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March 8, 2009

Twilight: The Movie

My long-awaited review of this much-anticipated mushy romance with sparkly vampires and Cedric Diggory.

It's been a few months now since I saw this thing, and I've hesitated several times as to whether I should actually write/publish this. That being said, I should be doing homework and since I don't want to, I'm forcing myself to finish this review of this awful film. (I'm so harsh. Right off the bat. You might think I'm too judgmental. If you liked the books/movies, leave now or forever hold your peace.)

I never thought it would be possible to make Bella an even more boring character than she already was in the books, but somehow the filmmakers outdid themselves and made her worse than Stephenie Meyer could have ever dreamed. Kristin Stewart (I think that's her name, don't know, don't care) was in some sort of zombie trance the entire movie. Also, I thought Bella was supposed to be "plain" (and yet at least 17 guys ask her out during the course of the story…) but KS is not at all plain. She is boring however, and slightly annoying.

And then we have Edward: perfect, sexy, and a vampire. Oh what a wonderful erotic novel this would make, with a better writer and some sex scenes. I'm just saying. I still don't understand how these teen girls are all in love and obsessed with Edward. He is borderline abusive, conceited, and in vampire terms, not that cool. In the film, all of these things are even more apparent than in that awful book. (I will never forgive my sister for making me read it). I think he even physically grabs Bella a few times, especially in that weird Hungry-Like-the-Wolf-by-Duran-Duran scene in the forest. That seemed very out of place to me. I expected Merry and Pippin to walk out of the trees looking for Longbottom weed (nerd alert).

I don't even think I can go on. The vampire family looked bored the whole time (the fans will say, "That's how they're described in the book, that's how they're supposed to be!"), the humor was sporadic and out of touch ("Sex. Money. Sex. Money. Cat." The only mention of the word sex in a film about vampires. I've said it before and I'll say it again, vampires are a metaphor for sex. Vampire teeth—>Sleeping virgins—>penetration—>exchange of bodily fluids—>a disease following. It all makes so much sense. You can't have vampires without sex. Impossible. Look at Anne Rice, if you want some good vampire fiction. Nerd alert again.)

And finally, I get to the PSA about teaching young girls about the wrong kinds of values. I know this review has been sporadic at best and kind of a mixture of book and movie, but no one reads this so I really don't care. But all I want to say is that this series is so anti-feminist as to make me physically sick. Bella has no voice, she only lives to "belong" to Edward, who is a terrible/abusive boyfriend, and kind of a controlling narcissistic prick. Bella doesn't make any of her own decisions, she's like a small child who is lost and can't take care of herself. Not a good image for girls to strive for. I hope someone writes something better to replace this awful fad.

March 2, 2009

You're a good man, Harry Potter

I'm not trying to be mean to Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling or the legions of fans involved in the entire ordeal. I consider myself one of those fans. I was way into Harry Potter at the time. I went to all the book releases. I had a shirt that said "Hogwarts Quidditch." I've read each book more than 3 times. In fact, much more than three times, but I don't want to say how many because it's embarrassing.

But since most of what I write is about things I dislike, I thought I would mix it up and write about things I…dislike. But things that I dislike about something that I generally love. So it's different.

The thing that bothers me the most about Harry Potter is that, while it is creative and revitalized the love of reading for many children and integrated old mythologies and legends into a coherent story format and many twists and turns that brought joy and peace to the world, sometimes it's just so damn predictable. Before you hate me forever and punch a hole through your computer screen in frustration and angst, hear me out.

Wasn't it obvious that Harry was going to defeat Voldemort? Okay, bad example- that had to happen or the world would implode and the fans would have had J.K.'s head on a stick. But here's the main problem with that ending: what does Harry have to live for now? Nothing. His life's work is over at the age of 17. He's like a child actor. I think that in the "Nineteen years later…" part, Rowling should have had him be a strung-out has-been hanging out with Corey Feldman, maybe having his own reality show and running out of the money he earned from being a spokes person for butterbeer. That's the Harry Potter I want to read about.

Also, did he really have to name his kids James, Lily, and "Albus Severus?" Could he honestly not think of any better names? It's so cliche to name your kids after your parents. (Although, thank God he didn't name them Jamarthur or Mollily, which I'm sure Stephenie Meyer would have named her characters' children. I haven't read the fourth one, but I've heard about good ol' Renesme Carlie, or whatever the hell that abortion of a name is.) I've read fanfiction (as much as I hate to admit it) and one of the main things about the "seventh book" writers is that they ALWAYS name Harry's kids after dead characters. Yes, Harry, we get it. Your parents died. But isn't it kind of morbid to name your children after dead people who you really never even knew? I'm just saying.

