Nathan (vovat) wrote,

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Movie and Book Reviews: Cajuns, Chrestomanci, and College

bethje and I finally saw The Princess and the Frog tonight. While not one of the better or more memorable Disney animated films by any means, it was enjoyable, and I welcome the return to traditional animation. Maybe I'm showing my age here, but I've never really thought computer animation works very well for human characters, especially. I'd say the movie was typical Disney cartoon fare, definitely calling to mind some of their past works, but that's not a bad thing. And I can't say I found it racist or reverse racist or double-plus-reverse-unracist, or whatever people are complaining about. But then, I say this as a white guy who sometimes has trouble identifying such things.

I also finished a few books this week. One was The Magicians of Caprona, the third of Diana Wynne Jones's Chrestomanci tales. Since I don't think I've reviewed the first two yet, though, I might as well say a bit about all of the first three. Charmed Life is an interesting and mysterious introduction to the Related Worlds, and in particular the world in which the Chrestomanci lives and operates as an employee of the British government. It's a lot like our world, except magic is commonplace, and some historical events worked out differently. The Lives of Christopher Chant is a prequel, detailing the multiple lives and deaths of the boy who would become Chrestomanci in the earlier story. I found this one to have a much more involved plot than Charmed Life, but it covered a lot of the same themes, and expanded on many aspects of the earlier story. The Magicians of Caprona differs a bit in that it doesn't include any world-jumping, but I don't think it was any worse for that. It took place on the version of Italy in Chrestomanci's world, which was never unified. While the other two focus on the role of the Chrestomanci, he's largely in the background in this one, trying to bring two rival spell-making families together to prevent war between Caprona and the other city-states. Cats are significant in all three of the Chrestomanci tales I've read so far, but I particularly liked this story's conversations between Tonino Montana (who has the power to talk to felines) and the cat Benvenuto.

This week's other read was The Emerald Mountain of Oz, by the late Mark Haas. He used to post a lot to the Oz Club Forums, and I'd already read his other two Oz books. Emerald Mountain is notable in giving a fairly significant role to the Shaggy Man's brother (a neglected Oz character if there ever was one) and providing an explanation of sorts for the Deadly Desert. The story is quite good, and the book also looks very neat, with a professional appearance and illustrations by dennisanfuso.
Tags: books, movies, oz
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