Imax Geekery, or how to see Star Wars as nature intended...

Someone made the mistake of letting me have preview tickets to the latest Mission Impossible back in the summer... ostensibly in Imax.

I'm not sure what was more disappointing, the crappy film or the crappy film format.

See, I was a huge fan of the last one - I paid to see if four times in Imax, which is... a really expensive way to show your appreciation for something. And I mean, proper Imax at the BFI, not the crappy fake mini-Imax I saw Rogue Nation in (for free. I am seriously going to complain about a free preview format, go me). Ghost Protocol was one of the last true-Imax scene films (god bless you Brad Bird), before it went out of style again (I'm going to admit right now I still haven't seen the actual last film to use true Imax, Interstellar, for... reasons. I tried a couple of times but it never panned out, and I was getting tired of paying to see non-Imax films blown up disappointingly for crazy-expensive prices).

You can't really blame TDKR per se for pushing Imax out of style, especially after Chris Nolan did so much to push the format, but it did expose the weaknesses of using it for too high a percentage of scenes and compromising sound quality, because Imax cameras are loud (oh god Tom Hardy gargling that accent was bad enough already). True Imax is a... garnish, not a main course. And it works really, really well on looming shots of skyscrapers - hence the gorgeousness that is TDK and Ghost Protocol. I'd also allow the plane scene from the start of TDKR because some shots made me feel genuinely dizzy (that's basically the sign of well-used Imax, when the vertigo kicks in)... plus the start of ST Into Darkness. These last two were both designed as deliberate Imax teasers, though - the first ten minutes of each film, initially shown as exclusive snippets in Imax screens before release as a showcase for the format; and it shows.

Much as it was nice to see it used on THG: Catching Fire, there really wasn't enough vertical space in the scenes to make it worthwhile, and I notice it hasn't been used again in any of the sequels. Which is almost a shame, considering one of the visuals Mockingjay Part 1 did have going for it was a notable use of vertical space down in the bunkers. But it's expensive, and awkward to use, and it seemed like THG needed no help making any more money, considering they could sell out stretched digital Imax screenings of their regularly shot version easily anyhoo (and they actually got an Imax release this year after part 1 got caught in the crossfire of Imax scheduling trying to fit in both Interstellar and The Hobbit BOTFA). Interestingly they also dropped their 3D distribution plans for Mockingjay Part 2 in the US, and I'm not sure anyone was exactly devastated at that.  Again, they have Imax - they didn't necessarily need the 3D charge to still make oodles of money (although.. not as much money as they could have. It's not nearly traumatic enough to be a great adaptation of the final book, and kind of a buzz kill lack of catharsis for repeat viewings).

Although, this year THG:Mpt2 kind of released early enough to try and avoid competing with the only film shooting any scenes in Imax at all: The Force Awakens. There were pretty much worse than TDKR levels of booking carnage trying to snaffle BFI Imax tickets for that one (which can then be blamed on the Odeon site booking process. Fun times.) And I opted out completely, because dear god why is 3D now the standard option for abso-bloody-lutely every single big Imax release these days (short answer: money. But still.)

What I did just find tickets for was what seems to be a bizarrely well-kept secret - the Science Museum, bless 'em, have the only 2D 70mm Imax screening in Europe (and yes, that's a true Imax screening on a fullsize screen in the fricking format the film was originally shot in) several weeks after the totally pointless shark chum frenzy of scrambling to get tickets for kind of ordinary multiplex screenings. My Imax geekery is kind of waning these days as true-Imax drops off and 3D digital projection is the standard, but this.. is kind of exciting.

The Guest, and harking back to the classics

To be fair, there's not a lot of stuff sitting at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and even fewer of those are deliriously trashy horror thrillers. Even the supremely awesome You're Next is way down at 74%, so.... it's not like I didn't go into The Guest with expectations. That it then got described as 'imagine the Terminator moved in with Sarah Connor, rather than trying to kill her...'

Oh hell, yes please.

