Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Director: David Yates
Writer: J.K. Rowling
Prequel to: Harry Potter
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan FoglerAlison Sudol, Colin FarrellSamantha Morton, Ezra MillerFaith Wood-BlagroveJenn MurrayCarmen EjogoJon Voight, Ron PerlmanZoë KravitzJohnny Depp 
Seen on: 26.11.2016

Newt (Eddie Redmayne) studies and keeps magical creatures. But the political situation in the UK is becoming more and more difficult for them, so he makes his way to the USA where he hopes to find them a new life, even if it means hiding the creatures from immigration in a magic suitcase. But magical creatures aren’t the only one affected by politics – in fact, there’s only a very tentative peace between the non-magical and the magical world. Everything could be going easily, but Newt takes the wrong suitcase and it’s baker – and decidedly non-magical human – Jacob (Dan Fogler) who walks off with the creatures, while Newt gets arrested by the recently demoted auror Tina (Katherine Waterston). Chaos ensues – chaos that is more closely connected to the political uproar than it first appears.

I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan myself (read all the books and saw all the films though), so the news of Fantastic Beasts didn’t leave me very excited – and neither did the film itself. It’s sweet and I was entertained, but if it wasn’t connected to the Harry Potter phenomenon, I doubt that it would be a film that stays with people.

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The Casual Vacancy (J.K. Rowling)

The Casual Vacancy is a novel by J.K. Rowling.
Finished on: 20.11.2015

Barry Fairbrother, father, husband, parish councillor, dies very suddenly. His family is still reeling and his body is barely cold when plans are being made about how to fill his seat on the council, a seat that will most likely decide the fate of the local methadone clinic and a housing project, the poorest neighborhood in town, of which Barry had been a staunch defender. But the events that are set in motion after his death don’t limit themselves to communal politics but impact the lives of several members of the community in very different ways.

The Casual Vacancy features a rather big cast of characters and it takes a while until all of them are introduced and the novel is set up so far that things actually get going. But it definitely pays off to power through the slow start.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

[Somehow this film, too, slipped through the cracks in my trying to get this blog up to speed. I saw it in July, I think.]

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the 6th movie in the Harry Potter series based on J.K. Rowling‘s book of the same name. It was directed by David Yates and stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael GambonAlan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, David Thewlis and Jim Broadbent.

[SPOILERS for the WHOLE SERIES after this point.]

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is in his sixth year at Hogwarts (school for wizadry). He finds a mysterious book that belonged to the half-blood prince and the notes in it help him star in Prof. Slughorn’s (Jim Broadbent) potion class. At the same time he works together with Prof. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) to find out more about Lord Voldemort and his weaknesses.

The Half-Blood Prince is definitely the weakest of all the Potter movies so far. The plot’s all over the place, things happen you can only understand if you’ve read the books and HOLY SHIT! they spoil the seventh book/movie. What the hell?

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If you follow Neil Gaiman’s blog, like I do, you already know about this. If you are in the UK and regularly hit a Waterstone’s (like I would, if I was there), you’ll know about it as well. If not, man, have I got news for you! :)

Waterstone’s asked 13 authors (or maybe they asked more, but only 13 answered) to write a short story on a postcard, which were auctioned off yesterday (all the profits went to the English PEN and Dyslexia Action). The stories are online now, and if you feel inspired, you can write your own (until June 19th). The best three stories will be published along with the professional authors’ stories in a book.

Oh, yeah, and the authors are: Neil Gaiman, Irvine Welsh, J.K. Rowling, Doris Lessing, Nick Hornby, Margaret Atwood, …

Cool thing.