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katha

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  1. katha

    Figure Skating

    I actually think that the top two in ice dance deserved their placements. P/C are the class of the field, whatever you think of their style. S/K IMO have an incredibly strong tango RD, very difficult and really showing off their skating skills. That midline step sequence is something else. The FD is rather traditional, but it flows well and they've performed it well all season. From my point of view, H/D are rather lucky to be on that podium. That FD has been an unholy mess all season, and it didn't really improve here at Worlds either. Plus, I just think it's always a terrible idea for ice dancers to do R+J. It worked once for Anissina and Peizerat, that's about it. They might have been in more trouble if the field behind them didn't have their own weaknesses. StepBukin, I hate that music in the FD, but that's my personal hang-up LOL. I think what's really hurting them is that she's one of the weaker skaters in the top ten at the moment. Their programs are designed to hide that to some degree, but at a certain point she'll have to improve. Sinitsina has improved a lot, perhaps it's possible for Stepanova as well? Because, as I see it, in the age of P/C and their smooth skating the international judges have decided to go with S/K as Russian number one because of their superior skating skills. The Russian fed was ready to go with S/B until it became clear in the GP that the international panels prefer S/K. WeaPo, they've been around so long I think the judges often just see them as stagnating. C/B have done well to go to Montreal and I love their FD, would have had them higher as well. But they are turning around the trajectory and have to convince judges that they're no longer in a downward spiral. It's starting to work, but will take time. G/P have a lovely FD that IMO they haven't skated as well at Worlds as they could have and they also just don't seem quite as good as the pairs in front of them to me? Like, it seems obvious that there's a leap in quality starting with Chock/Bates and that group includes C/B, W/P, S/B, H/D and S/K, while anyone below sixth place is weaker. P/C are on their own. In general, though: Ice dance needs to get away from all this soft, soft, pastel skating. It works for P/C, let them do it. IMO it actually hurts pairs like H/D who are also stuck in that mode even though they would be much better suited for something more powerful.
  2. katha

    Unpopular Opinions

    I like Bale very much as an actor, but IMO he often gets praised for the wrong things by critics. Yes, physical transformation can be impressive, but it's not what's making his strongest performances shine. He is capable to bring a lot of nuance, he goes where he thinks the character needs to go even when it gets ugly and...something that is a pet peeve of mine when actors refuse to do it: Bale has no problem going cold and unlikable. I'd agree that he has misjudged in that aspect in one or two roles and gone too far in that direction, but IMO that is preferable to actors who insist on playing characters as warm and flashy and misunderstood where it's inappropriate. I think Kate Winslet can be guilty of this and it's really marred some of her performances for me. Also, Bale is stunning in "Empire of the Sun" and IMO you could see even then that he had the chops to make it in the industry as an adult. That was no cutesy child actor performance. Now for something completely different LOL: Peter Jackson really squandered a good thing with the Hobbit-trilogy. I'm still super impressed with his original LOTR-series and IMO it holds up well. It does the books justice and where it falters or gets things wrong...well, a movie is never going to be able to be exactly like the book. Which makes that Hobbit business even worse...It's messy, it's too dark and serious, it's so convoluted it practically eats itself and doesn't do the source material justice. A shame, really. So much talent wasted. Freeman is ideal casting, but was pushed aside and made into a supporting act in his own movies. Armitage is a good actor, it's not his fault that he was saddled with all that endless brooding. Lee Pace is one of the best things in this whole mess, and that's even with the script twisting the character and making him the anti-hero. He somehow manages to turn even that into a strength and make himself one of the highlights of the films. Think how fantastic he would have been if he hadn't been hampered by the script... And, and, and...That whole project is full of missed opportunities and it makes me sad.
  3. katha

