Hobbit BOTFA (impressions with spoilers)

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Do you know what the price of stupidity is? Exactly £9! Well, that and a lot of embarrassment 😉

A couple of weeks ago when the Empire edition edited by PJ came out I went to the shops and bought 2, one for a friend and I thought another maybe for me. Turns out the 2nd one I bought I picked up the Thranduil cover, which then found a happy owner with a bigger elf-fan than myself. Scroll forward 2 weeks and I have seen BOTFA… erm, a few times 😉 and of course I have reconsidered my initial indifference and now badly wanted to own that magazine with the Durins cover! (yes, I know, duh!). I’ve search out all newsstands in vicinity, book shops and any other place that could sell it and no luck! I managed to find another Thranduil cover, which I nearly picked up (same BOTFA effect), but then decided since I’d still want the dwarves one to not buy it. All the other ones available were the Gandalf versions and 1 Bard. Not even a shadow of Thorin. Admitting defeat I turned to the internet for any online sellers of individual copies of the magazine, no luck, the only one who did sell individual copies had also run out of that cover! Only one solution left, yes I turned to eBay! To buy a silly magazine, that I have mostly read and just for the 1 cover. I still can’t believe I did actually pay slightly more than 3x the original price just for the one coveted cover. But there is a first for everything I guess 😀 (To  balance out the most embarrassing purchase I donated a bit more to charity just so that a more sensible cause benefited from my impulses ;-))

In any case that is really just the tip of the iceberg since I went to see BOTFA several times already, which is also something that I’ve never done before. I have seen a few films a couple of times, but they are extremely few and never before have I seen anything more than once in a cinema. (The only other films that come to mind which I have seen every single time I’ve come across them on Tv are probably the Gladiator and very few old ones like Casablanca or Kiss me Kate ;-)) Strange, as I have certainly done repeats of live shows (among which a notorious 9x Don Carlo/Verdi – which was the entire run plus the general rehearsal), but although I like films few have made impressions over the years. But to be truthful to the end the addiction is only in part spurred on by the film itself 😉 In the last couple of weeks I’ve been back in the cinemas for several repeats of the Crucible too! More on that on some other occasion as, in spite of the high number of hours spent in front of a screen, I’m still trying to keep thing organised in my head.

So, what drew me to repeat viewings of BOTFA and what did I think of it? The following are my own impressions as I’ve made an effort to not read any reviews of any kind, not even those of fellow fans, yet 😉 as I wanted to consolidate by own thoughts through the viewings. I’ve only read the Forbes review which was totally spoiler free and talked interestingly for me a lot about how the success of PJ’s movies measure in terms of box office and about some of the technical aspects of the films.

To start of I just want to say I am finally a total convert to 3D, but only in HFR!! DOS last year was my only viewing so far of any movie in 3D in a cinema and although i found some effects fun, it didn’t feel as if the 3D aspect added all that much. I’ve seen this in HFR and it makes a world of difference and not only in the fight scenes! Overall the HFR gives such definition and clarity to the picture that you can see details which definitely add to the characterisation, tiny things like a vein throbbing underneath an eye, a subtle change in colour,etc. There is also much more 3D going on, landscape becomes truly impressive in scale, dives into abysses become frighteningly real and what I enjoyed more characters and animals pass by your shoulder or you feel as if you are literally part of a discussion and physically inside a scene. The first are obvious candidates for 3D but it’s the ongoing –normal scenes- impact in 3D that makes it feel immersive. I have seen it in 2D and I really missed the impact of 3D+HFR, I don’t want to go back to it! 🙂 And it is done for the cinema screen, I think PJ’s argument in favour of seeing something in a cinema rather than on your home TV definitely convinced me, no TV in your home can repeat this experience. And the HFR only made me appreciate even more the amazing make up work, the details in the costumes, props, wigs, what craftsmanship! The Durin hair deserves a prize all on its own! 😀 And it plays no small role in this film! (how shallow of me, I know!)