And then have the lead be played by a former Downton dude, and it just seems like someone is making very odd choices. Awesome choices, as it turns out, but.. odd.
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Motive... and it was all going so well

Motive is one of those shows that sneak up on you. I ended up being reluctantly charmed by the first series, and then this year, it's become one of the few things I actively looked forward to every week. And that's basically the combination of Angie (who is rarely Not Awesome, but spent a lot of this series looking more unsure of herself), Angie and Oscar being BFFs and basically platonic life partners as well as work partners (the scene where they arrived at a muddy crime scene all dressed up after having to leave his dad's wedding and had to sort their boots out was one of my favourite TV things this year), Bets being.. Bets, Bets and Angie being BFFs, the cinematography, the hilarious Alphas casting... and also the fact that you end up totally sympathetic to the killer more times than not. Which means that the victims aren't generally photogenic young women being the victims of predators, as per most other procedururals. And sometimes they're the killers too.

Which is why the season two finale was so disappointing - it looked like Motive, and it felt like it was trying to wrapp the plotlines which have been rumbling on for the whole of season two, but.. I have no clue why they chose to go the direction they did.Collapse )

PacRim, way back when

It felt a bit churlish, at one point, to criticise Pacific Rim - after all, I drove everyone I know demented over the last few months before it came out about how it was going to the Best. Film. Ever. And it was, kind of. For a little while.

I magically managed to get tickets for a preview (with about twelve hours' notice) and despite the best efforts of the entire London transport system to make it impossible to get there... hot damn, we made it. And then the 3D projection was messed up and we ended up having to restart after the first five minutes to watch it again, unblurry.

... which wasn't all that bad, because the first five minutes were pretty freaking incredible. And the 3D works, which is very rarely the case - the Golden Gate bridge destruction, particularly, with giant kaiju claws and all the cars tipping toward the screen, and with careful additions of ash/snow later on... I could just watch those bits on a loop. At that point, I was still psyched to see it again in Imax on the release day. it works brilliantly.

And it all works brilliantly, any time there's a giant robot and an even more giant monster on screen.  This is a film all about high concept, absolutely saturated with ideas and building a world in which they would all be possible;  the epitome of it could be cool to do this... That all said cool stuff is fantastically executed as well is just a huge, huge bonus. It's beautiful.  It's so utterly gorgeous, and cleverly done; visually it's kind of game-changing in the way that Avatar was, but with giant freaking robots.

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World War Z

I.. really can't bring myself to copy Trailer Guy and pronounce it 'World War Zee'. Just can't, dammit.

Having said that, there's a lot to recommend spending a couple of hours watching Brad Pitt jet around the world with great difficulty trying to solve the Zombie Apocalypse. This isn't Brad in full-on charm mode, or even particularly acting. If anything, having such a big star seems a little odd for such an everyman role (even if said Everyman is a super competent former UN Special Investigator dude). But hell, I was won over by this film the second Mireille Enos announced "I picked up flares" and pointed out a handy helicopter landing spot.  Oh my god, a normal couple actually working together, being sensible in the face of the Zombie Apocalypse and taking turns to be quietly awesome with hardly any dumb rescue scenes. You never see that in these films. Given that it starts with one of those tooth-achingly annoying 'perfect family' scenes right at the start, it could have gone very, very wrong.  Brad does of course get marked down for not looking where he's going whilst driving a car very fast through a Zombie Panic but, y'know, it all evens out.[Spoiler (click to open)]In fact, once they're done keeping their own kids safe, Brad & Mireille then go start adopting other war orphans[Spoiler (click to open)](and that article about how WWZ is a very obvious metaphor for Brad Pitt's real life - where the zombies are actually paparazzi and the triumph of the third act is that everyone ignores him - is too on the nail to ignore really).

This film kinda pushes my buttons because most of the characters are sensible, pretty competent and - even better - don't need to be rescued. Or if they are being rescued, it's probably by someone whose life they already saved about ten seconds ago.  Or they just quietly sacrifice themselves for the greater good, but it's not exactly played for OTT sentimentality, more to hone the sense that the Zombie Horde has overwhelmed them like pretty much everythig else in its path. It has quirk - bicycles! inopportune phones ringing! random Welshness! - and the visuals are pretty fabulous. It also manages to avoid the urge to pile on the sentimentality at every turn, but - and this is unheard of for a zombie film - also doesn't leave you inherently depressed about the world ending.  28 Days Later kind of pulls it off, but soo much trauma beforehand! Even Shaun of the Dead is a bit too much of a downer for me (although weirdly, I can cope with it in books: The Reapers Are The Angels and White Horse are two of my favourite post-apocalyptic and they're both zombie-fied).[Spoiler (click to open)]I can just about cope with the Dawn of the Dead remake but I have to intensely ignore the very end where practically everyone croaks. I keep trying with The Walking Dead, and at some point I will finish season two, but I seriously don't have that much time in my life to devote to something that depressing.