    S27.E11: Week 9: Finale

    IMO this is the worst DWTS winner ever, but that something like this happens has always been a possibility with the set-up of the show. With ratings declining, none of his competitors probably having a strong enough fan base and also not appealing to the main demo like he does...here we are. A broader general audience rallying behind a stronger dancer might have derailed such an outcome in earlier seasons, but with less participation the possibility of a voting bloc taking over is also bigger. Nevertheless, I thought Milo and Evanna did very well. As did Witney and Keo. Keo really, really made a statement this season. Though IMO, ever since he did his stint in the troupe, he's been showing improvement. He did really well with Charo, for example, tiresome as she could be. Until now he just didn't have a strong enough partner to show how much he's grown.
  4. katha

    Film Adaptations

    No one concrete comes to mind for the newest adaptation, but I really thought Christian Bale nailed it in the 94 version. He was a perfect mix of joyful exubarance and charm, tinged with spoilt petulance when things didn't go his way. IMO Laurie isn't all that easy to cast, actually. You need someone who is believably happy, extroverted and mischievous, without coming across as annoying or unkind. The cast looks good overall, though. As I already said, I think Watson and Norton are great choices for Meg and John and might do very well with the material.
  5. katha

    Unpopular Opinions

    IMO a faithful adaptation of the book (meaning keeping it in Regency England) has to make Emma's actions obnoxious. It's Austen's great mastery as a writer that makes her such a complex character and gives her amiable traits as well, but she's behaving in nasty and cruel ways and it could have all gone terribly wrong and really ruined several peoples' lives (Jane Fairfax, Robert Martin and Harriet Smith)...just because she was bored, snobby and thought she could play puppet master. Attempts at "softening" her just make the film jarring (like the Paltrow version; the cast is quite good and would have done even better with a stronger script IMO). "Clueless" gets the essence of the book, while also successfully creating circumstances that make Cher's actions more forgivable (she's younger, she's living in the 20th century, no one is so wholly dependent on her whims as people in Emma's society were).
  6. katha

    Film Adaptations

    I always thought Meg's and John Brooke's story had the potential to be interesting: Falling in love, then marrying, then dealing with the realities of living together and how both parties need to compromise and adjust to each other. IMO it would be cool if there was more focus on them. Loads of it would need to be modernized, of course. But IMO the books are very much of their time on many issues, and those would presumably need to be either ignored or changed to make a movie today work. Watson and Norton seem well suited to the roles, if that's the characters they will be playing. They'll have to basically rewrite Marmee, of course. IMO the one in the book is supremely obnoxious. Yes, let the bird starve to teach Beth a lesson, Marmee. Grand idea. Geez, sadist much?
  7. katha

    Unpopular Opinions

    Whenever Andrew Davies does yet another literary adaptation, he tends to crank it up and want to make it more daring!sexy!dramatik! And yeah, it's a bit ridiculous, but more often than not, he IMO actually gets the books. Which isn't all that usual, considering how many beloved books get butchered on screen. He understands what's at the heart of them and holds them together. And sometimes, even in his lesser efforts, he manages to find some new aspects that are illuminating: His Emma is rather severe in tone and pretty harsh on the title character, but there's this one scene that's always stayed with me: An unhappy Robert Martin and Jane Fairfax in despair passing each other in a field somewhere. Yes, it's a sledgehammer of a visual metaphor, but it drives the point home: Emma's self-rigtheous and thoughtless meddling in other people's lives has been cruel and if it weren't for a lot of happy coincidences, she would have played a big role in the misery of these two characters who can't defend themselves against her because they are lower in social status. On the other hand you have someone like Joe Wright. Who makes lovely movies out of books, yet it seems like he somehow always misses the point...
  8. katha

    General Gabbery: DWTS

    Yes, but otoh if the producers want to do the responsible thing here, they don't have much choice. From the current pro lineup, I'd say Artem, Val and perhaps Sasha could do it. The pro needs to be experienced enough and have enough judgement to make this into something positive for the celeb. She'll come with challenges and will perhaps feel vulnerable and frustrated, you need someone there who knows what he's doing. The rest of the pros are either too inexperienced or too unpredictable. And perhaps it will work out fine and Artem will have a good season with her. He did great with Patti, he did super with Nancy, who just had the bad luck of being too quiet a persona in a season full of great women.
  9. katha