The other technical aspect which I enjoyed very much was the sound! And I don’t mean just the score/music. I mean the sound overall. Unlike a lot of movies these days which throw decibels at my ears relentlessly and which often keep me out of cinemas this is like the imagery full of subtlety. There is so much silence! Silence allowing you to hear breaths (be they excited , tired, frightened, tense), footsteps, ice crushing under soles, the tingling of a single coin, the flutter of a dragon’s wings behind your back 🙂 It creates atmosphere and really lets you enjoy the character’s voices and accents, which let’s face it is one of the strong points of the actors cast in this trilogy.

Speaking of trilogy, having now seen it back to back this is without a shadow of a doubt the story of Thorin Oakenshield (and of course the beginning of quite a few plot lines for LOTR). Yes, it is the story of Bilbo too, but Thorin is the major catalyst in the changes about to happen and his choices, his character touches and changes all other characters around him irrevocably. The initially reluctant friendship with Thorin and the company of dwarves changes Bilbo and in his adventure he finds courage, I do believe inspired by the courage he sees in Thorin. Bard also becomes a reluctant hero through the calamities provoked by the released dragon and in his interactions with Thorin, the ‘temporarily mad king under the mountain’ also becomes quite the leader of his people. Even Thranduil is touched by this effect I believe, although I did miss one final scene between the two kings. I didn’t expect friendship to develop but I do believe the way they see each other would have changed in battle.

I also feel the trilogy is a lot about friendships that develop between very different people, or the quest to understand and live with each other in spite of differences that separate the various races. In the end they all unite in front of the evil that affects them all. It’s obvious throughout as well that not one way of life is the right one and that it is only the sickness of power/wealth that endangers peaceful living alongside each other. The themes of the movie are what draws me to it and what makes me like it a lot, it basically pushes a lot of my buttons 😉 Living with diversity, flawed heroes, evolution and change from the common experience, fatherhood and letting go of one’s children, letting them explore and be different, etc. All complex themes one can feel for and well woven through characters one can sympathise with.

I am also quite partial to good action sequences as long as then don’t involve boring CGI armies knocking at each other. But unlike what one could expect, what this movie delivers is less war en masse and much more one on one fighting which totally let’s you root for your favourites and hold your breath for their destiny. And who can help falling for the brave, self-sacrificing, outnumbered heroes who fight bigger, meaner opponents?

Legolas fight sequences are fun, they are outlandish and unreal but so well done, I’m ok with that, it is what the character is good at. Even if I wish he may one day become half as interesting as his father 😉 Speaking of whom, I’m glad this third movie gave us a chance to understand some of Thranduil’s motivations better. There is almost a point where his isolationist and protectionist views find a slight mirroring in Thorin’s mad views and it is good to see Thranduil moving to action but at the same time the outcome and death toll of the battle makes one more sympathetic to his views of the world, he’s lived trough war before and knows nothing good comes of it. It’s beautiful to see him on his elk and the skewering of orks and chopping heads off in one movement is really clever and dark fun 😉 But most of all I have to say how impressed I am with the wealth of emotions and expressions Pace managed to bring to this apparently icy character and being encumbered by contact lenses, which rob one of an important acting tool, the eyes. As said, one would wish Legolas would be half as interesting 😉

I like the kind of human and practical hero Bard makes, no less inspiring in his simple quest for decent life rather than power and I quite enjoyed a bit of comic relief from Gage’s excellent Alfrid 😉 Reminds me of how Shakespeare brings some lightness to even the darkest of subjects from time to time.

The wizards fight scene was quite impressive CGI, but I have to say overall in the trilogy it’s not them who hold my interest most. But it’s normal I think to be more connected to weaker characters and will them to win their battles, military or psychological ones.

