Opinion: Doug Thompson and Daddy Warbucks

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Harry Potter goes to war
By Doug Thompson

There are three main criticisms of the new Harry Potter movie in the press. All are true but none offer better alternatives.
The first criticism is that the films have lost their whimsy, their “magic.” No less of a critic than the Pulitzer Prize-winning Roger Ebert makes that charge.
The story being filmed here is a progression to an apocalyptic confrontation with a villain who closely resembles Satan.
So yes, the whimsy is gone.
J.K. Rowling, weaver of this tale, is not flinching. Frankly, leaving the whimsy in this far would open the film to very valid criticism that the series had “gone Hollywood,” or sold out. I commend the producers and everyone involved in the film for their resolve. The series has definitely gone dark and they went dark with it. There was little risk involved, perhaps, but there was risk.
Second, the film is criticized for being a part of a series. Kenneth Turran of the L.A. Times argues that the movie cannot transcend the limitations of being a bridge to parts six and seven. Related to that, others point out the film is impossible to follow if you don’t know the story anyway.
See point one. Going from the whimsy of the earlier films to Armageddon without this transition would be like leaving the merry-go-round to go to a battlefield.
It is beyond reasonable to expect anyone to jump into episode five of a seven-episode tale. If this series is ever going to end — my 12 year old has lost patience — the beginners are just going to have to do a little homework.
The third prevalent criticism is that the movie has all these wonderful actors and actresses playing bit parts. Nobody gets the screen time they need.
First off, it is significant that so many outstanding performers are willing to play bit parts in this film. They clearly have a sense of being part of something bigger than themselves. No one should begrudge them that.
Second, why use glass if you can afford the diamonds — for anything?
Third, at least one of the actors involved gets plenty of screen time — Daniel Radcliffe, who plays the character this movie is all about.
I was not impressed with Radcliffe as Potter in the first movie. I thought he was cute but not much of an actor, even when given allowances for a child. I was wrong. Radcliffe’s career will not be over when this series is done. I’m looking forward to seeing him in the television production of “My Boy Jack.”
Much of the publicity about Radcliffe’s appearing in the play “Equus” centers around his supposed stab at “adult” roles and appearing nude in one scene. It should also be noted that Richard Griffiths was already cast to play the psychiatrist, the actual star of the show and the narrator too. Griffiths is a Tony Award-winning actor so serious, he has stopped performances of the play “The History Boys” at least twice to order audience members and their ringing cell phones out of the theater.
Griffiths portrays the contemptible Vernon Dursley in the Potter series, in what could be a throwaway part. He has expressed admiration for how far Radcliffe has come, from baby steps in the first film to acceptance of the discipline of the craft.
Griffiths and the rest of the Dursleys were cut entirely out of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the last film made before “Equus” was performed. Griffiths wasn’t told until after filming began. Radcliffe’s decision to appear in a play co-starring such a rudely treated fellow actor impresses me.
Maggie Smith is a great actress. Alan Rickman has arguably proved himself to be the finest actor in the whole Potter ensemble, which is saying something. At the very least, he’s proved to be the one most suited to his role. The list of other first-rate actors in this film series is too long to name.
However, the baton has to be passed sometime. It appears to be in the process of being passed very well. I’ve always liked Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, and was very pleased to see Rupert Grint get to play something besides comic relief, however briefly. Matthew Lewis, meanwhile, is making a shocking transition from pudgy to dorky and on to heroic as Neville Longbottom. Whoever cast Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood deserves a raise.
Playtime’s over.

DADDY WARBUCKS

Ssshhh, it’s Harry Potter – A magical business boom for NWA

Not only is Wal-Mart making off like a magical bandit with its projected $1.5 million in earnings on the sale of Harry Potter books, but there are other major players in the area relishing in the hype for the latest installment to the kid wizard from Hogwarts Academy, too. J.B. Hunt Transportation, which by their size and what they do, are enjoying a magical moment for their bottom line just hours before the final installment of the most hyped book of the past few decades hits the shelves. The well known and respected trucking company that’s headquartered in NWA, has been and is delivering this hush, hush, high-dollar shipment of books all across the country. JBH has done these high security loads before – and they have – as before – delivered the Harry Potter books – with great success. Security shipments like this require special locks on trailers; staging their fleet in strategic spots all across the country for the mad dash to stores, warehouses and distribution centers all keeping on a well-oiled schedule to get these books in the hands of consumers. While Wal-Mart has employees signing off on the Harry Potter books with a pledge, some firms are so tight lipped about the business that it’s, well, almost magical. Those books didn’t get to those big box retailers like Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart and Books-A-Million on their own, so honk the old car when you pass the J.B. Hunt tractor trailer rigs on the road this week. They just might have the magic of Harry Potter on board. The transportation company’s late founder, that Stetson wearing man with the almost magical name of
J.B. Hunt would be pleased to be delivering this cargo of reading material to stores nationwide.

ONE HIGH
It didn’t take the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce business barons long to enter the one/two high school fray…and no big surprise. One high school is the bigger and better business model – but this business model has the historic FHS moving to a new location. The decision on one or two high schools will be made July 26. The city is still torn over the issue of one or two high schools; refurbishing the current school (for the umpteenth time) or building a totally new high school somewhere else. A good educational system is important to business, but did the chamber actually look at the issue – or just head off in a different direction?

NEW BANK
Well not really, but the Arvest banking empire has applied for a branch – at get this – 5311 W. 6th Avenue in Stillwater, Okla. and according
to published legal notices, the state banking board of  Arkansas -has the say in this matter. Any comments on the proposed bank in Stillwater (home of the OSU Cowboys) needs to be filed in Little Rock, Ark.,  Eskimo Joe’s might need a local account, ya think?

ANOTHER SPOKESMAN
Fayetteville Auto Park is trying to match another familiar face with the lovely Leslee Basham, their long-time spokesperson. Now that
Chuck Barrett, KFAY Sports Rap guru and Voice of Razorback baseball, got the nod to be the Voice of Razorback football, he’s given up the automobile spokesman gig. In his place the auto park has rolled out former UA quarterback and former Dallas Cowboy backup Clint Storner. Will it work? Well, those well-heeled mommas who love those big SUVs sure do like those former football players. Just ask Matt Jones, who is mobbed by the 30 to 40 female crowd everytime he shows up anywhere. Beefcake marketing? Some say it works.

NEW PIZZA
The Ye Old King Pizza, way out west on Highway 62, near the Farmington city limits, has opened in the fairly new strip mall. It is right on the “line” and no adult beverages are allowed in Farmington. Maybe the pizza pie will be good without it’s likely accompaniment. Check it out.

BUBBLY CATERING
The business, An Affair To Remember in Fayetteville, has applied for an adult beverage catering license with the state Alcohol Beverage Control Board according to local legal advertisements. The permit applicant is
Paul Parenti. Bubbly up, ya’ll.

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