    Unpopular Opinions

    I have been re-reading Austen novels and another UO of mine that has been reinforced next to the one about Mansfield Park: Elizabeth Bennet is not my fave heroine. I like her well enough, but I always think that I'm supposed to like her more than I do? In fact, she kinda reminds me of Emma Woodhouse in that they are both about twenty and, perhaps rather typically for that age and well observed by JA, self-righteous, quick to judge and thinking that they know everything. Of course they also have many good qualities. And IMO...Emma is the better portrait, more in-depth, with more complexities. Of course her "sins" are worse since she is in a position of power over people and really almost manages to ruin a few lives with her meddling, but IMO she's also more interestingly drawn. While P+P is pretty neat in itself, but perhaps doesn't have the depth of characterization that JA's later novels show.
  10. katha

    Unpopular Opinions

    Ron isn't the smartest guy (though he can be quick and witty), he's not the most popular, not the most attractive and he's kind of overlooked in his very loud family which has many larger than life personalities. And then he becomes friends with Harry and Hermione. The Boy Who Lived and the smartest witch her age. And he's once again not as exceptional as they are, at least he doesn't feel like it. So he becomes insecure and sometimes even mean and does stupid crap at times, because he doesn't always know how to handle it. But I always think being best friends with Harry and Hermione is probably all you really need to know about Ron's character. The thing is: His life could be so much easier if he stayed away from them. Yeah, Harry is the chosen one, but that often leads to mortal peril and social isolation at Hogwarts, not to mention dealing with his understandable trauma and bad moods. Hermione can be so high-handed and self-righteous it makes your teeth ache, not to mention dismissive and hurtful towards anyone who doesn't agree with her. Ron would have a much easier life if he was friends with say...Sean or someone. But he stays loyal to them, even though he is arguably the only one of the trio who could have a "normal school experience." I don't know if I liked him best, but he was very well written and has a lot of admirable qualities. My UO: I like Austen's "Mansfield Park" and yes, Fanny is dreary and can be annoying, but considering her circumstances, it's probably understandable that she clings to the little security she has. But what I find totally unbelievable is the ending: Henry Crawford would have never behaved as stupidly as he did and eloped with Maria Rushworth. And I suspect that Austen knew that this would strain credibility, which is why she had it happen off stage. I know it was necessary to get to the "happy ending" (though I guess how "happy" it really is can also be discussed...), but I never buy it. But then, the alternative would have been an unhappy marriage between Fanny and Crawford and well, this isn't Tolstoy, I guess. Which, in a way, perhaps speaks to the modern aspects of that particular novel, it has so many complexities that the ending, which tries to bring it back to a more pat solution, doesn't ring true anymore. At least not for me.
  11. katha

    S27: Artem Chigvintsev

    I think Artem did very well with Nancy Kerrigan, she just fell victim to a season where there were many good female contestants and they all cancelled each other out. Also relieved that TPTB didn't go the obnoxious route here and saddle him with Harding in an effort to stir up even more drama. Agree that his partner looks promising and I look forward to what he'll show with her. He's perhaps not the loudest or most spectacular pro, but he seems a good teacher and has delivered strong choreography when he's had the chance.
  12. katha

    Figure Skating

    Absolutely agree that V/M needed to get away from Marina way sooner than they did and ultimately it's their responsibility to make necessary coaching and choreography decisions. But still: Zoueva choreographed "Seasons". And it was all wrong for them by that point in time. They weren't these very young skaters anymore who could believably portray "aw shucks, young love" programs. Yet she hadn't come up with anything else for them. And the music wasn't even the problem, it would have been possible to make a soft, flowy program out of those pieces, but have it still have some sort of tension and more somber mood. Yet it was all sentimental fluff...which didn't suit V/M by that point anymore. What's more, by 2014 it was also perfectly clear that V/M were versatile performers who could handle all sorts of themes. But Marina wasn't always playing to these new strengths. Hence my speculation that she might have been a bit stuck in the past with how she perceived them. This wasn't such a big deal for D/W, since they basically stayed fierce and dramatic throughout their career. V/M evolved away from "young love" programs.
  13. katha