I didn’t feel we had less Bilbo in this last film, because he was there in all crucial moments playing his part and I find him (please don’t take offence fans of the books) much more interesting a character than Frodo, there is more ambiguity in him, he has to evolve to become what he is at the end, it’s thankfully not a linear character. And you need somebody down to earth, without grandeur but decent to balance out the huge egos of dwarves and elves 🙂

Speaking of dwarves I did miss more interaction with Kili and Fili and Thorin, I don’t know if more will be in the EE, I understand why this film was shorter but it did feel like something was missing there, it doesn’t feel quite right for Thorin not to know what happened to both of them although I recognise that it wouldn’t be all that relevant in terms of final outcome. It’s just one aspect of the characters I would have enjoyed seeing more of. Because to me although there was a lot of battle in the film it felt very much about characters rather than the fighting itself. And we had a very good cast overall supporting the character definition and making this much more than an adventure movie. The whole movie is so touching because we care so much for the characters, and we care because they are excellently played and we are allowed to enjoyed small scenes with hardly any words but enough acting to tell a million words. The first scene that made me tear up was Bilbo finding Balin alone crying over Thorin’s worsening madness… And there are many more like this, not least Dwaling speaking to Thorin or Thranduil letting go of Legolas.

And talk of touching performances, none more so than our king under the mountain. I am so grateful to PJ that he brought all that out of Armitage! And to Fran Walsh for really good script for Thorin. Between the scrip and the acting I didn’t know sometimes if I was coming and going! My brain was telling me the logic behind Thorin’s actions is flawed, sick, twisted and still sometimes you got taken in by his arguments. That’s what made it even scarier, as he seem to have moments of lucidity, logic and pride before the whole thing tipped over into insane. Also having spent 2 films building Thorin into a hero, even if a grumpy and isolated one, you hope against hope at every step of the way that he will make a come back. Until you loose that hope completely when he speaks to Dwalin of thousands of deaths so easily.

I think the descent beyond all hope and much further down the insanity than one would expect makes then the scene when he makes a comeback and comes running out of the mountain followed by all the dwarves so uplifting, that is one of those ‘movie-moments’!

I probably enjoyed the spiralling into insanity as much as I did the fighting in the end, it is certainly that spiralling which kept me going back for more. It’s so complex and riddled with so many emotions it’s impossible to take in in a single viewing! Because we’ve had the chance to see Thorin being majestic, haughty, even violent before the moments i particularly relished where his vulnerable ones. Such display of emotion is sadly only more evidence of sickness in case of Thorin, because he would normally never be so open with his feelings. But I cherish them also because Armitage doesn’t get the chance to play these very often and so much on display and at the same time he’s so good at it! There are 2 particularily in BOTFA which take my breath away, first when he sees the acorn in Bilbo’s hand and this brings him to tears and secondly when he understands Bilbo has betrayed him, following the revelation up on the ramparts. The hurt in those eyes is just overwhelming! Thorin may wield a sword with incredible impact, but his two truly deadly weapons are his eyes and his voice! All I could see for days after watching the movie were those eyes and all I could heard were those whispers…

I would like to know so much more about what depths of emotion Armitage plundered to shine them through like this on screen… but then again, maybe this capacity of his should remain somewhat secret and magical 🙂 Ultimately maybe I should just enjoy its incredible impact without seeking to understand it.

I love the whole idea of the dragon’s spirit somehow transitioning to Thorin after Smaug’s death, it’s a brilliant instrument in creating the sickness for the film but ultimately I believe the reason the sickness feels so convincing is because Armitage plays is so emotionally truthfully! It’s both intimate and scary in its intensity and completely overwhelming coming from a character the viewer has come to trust and reply upon.

The fight scene with Azog is both impressive and beautifully choreographed. Thorin comes across not just valiant, but skilful and almost elegant in his movements and also intelligent. It’s not a fight of brute force, it’s skill and determination. I like the fact that it is more about movement than force and blood and gore. The final decision on Thorin’s part is predictable due to size of opponent, we know he needs to be close to strike, but the fact that we know his decision before he makes the moves does not diminish the way the thoughts show on Thorin’s face in any way. He’s truly majestic then 🙂 I also love that fact that it’s not a voiceless fight, usually heroes seem to fight with no effort audible or visible. I think the way we hear Thorin sigh, grunt, take in breath, gasp in effort is beautiful because it makes it real, it makes you feel what he feels, it makes you understand what the fighting takes put of him.

