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Music Reviews

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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
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July 24, 2007
RATING: 7/10
A few hours before I sat through the endless fantasy-type previews that predicated Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (yes, you may refer to it as Harry Potter Is Disturbingly Muscular if you like), my favorite favorite NPR employee, Kai Ryssdal, referred on the air to Ms. Rowling's brilliantly marketed franchise as "that Potter book." Ah, Kai, you are so right, I thought, at least as far as the movies go. The last one, Goblet of Fire to the in-crowd, was so forgettable that I had written off the films as a progressively weak visual money-maker aimed at those so HP-obsessed that reading a mere book does not satisfy them.*

"There is simply too much going on in these later books," I said to myself (and probably anyone within earshot), "to reasonably fit into one movie." Two years later, "Order of the Phoenix" promised to uphold my theory, especially since the film seemed to have been practically forgotten by the media, due to the irrepressible excitement of the final book's impending release.** Harry is a little more sophisticated now, a little more troubled. He's annoyed with his friends, he can't figure out girls, and he has zero patience for anyone telling him what to do - that's a pretty good summation of a 14 year old, I think. Luckily, cute little Firebolt-ridin', spell-spoutin', owl-lovin' Daniel Radcliffe has grown up into someone who can change with the character. Unfortunately, the movies are so brief that Harry is really the only character that is explored in any depth, but that's okay. In this film at least, he's interesting enough to carry it. And let's be honest, it's not called Neville Longbottom and the Affinity for Plants. Harry is the main event, and Radcliffe is earning his keep.

David Yates's direction has a lot to do with the compellingness of Order of the Phoenix as well. The last film seemed to recognize that the entire story wouldn't represent well in two hours, but the end result felt as though someone had attempted to abbreviate the bigger parts so as to make way for little, insignificant parts that may be hilarious and meaningful in the book but get too much screentime and distract us from what is really going on. Yates cuts out a fair amount of Rowling's prose but, somehow, it works. Instead of touching lightly upon everything, he has enough time to linger on key moments, drawing our attention to some really good jokes, letting us absorb Harry's frustration to the fullest extent, and finally, finally getting in some good old-fashioned romance.

Purists, of course, can never be satisfied. Right at this moment they're complaining happily about the lack of screentime for Tonks, the absence of Rita Skeeter, and the (blessed) elimination of the rooms and rooms Harry has to go through before he has his final battle (I don't have an encyclopedic memory, don't worry, I just finished the book a couple weeks ago). Movies aren't books and shouldn't be treated as such. They work with different ingredients and present a much less detailed final product. There's a reason that the special extended editions (which don't even begin to approximate the complexity of the wordy tomes upon which they are based) of Lord of the Rings are available separately - sometimes Tom Bombadil and his endless songs make you want to slit your own wrists and don't deny it!

David Yates is making the next film, too. I'm guessing somebody else noticed the improvements. We'll see how he does next year, at which point I will have reversed my opinion on the value of editing after someone leaves out one word of The Golden Compass and my heart explodes into a million pieces.
---

*I'm not "hatin'" here. I am no better. I LEAPT out of my seat during The Golden Compass preview and practically SHOUTED "That is literally the BEST children's book in the HISTORY of BOOKS and CHILDREN." Even the trailer made the pulse quicken. Holy crap.

**Many thanks to ol' J.K. for ending it when she did. Teen dramas never ever survive college. Unless you have a guy with flip-up sunglasses and a girl named Whitley.

SEE ALSO: www.harrypotterorderofthephoenix.com

--
Susan Howson
A staff writer attending graduate school in Richmond, VA, Susan Howson cannot be persuaded to stop talking about movies.

See other articles by Susan Howson.

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