The End: Dear Grandpa

We went to see the final Harry Potter movie tonight.

It was bittersweet. Sweet because it was a much anticipated and much enjoyed film. Bitter because it was the end of an era of Harry Potter movies.

I was a late(r) comer to the whole series. I didn’t begin to read the books until the first one had already been made into a movie and was playing in the theatres. And I came to the whole series, print or film, quite reluctantly.

I am one of those people who doesn’t like to read a book just because everyone else is reading it. If Oprah has put it on her book list and I haven’t read it, I likely won’t. If I read it before Oprah, I will make sure you know that I found it first. If a book or series is a “must read”, I may wait to read it or skip reading it altogether (still haven’t read Twilight. At this point, it is a matter of principle that I am not going to). I like to find the hidden gems and read them. If a popular book is a genuinely good book and it catches my attention independently of best-seller lists, I might read it anyway… but I’m a book snob.

I am also one of those people who likes to read the book before I see the film and usually prefers the book to the film. I can often be heard saying, “Well, the movie was good but the books was better” or, “They totally messed up the book and changed that whole scene around, cutting out some of my favourite parts”. Don’t be fooled. I probably liked the film just as much, sometimes I just want to sound pretentious.

One summer, about 10 years ago, around the time the first Harry Potter film hit theatres, I was visiting my grandparents in Ontario. I had not read Harry Potter. I had no intention of reading Harry Potter. Harry Potter was entirely too popular for me. My intentions vanished however when my grandfather expressed his dismay and disappointment in me for not having read the books. Not being one who likes to disappoint people, I paid attention.

The first movie is out in theatres. We are going to see the matinee tomorrow afternoon. I have been waiting to watch it with you.

Okay. I don’t really know what it is about, but I’m looking forward to going to a movie with you.

What?! You haven’t read the books? Come here… we walk into the bedroom with the computer desk and some of the treasured books… I have all the ones that have been published. Here, this is the first one. Go sit down and read. We aren’t going to the movie until you’ve finished it.

Um. Okay Grandpa. [For the record, I managed to get 3/4 of the way through book one before we went to the matinee less than 24 hours after I was handed the book and told to “READ”!]

Apparently I come by my refusal to watch movies before reading books honestly. I also do what I’m told.

So Grandpa, I wish I could have watched all of the movies with you and that you had been able to read the entire story from beginning to end. It was a good one. Thanks for getting me started on it.

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The Children of Huang Shi

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon yesterday when our professional development day for work ended.  I decided, since it was a nice day, to walk home.  
When walking to and from downtown Victoria, I usually try to think of alternate routes to take so as to avoid Shelbourne because that street is quite busy and boring.  I ended up detouring up Richmond then Henderson to go to UVic because I vaguely remembered that Cinecenta, the UVic theatre was playing a movie I thought looked interesting.  I ended up arriving half an hour before showtime and was able to get a student discount, so in I went.
It turned out to be one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Set in China in 1937 (Massacre at Nanjing), the movie is based on the true story of British journalist George Hogg.  Hogg ends up taking care of about 50 chinese orphans at a camp north of Nanjing and eventually decides to move them all as the Japanese army draws closer.  These kids, with only push carts, walk 1000 miles to the desert in western China (200 miles past Lanzhou) to escape the approaching war.  While the story of Hogg is the main focus, one gets and idea of the three-way tensions that existed between the Communists, the Nationalists, and the Japanese.  
I thought the movie was really well done.  I found the story of this guy and the kids profoundly moving.  Shot on location in China for much of it, the scenery is absolutely spectacular.  It tugged at my heart and made me want to go back to China again.

Hot Fuzz

Went to see Hot Fuzz last night; possibly the funniest movie I’ve seen in awhile (also, haven’t seen many lately, but that is beside the point). Plus, it was filmed in Wells, England, where I spent a few days in November (and loved) so I was constantly recognizing things… (“Ooh, that was my favourite church in England.” “That isn’t really a castle, its a house.” “Hey, I bought something at that shop, and there’s the post office I sent my postcards from.”). Yes, I am a geek, but it was a funny movie.

The weirdest thing happened to me this morning. Last night, before I went to bed, I watched a French movie. Usually, I watch it with English subtitles, but this time, I put on the French ones (they use lots of slang, so I need to read something to catch it all). Crazily enough, when I woke up this morning, I realised I had been dreaming in French. I have never had that before!