It is also what makes the death scene very emotional for me, the fact that it feels and sounds so real. Thorin is more beautiful in his death scene than in any other moment through of the trilogy. His eyes are clear and almost serene, peaceful and bright and the blood on his lips draws unexpected attention to their beautiful lines. The emotional transformation and ultimate redemption I think is visible on his features and it is filmed beautifully so that we may see his face from all angles. It’s all a hero needs to break your heart and make you go through a box of tissues, a perfect death scene. And it comes rather sudden and short and natural, almost plain, so that you are not really prepared for it and the grief sets in only gradually and goes on till the end of the film, which I think is only natural and what we feel is not the impact of a fight itself but the much longer lasting and deep loss of a character we’ve come to love.

And that’s what a good movie and a brilliant actor create for me, they tell me the story of a character, make him real, make me believe and like him, suffer with him and feel his loss acutely when it is all over.

I will probably go on this journey again while it’s still available in the cinemas as I don’t really want to let Thorin go just yet.

Totally spoiler free Thorin gushing

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Yes, it know it is not Thorin! but just look at it 🙂

Ah, what i actually meant to say was this : from FILM&TV NOW 

Haven’t read the whole thing because i actually don’t know and don’t want to know until next week that is going on but reading this gives one happy tingles!

“Although the trilogy is based on Bilbo, it is evident in the final film that in fact it is Thorin who is really the central character and the one who is embarking on his own journey – psychologically, emotionally and physically. Bilbo of course plays his part, but the plot and battle puts Thorin centre stage in this movie. Richard Armitage’s portrayal of the sickening dwarf is exemplary, as his character’s mentality shifts in dramatic fashion. Armitage is able to deliver the menacing, powerful, intimidating side to Thorin so convincingly, yet in stark contrast to those traits, he exudes emotion offering a powerhouse performance in the more touching, final scenes, showing the vulnerability and hidden sensitivity of his character.”

There is a lot of stuff these days, i’m not really picking and choosing, just going on impulse here as i haven’t seen it all yet and there is more to come. So, just because 🙂

4273760ANEnjoy your day… you too Mr A 🙂

One last time – Part 2

Tiny update, in case anyone doubted our ‘engagement’ in the proceedings 😉 Can you hear the noise coming from behind , left hand side of the car as it stopped (they announced who was getting out of each car), well there you go, we did give it a decent, loud go 🙂 (utube from Valentina)


Just a quickie before i go on, promise i’ll reply to all previous comments tomorrow but we’ll get this out of the way first and then go back and read everything and look at everything 🙂

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The street where we cued during the day at the end of the night with the cinema at the background

Let’s get some organisational stuff out of the way, WB not at its best, in spite of numbered bands we were kept on the street standing from 11am to 3,30 pm. With no indication when we would be getting inside the pens. And it was all to do with the fact the the rigging and carpeting took ages (too few staff!). The carpet laying finished at 5pm!! and during the last hour of it, the truck of the 4/5 men working on it was parked right in front of us blocking the view of the screens. Which screens would have been fabulous to see had they put anything else on them other than showing 4 trailers in repeat. It did not occur to them to show the interviews on the screen so that side of the carpet could see it, or show who was arriving or anything else, same trailers for about 6h. Which is why i have very few pics of those as we’ve seen them all before.

Street cue

Street cue

We could hear the interviews and that was about it. They distributed people alongside all corners, with the first 500 prioritised in front of press along the straight line and us who were next being pointed to the corners where the cars arrived and dropped people off and then left. Unfortunately it was a bit of bad karma as that ended up being the total dead spot of the entire place, cars parked at that corner but left through there too so people were getting out of cars and naturally walking away from them and us, in spite of calls. So much on the org stuff which unfortunately did end up impacting the experience.

screens view from street with trailers :-)

screens view from street with trailers 🙂

Time passed surprisingly fast and we had a good time in the cue as we have yesterday chatting away and getting excited 🙂 It got a bit cold but not totally unbearably so. Once we were in however our corner was dreadfully drafty, which at that time was a bit hard on the bones. But we were there and the excitement overrides such things as cold and wind 😉

still laying the carpet close to 5pm!

still laying the carpet close to 5pm!