Once (is probably enough)

I admit my first reaction to finding out that Once, my all time favourite indie mumblecore almost-romance with awesome music, was being adapted into a stage musical was mostly bewilderment.  This is not a film you watch roaming around random Dublin locations being filmed with shaky-cam and think damn this needs to be a show. But I'll also admit I was intrigued by the fact the original people involved (and when I say involved, half the reason the film is so fascinating is what was happening in real life around it) all turned up at the premiere and were saying they were happy with it. I mean, they should know, right? And then it transfered to Broadway and won all the Tonys, and then it came over here in the last couple of weeks, and there are posters everywhere and I thought, what the hell, it's still at preview prices. Because, not cheap at full price and I've learned to avoid shows I'm not sure I'll love because so much money.

Some background? One of the first things I did when I visited New York in 2007 was find somewhere showing Once, because I'd been waiting to see the bloody thing for months already and it didn't get a UK release for ages after that, either. And it was brilliant. And then you add in the way the casting was kind of fated (what would it have been like starring Cillian Murphy? I can't even think. Probably a bit like watching Jonathon Rhys Meyers in August Rush?) because how much of what you're watching is Glen Hansard, and how much is what was written? Because the songs are his and Marketa Irglova's anyway, and they are the film. And the film pushed them together in real life, and then they broke up and it's all such an odd story.
It was highly amusing watching them at the Oscars that year, because it looks a lot like they're not even speaking to each other right up to the point where they have to go up on stage and actually accept the award.

[much spoilery angsting about adapting Once... And much less angst about Wicked.]And I knew I shouldn't have rewatched the film two days before going, because comparisons are probably not going to help, but... I'm not sure I would have loved the film quite so much had it done the story the same way the show does. And that bugged me beyond reason. During one scene I was literally slunk down in my seat with embarrassment at the dialogue (well, a couple of scenes, actually).  Not that the film doesn't have slightly cringy bits, but they're like that because they're awkward - not because someone keeps decided to make loud declarations vocalising the subtext all the time. I can't help thinking it's a worrying sign that we both walked out and said we wanted to watch the film again to, er, take the taste away a bit.

Is that just what you have to do to make something into a musical? I mean, the first time I saw Wicked was a teeny bit similar - lots of muttering about Disneyfication (especially when 'As Long As You're Mine' began.). And then they changed the end!! But, importantly, Wicked came from a book - a fairly nasty, pitch black meditation on fascism and propaganda in the context of Oz. They made it into a brightly coloured, slightly sarky and tween-friendly comedy about an odd-couple friendship with a bit of the propaganda stuff chucked in for colour. And then Stephen Schwartz wrote some awesome songs. 'Defying Gravity' always gave me goosebumps, even when I didn't know the song; and I went away and played the soundtrack on repeat (because there's a reason it's one of the biggest shows around. Those songs burrow into your brain and never leave.) and I saw it again and loved it. And I've watched it once a year ever since, including once on Broadway and once at the original theatre in San Francisco. And it's a show that changes drastically depending on the cast (what I wouldn't give to see Julia Murney again. And if anyone plays Fiyero remotely camp *glares at Adam Garcia*, it doesn't work at all.).  My point is that Wicked's trump card as a musical are the performances and the songs, and the lightness.  Once... doesn't have any of those advantages over the source material, so I'm left wondering what the point is?

Don't get me wrong - the music is still awesome; of course it is. And everyone sings and plays beautifully, and it looks lovely. But the music is obviously inherited as is from the film, for the most part, and is already awesome. The staging, really, is the original concept here, and it's lots of fun and a nice interpretation of the cobbled-together comraderie in the film (the evening jamming session around the table, definitely).  There's a lot of energy on stage; a nice tension from watching the band glide on and off from the sidelines and try to keep up with the prop/scene switches - all that is definitely in the spirit of the original story.  That, and seeing the music performed live, are the only reasons you'd really go see the show rather than just watch the film, surely? Because what they do to the characters (and by extension the story) is actually painful. I get why there's padding - it's a short film, and musicals have to at least pretend to provide more value for the vast amount of money the tickets cost. But the fact it feels like padding is what bugs me.