Also, was Harry required to become a Christ-figure? He died, was resurrected, gave his life for mankind, was the savior. This could be applied to both Jesus and Harry Potter, as blasphemous as it may sound. And in the final epic battle (fuck you if you haven't read it yet, where have you been? I will give you no spoiler alert, because you do not deserve one) Harry just seemed so confident for some reason, even though the entire time he was kind of a whiny little baby. And then he suddenly turns all Clint Eastwood on us and toys around with Voldemort. The whole appeal about Harry was that he was an everyman, he didn't have anything all that special about him. He had insecurities, he was just as scared and confused as the rest of us are during our teen years. But I guess death and resurrection makes you much more confident in yourself. It's like a movie montage of sports training, only more painful and disturbing. Well maybe not more disturbing.

I might have to continue my complaints at another time, because this just turned out to be about only the seventh book. But don't fear, dear reader, I have complaints about each book in turn. Maybe I'll just work my way backwards, toward the inconsistencies of book one. Please don't kill me, mob of HP FANATICS. I will worship your goddess, J.K., if you spare my life. All hail, etc.

February 25, 2009

Nothing

I haven't written in a long time. I haven't had anything to say. I still don't really.

I was going to publish a review of the Twilight movie, but I didn't want to piss off any fangirls (re: my sister.) I really can't think of what I want to say.

All I've been trying to do lately is sit down and read- for fun. I either don't have the time normally or I'm so tired from reading for class that I would be insane to read on my own time. The words all jumble together and don't make any sense. I try to make the time before I go to bed or instead of going on my computer, but the past few days I have actually fallen asleep in my computer chair. Like a cat.

I made a list of books I want to read, which keeps getting bigger everyday. I don't think I'll ever finish the list, but my few of heaven is a large library with eternity to read whatever I want. So hopefully God will take pity on me and let me read all the books on my list in heaven.

I'm reading three books right now. This isn't a feat or anything, one is a book on tape, one is a play for French class, and one is just a regular old novel. The audiobook is Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. It's interesting but a bit repetitive. It's difficult to listen to it on the way to class because either the busses drown out the voice on my ipod or I feel like the narrator is repeating the same sentence over and over again. I'm complaining, but I do like the book overall. (5 discs left, 5 discs left…)

The play for French class is Le Portrait de Dora by Helene Cixous. It's pretty standard, but I'm surprised about the amount of weird sex scenes. Although I guess Freud is one of the main characters.

The novel I'm reading is The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I may sound like a sci-fi nerd for reading something with both the word martian and chronicles, but it's Bradbury, so get over yourself. Bradbury's style is like lyrics to me, I guess. He describes things so differently than any other author I've read. He describes how things feel rather than how they look, he mixes the senses and creates something else. It's nice to see an author who clearly loves what he does and loves his characters. He's one of my favorite authors. If I had the time to just sit around and read him all day, I would. But I don't have that time, I'm wasting it on writing this blog.

December 1, 2008

The Ruins (Book)

I just finished this book last night, and I have to say, I didn't expect it to scare me the way it did.  I had about 200 pages left when I picked it up at 11. I couldn't go to bed without finishing it, I had to know what happened.

I've never seen the movie, and I've heard it's terrible.  I got the book for free when the book store I worked at shut down.  I almost didn't grab it, but I'm glad I did.

I've tried to explain the plot to about ten different people, and every time I say it, I get strange looks and raised eyebrows.  Yes, it's about a plant that kills people.  But somehow, the author makes it work.  The vines that are trying to kill these college students are terrifying, for some reason I still haven't figured out.  When I fell asleep last night I was afraid one of them would crawl out from under my bed and smother me in my sleep.  It's a bleak story, and it will stay with you.  I read it with the lights on and my feet were not touching the floor.  That's one thing I always do when I watch scary movies or read scary books.  I lift up my feet so they aren't touching the ground; you never know what monsters could be hiding under your bed, waiting for you to be scared already so their jobs are half over.

The best thing about this book is the fact that you can see the ending a mile away, but you want to see how the characters get there, you want to see how that ending is possible.  And some of it just made me sad.  There isn't a whole lot of room for character development in a story like this, but even so, you get to know and love/hate the characters.  When Amy died, I was shocked (yes, I ruined it.  Go cry to your mom.) and appalled.  I really thought she would survive.  And the brutal way she dies is awful, it reminded me of the semi-rant I went on during a past review where I complained that good horror has an out, by which I mean there has to be hope, it can't just be death-death-death.  But here, that works.  I couldn't see it any other way.  If it weren't like that, there would be no horror in it.  It makes me think about what I would do in that situation, which character I would be most like.  I've decided on either Amy or Stacy, not just because they are females, but because of the circumstances that kill them off (oops, spoiler alert).  I must admit that I don't think I would have used the same method of death as Stacy chose (I would have had the Mayans shoot me, with the gun though, not the arrows), but I definitely would have taken the same conclusion.  I wouldn't have been as strong as Jeff, as stupid as Eric, or as calm as Mathias.  And I sure as hell wouldn't have been as ridiculous as Pablo.  Why the hell would you volunteer to go down into an abandoned mineshaft with a thin rope holding you from your death?  Shame on you, Pablo.