Now to the hard bit, i even doubted if to write this post at all, but i could hardly leave everything at Part 1 and even if i did consider deleting yesterdays, that doesn’t chime well either. I started this quite openly and i’ve decided to finish like that too. I’m afraid i have to disappoint on all points that i am well aware i created expectations about yesterday. I didn’t see OOA at all, not even a shadow. The car came, we made quite a racket and i can be very loud if i choose to and i did 😉 I did my bit with quite a lot of conviction 😀 But it just wasn’t to be,out he came, off he went and that was that.

A bit of a shock i have to admit, mostly because silly me, i didn’t even for a second consider the possibility that with good organisation and a good cue, decent numbers and pens, a virtually small place and tight enclosing, me being quite tall and being only 2nd row i wouldn’t see him at all. I did take everything into account, speed, seeing only from a distance if there were people on the opposite side and such, just didn’t occur to me to consider the zero option. Upsy. I felt a bit understandably lost. My mind went: no? really? that can’t be, surely! But it was.

image from the pen just as we entered our zone

screens 🙂

I had taken my Crucible poster with me just in case, but i will now get it framed, done waiting 😉 I’ve really wanted to be able to look at it and i want it on my wall, right now! Serves me right for hesitating too long during the run and not deciding if i wanted a signature, then deciding i did want one but then the crowds were too much to try and then thinking oh maybe now. It stays ‘virgin’ and will go on my wall both as a reminder of the incredible, life changing summer/run of Crucible, as well as a reminder to go for what i want and not dance around it stupidly 😉

from the pen, still carpeting!

from the pen, still carpeting!

Back to the green carpet.. You don’t get much time to recover of course as cars move on and people come and go, ours continuing to be a dead end, or the dark corner which nearly no one dared to approach. But then things suddenly changed with the arrival of Evangeline Lilly who came, pretty and cheerful and in the excitement lost one of her earrings, which somebody then helped retrieve and after she took pictures and chatted to everyone around for quite a while she tried to get back on. Due to earring trouble we had her there for quite a while longer 🙂 Lovely 🙂

Evangeline smiling, joking and trying to get her earring back on, to the left you see the cars exiting and the people on the street past the enclosure

Evangeline smiling, joking and trying to get her earring back on, to the left you see the cars exiting and the people on the street past the enclosure

Orlando Bloom obviously knew the layout of the place and its corners too as he got lured pretty quickly our way with a few prompts, sadly i hadn’t yet quite gotten the hang of camera and energy back and i ended up watching and forgot to click. There were selfies, just like with Evangeline, smiles, more pics and a head of hair on that man.. ‘ggg’ who thought of that, he should fire them 🙂 as otherwise like Evangeline they were a picture of elegance! Nice chap indeed 🙂

And lookie here who came next!!! You’re getting all 3 shots of him i have because he spent a whole load of time with us and these are of my few pics, the ones which turned out pretty ok 🙂

PJ!!

PJ!!

I totally understand what people have been saying about Peter Jackson, he is indeed the sweetest man! he not only signed all requests, took pictures, but actually talked to everyone and asked us how we were, if we were holding up ok, had we been waiting long? He hoped we weren’t too cold and agreed we were lucky that it hadn’t rained and all. He hoped we did enjoy ourselves and more that i didn’t hear well because he is soft spoken.

