Film 84 of 100

Magnolia – Call me old-fashioned but I like films to have a beginning and middle and an end.  This is just a whole lot of middle.  Very interesting characters and great performances, but I think that it’s pretty easy to do interesting character studies when you don’t really have much of a narrative to worry about.

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Swan Lake

I went to see Swan Lake last night, with a friend who is a bit of a Carlos Acosta groupie.  It’s the second traditional ballet I’ve been to; Sleeping Beauty in 2007 being sufficiently boring to put me off for four years.

Swan Lake was much better than Sleeping Beauty and I enjoyed it much more, but I still don’t really get engaged by ballet.  It all looks so difficult that I struggle to see the dance as an expression of anything or telling a story.  All I see is the obvious effort that the dancers have to put in to be able to move in that way.  Even the two lead dancers, whom I presume to be among the best in the world, couldn’t make the choreography look effortless.

The other thing that I just don’t get is the tip-toes thing.  It seems like such an odd, narrow thing on which to have based a whole artistic genre.  Imagine if nobody danced on the point of their toes like that, and then you suddenly saw someone do it.  It’d be amazing.  And it would still be amazing if it was just an occasional feature of the choreography.  But to have the whole dance based around this one gimmick – I don’t see how it makes dance more expressive or interesting.  It limits rather than expands what a dancer can do, and like I said before it just makes everything look bloody difficult.

Also, after each bit of dancing, the dancers would acknowledge the audience and take a bow.  I found this really weird part-way through the story; imagine if the actors in a play got out of character and took a bow after each scene.

Things I did like:

the costumes and sets;

the sheer number of “swans” on stage at some points made it very impressive;

the fact that panels in the ornate roof of the Royal Opera House open down for the lights, like a secret Bond villain’s lair; and

the villain – he didn’t get to actually do much ballet dancing, more stylised movements, which meant that he could actually express his bit of the story.

RTW – Flights booked

Our round the world ticket has now been booked so this is actually happening and I can’t start panicking about all the other preparation that I haven’t done (item number one – renew passport).

With a bit of tweaking from the travel agent to make our trip fit into a RTW ticket (plus some add ons), and a last-minute change of heart swapping Southern Africa for South America, our itinerary now looks like this:

And in travel guide form:

Obviously I was cringing at the thought of so many flights, having been so good about my carbon footprint in 2010.  Especially when the travel agent started saying things like; “actually it might be cheaper to fly back to London from Lima and then back to Los Angeles”.  How can it be cheaper to fly 9,700 miles than to fly 4,200 miles?  There should be rules meaning it is never cheaper to fly twice as far.

Book 85 of 100

Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude by the same author is one of my all-time favourites so I had high hopes for this, and I did love it.  It’s fantastical and really transports you to a different time and place.  It’s a love story, but in the sort of Wuthering Heights style of love story in that the characters and their relationship are not just complicated, but actually quite ugly.  I didn’t like it as much as One Hundred Years, which really was off-the-wall and intoxicating, but I still really enjoyed it.

Film 82 of 100

Heat – Maybe I’m suffering from Pacino fatigue but I didn’t really get into this.  Pacino and De Niro seemed too old, there were too many characters (I think they’d made a decision to try to make the policemen’s and gangster’s wives into rounded characters, but to be honest for the purposes of the narrative they didn’t really need to be and it just slowed things down) and it seemed to self-conscious in its attempt to be epic.  The film would have been improved if it didn’t take itself so seriously.