whine about how it's been cut too short.

Let's go on to the juicy part now... although it's hard to have any positive attitude when it comes to a film that's grabbing your heart and tearing it to pieces, a film that's built the most lovable characters for you, only to have them mercilessly killed by deadly weapons in the end.

Success Is Counted in Tears

Well, we can look in a different way at it, though.
Tragic as it may be, it succeeded in drawing many tears in every theatre around the globe. For weeks during the screenings (and even weeks before), pretty much every Hobbit-related social media comment would mention tissues for the tears. That is another definition of success - to make people cry at your show. Congrats for that! I bow down to those who managed to give Thorin Oakenshield a heroic death and who made those plot twists that clearly showed who was more of a villain and provided some ways of evolving (Thranduil being metaphorically slapped for his bitchy-ness and then admitting his parenting failure - Yes, thank you!)

Shakespeare comparisons

This is not your average fantasy/medieval/hero production. This is something far deeper and complex. Don't get fooled by its popularity and take it for an action flick set in mythical times. A psychologist would find a lot of delight in this film, especially in seeing what exactly is happening to Thorin and to his friends in close connection to him. The 'madness' is so realistically portrayed! Richard Armitage knew so well what he was doing there. He can act with even the smallest muscles on his face. He can show you one emotion, then go to its opposite in a split second. These quick changes are impressive and what's even more impressive is that they are real - they really happen so when one is affected in that way. There is no exaggeration about that.

Thorin here is a deeply troubled character, a king with a burden. Consumed with his duty feeling of protecting the treasure and facing the reprimand of others, as well as the hostile armies at his gate, he goes through a personal inferno and comes out of it on his own. He's brave beyond measure, fair in his dealings with the enemies, stoic, caring and truly warm to those whom he cares about... and really takes on the role of a magnificent, legendary warrior king. It was pleasing to see that even those bitter, usually overly critical reviewers have said grand words about his interpretation and compared his drama to that of Shakespearean kings.

Bilbo. Martin Freeman. Damn, he can act!

His acting is superb here. I don't know who was responsible with writing his final lines next to a dying Thorin, but that person should be probably banned somehow... My apologies, but that makes me burst into tears whenever I think of it! "The eagles are coming... Thorin... the eagles are coming", all said in a cracking voice, so innocently, like a child hanging on to the smallest hope... No, that was too much. That was premeditated murder of thousands of sensible fans.

Some voices informed that the scene we're talking here was mostly spontaneous and the actors never really rehearsed it. If this is truly the case, it's hats off again...

The one scene that's worth all the gold in Erebor. And then some.

Is there anything more touching than the Bilbo-Thorin scene? For me, it is. And it's touching in a most positive way. Thorin charging for battle. There, I said it. As he comes out of Erebor followed by his loyal Dwarves, with Dain shouting enthusiastically "To the king, to the king!", I can't help but feel shivers from head to toes. It makes me ecstatic. It's beyond goosebumps. The cinematography is excellent, it builds anticipation in a stunning way. Just watch as the huge bell smashes the gate and the camera goes backwards... yet you can't see a thing coming out of the mountain, but you expect it, and seconds later they appear, running full speed but in slow motion. Fabulous! That's the one scene that gets me every time, that seems the best of the entire movie... of the trilogy... of maybe of all 6 movies?

I'm usually judging my films based on my first reaction to them. Nevertheless, I'm surely paying attention to how my feelings change with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th viewing... and this battle charge hasn't changed a bit. 100% success. I just want to install a big screen on a wall of my room to play that scene in a loop. I need it in my life.

Pleased with the fan service

Of course, some basic needs couldn't be left out! A sure fan favourite is Thorin's majesty being completed by a most majestic battle mountain goat (or battle ram, as is frequently encountered). apart from this, it was vastly enjoyed that Kili finally learnt to smoulder majestically, like his uncle. Not only that, but he actually breaks into some serious anger there, shouting about how he's not going to let others fight their battles for them. Then comes that sweet Thorin and Kili family moment. Precious! Dwarf fans like me also got a generous share of fun and joy as Dain was allowed to mock Elf king Thranduil by calling him a 'woodland sprite' (it gets a satisfied smirk from me every time). Another moment of similar intensity (but of a very different tone) was when brave Tauriel confronted the same elf king and called him loveless.

No Tauriel hate, really. Her presence is essential, she gets to oppose characters and attitudes that are so negative. I can't describe how happy I am to see someone facing Thranduil and wording out his biggest flaws. Also, she's one to show that the Dwarves are cared for, that they can conquer and melt hearts, which is important for this film. Ultimately, she is the voice of the fandom. "Because it was real" speaks volumes about who we are and how we feel as fans... and why it hurts to see BOFA. That may be an overly simple dialogue, but she's right. Too right.

Further thanks to Howard Shore for extending some of his best musical themes.