It's not so much that Girl is now the original manic pixie dreamgirl (although that is by definition irritating) but that she's now the catalyst for the entire plot. Loudly, and pushily. With an entire back-up chorus of loud, irritating Czech flatmates (and the one-liner about Fair City was amusing in the film; it's bloody done to death now).  Part of the joy of the film is watching two people push each other, reluctantly, out of their comfort zones without even wanting, or meaning, to. Now we have a near-suicidal, annoyingly passive Guy being pushed around mercilessly as a personal mission by Girl. And he never does a bloody thing for himself. Not so interesting, anymore. The plot isn't changed so much as the characters' motivations - once you make Guy ready to walk away from his guitar(!), the entire thing is undermined, and she barely changes at all (performing 'The Hill' umprompted is the worst part. It's supposed to be a moment of reluctant revelation because Guy asks her for a song, and she hesitantly chooses one about how she's not well matched with her husband. Done without prompting, it just becomes one more song).

I don't care that they changed things. I care that they changed things that made the film meaningful. Adding in speeches about following your dreams and how much someone means to you doesn't make the show any more meaningful, it just strips it of the delicacy that made it unusual. And while the 'I love you' subtitle is cute, I had no clue until I read it on Wiki this week that she even says that in the film, and it never really mattered. The more literal translation of 'It's you I love' is much better phrasing too in in the context of the conversation, but hey. I hesitate to put it quite like this, but it feels... Americanised? Overly sentimental, certainly. And you have to acknowledge that there's a huge jump from moving from Dublin to London, and Dublin to New York, and it makes the end feel much more final. It does kind of leave you with the feeling that, could they have gotten away with it, they would have had a go at rewriting the ending. Really, after all those bellowed declarations of affection, I wouldn't have been surprised one little bit.

Cloud Atlas, if the spirit moves you

See, it's barely even worth writing about Cloud Atlas, if only because the only thing you can say relates to how it made you feel. And it either makes you feel, or it makes you feel like you can't believe you just wasted the last three hours sitting though such a monumental dose of batshit crazy. I will say I've happily sat through it twice and wasn't bored for a minute. In a three+ hour film, that's kind of incredible. It's also a film that I can't actually recommend to a single person I know in good conscience, because seriously, who else has my kind of tolerance for massive amounts of doomed romance (and this adaptation is crazy about the romances), shedloads of gore and Matrix-level action SF. The Cavendish and Luisa Rey parts are pretty easy to sell, but the rest of it... True-true, as the Hawaii sequence would have it. I kind of want to see it again.

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Dredd. Just because.

Obviously I do watch other films. Like, somewhere around 60 films at the cinema last year (that's not even counting multiple trips to see Avengers. And Dredd. And TDKR) because I splurged on LFF quite a lot. So the fact that I'm still going on about Dredd after nearly six months is, um, significant?

See, it even puzzles me... I really shouldn't be the target audience for this film. And yet I apparently am, given that I adore nasty, gory ultraviolent films where the main characters are relatively bad people trying to survive ('bad' is necessarily relative, but all the protagonists have at least attempted to kill several people) but what they're trying to survive is even worse; and there's a central couple who are hyper-competent people but it's really not about them getting together at the end. And they tend to have lots of guns. Going by this standard, I am expecting great things of Pacific Rim, which also features giant freaking robots. It took me a while to work out that Dredd actually falls into the same mini-niche as Pitch Black[Spoiler (click to open)](even if Fry doesn't quite make it; she also doesn't quite manage to kill the rest of the cast in the crash either though),and one of my all-time favourites, Predators.

[Predators]Yeah, I really shouldn't be the target audience for that one either, but now I've actually lost count of the number of times I've happily watched Adrian Brody and Alice Braga running around a jungle expertly shooting nasty aliens. Predator is massively fucked up and I kind of adore it (you do of course have to ignore the massively reductive racial stereotyping and general ickiness of most the characters, but it features some wonderfully odd conversations along with being pacey and snappy, deliciously horrific and OMG Lawrence Fishburn's fantastically nutty cameo is worth watching for alone).  Royce wouldn't be interesting without Isabel acting as a counterbalance, and Isabel's just too freaking non-psychopathic to survive there quite so long without him to watch her back. So there.

