Archives for August 2009

What the? – Have fun on the site!

The link to the trailer has been disabled…here is the link

John Hughes Reflection

I was rather saddened to hear about the passing of John Hughes last week. Although the films he was associated with are part of the 1980’s cultural landscape, my appreciation of them as cultural artifacts was not reflected until I was a little older. Part of it had to do with my not “getting” a lot of the angst that these kids who appeared in my mind to have things kinda going well for them were expressing. It is only now as an adult do I see that there was an undercurrent and parallel from what these teens encountered in their suburban paradises that the youth in the 1950s experienced. At that time, films like The Wild One or Rebel Without a Cause were the order of expressing a dissatisfaction and quite rebellion that lead to the turbulent upheaval of the 1960s. I was reminded of this when I just a couple of days before his untimely death watching The Breakfast Club.  And who can forget the”I wish playing hooky was just like that” romp which is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

In short, Hughes’ films in their own way did reflect what the “Me Generation” hath wrought upon the world.

Here are links that are more articulate that I can be about the impact that John Hughes had on art and society in reflecting the society that he saw.,0,1801948.story

A Good Piece in the Guardian


Julie and Julia (Coming out August 7)

Julie and Julia book cover.

Julie and Julia book cover.

Julie and Julia is directed by Nora Ephron and tells the “parallel” stories of women who find purpose through food. I am personally looking forward to the latest by Ms. Ephron. The link is a New York Times multimedia link to a lovely photo gallery with production stills from this and other movies in the Nora Ephron filmography.

"But in the book" … and more musings from book snobs

My most recent inspiration to read a novel that is being presented on the silver screen has been The Time Traveler’s Wife. For as long as I can remember, there have been movies that inspired me to read source material. I can recall that after seeing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I ran out purchased all of the books and over the course of the next two months read each book in the series.

I fully appreciate that films cannot cover all the material in detail found in the source text(s). I am perfectly okay with that.  This leads to the point of my post. The expectation that some readers have when a favorite novel of theirs in adapted for the screen just downright boggles the mind. Nowhere is this observation more apparent than in one of my current favorite TV shows, True Blood). The discussion boards for this show are littered with folks going on and on about “how in the books, this or that happened,” or “the show is SO NOT like the books,” etc. You get the point.

In one respect I guess I generally get where the text fans are coming from. After reading something that you find yourself totally engrossed in, you bubble with the excited of actually seeing it on the screen, only to think afterward, “Well that isn’t exactly how I pictured it.” That leads to the obvious in my opinion. THAT is the very point of reading – you create the movie in your imagination. There is no way that any movie can match the human imagination. By our very nature there are details and biases we interpret from our reading. That is what makes reading and discussing with others such a wonderful social enterprise.

Take Confessions of a Shopaholic for instance. Prior to watching the film, I knew that many of the elements that made the film so much fun to watch had been altered. Moreover, I refused to let that alter what I had imagined when I first read the books.

So going into watching the film, I figured that my having read the books served of little use, except I knew the story arc. Sure enough, that is exactly what I experienced. This is perfectly fine. Granted, for me the movie served as “passable” entertainment. I probably could do without watching the film again for many reasons, least of which was the adaptation from the source material.

On the other hand, take the following two Jane Austen adaptations from 1995: Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. I love these both novels and the film versions of these works, although I was not a fan of the choices made in the casting of some of the key roles. Given that, I was deterred from appreciating both media as forms of art.

Now back to The Time Traveler’s Wife. One thing that interests me is that after reading the film and watching the trailer, I think they did a good job of casting, especially with Eric Bana as Henry. Will that be enough for me to enjoy the film? Probably not. The most I hope for is a well-made movie based on a story that I am familiar with due to my reading the source. Nothing more. If I get more, that will be the icing on the cake.

For another, articulate take on this dilemma, read this article on the Saint Louis Today.

A Straightforward, Nuts and Bolts Western

This weekend I was reminded about what a film, simple film Appaloosa is. The plot synopsis is simple enough – two lawmen (Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris) are protecting a town from the corrupting force of a rancher (Jeremy Irons). Add a little spice in the female form of Renee Zellwegger and you have a motion picture that instantly reminds me of Saturday morning Westerns, that were predominantly produced during the 1940’s and 1950’s.  Of course the elements and violence have been updated to suit modern sensibilities, but does not distract the viewer from the core plot. Appaloosa‘s primary themes were of friendship, love and sacrifice. The presentation is very unfussy and beautifully shot.

Generally I do not consider myself a great fan of westerns; in fact many of the westerns that I like (The Ox Bow Incident [1943], Unforgiven [1992], The Searchers [1956] and High Noon [1952]), use the western setting as a storytelling device to inform its audience of aspects of the human condition. I suspect if I am to study the genre at length, I would find many more examples of “Western as Allegory” than I initially envisioned.

Appaloosa is currently running on all the HBO Channels.