More PJ smiling and talking to us

More PJ smiling and talking to us

You got a bit of a sense of him ‘getting’ the fans and understanding why in some parts the movies are for the fans 🙂 It was incredibly nice to have that very basic and down to earth interaction. Ok, i’ll admit i chocked up right then and there when he actually managed to have a conversation and engage with people about our aching feet and the cold 🙂 Silly i know, but it is Peter Jackson! we are talking about here 🙂 And it was nice of him i thought 🙂

There was this Norwegian boy who dashed towards me through the people next to me, going ‘please please please i’ve come all the way from Norway, please sign  my book’. He couldn’t quite reach so i stepped down to drag him by the sleeve a bit to my place and went ‘please, here too’ 🙂 And sure enough he came all the way back from the corner along our line again signing and i snuck in one more pic:-) Ahhh you should have seen the beaming face of that young chap! 🙂

PJ making a Norwegian fan veeeery happy! :-)

PJ making a Norwegian fan veeeery happy! 🙂

And that wasn’t all, we got one more! Another local, again probably familiar with how tricky this place is and actually how not really very well suited for easy carpet walking. He didn’t even get out the car close to us but came all the way. Any idea who this is????

Yes, it's Batchy :-)

Yes, it’s Batchy 🙂

Not my best shot, but people got a bit excited around 😉 so my other ones are obstructed by hands and phones. But never miiiiind! This one is as he was going back, he came to the last man and walked along all of us, signing, smiling. Nice and elegant, isn’t he? He was exactly as i thought he may be and of course he was the last one i expected to see given the location and that by now everyone else had come and we were clearly nearing the end, plus their time on the carpet was running out. He took his time and the best thing was this: Right in front of me was a girl who turned 16 this very day and she told him about it and asked him to please sign for her. Which is when i tried to take a snap as i had him right in front of me, but he suddenly hunched down and there he was scribbling away for an awwwfully long time! After he had walked away she showed me and her friend a half page of notebook with Benedict’s extensive dedication signed very clearly and with nice handwriting and all letters showing. That was quite some dedication 🙂 Needless to say one very happy girl and isn’t this a brilliant thing to have for your 16th birthday? 😀 Well done Mr Cumberbatch, very gracious indeed. Everyone else got their things signed if they had any they wanted signed.

We stayed for a little while longer and listened to the cast interviews, but as there were no projections it was sound only and then the evening ended. Looong day but quite a few good smiles of happy fans around us.

Please don’t take any of the above as criticism (you know what i mean). Well, the organisational stuff yes, because i know audience can be dealt with more sensibly and just more enjoyably. It all started well and security was good, but some things like the screens were badly underused. Water under the bridge…

Anything else is a matter of location, organisation, luck that lasted us for a very long time and just some poor luck at the end that nobody can help. We had a lovely weekend and we were lucky none of us were alone on the day in the end (good to have each other), we were lucky with the weather (it could have been sososo much worse!), we had some great fun in the cue on both days, we saw some really nice people and those smiles of happy fans around me are just the best. I am glad i did the whole thing and i don’t feel nearly half as bad physically or achy as i thought i would! I can still rock short nights and long days and standing and i can still turn up the volume and shout my heart out 🙂 if something drives me to it 😉

I’ll hopefully get through the avalanche of photos and tweets and posts tomorrow and get to see what you guys saw on the live broadcast.

And last, but not at all least, thanks to everyone who took amazing photos! Especially to someone, she knows who she is 😉 who took a most aaamazing shot in conditions which where were 100% against us 🙂

One last time – part 1

I will probably regret being up at this time of the night before the premiere tomorrow, but not feeling quite sleepy though feeling really tired. I didn’t want to write about it before we actually had the wristbands and there was always a chance we wouldn’t be able to get them. We did cue up for 2 hours this morning and managed to get them and were promised orderly access tomorrow with them (they are numbered), so we wouldn’t have to be there in the wee hours of the morning. We will see… But the main thing, access itself, is guaranteed and that is all we wanted 🙂 We have no idea where we will be tomorrow and if we will manage to see the OOA, but we did all we could do from our side, all we now need is just a little bit of luck.