[Pitch Black]Pitch Black even has three interesting female characters heading it up. Ok, two of them get killed off to prove various points, and the third one is a kid who spends most of the film pretending to be a boy and idolising a psychopathic serial-killer, but hey - one of them is also Aussie Aeryn Sun! Obviously Vin Diesel completely steals practically every scene he pops up in, because he's a sneaky bastard like that, but he wouldn't have nearly as much traction if he wasn't up against Radha Mitchell's conflicted pilot. I mean, she starts the film by trying to kill the entire rest of the cast in a vain attempt to survive the crash she's piloting - and nearly succeeds. And then has to spend the rest of the film acting like she hasn't tried to sacrifice everyone to save herself, right before the delightful hammerhead dinosaur things decide to finish the job for her, and then she has to freaking save them all over again.

The notions of 'killer' and 'coward' are bandied around an awful lot between Fry and Johns and Riddick, before the whole junkie thing comes out - and yes, Fry is a coward who then proceeds to make amends for the entire rest of the film and save everybody else several times over. I mean, she could have been allowed to survive it, but it wouldn't have been nearly as powerful (that ending was in my head for weeks afterwards).  Johns is just, well, a chicken-shit junkie red-herring designed to distract us from Riddick's innate awesomeness by being all blond and heroic-looking and initially nice to Fry. And Riddick... well. He spends the first half of the film apparently finding cool places to pose freakily in the background, and then the rest of the time being an unbearably cool smart-arse. His redemption is pretty heavily won at the cost of Fry (WE DO NOT SPEAK OF THE SEQUEL) but it's Fry's choice, this time, to not make somebody else a sacrifice to keep herself safe (even if they are Riddick). She doesn't necessarily throw herself in the path of the monster as such, but she does go out knowing it's a risk - and it's mostly because Riddick tried to make her choose to leave the others behind already, and she nearly caved (and then they mud-wrestled).

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dessert spoons

London Film Festival 2012: Overdoing it a tad.

I've done the LFF for quite a few years now (I'm thinking since 2004, because Mirrormask was the first one I saw, and that would tie in nicely to seeing a clip beforehand at SDCC in 2004. I think.).  And I've been building up the number of films I see each year, around and about actually trying to work for a living dammit.

But this year - hell, this year I didn't really have anything else going on at all.  Empire's Moviecon stuttered out of existence with absolutely no announcements (because last year was a case of Expansion: UR Doing It Wrong. And this year apparently we had the Olympics or something, which are obviously kryptonite to film cons? Who knows.). And obviously, having given up on SDCC completely, *sob*, it's not even worth planning a repeat trip to SD anytime soon.  I'm studiously ignoring the fact that I seem to be planning a trip to Atlanta next year that may miraculously coincide with Dragoncon, but there you go.

The obvious solution was to focus all my time and energy and non-existent money on blitzing LFF like a mad thing. So.. I kinda did. As in, 29 films in 11 days. Some days there were four films, some days there was one. Most days there was also work. Hell yeah.
(There may be actual reviews, when I have my brain back/some more sleep).

For now, there is Stuff I Have Learnt:
  • Films with cute dogs are generally better if the dog has its own Twitter account (Boonee in Starlet, the Shih Tzu in Seven Psychopaths. Let's not talk about The Wall. Because I may start with the nihilistic sobbing all over again.)

