Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What the fandom wants, the fandom doesn't always get

Nine years is a long time to pine for something. And once you're given the thing you've been pining for, it's impossible to not be disappointed in some way.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is a case of fans getting what they asked for, if not what they wanted. At least not everything they wanted.

Obligatory spoiler warning.

I was one of those fans who went into Thanksgiving thinking, "I get to watch new Gilmore Girls episodes tonight!" Even my family was on board, happily willing to replace our traditional Thanksgiving weekend Lord of the Rings marathon with Gilmore Girls (the revival graciously gave us two—that I remember—LOTR references as consolation). Watching "Winter" for the first time was, to steal a word from Kevin Porter of the Gilmore Guys, transcendent. The first 15 minutes or so felt forced, but once I got over the jarring sense of being back in uncharted Gilmore territory, that feeling I had yearned for for so long settled in: I was back in Stars Hollow. Whatever discontent was in store, that hour of warm fuzzies would make it all worth it.

I was familiar enough with Amy Sherman-Palladino's writing style to expect some frustration to go along with the delight. ASP isn't one to give us cake without serving it with a side of prunes.

The revival has its beautiful moments, some of the best of the entire series. Everything involving Emily is flawless (and Lorelai, too, for the most part). Richard's death was handled beautifully. Some of my favorite Kirk moments ever happened in these new episodes, and my stance on Jess went from Team Still Harboring Resentment Toward Season 2/3 Jess but He's Probably Still Better than Logan to Team Jess Is Too Good for Rory—Stay Far Away and Marry Someone Decent Like Mandy Moore.

The revival also has its problems, the most unforgivable being time. The whole point of the revival is to finally see the ending ASP had envisioned, but with nine years between the season 7 finale and "Winter," the story ASP has been harboring all these years doesn't quite work. Everyone is in the exact place we left them in, which is irritating. The actors all look exactly the same and it would have worked fine to only jump forward a few years, but instead we're supposed to believe that Luke and Lorelai waited nine years to have the "fresh kid" conversation and to get married just so we could see it, that Rory would still be trying to figure out how to adult even though she's in her freakin' 30s. (Netflix's lack of episode length restrictions also stuck us with time-wasters like the Stars Hollow Musical and another dumb Life and Death Brigade escapade.)

But what I think fans wanted more than anything was this: closure. Thanks to Rory being the Absolute Worst and those infamous final four words (which were, to Alexi Bledel's credit, delivered perfectly), that is exactly what we didn't get.

From a writing standpoint, I love it. The best writing always has divisive characters, and Rory's journey works thematically. But as a fan, I just wanted things wrapped up in a semi-neat bow. In this post-GG revival world, I feel like I'm right back where I started.

Which was probably ASP's evil plan all along.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

All about Newt

The main reason I started this blog was so I'd have a medium to dump and organize my thoughts when my journal just wasn't cutting it. But sometimes I get lazy and expect those thoughts to go away of their own accord, which rarely works, and often means they start invading my dreams. For example, the last couple of days I've dreamed about Fantastic Beasts and OMG NEWT SCAMANDER IS ADORABLE AND EDDIE REDMAYNE IS BRILLIANT. I kid you not, these dreams are shouty all-caps dreams. On repeat.

I get it, brain; you loved Fantastic Beasts, and you won't be silenced until I talk about why.

My excitement for the new Gilmore Girls episodes has overshadowed everything else in my life lately, so I went to the movie on opening weekend more out of Harry Potter loyalty than actual excitement. These days the Harry Potter franchise just lets me down, so my expectations weren't high.

I should go into every movie like this; it's almost a guarantee that I'll be pleasantly surprised. The pleasant surprise was delightful, and brought back a little bit of that feeling I wish I could bottle up of reading a Harry Potter book for the first time. I loved not knowing what was going to happen, and I loved not having a book to compare it to. The only "that's not how I imagined it" moment was with the niffler—I imagined them to be fluffier and less possum-like. It was freeing and wonderful experiencing a J.K. Rowling creation onscreen first. I was able to enjoy this film in ways I just wasn't able to experience the eight Harry Potter movies, no matter how excited I was for them.

But that's all secondary to Newt Scamander himself. I had heard beforehand from a few different sources that Eddie Redmayne "underacted" and was too dull to do a JKR hero justice.

I COULD NOT DISAGREE MORE. (Yes, those all-caps were necessary.)

Because I know this guy. He avoids eye contact, like my brother does. He seems to hide behind the hair that falls over one side of his face, kind of like my sister does with her jackets. He is most at ease when he's doing what he's good at but clearly isn't in his element when he's around people (again, like my brother). He develops close bonds with a select number of people and doesn't really need anybody else, like me.

He doesn't just feel familiar; I understood him right away, though it took me a while to put my finger on why. This is a guy cut from the same cloth as my people—shy, introverted, perhaps with some Asperger's tendencies—but portrayed in a real, natural way rather than as an obvious caricature anyone can pick up on immediately. Newt is just Newt, and every acting choice Eddie Redmayne makes feeds into that. (He's a genius, I tell you. Give him a raise.) Behind his uncharismatic outside demeanor is a lovable, endlessly interesting soul that is so much more than his social awkwardness and unique talents. I cannot stress enough how great it is to root for a hero who, without his case of magical creatures, would be living silently and invisibly among us.

I may not make it until the DVD comes out to watch this movie again. And I can assure you I'll be properly excited for the next movie.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

To the people upstairs

Are we allowed to talk about anything besides the election yet?

Good, because there's another issue I'd like to discuss. It involves a class of people that are almost universally despised: upstairs neighbors.

Apartment dwelling is a trial for everyone involved. Together we deal with ridiculous fees, other people's pets, and miscreants who are constantly parking in our reserved parking spots. Any of these can cause murderous rage on the best of days, but for the most part, we can all agree that these things are horrible and then move on with our lives.

Not so with upstairs neighbors. They are far worse than the monthly reminder that apartment owners are money grubbers and the existence of residents who insist on having pets but who refuse to clean up after them.

If you're lucky enough to share a ceiling with someone who is capable of walking without throwing their weight around like an 800-pound gorilla, count yourself lucky. You're even more fortunate if your blessed neighbors are never home.

But at some point, we all have to deal with the worst kind of apartment dweller: the kind who has 12 children hyped up on sugar. The kind who has a dog that is trained to bark every 37 seconds when you're trying to fall asleep. The kind who practices bowling during all hours of the day.

You'd think these people would be more understanding of the noise coming from your apartment, seeing as how they're the ones trying to hide a herd of elephants under their bed. I mean, it wouldn't bode well for them if I reported that to management.

But it turns out I'm extremely mistaken. I, of course, am the worse offender when I have the TV on at a volume I can comfortably hear it. My fire alarm goes off whenever I open the oven, so, naturally, I deserve to go to jail. And soothing exercises like playing the piano? Well I can just forget about that—that's grounds for execution.

But never fear; they can't break me. The Christmas music you heard me playing at 9:45 p.m.? That's only the beginning of my revenge, friends. You just keep moving furniture around at 2:00 in the morning. Two people can play this game.