Leicester Square is a bit of a mess at the moment, the 2 cinemas for the premiere are alongside two sides of the Sq, the Empire where the public with premiere tickets will be and the Odeon Leicester Sq where the stars will come. The entire middle part of it is also currently occupied by a massive Xmas market with 2 storey stands/houses and carousels and stuff the near hight of the buildings! We saw it Sat in all it’s glory, lit up and making a racket.. we hope it may take the day off tomorrow but not so sure… It will make things .. interesting and it makes the space for the premiere even more tight, one side of the sq will surely be occupied by the press and the rest by what WB so ‘nicely’ called ‘pens’, which is why i called ourselves equally nicely 😀 #hensinpens 😉 But i’ll switch to the less cheeky #OneLasttime tomorrow if i remember. Was so excited today i didn’t remember that and all i could come up with was the other 🙂

We made some lovely friends in the cue, not Rich fans but nice nevertheless and shared our homemade sandwiches 🙂 It’s a drafty place and temperatures are set to drop to max 7C tomorrow so we’ll camp and wrap up as best we can and hope that the warmth will come from within.

We were crazy exited and i felt really giddy like i don’t even remember for years now, but it’s been a lovely thing to put faces to people i’ve been talking to for the last few months, we’ve had quite a few laughs 😉 I wish more people could be here to be honest and i’ll try and share as much of the experience as i am capable of reproducing with as many of you.

Feeling pretty knackered by the whole emotional storm going on and by the intense day, you’d be maybe surprised at what we did next. But before we got there, look who we bumped into on our way out of the sq!!

First Crucible cinema screening poster i've seen in town  :-)

First Crucible cinema screening poster i’ve seen in town 🙂

I was so excited to bump into this!!! Well, we all were and we did spend a big part of today reliving our memories of the Crucible in the summer (pretty bummed Yael Farber did not win the Evening Standard award for best director.. sigh 😦 ) And looking forward to seeing it again soon! I do wonder if i will survive the overload this week …

After some much needed .. pizza and coffee 😉 we went to Tate Modern to see a recently opened exhibition on Conflict Time Photography

Don McCullin Shell Shocked US Marine, The Battle of Hue 1968 printed 2013

Don McCullin ‘i  am told by someone who knows’ is one of the most famous and best conflict photographers of our time. The exhibition is quite extraordinary as it presents images of conflict not location based, but rather from the perspective they have on the conflict itself, captured at the exact moment, days after, weeks after, months and years after. It’s very creatively presented with very different displays, with cold war as well as actual armed conflict, with pictures of survivors, of landscapes and debris, of humans and buildings and nature all impacted by conflict. There is a frightening array of conflict from the last 100 years mostly and although places and people matter very much, set aside to each other they become a sobering flow of repeating stories, suffering, survival and death, recovery and then again conflict… It  blurs ideologies, politics, religion, geography and presents the impact, the consequences.

There are some striking photographs  which, were you not to know the subject of the photo, could be called stunningly beautiful… There are many techniques and ways of presenting the reality of war, including a very touching one of just exposing photosensitive paper to the light in the conflict zone which turns it from deepest black to a flash of red to white. There is hope in some images looking back 30-60 years at conflict times, especially in the way nature seems to overgrow and end up hiding wounds inflicted upon it, but there is a a very unsettling feeling of history repeating itself again and again and again in a never-ending cycle… It’s a thought out exhibition, which does not set out to shock you visually  or make you queasy, it’s not a wrap of the News, it is much more thoughtful than that. Rather than shocking you in an instant and then you walk away, it takes you on a journey. It makes you think, not emotionally, but soberingly, quietly, profoundly.

It was really busy and i can only recommended it to anyone visiting London, i do hope they take schools to see it, i wish they would take politicians of all kinds to see it…  You can’t leave without asking yourself: why do we never ever learn? how much conflict can humanity and nature really recover from and keep going?

I thought a very good way to spend the afternoon, we all did.

We ended the evening with some light drinks and some not so light but nice fish and chips and an extended talk about Richard Armitage, the roles, the acting, the talents, the man, the clothes, the nose (we love it so!), how we got ‘into him’ and what we like most and much more more. If your ears were burning bright and hot, sorry it was us talking about you 😉 A very positive bottom line emerged, not to worry 😉

I am feeling really Zen at the moment, as calm as i’ve not been over the last couple of weeks! Xmas approaching always stresses me out completely! Shopping lists, orders, pick ups, exchanges, the Visa card groaning etc… Work was hell with everything and anything that could go wrong going wrong, from reports with errors and many meetings. I crossed a certain age threshold and i’ve been worrying about it for months, questioning everything and anything and being utterly surprised when the next day life just continued as before! And feeling utterly ridiculous for worrying myself sick over it and what it would mean. Doesn’t mean a thing thankfully and i don’t suddenly feel burdened by my age, just as i never did before. Yes, there will be days when i know i am past 30 :-p and there are still many days where i don’t feel older than 25! So for now i decided to just carry on as usual.