The other thing that really bothers me, and I realize it's fiction, these people were not real, but it bothers me that they were so young.  They were all going to grad school or med school or whatever future they had planned out.  And they didn't get to realize it. That just makes me sad, because of course that happens all the time.  Not the evil vine thing, but the young death thing.  They'll never again feel love or happiness or anything really.  I would have used those tequila bottles to burn down the whole forest.  But that's just me.  If I have to die at the hands of a stupid vine, you bet your ass I'm not going down without a fight.

November 25, 2008

South Park "The Ungroundable": Twilight in Review

I just wanted to give a short reasoning behind why I completely agreed with what this episode had to say about vampire kids, Twilight, and Hot Topic.  Lately I think the boys from South Park have been stalking my sister and finding out what she loves most in life, so that they can make fun of it.  She loves Twilight, she loves High School Musical, she loves Guitar Hero, she loves Hot Topic.  I think it's funny, personally, when the show she's loved for years has turned on her and started destroying everything she loves in life.  It's not quite that dramatic, but it's still pretty funny.

The funny thing about an episode like this is that it's making fun of people who follow these trends while at the same time realizing that most things are a trend and there's no stopping that.  We just seem to be living during a particularly stupid and annoying trend.  My favorite quote from the episode was probably where they said that anyone who believes he or she is actually a real vampire is an idiot, something like that.  And then the one Goth kid flips everyone off.

I've been saying for months (two posts, but who's counting?) that Twilight is light but trashy, heavy on the sappy love, syrupy sweet, and mostly annoying.  I'm glad this view has come to light through one of my favorite shows.  Let me clarify though, of course I'm happy that kids are reading, but why can't they read something better? If a 12 year old is introduced to Twilight and the book series ends, what does she go on to read? Romance novels, most likely, Nora Roberts and Linda Howard and Jo Beverley and Cassie Edwards.  Or even worse, vampire romance: see Christine Feehan.  (Don't judge me, I used to work in a book store, I know what romance is popular.)  Then where will this girl be?  She'll be knee-deep in trashy non-literature, not knowing who Jane Austen is or what people mean by feminism.  She'll just be dreaming of her very own Edward, who will sweep her off her feet into a teen marriage and teen pregnancy, name her child the stupidest thing she can think of, and only really live when faux-Edward is around to berate her for being a human.  It's the future that every little girl dreams of, really.

I've said so much on the topic of this series that I almost feel bad even mentioning it again. I know I'll review it once again when I read the last book next summer (oh goody) and when I see the movie with my sister.  And of course I have friends who read the books and that's totally cool with me, as long as they understand the difference between reality and trashy fiction and don't expect a real man to abuse them in the way Edward does to Bella.  Oh, and I hope they realize also that being whiny and annoying like Bella will not get you anywhere in life and a relationship is not the most important thing to have in life.  Just because you are 15 doesn't mean you need a boyfriend.  Just because you just broke up with a guy doesn't mean you have to hook up with several more in order to feel good about yourself.  You don't need a romantic partner in order to be a real person.  That shouldn't be the thing that gives you self-confidence.

I apologize for going off on several random tangents, I just have a lot to say about a lot of different things, none of which are that interesting.  I might return to this topic again someday.  I'm not looking forward to it.

November 1, 2008

The Exorcist

I finally decided to write a post about the Exorcist, and it's been a long time coming, only because to me, it is the scariest movie ever made.  So I have a lot to say about it, I suppose.  A lot of people, especially people my age, will disagree with me that this movie is even a bit frightening.  They say the effects are fake, the plot is boring, and the monster isn't even scary, it's just a little girl.  I disagree; for me, that's why the film is so intense.  What's so weird about a little girl being the main source of evil in the film?  What about The Ring? Pretty good.  Silent Hill? Absolute shit. Any Japanese horror movie in the last ten years? Ranges from brilliant to mediocre.  But my point is, kids are scary for some reason.  Maybe the message is that we should stop having children.  I don't know, I'm not a film major.  And if I was, I would have a lot bigger problems than what other people think about The Exorcist.

You can't go wrong with this movie, if you want to be scared.  Sure, the build-up is slow, but that's what's so brilliant about it.  It has you by the balls before you even know it's a horror movie.  Sure, there's lots of blood and vomit and obscenities, but the psychological aspect is what drives the story, both book and movie.  It's hard to get over the fact that Reagan is just a normal, regular little girl who happens to be possessed by the devil (or Pazuzu, in the book, but apparently that was too ridiculous of a name for the film.)  Like it could happen to anyone.  I don't personally know anything about exorcism, but it's fascinating, whether it's true or not.  Even just taking it psychologically, without the religious factor, it's fascinating, how someone can be that much affected by his or her own mind.

The movie following religiously close to the book (that was a pun).  Scene by scene, almost, just like the Silence of the Lambs.  The author claims the book is based on a true story, but I highly doubt that he can follow that up with any real facts.  It would be interesting and everything, but I really don't think it happened.  Especially in the last century, with all the advances of medical science and psychology, we already know that the idea of exorcism is often applied to those with psychological disorders.  That doesn't make them any less fascinating, just more realistic.  It's the same thing for me with ghosts.  I don't claim to know whether they exist or not, but a helluva lot of people think they do.  I have no evidence either way, so I won't comment.

