Monday, December 14, 2009

At Last--A Movie Adaptation I Can Get Excited About

Natalie Portman as the martial arts expert Elizabeth Bennett.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

New Respect For The Original

I saw the Twilight movie last night. Wow. It really makes the book look like art, doesn't it?

I thought the thing Stephanie Meyer did very well in the original Twilight was create sexual tension. The first book really was kind of hot. The attempts to reproduce said tension in the movie were funny. My favorite sexual chemistry scenes take place in the biology lab, particularly when Bella poses in front of a fan like some kind of teen model with her hair flying around and looks over to see Edward with his hand over his nose because her scent is being blown toward him, and he can't stand it. Talk about meeting cute.

I've been invited to a private showing of New Moon on the morning of opening day. I'm planning to go because I've never been to a private showing of anything. I hope I don't laugh out loud the way I did last night.

I've heard there's a new director for this second movie, so I was thinking that maybe Edward would be allowed to hold his head normally this time around instead of keeping his chin on his chest. That looks so uncomfortable. And it would be terrific if someone did something about the weird lighting that makes all the characters look white with bright red lips. The trailer suggests that I can forget about that happening.


Friday, October 16, 2009

"Kids' Movies That Aren't Really for Kids"

I'm always going on (and on) here about picture books that really should be marketed to adults. Salon has an article up today called Kids Movies That Aren't For Kids: The Top 10.

In it, author Andrew O'Hehir uses the term kidult, which I hadn't seen before. I'm trying to decide whether it has negative or positive connotations.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tintin Film News

This past weekend we saw a French movie while my French-speaking cousins were visiting. Turns out that the star, Gad Elmaleh, will appear in the Tintin movie. You do have to scroll down quite a way to find him.


Monday, November 17, 2008

What? Buffy Doesn't Matter?

Actually, nowhere in this Salon interview with the director of Twilight does anyone say that Buffy doesn't matter. The tease under the title is totally misleading, trying to drag in readers who are Buffistas and probably not too into the Twilight take on women as being so weak and inept they can't sleep through the night without a male vampire watching over them.

Twilight anticipation is reaching a frenzy right now. I hope the movie does spectacularly well. Whenever the grown-ups can make big bucks off from kidlit, it's good for our field. They'll come looking around for more pots of gold.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Good Adaptation

Speaking of Neil Gaiman, as I was yesterday, reminds me to pass on that I just saw the movie adaptation of his book, Stardust. The book had quite a following somewhere on the web (maybe Readerville), so I read it. (Because I maintain a blog, I know I read it nearly four years ago, back when I wasn't posting anywhere near as often as I am now.) I wasn't blown away, but I thought there was "lots of unique stuff that made me want to keep reading."

The movie is very well done. It's beautiful, clever, and the acting is just fine. There are shifts among the differing story lines, but they weren't abrupt or gimmicky. I particularly liked the dead princes who are observing the carryings on of their remaining mortal brothers. I should tell you that I had to explain some things to the guy I was watching it with, but it wasn't the first time I've had to explain things to him.

I thought the movie was very faithful to what I remember of the book, though I don't recall if Captain Shakespeare was as over-the-top as he is on film.

My only objection is the same one I had regarding the book. Stardust is "one of those mythic journey stories about a guy finding his birth right and his beautiful maiden." You may feel you've seen that storyline before. But at least in this movie, you'll see a very well-done version.


Monday, January 28, 2008

A Bionic Jane Austen

I can't say I'm enjoying The Complete Jane Austen as much as I thought I would. I just finished Northanger Abbey and found it kind of anti-climactic. I remember reading it as a teenager and finding it disappointing after Pride and Prejudice.

This morning I started watching Mansfield Park. What did I see but the new (and, from what I've heard, already out of work) Bionic Woman playing an Austen woman (Maria Bertram).

I was standing there going, "Come on, Jaime! Kick that poser's butt!"

I don't think she's going to do that, though.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Deep Details From Persuasion

We're all watching The Complete Jane Austen, right? The classics are totally YA.

I didn't see last week's Persuasion until Friday. While I enjoyed it while I was watching it (I had listened to the book on CD a number of years ago), soon afterwards I was left thinking, "Ah...that was kind of light." There wasn't a whole lot of story there. I don't think I would have been interested without the period setting.

However, there were some extremely interesting technical details in the film.

For instance, I'm sure all Buffistas recognized Anthony Head (Buffy's Giles) who played the pompous ass Sir Walter Elliot. But how many of you noticed Alice Krige as Lady Russell? She was the Borg Queen!!!

You don't get this level of depth at just any litblog, folks.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

I'm Not Sure About This, But I'll Give It A Chance

I recently learned that Michael Cera will be playing Nick in the movie adaptation of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. (Hope it's not old news.)

I liked Cera in Arrested Development, and I liked Nick in Nick and Norah. I just can't remember enough about the character to make a decision about how to feel about Cera playing him.

I also haven't had a chance to see Michael Cera in the movies he's been in recently, which leaves me at a disadvantage. I did just see the first episode of the web program he's been creating with Clark Duke at Clark and Michael. I've been hearing about it for a while.

Ah, well, now I've seen episode one. So, Michael Cera can use a few obscenities. That's certainly a requirement for playing Nick.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Staying On Task

I didn't dislike The Golden Compass anywhere near as much as Laini Taylor did. But she makes some very interesting points in What Writers Can Learn From The Golden Compass, her blog post on the subject.

Chief among them: "What are the Gobblers doing to the kids?" she says, was the central question in the book. The movie didn't have a particularly strong storyline related to the Gobblers and what they were doing. Thus, when you found out what they were doing, it didn't have a lot of impact.

