Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lars and the Real Girl

Movie: Lars and the Real Girl
Like/Don't Like: Love. I would recommend it to anyone, including my mom.

I was at a church pot luck (the Mormon motto should be: Come for the spirit, stay for the casserole.) and Krii was telling us about this movie and the question on everyone's lips was, "Isn't that the one about the sex doll?" And Krii's answer was, "Yes! It's so great!" So naturally we planned a movie night.

And she's totally right. It's a great movie! Probably one of the sweetest movies I've seen. And it does have a sex doll, which no doubt makes you think, "Ew." But trust me, it's not really about her. It's about Lars. In a nutshell, he buys Bianca on the internet and imagines that she's real and tells everyone that she's his girlfriend. And everyone goes along with it. After the first 10 minutes you start to think of her as a real character. I kept waiting for squirmy eye-averting type moments and they never came. It just kept getting sweeter and more charming. By the end of it I wanted to give people hugs.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bel Canto

Book: Bel Canto
Author: Ann Patchett
Like/Don't Like: Like - with a sigh, but I'm not going to tell you what kind of sigh.

I love sweet peas. They are my favorite flower and I look forward to spring every year mostly because there will be sweet peas in my parent's back yard. They're just so beautiful and delicate. And they're the sweetest smelling flower around. Admit it. The sweet pea season only lasts for about a month. Maybe a little longer if we're lucky. But I never think of the end of the sweet peas. Them not making it beyond May never ruins my enjoyment.

It was the same with this book. I read the flap and instantly thought this can't possibly end well, even though there were a few moments of foreshadowing that it could, just possibly, turn out exactly as I hoped it would. I'm not giving anything away. You'll get the same feeling too. A group of foreign diplomats and business men and one opera singer are held hostage in a large home for 4 months. Those things never end with everyone happy. But knowing that it most likely wouldn't end well never once ruined my enjoyment of the story because it was sweet and delicate and beautiful. And I wished, like the characters, that it would go on for a little while longer (although I have to say that reading a 300 page book after reading a 1200 page book was like a glorious vacation for my brain with palm trees and sunshine and tan cabana boys bringing cool glasses of water.)

I think I've mentioned here before how it bothers me when a book jumps from one character voice to the next. I have found that few authors do it very well and instead of giving me lots of different points of view it just gives me a headache. So I think that the greatest accomplishment in this book is that she managed to make it not about 1 or 2 people but about 58 and doing it without any kind of style shift or page break. She would change to a different character mid-paragraph and half the time I wouldn't even notice. It became their story instead of his or her story. Which makes the point of the whole story have more relevance. That beauty and music and love make people happy, even when they don't speak the same language. And even when half of them are holding guns at the the other half.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Room with a View

Move: A Room with a View (PBS)
Like/Don't Like: It was basically a view of a giant pile of poo. Don't Like.

I was just going to let Wendy do the talking because she said nearly everything that I wanted to say, only better, but I find that I can't keep my righteous indignation quiet.

About 15 minutes into this adaptation I pulled the book off of my shelf to make sure that I was right. And I was. I was absolutely right that the powers behind this movie COMPLETELY RUINED IT! And about 15 minutes before the end, after I realized exactly what I had been fearing was true, I wanted to throw the book at the tv. What rubbish.

I have two major beefs with it:

1.) They changed nearly every character into types: the Emersons, particularly George, were low class lugs; Mr. Beebe and Cecil were gay; Freddy was goofy; Mrs. Honeychurch was Elizabeth McGovern. It was maddening.

2.) The ending. Here, let me tell you how it ended. "Oh, don't bother," you say, "We know the ending. George and Lucy run away to Florence." Yes. They do. But you probably don't know that there is a "Room with a View. The Continuing Story." wherein George goes off to war and DIES and Lucy goes back to Florence and hooks up with the cab driver who originally took them all to see the view. Who knew?

Okay, and I'm going to add a third reason, which is not exclusive to this adaptation because even Merchant-Ivory got it wrong, but it's important nonetheless.

3.) I would just like to ask the very important question: how hard is it to plant a few violets? Huh? Because even with my pathetic memory for scenes in books, the one where George kisses Lucy is etched in my brain, even though it's only about a quarter of a page long, because of all the violets. It's suppose to be the well-head of all of earth's beauties but every time it's put on film it is always some brown field of wheat. If they had spent some of the cigarettes for Cecil budget on planting a few violets I would have been more forgiving of it's other flaws.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sense and Sensibility

Movie: Sense and Sensibility (PBS)
Like/Don't Like: Like. Dual or no dual.

Now, we all know that the reason why I started this blog was because I have a very pathetic memory. I can read a book 10 times and still not remember specific things that happen in it, even a week later. It's embarrassing but I've learned to live with it. Occasionally, someone, usually Katie, will mention a scene in a book or a movie and I'll nod my head and hmm wisely like I totally remember it but what I'm actually doing is stalling for time while the wee little pixies in my brain start uncovering layers of useless facts to get to that particular memory. You see, it's in there, it's just overwhelmed by information like the proper ration of oatmeal to water (1:2) and what the capital of Slovenia is (Llubljana).

Which made this adaption a little frustrating for me. I don't want to give you the wrong idea, because I really liked it. The actors were good and nicely cast, the scenery, music, and costumes were perfect. And it was a two-parter, which, in theory, I'm opposed to, but in this case, it's what I've been praying for since the very beginning of the whole Jane Austen on PBS thing started. But there were a lot of liberties taken. Or, at least, I think there were a lot because even though I've read the book 3 or 4 times, as recently as a year ago even, I can't for the life of me remember if half the things that happened in the movie actually happened in the book. But the whole time I had the suspicion that they hadn't. I can rattle off European capitals on demand but I can't remember whether or not Marianne went with Willoughby to Cum Magnum. Did she? Oh, who knows.

Even if Andrew Davies did make up everything I can't fault him too much because it really was a good movie. Sure, they had a few too many shots of the turbulent sea and maybe this Edward Ferris was more lucid and charming than we all know him to be. But like I'm going to complain about a guy being charming. I think you'll like it.

Fascinating side note: After it ended I went on imdb to see what the actors (specifically Lucy Steele)(She was Mrs. Beeton) had all been in and every one that I clicked on had been in a Mrs. Marple Mystery. I think it must be the British equivalent of Law and Order.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Run, Fat Boy, Run

Movie: Run, Fat Boy, Run
Like/Don't Like: Like

I'm a sucker for funny British movies. And this is a funny British movie, which means that it's already at an advantage. Although, it didn't seem very British. Which made more sense at the end when I saw that Michael Ian Black wrote it and Ross Geller, um, what's his name, David Schwimmer, directed it. Not British. But still funny. It got a little muddled near the end but it was touching and charming and I laughed out loud a lot. That's a good sign. But, cover your eyes when the Very Large Blister Scene appears. You've been warned.