But if anyone tells you they weren't at least a little scared of this movie, that person is a liar.  Watch this film alone at night with all the lights out, you won't be able to sleep.  I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and think that the demon-possessed little girl is going to be crawling towards me spewing pea-green vomit.  Scary and repulsive.  People tell me all the time that the Exorcism of Emily Rose is way scarier, but those people are liars.  They just watch movies for the pretty colors and moving screen.  This movie was insane when it first came out, it had such an effect on audiences, although I guess that's only what I've heard from the filmmakers and DVD releasers.  And they do tend to exaggerate.  But I like to think that The Exorcist is the movie that really gives horror a good name.  It turned the genre from something just intended to bring cheap shocks and gross-outs and turned it into a study of the mind and how much it can take.  Again, I might be blinded by my love for this film and reading too much into what just isn't there, but I really think that the psychology, especially that of Father Karras, is what makes this film a cut about the rest of the schlock horror that was previously being released.

I know a lot of people who refuse to watch The Exorcist because they think it will scar them for life.  It will.  But that doesn't mean you shouldn't watch.  In fact, I think that means you should watch it immediately.  What is the purpose of film than to change your life?  Sure, it entertains.  But don't you need something deeper than that sometimes?  Even if it changes you by making you afraid of the dark or terrified of using Ouija boards, isn't that better than sitting through another Saw movie and just wanted to yawn and vomit quietly into your popcorn box?  I would rather have something really affect me than to just go through life bored and discontent.

A few quick notes on some of my favorite parts.

All the religious imagery and blasphemy: sometimes hard to stomach, always hard to watch.  I'm Christian, so it does bother me but I'm almost glad they included it to show the raw evil of the demon.  It makes it much more disturbing and gruesome.

The "subliminal" messages: This movie got into a bit of trouble for including some subliminal imagery (watch when Chris walks through the kitchen, a demon head flashes on the stove, look on imdb for more instances.)  But I think when you catch it, it makes the movie all the more frightening.  And looking for the images is half the fun.  Watch the original demon-head trailer on youtube if you want to poop your pants in fear.

Both Father Merrin and Father Karras are brilliantly portrayed by Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller respectively.  Watch for Father Karras' dramatic end, so sad.

Linda Blair is the creepiest kid ever.  Especially when she's raising her arms up in the bed and the demon appears behind her. What the fuck?

"Dami, Dami, why you don't visit me, Dami?"  Poor Mama Karras.  I knew a kid named Damien and I called him Dami sometimes.

 

Have fun sleeping after you watch this one.

September 21, 2008

Bram Stoker's Dracula (Coppola, 1992)

I have to admit I was bored, so I decided to watch this one again.  I found it at Wal-Mart for five dollars and said what the hell, I'll buy it.  And I'm so glad I did.  Not only do I remember how much I used to love Winona Ryder, but I get to watch Gary Oldman take on an iconic role and be creepy yet oddly sensual.  My one regret for this film is the inclusion of Keanu Reeves.  Although he's obviously good for a laugh, sometimes I just want to shoot him in the face for thinking he could do anything besides say "whoa" or play air guitar.

Besides the classic 1931 Dracula and Nosferatu, this is really one of the best adaptations of Dracula's story to date.  Of course it took some liberties with the story, making it more of a love story across the centuries than a hunt after an old guy who happens to drink blood and defile virgins.  It makes it a lot more heartwarming and beautiful, but it kind of takes away the fear.  I read the book twice in seventh grade (I was an odd child), and I always love thinking back to it.  I really want to read it again actually.  I should get around to that someday.  But I really think it's a scary story, although I can see where they took into account the sexuality and emotion of it.  Because let's not kid ourselves, what are vampires really about?  The male vampire penetrates the young virgin (albeit with his teeth in her neck) in order to exchange bodily fluids and perform a transformation from innocent young girl to sensual vixen.  Or maybe I'm just reading too much into things.  But Coppola does a wonderful job portraying this raw passion between Mina and Dracula, and I love the way Oldman interacts with Ryder.  The characters have known each other centuries before, and now across time and bodies, they meet again.  It's really quite beautiful, if not creepy and kind of disturbing.  Dracula has been alive for centuries, while Mina's body is just a very young reincarnation of his old love Elisabeta.  So how old is Winona Ryder compared to the Dracula character? 25? 30?  That's kind of gross.

I always love throwbacks to older horror, especially in vampire movies.  There are a lot of references to Bela Lugosi and Nosferatu, among others.  The play of the shadows on the wall is especially entertaining and well-done.  The shots of Ryder's and Oldman's faces, the iconic rising of the vampire from his coffin, straight out of Nosferatu, the mirror/shaving scene with Keanu's terrible double-takes, the tears-to-diamonds scene get me every time.  The only scene I could have done without would have to be Jonathan in the pit with the women.  Why on earth they had the women licking Keanu's bleeding nipple, I could not say.  Odd choice.  I mostly try to block it from my memory, but it is really quite disturbing.  Probably the scariest part of the movie.  It could have been much better, but Keanu was there, so all hopes of greatness are lost.

