Tag Archives: Harry Potter

They’ve Netflixed Me Again!

2 Jun

June 2, 2011

Awhile back I wrote about the weird suggestions Netflix was giving me, like watching The Larry Sanders Show because I enjoyed Pulp Fiction. I figured that there had to be some logic behind the lunacy and finally realized the connection- Larry Sanders and Pulp Fiction each featured cheese as a significant plot point.

Well, no, they didn’t, but that makes about as much sense as anything else.

With that in mind, and with just a hint of trepidation, I went back to see what Netflix might think I’d enjoy now that I’ve watched more movies and rated some more films. Here is what I got.

The thing to bear in mind is that I wasn’t even searching for Dinosaurs. That came up in a list of films that I might enjoy. Why? I don’t know. This was even before I rated Jurassic Park so maybe this is just something everybody gets. Whatever.

But The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg? What is the connection between dinosaurs and Hank Greenberg? Well, first, both are dead. Secondly, Hank Greenberg was Jewish and so was the Hebrewsaurus. And lastly, neither one is something that I would bother watching. I guess Netflix may be smarter than I thought to come up with all of that.

When I got past that screen I got the same old suggestions from last time and, scrolling past, I got to a new movie I might enjoy.

Really? The Odd Couple? Because I enjoyed The Twilight Zone? Is it enough for Netflix that Walter Matthau was in an episode of The Twilight Zone? Honestly, I don’t watch that show just for him. And it is a good thing because I am pretty sure he wasn’t ever in one. And neither was Jack Lemon. I’m just going to have to throw my hands in the air and give up on that one. (For the record, I happen to love The Odd Couple but it has zero to do with The Twilight Zone.)

Maybe Netflix simply needed some more information. I’d only rated about 1,000 films for them, maybe a couple more would do the trick. So I went and rated some more films and I guess Netflix’s program started getting tired of my hitting “haven’t seen it” for every silly chick flick and anime mish-mash they popped on screen and started asking me questions.

How do I answer that? On the one hand I never saw a Harry Potter film in my life but on the other hand I love Escape from Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood and Patrick McGoohan. I guess “never” would be the best answer since I don’t think there are
very many prison movies like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. All I can think of is what if HBO’s OZ was produced for the Disney Channel? Someone needs to program some better algorithms into Netflix’s software.

Again, WTF? Wrath of Khan is easily the best Trek film (and no arguing with me in the comments section!) and a personal Top Ten Must Watch. If it is on TV, I watch it. (Goodfellas is on that list too, with Jaws.) And yes, Kirk’s mid-life crisis is a theme of the film, but to call Star Trek II a mid-life crisis movie is like calling Halloween a film about a babysitter. Well yes, but…

And speaking of horror films:

I’ve seen Meatballs. That is a summer camp film but it is nothing like Friday the 13th. I’ve seen Race for your Life Charlie Brown and that is nothing like Friday the 13th. For the third time I hit the “never” button and wondered why I was bothering.

Now here was a dilemma. The question is perfectly proper. But how to answer it? I have seen Crouching Tiger twice. I used to watch those old kung-fu flicks channel 5 used to show on Sunday afternoons but those were dubbed. (And pretty badly too.) I knew
that if I hit “sometimes” I’d get nothing but films I couldn’t understand and probably wouldn’t watch even if I did, so I hit “never” again.

After I had all I could take I went back to see what new suggestions Netflix had for me.

Damn! Netflix is determined to get me to watch that film? And the connection between The Odd Couple, Dirty Harry, Psycho, and Casablanca? Each featured cheese as a significant plot point.

Harry Potter, what a tool.

7 Nov

from July 2006

Now that I’ve finished the book, here’s my review.
Would I let my child read it? Yes
Would I have read it as a child? Yes
Would I recommend that you read it? No
The opening chapters are dreadful and ponderous. Harry is mentally and physically abused by his family. (His parents are both dead, and he is living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin.) This is in the tradition of Cinderella and the step-sisters, but taken to a horrendous degree. There are no redeeming comedic features to the characters. They are ogres and monsters. Further, there is no redeeming comedic feature to Harry. He takes the abuse, never getting any childish revenge or satisfaction. He is a perpetual victim.
The next chapters are concerned with Harry’s preparations to attend Hogwarts, the sorcery school. Harry meets both school-mates and school-teachers. They are not unlikable. Even the teachers, who are (mostly) stern and strict are not dislikable. However, nothing much happens. Harry is introduced to various people and devices, with little development. It is a shallow story.
The last 1/3 of the story is better, and is why I raised my opinion. A small mystery develops, and it is this, along with Harry dodging some less-than-nice school-mates that propels the remainder of the book. However, “mystery” is a word with several connotations. This is not a mystery that engages the reader. There is no chance of solving it with the clues provided (there are none.) As with the rest of the book, it is simply a series of events which we witness, never with any interaction or concern. Further, the author cheats. She fudges some important points, and doesn’t  explain at least one vital plot point. However, this is a kids book, and they aren’t likely to notice. Not important to the reader, but just another point against the author.
I’ve got some more serious problems. Harry and his friends break some rules (albeit in a good cause) but are never punished. Moreover, they are praised and rewarded. Not a good lesson. It also lacks any morals or lessons. It is full of empty calories. Won’t hurt you, but doesn’t help either. I don’t understand how this book got its reputation.
This novel is very much in the style of most children’s “literature.” If you have ever read “Beware The Fish” by Gordon Korman or any of its sequels, you’ve read this book, just with magic added. It mines all of the typical feelings and fears of children, i.e. parents aren’t fair, teachers are out to get you, rules are made to be broken, kids are smarter than they are given credit for. It is writen in the style of “The Phantom Tollbooth” but lacks the sense of wonder and depth present there. That book works on many levels, “Potter” only functions on one.
Go ahead and read it to satisfy your curiosity, if you wish. It’s a fast read, and won’t hurt. It is even likeable, though not to the extent that I’ll bother to read the sequels.
Any comparison to Tolkien, Narnia, Oz, or any real fantasy is totally unfounded. This is a child’s view of fantasy, not an adult’s. It has a small scope, never really developed. It never attempts to describe the larger wizard world, only introduces small elements as they become relevant.
If you want to borrow my copy, you’re welcome to it.    😉
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