Sunday Morning: Stardust

Netflix has an embarrassment of riches. Seriously, if you’ve locked yourself in the basement and have a handful of hours to yourself, Netflix has so very much stuff that it’d be possible to spend an hour just flipping around and trying to find the thing that would be better than the other five things you’re currently being tempted by and cant choose between.

Well, I submit to you that you should spend an evening, one of these evenings, with a little gem called “Stardust”.

It came out back in 2007 (holy cow, a dozen years ago) and is based on a story by Neil Gaiman. (The movie isn’t as good as the book, of course… but sometimes you want to lock yourself in the basement and watch a film rather than read a book.)

The basic conceit is this: You’ve got a young man who is trying to woo the village beauty. A star falls into a nearby field and the young man promises to go find this star and bring it back to win the village beauty’s heart. The nearby field is actually a magical land, the star is actually a young woman, and the young man is on a collision course with a handful of brothers who want something the young woman has and a handful of witches who want the young woman’s heart (not in the romantic sense, in the meat sense) and there are a ton of secrets to be revealed along the way. (If it matters to you whether the story is a kissing story, well… you should be warned: there is kissing.)

The male protagonist is Charlie Cox (remember back when Daredevil came out, we said that Daredevil stars the guy from Stardust? Well, if you don’t, Stardust stars the guy from Daredevil), the female protagonist is Claire Danes, and that just scratches the surface. Seriously, if you don’t know anything about the film, you’ll watch it and crow “I DIDN’T KNOW THAT PERSON WAS IN THIS TOO!” at least three or four times.

It’s a delightful couple of hours and it makes callbacks to a handful of other stories (if that’s your thing) and there are a lot worse ways to spend an evening. If you’ve got Netflix, you should spend an evening with your main squeeze, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and this little gem of a movie. (Heck, it’d even be okay if your main squeeze is out of pocket.)

So… what are you reading and/or watching?

(Featured image is “I love watching shooting stars” by Claudia Dea. Used under a creative commons license.)


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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21 thoughts on “Sunday Morning: Stardust

  1. I bought a Time for Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor yesterday.

    “Life is too short for ‘difficult’ books” is something I overheard recently and I’ve been pondering it since. It is a statement that I disagree with very strongly but I can also find no way to start engaging in a counter. There is such a wall around the statement that debating it is probably futile.

    But I’ve also started wondering if there is something about the Internet and/or this modern era that encourages a great big love of sentimentality. I find that a lot of the viral stuff that gets passed around the Internet is so sugary that it might as well cause diabetes. The other half is supposed to be devestating but isn’t. The recent sugar-diabetes du jour of the Internet was a series of tweets between a parent and the Dublin bus company. The parent allegedly had a three year old that wanted to know how the Dublin transit authority picked which buses sleep in the depo and which buses sleep in the yard. The Dublin Transit Co apparently tweeted back that all the buses were loved equally and alternate between the depot and the yard. Buses that sleep in the yard are given cocoa to keep warm.

    This went around the Internet like wildfire with phrases like “I needed this today.” And my reaction to this is to just roll my eyes. I don’t get the aww reaction here in fact I find the whole tweet a little too mawkish. Maybe I am just kind of cold.

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    • There is no debating someone that states life is too short for difficult books, because the statement is not an honest invitation to an engaged discussion. It’s an excuse spat out by someone that realises that they are incapable of enjoying the sort of books that they think they should be able to, given their intelligence. So rather than lower their estimation of their intelligence, or admit their laziness, they throw out some half-baked statement about what a waste of time difficult books are. It’s like being dumped by your bestest school friend and then shouting over the play ground ‘well I never liked being your friend any ways!’.

      I get being too lazy to read difficult books. I belong to book club of quite intelligent people, but we all have jobs and small children and homes and elderly parents to take care of, and we’ve all realised that we neither have the uninterrupted time available to read longer books nor the energy to engage with really difficult ones. Both long and difficult? Just. not. going. to. happen. So most of our books are of the ‘enjoyable read with some stimulation to the brain’ variety and we know that one day we’ll return to the Umberto Ecos. But we’re honest about it.