Anthony Hopkins, as always, is wonderful and amazing and kick-ass.  He makes any movie worth watching.  And playing the famous Van Helsing, he can't help but appeal to the audience and breathe life into the character.  He's just so wise and calm and dignified.  But he still terrifies me.  I bet in real life he's just the nicest guy, but I can't stop thinking he might try to rip out my liver and eat it.  I wonder if he even likes fava beans.

But overall, I would say this is one of the better adaptations and that's saying something.  You can't go far in the horror section at the video store without running into Dracula.  But don't pass this one up, it's worth watching at least once.

September 8, 2008

Alice In Wonderland

I just finished reading Alice in Wonderland, and I loved it.  I've decided that when she's old enough, I will read it to my newborn baby niece.  I think she'll appreciate it.  She looks just like me, so hopefully she'll be smart like me.  And hopefully she'll enjoy trippy, drug-induced sequences that don't make any sense but just make you a little confused and vaguely happy.

I don't really know the whole story behind the writing of Alice in Wonderland, I remember reading something about Lewis Carroll telling the story to three little girls in a boat.  A little creepy, but kind of cute if it was innocent.  And one of the girls' names was Alice Liddell.  So he named the character after her and wrote a nice little poem to her that spelled out her full name.  All in all, it was pretty sweet, I suppose.

And Alice In Wonderland is just such a memorable story, even if the only thing you know of it is the Disney movie.  The book is a lot creepier and more bizarre.  Tweedledee and Tweedledum seem like murderous weirdos.  The Queen is an annoying little bitch, and so is the king.  The Cheshire Cat freaks me out.  Poor Alice.  And everyone in Wonderland just seems to tell Alice to shut up and they all go on with their flawed logic and ridiculous puns.  But she always makes it through and comes out on top.  She's such a plucky heroine.

Some of my favorite quotes:

1. Alice: "Curioser and curioser."

2. The Duchess: "If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does."

3. The King: "Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

4. Alice: "If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?"

5. Cheshire Cat: "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there."

So I guess that's my review of Alice In Wonderland.  I loved it.  It was wonderful.  So I guess I'll stop, since I've come to the end.

August 18, 2008

Stephen King: Misery

I know I just did a Stephen King post, but I was in the mood for another, so humor me.  I love this movie.  I loved it so much that I read the book.  Kathy Bates (who I hinted at to those who paid attention to the last post) is hilarious and terrifying as Annie, the crazy nurse who kidnaps Paul, the author of best-selling romance novels about Misery Chastain, some stereotype of a Southern belle or something, I was never quite sure.  The details aren’t all that important to me here though, it’s the performances.  Kathy Bates rightly won an Oscar for her crazy antics, and I like to think that she also won my heart, but I guess that’s just a personal opinion.

So basically Stephen King loves to write about writers.  He’s shown this time and time again, and I’m not even going to make a list of books in which he proves this, because it’s been done too many times before by better people than me.  So just imagine I just listed a bunch of examples, and you’re really impressed with my knowledge of film and literature.  Does Stephen King put himself into these roles?  I don't know, that would be kind of creepy but I guess that's what I would expect from the director of Maximum Overdrive.  (Did anyone else hear that reference in Pineapple Express?  Great movie, by the way.)

Misery is so good because it's so over-the-top, with Kathy squealing like a pig and hobbling Paul's legs, a horny old couple who are actually pretty cute together, and (in the book) a pretty interesting re-write of Paul's original ending to Misery's story.  That's the whole point of the book, Annie is Paul's #1 Fan and she wants him to rewrite his last novel so that Misery doesn't die.  I'm sure there are many Harry Potter fans who wish they could pull a similar trick with J.K. Rowling, especially those slashers and Harry-Hermione-shippers.  And really thinking about  it, there are a lot of movies and books that I would want the endings changed to.  Not saying I would kidnap the artists involved, but interesting concept nonetheless.

I think the more horror movies I watch, the creepier my personality becomes.  Or maybe I was just always like that.

The greatest contribution this film has made in my life is probably Annie always calling Paul a "dirty-birdie."  I love it.  My sister and I say it all the time, it's a great insult when you're in front of your parents.

Oh, and back to the hobbling thing.  That is sick.  I know people freak out when they watch it in the movie, and for those who haven't yet seen the film (because I know after you read this blog post you'll rush out and rent it), I'll explain: she puts a cinder block between his legs and hits each foot from the outside with a sledgehammer, effectively breaking his legs by bending them around the block.  Just watch it, it makes sense.

But in the book I think it's worse.  She chops off his thumb and foot with an axe and then goes crazy even further, and the ending is truly terrifying.  For a non-supernatural story, King does a pretty darn good job.

But what do I expect from the guy who wrote about a killer clown-spider-thing who tries to kill John-boy Walton and Jack Tripper?

