This line, spoken in a film I was half-watching an hour ago, sunk in: “Whereever there is greatness, great government or power, even great feeling or compassion, error also is great. We progress and mature by folly. Perfect freedom has no existence. The grown man knows the world he lives in.”
It’s mildly pleasing on some level to report that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (Warner Bros., 7.15), which I saw this morning, is a tightly-scripted, action-heavy, relatively satisfying finale to a franchise that, for me, had worn out its welcome many years ago. When it ended I didn’t just say, “Well, that‘s finally over!” I also said to myself, “Not half bad.”
I wasn’t exactly tingling with pleasure, being a confirmed Potter-franchise hater and all, but neither was I scowling or groaning or taking e-mail breaks. It’s quite all right for what it is. Okay, maybe even better than all right. I was actually following what was going on and being said, which is saying something for easily distracted (and frankly bored-from-the- get-go) me. But there really is something to be said for finally tying together loose ends and being done with the damn thing already.
And the epilogue, which is set 19 years after final mano e mano showdown at Hogwarts between Harry and Ralph Fiennes‘ Lord
Mumblecore Elsinore whatevermore Voldemoort, is genuinely nice and sweet and satisfying. It puts an agreeable ribbon on it. Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy was exactly and precisely right when he said “it ends well.”
Let’s let it go at that. Nobody wants to hear from a hater who’s been suffering from this franchise for the last several years and is now in a forgiving…well, an eased-up frame of mind.
I have one complaint and one observation that no other film critic, I suspect, will bring up. It is profoundly displeasing to see Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) end up as romantic lovers and then as husband-and-wife with kids. Hermione deserves better and can do better. She’s too cool, too spirited and too alluring to end up with a red-haired, freckle-faced second-rater who’s been whining and shivering with terror in the face of each and every threat in every Harry Potter film from the beginning. A hot and brave lady should end up with a brave and strapping lad who’s earned her favors, i.e., not Grint.
On top of which Grint is becoming a bit of a pudgebod, and he’s only 22 now — 21 when the final film was shot. He’s developing a bit of a belly and the beginnings of a Uriah Heep look. It’s easy to imagine him having a kind of Shrek-like appearance by the time he’s 28 or 30. I don’t know if he’s been drinking along with Daniel Radcliffe but he’s clearly been leading a dissolute life.
Most of the dreaded 405 freeway, a nightmare under normal conditions except in the wee hours, will be closed for 53 hours next weekend between the 10 freeway and the 101. The shutdown will begin late Friday evening, 7.15, and end at dawn on Monday, 7.18. Leave town or stay indoors or go into a coma, but forget driving to or from LAX on the 405 or going to the Valley for any reason, because north-south canyon traffic is going to be well beyond description.
I had a brief, enjoyable chat with the radiant Octavia Spencer (a.k.a. “Minny“) at last night’s press gathering for The Help (Touchstone, 8.10) at the Beverly Wilshire. Tate Taylor‘s period drama might have seemed like a liberal do-good fable to some were it not for Spencer’s level-straight performance as an African-American maid with a fully justifiable chip on her shoulder. (And for the equally formidable performance of costar Viola Davis, who didn’t attend last night’s event.)
The Help star Octavia Spencer — Saturday, 7.9, 8:05 pm, Beverly Wilshire hotel.
Best known for her comedic acting (and particularly for her ongoing role as Constance in Ugly Betty), Spencer has been working it since the mid ’90s. Her first feature role was in Joel Schumacher‘s A Time to Kill (’96). As far as I can tell her performance in The Help is Spencer’s first major dramatic lead in a feature. “An overnight success after 17 years,” is how she laughingly put it last night.
Octavia is a very serene presence and a good-natured pro. As I was chatting with her a tall blonde Valkyrie whom she didn’t know seized her, passionately hugged her and insisted upon the usual three to four minutes’ worth of excitable chit-chat plus photos. Spencer was as patient as anyone would be with an excitable five-year-old.
Mary J. Blige and her combo performed a song toward the end of the party, but the room was hot and stuffy. I couldn’t take it and excused myself after a couple of minutes. “Is it really going to be this hot?,” Blige asked as she began to perform.
The party was held in a large apartment — main living room, dining room, kitchen, large bathroom and bedroom — on the Beverly Wilshire’s eighth floor. The space is located across the courtyard from a nearly identical suite where Warren Beatty lived for a reported ten years during the late ’60s and early ’70s.
(r.) Octavia Spencer, (l.) Viola Davis in The Help.
All Adam Sandler comedies tend to be obvious and primitive and aimed at lowbrows, so I don’t see what’s so exceptionally heinous about Jack and Jill. At least it’s addressing a basic fact about sibling relations, which is that some brothers and sisters are an unfortunate fact of life (and in some cases an embarassment) whom you’d prefer to not to keep in touch with, thanks all the same.
I loved my younger sister and younger brother after a fashion, but I didn’t really seek out their company or friendship because they were both fairly undeveloped people, and I would run out of conversational fodder with them fairly quickly.