At one point i was so distracted by all things that i went to buy the Empire magazine (quite a few interesting articles and a phrase about a certain someone giving the performance of the trilogy!) and ended up with the cover of the elves instead of the cover with the dwarves! And on the next day when i returned to the news-stand they had run out of that particular cover!!! 😀

I managed at almost last minute due to seats selling out to grab myself tickets for the Crucible on both the 4th and the 7th.. how on earth i’ll process the RA overload this week i have no clue, i wish i was a hard disk! To absorb it all in real time and then process it off the disk in my own time! I also wish it wasn’t overlapping with the Hobbit so maybe they could do a special screening for the cast of the Crucible and have a mini red carpet of sorts if you will 😉 Not gonna happen unfortunately..

The week then ended on a total high, if you see the previous post there is something about the ‘love spread’ that reached me in the surprising and wonderful form of a Lucas North locket!!!! Talk about things taking a turn for the better! 🙂 (Thank you Oscura and everyone!). I even managed to squeeze an opera in this weekend, which is just the way i want it (more on the balance between this life long passion and theatre and RA and stuff some other time, as that has been causing another head ache recently but i’ve come to a resolution, if not to a new way of managing my schedule 😉 but i’m determined to make it work!)

And on top of all that the weekend was looming ever bigger over my head, with me feeling that well, at least this proves i am not old and don’t feel old since i’m doing stuff i’ve never done before (even if my friends think i’m a nut for doing a premiere in a square ;-)) Then suddenly the weekend was here and it started with feeling edgy and restless and then finally everything fell into place when people arrived 🙂 We just carried on in person as we have been online and i can’t say enough how normal and nice and fun it feels! I am so glad i decided to do this and we are doing it together 🙂 We’re,I’m having an enormous amount of fun! And i am so glad we met and are doing this together!

I swore to myself – as i was thinking of all the things that i will DEFINITELY NOT do on top of just being there, which felt embarrassing and crazy enough – that i would not be shouting Richard, Richard to attract attention on the day, no way.

Well, i am no longer at all embarrassed about being there and doing this, everyone was already having fun in the cue today and everyone was happy to be there for a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m allowed to take the day off my serious day job and do something that is just harmless fun 🙂 So, the bets are off for tomorrow as i don’t plan to stand in the cold for a considerable amount of hours and not say hi or wave or try to see RA from closer up, that is after all the reason we are there tomorrow, to try and get a glimpse of the wonderful actor who plays an incredible Thorin! That is the whole point of a ‘green’ carpet (more #hensinpens theme there again ;-))

So, hope you have sweet dreams Mr A, do dress up nicely, we’re looking forward to seeing you tomorrow 🙂

DA MAN Dec2014 RA by Mitchell Nguyen McCormack

Love the above pic! haven’t even begun to process the avalanche of photos and articles during the last week  but i did notice this 🙂

Will try to keep people in the loop tomorrow, but i have to keep my phone going since it’s the only local one and you never know when you need it so it may not be as frequent as i wish. Will snap away though and share a few so you get a feel for what it looks and feels like and then hopefully more to come later. Do watch the live stream if you can, here

https://www.warnerbros.co.uk/insider/articles/2014/november/watch-the-world-premiere-of-the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-live-from-the-green-carpet

Some new Hobbit promo pics arrive

More updates 😉 the beard-hiding photo! Now this i like eye plus hand aaaaand double breasted vest, niiice 🙂

Update – Mr Invincible, skateboarding 🙂 (explanation to pic below)

I know somebody who will love the hands, i do too! 🙂