August 14, 2008

Stephen King: The Mist

I think I can accurately review this one because I’ve read the book and seen the movie.  The book was great.  The movie, not so much.  Let me correct that actually, the ending of the movie was terrible.

The whole point of the book I think is that when something deadly happens and people are trapped in a situation, they do very bad things to survive.  Instinct kicks in and they start following someone or some believe, causing all reason and law to leave the room.  Obviously King also focused on the creatures outside the grocery store, and the descriptions were really scary, but I think it was the humanity that made the story what it was.

Not so in the movie.  They didn’t even really include the scariest things, at least not in the way they were described in the book.  I know you can’t watch a movie and judge it compared to a book, I realize that some things don’t work on screen, but I don’t know, to me it just seemed like a cheap scare.  The way the tentacles and the spider-things were described in the book, I was scared for days afterwards.  Seriously, books never scare me, but this one did, I had all these plans for where I would go in case a mist covered my town.  I know that’s a little crazy, but I am not taking any chances.  I also have Zombie Evacuation Plans, but that’s for another post.  I think the reason books are often scarier than movies is that it’s all in your head.  You can use your imagination to make it as scary as you want.  But when you see it on a screen, it’s just there, and that’s it.  And when it’s over, it’s over.  With a book, it ruminates in your mind for days or weeks or years, but a movie ends and it’s gone.  Maybe it’s not the same for everyone, but that’s how I feel about it.

Not that the movie was bad.  It had some great moments, and I actually didn't hate the actress who played Mrs. Carmody, Marcia Gay Harden, who I always hate on film.  Her haircut bothers me.  Is that a legitimate reason to hate an actress?  I like to think so.  The other actors I didn't care about, except that badass old lady, she was a feisty little thing and I loved her for it.  The kid who got eaten by the tentacles was pretty good too, but everyone else was kind of throwaway.

SPOILER ALERT

Now to the ending:  In the book, the fact that there was no real ending was what made it so scary.  The uncertainty and the whole atmosphere, the huge mammoth beast freaked me out.  They included it in the movie, but I don't really know how to feel about it.  It was weird and scary, but not for the same reasons.  Humans have this weird fear about things we don't understand, which works well in this book, but I don't think it really translated well to the screen.  That's just me though.

Now the thing that pissed me off and ruined the whole movie for me.  The ending in the movie was ridiculous.  Yes, there was closure, but is that really the kind of closure people want?  The main character shoots all the other characters in order to "save them" from a horrible death (including his son, since it's a family movie), which in itself, sure, is a brave thing to do, but what a loss of hope for the audience.  And seconds later the military rolls in with tanks and planes?  I'm sorry, but they would have heard them much earlier and they could have easily been saved.  I felt drained after that, unhappy and disappointed.  That's not how I like to feel during horror movies.  I think what they were going for was a Night of the Living Dead ending (which pissed me off to no end, but in kind of a good way) because being trapped in the grocery store is pretty similar to being trapped in a house, with the power plays and roles and whatnot.  A lofty goal, and not quite met.  That's the real problem with this movie, it aims high and doesn't quite make it.  Stephen King isn't high literature, have fun with it.  Be like Kathy Bates in Misery.  But don't be a dirty-birdie, because that bitch will kill you.

END OF SPOILERS

 

Stephenie Meyer Update: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20217628,00.html

Thank you, EW and Jennifer Reese, for understanding.

August 12, 2008

The Silence of the Lambs

Hannibal Lector.  Whether you like it or not, he's one of the iconic characters in cinema, everyone knows who he is, everyone has said or at least heard at one time, "Hello, Clarice."  Everyone knows how he likes to prepare his liver.  One of the best things about this movie, besides Sir Anthony Hopkins, is how closely it follows the book.  The book was wonderful, but it doesn't really come alive until Hopkins dons the face mask, solidifying Lector as one of the scariest characters in movie history.  By just speaking, he is able to convey this weird sense of madness and cool interest in Jodie Foster, who does a wonderful job as well.  You get the sense that they know these characters and they are really bringing them to life.  It makes me question Anthony Hopkins’ personal life, but I guess that’s just none of my business.

The reason this was such a great movie while Hannibal was a piece of forgettable garbage was because it focused more on the small intimate moments between Hannibal and Clarice.  I get chills every time his finger caresses her hand as he gives her the documents.  Sure, this isn’t your regular let’s-kill-all-the-actors kind of horror movie, but that doesn’t mean a thriller like this can’t be scary.  The angles they use on Hopkins’ face are beautiful (not attractive, just wonderful), and the portrayal of Buffalo Bill and his dungeon are insane.  Insane as in crazy but also in some other sense that I’m not sure about right now.  I’ll edit this later to explain.

Buffalo Bill’s voice is the scariest for me, even when he says such hilarious lines as, “Wait, was she a great big fat person?"  Funny but scary when coming from a murderer who skins his victims to make a woman suit, which is all kinds of disgusting.  Every sense of the word.  My mom warned me for years after this came out to never help a man with a cast load furniture into a van.  That’s probably the only real effect this film/book has had on my life, but I still watch it every time it’s on TV.  I mean every time.