[much of the muchness]
  • Films with threesomes are generally godawful pretentious wastes of time. Sadly they were also my opening and closing films (Dead Europe, Kiss of the Damned.). Next year I really, really have to find something more reliably enjoyable to end on, like, say Seven Psychopaths.
  • The films you nearly knock off the list because they look a bit odd/generally meh... will probably turn out to be some of the most enjoyable films of the festival, if not the entire year (Starlet, Aiyyaa), or the most interesting (Lore, The Patience Stone). Or I may totally forget that it's by the same director as something I adored previously and not even book a ticket until the last minute when I finally cotton on (White Elephant). All amazing stuff.
  • In fact, anything you make a massive effort to see will sadly not be worth it (Hyde Park on Hudson. AKA, the Mayor's Gala, minus said Mayor. A gigantic, expensive waste of time for which one tiny bar of Green &Blacks, Icelandic mineral water and 2 minutes of Bill Murray in person were really not fair compense for no Boris and an irritating film. Ahem.)
  • Other things I was desperate to see (Painless, Helpless) were watchable but slightly disappointing.   Robot & Frank started well but I had such problems with the ending and how it treated dementia that it soured everything else.
      Beasts of the Southern Wild was beautifully shot, amazing cast, had an incredible soundtrack with some lovely moments, and had me sobbing by the end - but was never quite going to live up to the hype somehow.  Mainly, it didn't all quite hang together, and I don't feel the need to rewatch, which is my marker of a truly great film.  Seeing Hushpuppy (sorry, Quevenzahe?) on stage afterwards was magic enough though - that girl is absolute gold dust.
  • The only one that was on my top watch list that actually earned its place was the truly amazing Imagine. Which hasn't been picked up by a distributor, but I would watch again in a heartbeat, and make everyone I know watch it too. Fantastic stuff.
  • It was also a good year for films that were a little bit Amelie -  Aiyyaa, most deliciously, sets out to be a Bollywood Amelie (along with a billion other things), stealing great chunks of the soundtrack (and moped rides), and succeeds brilliantly, but also Imagine, in a far more unlikely way.  It had the same mentality; the 'times are hard for dreamers'; small pleasures, and whether it does more harm to try and make the world a more liveable place by denying reality to some extent. The fantasy, spliced with a great deal more tension and trip hazards....
  •  There are some truly awesome cinemas in London which I didn't even know existed - number one being the Hackney Picturehouse: a bar entirely redecorated with a white wrap in honour of Beasts of the Southern Wild, complete with quotes, auroch 'cave paintings' and a large wooden sign saying 'The Bathtub'. So much love.
    They also stock proper gourmet popcorn, ice lollies and icecream along with the usual rubbish (not cheap, obviously but then my salted banoffee Urban Ice and salted caramel popcorn were instead of dinner so that totally doesn't count), and their main screen is a smaller scale equivalent of the Sky Screen at the O2 - for an arthouse cinema it's huge and has incredibly steep seating so you're not constantly peering through someone's bouffant hairdo while developing DVT (like, say, the hellhole that is Odeon West End).  Sadly it's a 40 minute bus ride from work (no tube stop!), whereas the West End is 15 min by tube, so hard to justify making the trip...
    The Everyman cinemas - the Islington Screen on the Green this time - are also brilliant (armchairs with drink tables and a full bar at the back of the screen? Don't mind if I do.) if rather easy to fall asleep in (during Silence) but equally handy to nip out to the loo directly from the screen if you're in the midst of a major hysterical sobbing fit  and want to clean up a bit (um, The Wall).
    Brixton's Ritzy is also rather nice - hell, Brixton was actually quite nice, considering I'd never been there before. Although on a day when the only tube line running there was closed, it took a bit of ingenuity to actually make the trip.
  • So far as my hit rate goes - there were far more perfectly pleasant if unmemorable films than there was stuff I actually hated.  Films you adore are always going to be few and far between, and, um, you have to kiss a lot of frogs. Also, sacrifices had to be made in terms of time/money, and stuff that was about to come out in the next month was more justifiable to do on general release - I wanted a festival screening of Beasts for the atmosphere and Q&A, basically.  I still feel I'm going to love Argo when I do finally see it, but it can wait. Rust & Bone I'm not sure, but it's getting a wide enough release. 

dr who

Oh Ponds...

I don't even know... On one level there was major, major heartrendingness, and yet I never actually tipped over into crying.  
[exceedingly very spoilery ramblings for DW 7x5]
Well, ok, this is because River was still around, and that was such a rare bird this season that it actually outweighed the Ponds being... Angeled? So I cared, I really did, but we've been Ponded out for the past few eps, and seriously River-deprived, and it's not really any surprise where my heart really lies, so...

As much as I love Amy and Rory, we've had a really, really long time to get used to the idea of seeing them go.  Rory's died SO MANY TIMES already, and he's always come back. He did this time, too, and so did Amy, and (oh, nice Time Traveller's Wife shout-out in reverse there Moff, when elderly Rory sees young Amy again after waiting all this time.... With young!Rory standing right next to her for a twist. Very clever). So there was that whole lack of tension right there. Amy has to choose Rory every time, that's been the entire theme for this bit of the series, and that's fine, but it felt a bit like it was lacking a sense of... consequences?