    Figure Skating

    I think Shpilband is an excellent technical coach. What you probably need to do after a certain point with him is look for outside choreography. C/P are still at a point where his rather generic programs aren't that big a deal. Mistakes happen. He'll probably know how to transition them into seniors successfully. I'm never sure with Igor if he's capable of producing gold medalists on his own...this is where you need the good choreo. Zoueva is dicey because she doesn't seem as reliable in her technical knowledge. And as was already said, Carreira still really needs to do some work there and improve. And with her, if you're unfortunate you get stuck with certain ideas she has about you as a performer that might not be all that suitable. The Shibs struggled for years with her and IMO she was just unable to tailor convincing programs for them. They themselves discovered that Coldplay stuff for themselves. Not everyone likes it, but it was certainly authentic. IMO she also totally lost the plot with V/M in 2014. How she thought that FD was a good idea, I don't know (or if you're Scott Moir, that's where you insinuate that she did it deliberately lol). Krylova and Camerlengo were in for one hot minute there, but that hasn't panned out either.
  14. katha

    Figure Skating

    I'm interested in how dance plays out at Worlds, with a few pairs already out after the Olys. Mostly I want Chock/Bates to have good skates and have a good end to the season. It seems like the last year has been hell for them...and then seeing them so heartbroken after their Oly FD. It's a really pretty program as well IMO, hope they are satisfied with their Worlds performances. What has slightly cracked me up about the Virtue/Moir comeback is that...they basically became the Davis/White to P/C's V/M lol. Suddenly, they were the fierce, athletic competitors winning comps because of their technical difficulty while their main rivals were doing the soft, flowy stuff. And I think it suited this latter day version of V/M better than whatever Zoueva was giving them by 2014...as performers, they had clearly developed away (particularly Scott) from whatever Marina thought were their strengths (perhaps unintentionally stuck with her view of them as teenagers?). And they knew it, too, hence the various experiments with different choreographers (Carmen, Latin FD etc.). They should have changed coaches way sooner. But...that's easy to say in hindsight. What I also found somewhat curious is P/C and the fact that IMO their SDs still aren't as good as their FDs. Tactically, it's just such a risk? Yeah, the judges were ready to be rather generous in that portion. But the slightest uncertainty was going to cost them dearly. Or do they need a fresh set of eyes to figure out what is holding them back in that portion of the competition? Next year is tango, yes? It should suit Guillaume, not sure about Gabriella (to be fair, to me that seems one of their problems in SDs in general: She's very comfortable in the style they use for FDs, everything outside of that still looks a bit tentative).
  15. katha

    All Episodes Talk: What's Up Doc?

    Benton/Carter is perhaps my fave TV relationship ever. Everything about it was perfect. It was a great blend of the personal and professional. The actors clicked, the characters brought out things in each other that no one else every managed (mostly positive, but sometimes also ugly aspects of their personalities). And from a character/storytelling perspective it was so crucial, but many shows don't properly see dynamics like that: Carter desperately needed a mentor like Benton to become a decent doctor IMO. For all his kindness and eager puppy dog behaviour, Carter could be hella manipulative and he knew how to wield power and get his way when he wanted. He needed Benton, who just seems totally resistant to any attempts at charming your way out of problems. Imagine Carter with Mark: I think the danger of Carter getting his way too often and not always learning proper consequences would have been great. And Benton trying to shut everyone out, yet somehow coming to care for Carter anyway. But it also felt realistic that he only lets people in so far, and though it broke Carter's heart to not get closer to him, it was cool that the show didn't take the cheap way out. A personality like Benton won't ever get warm and cuddly and start sharing their feelings with people, much less their student.
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