I really recommend this for people who like thrillers but not so much blood and guts or straight up horror.  The thing that gets most people with this film is the psychology involved.  What are Hannibal’s motives?  I know I’ve said in previous posts that I hate when a killer doesn’t have a motive, but I feel like Hannibal did all along (and he did, although I hated Hannibal Rising and never even tried to read the book.)  So I make an exception for this one, and some others, for the sheer weight of good film-making.  Watch this movie, you won’t be sorry.  Now fly little Starling, fly fly fly.

Sorry I haven’t written in awhile, I just got through the process of moving again, so I’m all set up now and ready to write some good ol’ fashioned blogs.

P.S. Thanks for the comment and linking to me, lis, I appreciate having a fan.  Unfortunately, I’m not quite ready for marriage, but I’ll definitely send you a message when I am.

July 27, 2008

Stephenie Meyer Continued

So I know I already reviewed the first two and a half books, and I’m still not done with the third book, but I felt I needed to review the next one-fourth of the book because it’s even more ridiculous than I previously could have even dreamed of.

I just got done reading a painful, poorly-written scene in which the main character/resident drama queen Bella Swan blames herself for Jacob’s misery, Edward’s jealousy, her own effed-up life, poverty, world hunger, the Holocaust, and every other tragedy and non-tragedy ever to happen on this earth.  She continually cries and bitches about how she’s ruining everyone’s life, she’s so selfish for falling in love, and she’s the spawn of Satan and Hitler apparently.  I have no idea how anyone can read this series and actually put up with her.  I find that the more I read, the more I hate her more than any other character I can think of in a novel.  I thought that the point of a main character was to have someone that the reading audience can love, feel empathy for, and see as an everyman (or woman.)  But I honestly don’t think that Bella has any redeeming qualities.  Everything she says pisses me off, from her should-I-or-shouldn’t-I decision making, her prick-teasing in regards to both Jake and Edward, her “I love you more than anything, Edward, and I want to become a vampire and live out all of eternity with you, but how dare you ask me to marry you?  That’s too much commitment!"  I hate this girl.  She sees Edward once on her first day of school and has an instant boner and apparently wants to devote her entire existence to him.  Yet the second he talks about marriage she’s like, “Oh no, I can’t handle the pressure!  I can’t make this decision!"

She then proceeds to carry on with both Ed and Jake, because apparently she’s so hot and sexy that every man that sees her can’t help instantly falling in love with her.  This is the kind of writing that any English teacher will tell you to stay away from.  You can’t write a story about a perfect character who is probably a thinly-veiled reflection of some vicarious wish Stephenie Meyer had as a teenager to be popular and beautiful, who has stupid non-flaws and every guy loves her even though she’s so darn clumsy and cute.  Golly, I wish my life was like that.  Gee whiz.

Not to mention the way Meyer skirts around the subject of sex/intimacy/physicality/etc.  I don’t know any guy who would turn down a girl taking her shirt off and saying, “Let’s do it."  Yet somehow, yes, Edward truly is just that perfect.  What a gentleman.  Gosh, I wish I had such a nifty boyfriend with no personality who’s just so wholesome and wonderful.  He barely even kisses her before he decides it’s just too darn dangerous.  And I suppose, yes, this is a kids’ book and Meyer is fairly religious, as I’ve read, but can’t you at least do some nice cut-away scenes, like in movies?  Even J.K. Rowling had Harry and Ginny expressing their snog-fests in private.

And I bring up this comparison because it comes up a lot.  “Meyer is the new Rowling."  No.  Absolutely not.  I would say that the Twilight books are more like a terribly watered down Anne Rice or some other vampire writer.  I haven’t read Anne Rice yet (saw the movies), but they’re on my list.  When I get around to reading them, I’ll come back to the subject and write some more about why this series makes me angry.