There's not so much sense of the life the Ponds are giving up, yet again - aside from Brian, it goes without saying - because every other part of their lives has been dismissed and airbrushed out systematically everytime it's featured.  Amy's parents haven't even been mentioned I think since the wedding, Rory's mum has never had any screentime at all, and there's no 'say goodbye to them from me' from Amy at all in her little farewell. Parents do matter at some point, surely; even if you're not talking to them for some reason at the time, it tends to prey on your mind.  We do get River being her best self - which is to say, the Doctor's alternate; knowing when to let go while he is too busy acting out to even remember what she's losing. And has lost. And what Amy has already lost in her, and can't lose Rory too? Gah. Am missing the ironically slightly more hopeful days of A Good Man Goes To War right now...

Also: my brain was a little busy ticking over wondering why, even if the TARDIS can't go back to the exact time and space of where they were taken back to in NY 1938, then... what exactly is stopping the Doctor going slightly further away or later (like ANY POINT in the next 60 years?!) and just making his way there without the TARDIS? And obviously they aren't now stuck in the same room for all that time like Rory was threatened with? So what's stopping them travelling somewhere else and meeting up with him? I mean, Day of the Moon still happened in this reality didn't it; they were all running around the  States in the 60s, including NY surely? And how does River get the book to Amy anyhow - why is it only the Doctor they can never see again?! I get that there's a paradox involved but I can't figure out what the hell the parameters of the blasted paradox are, and it makes things so damn confusifying.

On a slightly less mindmelting note... It was so nice to have a Moffatt ep again, and to finally see the actual emotional follow-up to Wedding that we'd been waiting the past year for. There was all the angsting, and the squee and the gutwrenching sadness that this is never even going to work properly for any length of linear time because as River succinctly puts it, the TARDIS can't handle more than one psychopath at a time.  Bless her, but she hasn't really called him that to his face that I remember?

Oh, and the wrist. *dies*
More happily, the preening. And the many many times they keep addressing each other as husband and wife after the rest of the eps (minus one teeny tiny Moffatt mention of being married in the prequel to Asylum) where frankly River didn't even seem to exist (which she bizarrely apparently doesn't for any of the other DW writers.). There was a lot of good stuff, and a sense of everything being so inherently broken at the end that it can never be fixed.  It's not supposed to be fixed. Oh, and River's little telling heartbreaking comments which suggest she's been running this path with him for the longest time, and that as this is one of their rare linear meetings, you get to see the whole range of what she does to manage it. Everything she has to do - up to and including snapping her own wrist, because River has always been a hardcore BAMF - and keep from him. They also confirm she knows him better than Amy does; or at least she knows him more honestly.  

And the whole thing with the regeneration energy, which she reacted really, really badly to - because he's putting himself at risk to do it, and everything she does is to protect him (from himself or anyone else?). And they do seem to fit together in a slightly unhealthy way at this point, because he's acting out all over the place. And she's totally enabling it. River is always so terrified of losing him somehow, and we already know how ironic that is, even though she can't bring herself to stay with him even when it's made so important that he not be alone. 

We got some answers dammit. We got the definitive as to why River just doesn't take over as companion - because she honestly believes it's unwise - and what happened to her murder conviction when her supposed victim erased himself from history (harking back to the elusive pardon that drove her to the last Angels two-parter; part of a season that was all about erasing people from history in general). And she's the Professor she is in the Library episodes now; we're heading for the end-game. (although, Moffatt has fucked with the time line and the re-sets and the do-overs so very very badly for the last 10 eps that I can't even keep up. We still have an entire two centuries missing in the middle somewhere, and we know they definitely happened for the Doctor and somewhat for River - although at what point in her timeline it's impossible to say. Theoretically - if you go by the 'everything is in reverse!' claim, they should have happened prior to Wedding for her. Which has proved to be bullshit, as we very obviously saw the older River tonight, who genuinely did look like she'd been running with him on and off all this time, and it was wearing her down, and she was scared that it was freaking him out because Eleven has such a young face *sob*  (although as usual Matt Smith somehow makes him the definition of an old soul every second he's on screen)

Also: the slow-mo run back to grab the fateful last page that was a direct and deliberate re-enactment of Ten running for the sonic after River's death. Although running back to upload River actually had a point, and theoretically achieved something. All Eleven got from Amy was a note making everything fluffy (and there are lots of ways to leave notes through the years, if you think about it. Also ways to get another copy of a book. It wasn't necessarily the only chance to do that.). Let's just say, it made everything OK, which wasn't what happened with Rose, and Donna. Rose's original exit was the only one out of the lot that had me in tears, oddly enough, because it was so, so bleak.