      As for the big love of sentimentality… I get it. There is so much ugly in the world into which the 24/7 news cycle and social media relentlessly bombardes us without possibility of escape, that we just crave these little moments of positivity and prettiness, even at risk of diabetes.

      Yesterday I was standing in a parking lot to pay my R10 parking fee. I only had coins and R100 notes, but the station would only accept notes in R10, R20 and R50 denominations. Still frustratedly fiddling around thinking where I was going to walk to to get change, the stranger next to me sticks a R10 note in the machine and hands me my payed-for parking ticket. I insisted on repaying him with my coins, but he had no such expectation. I mean, this is only R10, can’t even buy a chocolate bar with it, but living in a world where small-minded confrontation and the inability to compromise just the smallest little bit seems to have become the norm, it was just such a beautiful little gesture – it’s been feeding my heart like water poured on a neglected, dry pot plant. I’ll be savouring that incident the entire week.

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      • “As for the big love of sentimentality… I get it. There is so much ugly in the world into which the 24/7 news cycle and social media relentlessly bombardes us without possibility of escape, that we just crave these little moments of positivity and prettiness, even at risk of diabetes.”

        I don’t think of it as positive or pretty. I think these are mawkish and the coziness is fake. A Degas painting is pretty. A tweet about buses being given cocoa is glurge. The world is beautiful because it is gray, dark, nuanced, and complex. We should embrace that with full fire, not retreat to tweets about buses and cocoa.

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    • That is one of the best travel books ever written. Also, Leigh Fermors wartime exploits are fascinating in their own right, covered in Ill Met By Moonlight.

      Life is too short to read bad books, difficult or not. Blood Meridian is one of the most challenging books ever written, with layers upon layers of meaning and wordplay and pathos, written in dense prose. Bad it is not, and worth every minute.

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    • There are too many poorly defined words here.

      Is life too short to spend your leisure time doing things you don’t enjoy? Heck, yes it is!

      If I told someone that they really needed to play this JRPG that got really good about 25 hours in, if you avoided side-quests, should they be obliged to play it? Heck no, I say.

      That said, if everyone in your circle has read Ulysses? You should probably read Ulysses. Yeah, some parts of it are a slog. But some of those sloggy parts will come back to you when you’re just sitting by yourself enjoying a lemonade on the porch and you’ll stand up and yell something like “HOLY CRAP” and you’ll be insufferable talking about how awesome Ulysses is for the next two months.

      That “holy crap moment”? That moment is worth the slog.

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  2. Rereading White Jazz, by James Elroy. As I grow older, I am truly starting to see the fullness of his philosophy, Terrifying in its completeness, and I certainly don’t agree with it, but powerful.

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  3. I juist finished Carl Hiaasen’s latest Florida man caper, “Razor Girl”. Fun as always, though the Duck Dynasty parody was a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Next up: Le Carre’s A Legacy of Spies, which Wikipedia calls “both a prequel and sequel to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. ”

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    • Ooohh, I haven’t read one of his in a while, might need to check it out. Then again, it might have the same problems that Perfidia has. Namely, those things that get revealed; Elizabeth Shorts father, Kays wartime past, etc. would have come up in the original novel. I only read a third or so of that it was so silly. The rest was interesting and I should get back to it.

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  4. My daughter and I just watched Stardust on Friday night. It was a re-watch for me, a first watch for her. She needed a short bedtime read of something not scary after watching the movie.

    I really like both the movie and the book. I prefer the book, but I almost always prefer the book. In fact it might be ‘always’ not ‘almost always’ – I don’t know that I can think of any movie-of-a-book that I prefer over the book itself.

    The first time I watched Stardust, my only beef with it was the use of green flame effects to telegraph “Here be magic!” Like, it’s not sufficiently obvious that there was magic when a witch transforms a teenage boy into a goat, they’ve got to CG in a bunch of green flames to spell it out for us.

    The second time through, I was mostly over that I guess…

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