July 7, 2008

Stephenie Meyer

Well I had a whole long post about werewolf movies but it got erased so now I'm pissed and I don't want to write about werewolves anymore. So I'll write about what I'm reading right now. My little sister suggested this teen romance vampire series to me because apparently she and every other girl in her (high school) class loves it. I was already weary when I heard all this information, but I decided I'd give it a try, since I do love vampires. So here's a little analysis of the first two books and half of the third book.
First off, I don't really enjoy a lot of vampire romance. It just seems like fangirl/Mary-Sue territory to me, a lot of wishful thinking on the part of lonely teenage girls who want a sexy vampire lover to sweep them off their feet. Cue Edward Cullen, the impishly handsome young vampire/model who has stolen the hearts of fangirls nationwide, who want to give him their blood, their hearts, and probably their virginities. Edward is the undead boyfriend of the main character/narrator/annoying little girl, Bella Swan, who is so over-the-top clumsy, that she actually said, "I don't like to run. I fall down a lot." That makes me angry. I happen to be a very clumsy person, and even I'm not stupid enough to fall down when I run. It's like she has the coordination of a toddler or someone with a recent head trauma. And that's not even what irks me the most about Bella. First she discovers she loves Edward in a matter of (literally) seconds, then in book three she can't decide whether or not she should marry him. So she knows he's her destiny but she can't put a wedding dress on? Just do it already, Bella, because you piss me off, and it's only a matter of time before Edward realizes how completely inept and inane you really are. Bella is boring. I'm sorry, but I see no reason for Edward to stay with her, other than the fact that apparently her blood smells really good to him. That's pretty perverted. How does he feel when she gets her period? So many awkward questions.
I have no sympathy for any of the characters, since they are just cardboard cutouts from previous vampire movies, books, graphic novels, and cereal boxes. There is no real danger. The bad guy is easily defeated every time, with relatively no consequences. In fact, in the second book, New Moon, the bad guy doesn't even really show up until there's only about 100 pages left, and the danger and conflict is resolved with just a few words and a ridiculous promise.
Yet, oddly enough, I will still finish the third book and will probably immediately finish the fourth book after my sister gets through with it. No, it is not my favorite series, far from it in fact. But as a guilty pleasure, I suppose it works as a trashy bathroom read.
Oh, and Edward is kind of a jerk. After first leaving Bella to a long and awfully boring stretch of emo "feelings," he comes back and she immediately forgives him. He then proceeds to ban her from seeing her best friend Jacob (who I personally would have chosen, he's much kinder) and honestly keeps her hostage for awhile. Again she forgives him. Now, I may be overreacting, since I do consider myself a feminist, but this bitch has got to take a stand for herself. She acts like as a woman, she should have no say in the relationship and Edward gets to make all the big decisions. She must take everything he says as law and his voice is more important than anything else in her world. Little girls read this crap! They may think that the only thing they can expect from life is an overbearing love affair with some guy who isn't even appreciative of women. Why can't there be a strong woman character in a romance novel, one who doesn't need a man or at least holds her own in a relationship? I suppose that's my main qualm with this book. Shame on you, Stephenie Meyer, women deserve better. A lead female character needs to be strong in order to show young girls that they can be strong too.
Is that so much to ask?

July 1, 2008

Ray Bradbury

I really wanted to put down my thoughts about one of very favorite authors, Ray Bradbury. I've so far read Something Wicked This Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451, and I'm currently almost finished with Dandelion Wine. I also bought The Martian Chronicles, Farewell Summer, and From the Dust Returned. I love the way Bradbury describes things, the way he writes is so descriptive while at the same time leaving enough for the reader to use his or her own imagination. I read Something Wicked This Way Comes in 11th grade, and I was so stunned by how good it was that I read it again the next year and bought it online. I guess I share with Bradbury a weird fascination with old-time carnivals and Halloween. Bradbury loves the concept of the Autumn People, those who thrive on the misery of others. I know I obviously wasn't alive during the times he describes, but the way he writes really brings it alive. I almost wish I could have seen the freak shows and creepy carnival attractions back when those things were still allowed and everything cost less than a dime. I know that's kind of horrible, since the "freaks" were treated so poorly, there weren't safety checks, and the Great Depression was pretty sad I guess, but still, the weird nostalgia Bradbury describes really draws you in. Bradbury knows how to mix fear and humanity, which as I've said before, is essential for real horror. Taking a beloved childhood holiday like Halloween (albeit a macabre and slightly evil one on its own) and turning children's games into adult fear is something Bradbury has mastered. He uses his own memories and his own nostalgia to fuel these stories and in each one you can see the influence of real life. It's easy to see Bradbury's influence on Stephen King and numerous other horror authors, and I think some really good movies could be made of many of his stories.
And here is where we get to the movie adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes.
First off, going with Disney was a big mistake. Surprisingly, the movie is much darker than you would think from the people who turned Pocahontas into a love story. Jonathan Pryce was actually perfect as the demented ringmaster and Illustrated Man Mr. Dark, but I expected that. Pam Grier as the Dust Witch was a big mistake. I was really looking forward to seeing the whole "darning needle dragonfly" trick, but they didn't even include it. I saw this movie last summer, and honestly I don't even remember a lot of the details because I was just very disappointed. Of course, yes, it was made in 1983, so the effects were terrible, but that doesn't usually bother me. I think my main problem is that I knew how good the book was, so I knew how good the movie could have been. Not that I'm a huge purist, I understand that some things work in books that don't work on film. Which is one thing that I think hinders any potential Bradbury movies. The childlike fears and nostalgic horror of his novels would be very hard to adapt to the screen, but in my opinion, I think Something Wicked This Way Comes would make a great sort of dark, graphic-novel-esque animated movie. Because honestly, first, with a cartoon, they wouldn't have to have child actors, they could have voice actors. (The child actors in the film were awful. Not that all kids suck at acting, but, well a lot of them do.) The story itself is extremely dark and I think the colors they could use would really reflect that. Anyway, I'm rambling. So, I guess what I mean is: Bradbury: good, adaptations of his books: so-so, and Disney: evil.