What I’ve Been Watching

It’s been a month or so since I posted, mostly because of Nanowrimo. But the novel I wrote in November has turned out very well and I am deep in the first round of editing. I still like the story (a hard SF adventure story within the solar system) and the characters, so I think that’s a good sign.

I’ll write more about it later, but I wanted to talk about some of the tv and film I’ve seen lately (and mostly enjoyed). Some of them are recent releases, others not so much.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I had few expectations going into Fantastic Beasts. I’m a fairly committed Harry Potter fan (I’ve read all the books multiple times, I’ve seen all the movies multiple times, I have a Voldemort figure on my key chain…), but I didn’t get invested in this film. I liked the premise — using the Fantastic Beasts ‘text book’ that was released for charity a number of years ago (I bought that when it first came out) — but I didn’t give it much thought.

So, I was very pleasantly surprised by this film. It was lovely and I don’t mean that in a snarky way. The visuals were spectacular and the use of 3D was amazing — too many films, even very big budget ones, don’t fully utilize the possibilities of 3D, but Fantastic Beasts certainly does.

The story itself is solid — Newt Scamander is fascinated by the titular fantastic beasts and is compiling a book (the book) about them. He lands in 20s New York City with a suitcase full of beasts and in the midst of political maneuvering within the local wizarding community.  He meets a muggle, Jacob (in the US, they’re called No-Majs) and a former auror, Tina and they, along with Tina’s sister Queenie, become involved in a complicated and dangerous story involving the highest levels of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, and an anti-wizarding organization.

The story gets a bit overly-complicated near the end, but it still works and it was overall very enjoyable. It ends with an obvious segue to the expected next film.


We watched Interstellar on Netflix, but I expect that it would be spectacular on the big screen (rather than a 20″ iMac). Not all that new now, I expect most people are familiar with at least the rough outline of Interstellar — a deteriorating Earth with a group of former NASA scientists sending explorers out to find humanity a new home.

Having read and watched a great deal of SF over the years, I had a few qualms about the story, although really, it is pretty solid (especially compared to something like, oh, Gravity). The main thing that bothered me, which was only in regards to the set up of the story and not otherwise integral, was that they somehow thought that going through a wormhole to find a planet that might possibly exist and might possibly be appropriate for human life was easier than trying to colonize a planet or moon in our solar system. I mean, sure explore through the wormhole (who wouldn’t want to do that?), but the set up seemed a stretch to say the least.

Without spoiling the end of the story, I will say that it increasingly reminded me (in feel and general emotional content, if not in any real specifics) of the last book in the Rama series by Arthur C Clarke and Gentry Lee (one of my all-time favourite SF series). Time and life and family and leaving.

Overall, it was very enjoyable. Perhaps not the exact ending I would have chosen, but fine nonetheless. (There is a  discussion of the original script that is intriguing and the original script is available to read.)

The Bridge, season 3

So, season three of The Bridge showed up on Netflix and A and I watched the whole thing fairly quickly. The series continues to be fabulous. I am enjoying the gradual character development and the willingness to shift characters and go in different directions. Sometimes when a character leaves a series, there is a sense of loss and a lack of focus to the ongoing bigger story, but that is not the case with The Bridge. I don’t know whether cast departures were dictated by the actors themselves or the needs of the story, but regardless, those departures have been perfectly integrated into the story.

I won’t say anything specifically about the season right now — you need to go and start at season 1.

I’ve become quite the fan of these mystery series, like The Bridge or Broadchurch, that take a single case (or related cases) and let them play out over the course of an entire season, rather than solving them in 40 minutes. It allows for a gradual story development combined with real backstory for the characters.





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