I think she's right about that. The movie was sort of chaotic with lots of cool stuff. But the story didn't stay on task, as I like to say. The writer wasn't careful to choose something to focus on and stay with it.

The armored ice bears carried the movie for me. But they weren't enough to cover up the absence of a serious storyline for a lot of viewers.

Link from A Fuse #8 Production.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

I Have Two Words For You--Ice Bears!

I actually have three words for you, but I didn't want to be wordy in a title. The three words are armored ice bears. The Golden Compass is worth seeing for the armored ice bears, alone, especially the outcast prince, Iorek Byrnison, played by Ian McKellen. Really, you will believe that bear is being played by Ian McKellan and be really impressed by how well McKellen can fight.

I have said that all I was looking for in The Golden Compass was thrills. I didn't care about spirituality, depth, or anything else, mainly because I didn't get that much spirituality and depth when I was reading the book years ago. One of my two complaints about the movie is that it was almost too thrilling. One bizarre thrill came right after another. Mrs. Coulter's monkey turns on Lyra and Pan, the gyptians show up, then a boat, then witches. Slam, bam, no thank you ma'am. More slam, bam.

Now, that was exactly what I liked about the book. Seeing it on the screen made it seem a little jumpy and overwhelming, though. Until the armored ice bear showed up, of course. I couldn't have too much excitement and commotion after that.

I also found the golden compass, itself, a little too mysterious. How does it work? How does Lyra manage to figure out what the heck it's saying?

But I felt the same way when I was reading the book. It was just easier to skim over those parts in the book than it was when it was staring me in the face in the movie theater.

I've read more than one review that said the movie wouldn't make sense to anyone who hadn't read the book. I didn't feel that was the case. The guy who was with me hadn't read the book and thought it was great (except for the ending). Dakota Blue Richards was amazing as Lyra. I thought Nicole Kidman was just fine in a Cruella Deville role.

And, of course, the armored ice bear should be considered the male lead in this picture.

The Golden Compass was a fantasy/action film, which was pretty much what I was hoping for.

About that ending: Kelly at Big A, little a said that people were going What? over the movie's ending when she saw it. I had been forewarned, but, yeah, the guy with me pretty much went What? Though I don't remember the book's ending, my recollection is that it was a more satisfying, closed ending than the one in the movie.

But here's the thing--we're accepting all kinds of open, nonendings in serial books now. I don't think we should be that surprised when movie adaptations of series and serial books start using the same device.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Yikes! Well, I'm Still Going To Go See It Next Weekend

From Slate's review of The Golden Compass: "I'm here to tell you that, without at least a working knowledge of the Dark Materials cosmos, Weitz's adaptation is a near-impenetrable murk, a blur of CGI beasties, shimmering dust clouds, and vaguely mystical blather."

Salon's reviewer wasn't as positive. She referred to the movie as "utter, soulless crap."

As I've said before, when I read the book, probably eight or nine years ago, I just thought it was a great, thrilling ride. Really, that's all I'm hoping for from the movie.


Friday, November 23, 2007

You Thought I Was Getting Off Topic With All That Beowulf Stuff, Didn't You?

Wednesday morning, I heard from BDT. He had just finished reading Beowulf with his sixth grade class, and, he said, the kids really liked it. I found this very interesting because just the night before I'd had a revelation about Beowulf while brushing my teeth.

Okay, here is the basic Beowulf story. Beowulf, while at the height of his strength and power, kills a couple of monsters and saves the day for Hrothgar, the king of a foreign country. Then Beowulf goes home where he is a king to his own people. Time passes. A new monster or dragon or something comes and poses a threat to Beowulf's kingdom. The old hero battles the monster to save his people. But not being at the height of his strength and power, he doesn't survive the experience.

I think this story basically tells the story of human life. We make our greatest achievements while at our physical and mental peak. Then time passes, we grow old, and can't do what we were able to do before. Or, at least, not as well. The people who created and first told Beowulf were expressing this fact of life that no one can get past. The story has endured, not because people loved it but because they recognized that it truly was making a statement about the human condition.

Not exactly a story I would have thought sixth graders would appreciate, though. It's not a story I would think teenagers would care for much, either, but there were a number of them in the theater this afternoon for the showing of the new Beowulf movie. I'm guessing they liked it well enough because the movie has been juiced up quite a bit with sex. In it, Grendel's Mom is a hotty who seduces men, who are then corrupt and lost because they did the deed with her. They also provide her with sons who years later seek their fathers out and wreak havoc upon them.

True, the movie version has a peppier story line than the true Beowulf. It also has a story that's easier to take. We don't want to believe that monsters will just randomly attack people. Random things could happen to us, too, after all. We want to believe that victims do something to bring their fates upon themselves. Beowulf didn't just grow older and weaker the way we all will. He got what was coming to him because of what he did with the Angelina Jolie cartoon.

Actually, that storyline probably is better for kids. There's a moral there for them. With the true Beowulf they're just told a fact of life. With the movie, they're told not to have sex with beautiful monster women who live in caves.

It is good advice.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

But The Movie Looks Good

I read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke more than three years ago. My main recollection is that I thought it would never end. When the main character escaped the bad guys and then turned around and went back to their lair, I wanted to wring her little neck.

But Book Moot posted a link to a trailer for the movie, and it doesn't look half bad. I know you can't trust trailers, but this one almost looks as if it focuses more on Mo, the father, than on...ah...ah...whatever-her-name-was, the daughter. If that's the case, some fans might be disappointed (it's supposed to be a kids' book, after all), but I won't mind.

I don't mind Helen Mirren as the freaky aunt, either.