Cary Fukunaga (TRUE DETECTIVE) to direct Stephen King’s IT


Stephen King’s greatest monster movie coming to a theater near you?!!

Stephen King for four decades (This year marking the 40th anniversary of his first novel, CARRIE) has been the undisputed king of the horror blockbuster. His name on a novel, for longer than most of you have been alive, a straight shot to the bestseller list.

That said, as someone who has read much of his output, I’ve personally found him hit and miss. However his 1000+ page novel… IT, I consider a masterpiece and King at his apex.

Some factions will argue THE STAND, but these are misguided types who should be avoided. :). THE STAND emphasing the bloat for bloat’s sake, and caricature finally falling into stereotype that would become too prevalent in King’s work, it cannot stand, when placed against his… IT.

And the TV mini-series adaptation of IT starring a great cast (including the late, great John Ritter) I was a huge fan of as kid, and remain so as an adult. It is, for all its horror, a sentimental and bitter-sweet ode to friendship and faith and childhood’s gains and losses.

So the news that this celebrated property is slated to come to the big screen in the 21st century, has me interested. King Adaptations are typically a hard sell, for the reason… most aren’t very good at adapting King.

What is oft strongest in King’s work is the internal monologues and scene setting that don’ t lend themselves to the pacing or the look of the big screen blockbuster.

But I will be happy for the new film to be an exception to recent King adaptations, and surprise me in a goodway. However I am concerned about talks of splitting this into two films, recent history showing studio’s moneygrubbing greed, comes at the expense of a quality, satisfying story.

But time will tell, read the above link for the details.

 

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Some memorable, one might even say memorial, movie quotes

Okay this gets a bit weirdy and ranty, so if you don’t want weirdy and ranty, skip this post and come back tomorrow when I’ll be discussing the finer arts of moose calling or some-such nonsense. 🙂

Okay… you’ve been warned.


The White Cliffs Of Dover DVD


“God will never forgive us, if we break faith with our dead again”

— Irene Dunne in her favorite film role (I concur) 1944’s THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER, set in a world at war, fighting to end future wars. Hoping the sacrifice of young lives would end there.


Short Night of Glass Dolls DVD

“It’s not Mira. Mira was a rebel. She refused sex and gold when everybody else here was lured with them, We use them as bait the whole world over. Sex and Gold. They are important because they suppress the will to resist.”

–In Aldo Lado’s surprisingly haunting and still relevant 1971 film… SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS, written in a world beset with wars civil and colonial.

“The oldest person beats the drum, and the youngest go to battle. We will hold the reigns of power in the world as long as there are people willing to be killed, willing to shed their own blood. And nothing must ever be changed.”

— SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS [for my full review go here]

I like those quotes. Good quotes from good films.

With an election year upon us, I’m always mightily aware of politicians and posturing.

And I’m always distinctly aware, I’ve heard it before.

Every lie before they say it. A memorial of lies one might say.

How about we try this crazy thing, instead of just remembering the ones who have died, always a worthy goal, let’s do our bit and reduce the number of people we send to join them this year, and next year, and the year after.

How’s that for a worthy memorial to war? An end to all current and future war. An end to young people dying for the posturings of old people.

Be those young people American, or Iranian, or Somalian, or Haitian, or Guatemalan…let’s consecrate ourselves to some new way, some better way, some civilized way… to live, that does not involve pitting our young people against each other in conflicts, real life Hunger Games, that they have not the slightest idea of why they are fighting.

So I’m putting on the ballot a new way to fight wars… the big mouths in this country who have a problem with big mouths in another country, the congressmen, the owners of papers, the columnists, the heads of corporations, the religious zealots, and the talk radio idiots, everyone who is quick to have others kill and torture for them… you go fight the war.

Let’s try that.

All in favor, raise your hand. 🙂 .

Let’s let the 20 and 30 year olds stay home, eff their brains out, get back to some of that age of Aquarius loving (before the 80s came to get them on the ‘me’ kick), and let them run the country.

And all you senators, all you justices, all you presidential candidates… you’ve had your time at bat, and you’ve made a perpetually regenerating and increasing mess of it…. so yeah you old, chairman of the board, want to be in charge f**ks, put on some fatigues, fill up that rucksack and you go fight the wars.

But no remote control drone bombing raids, no satellite directed death from above, no weather modification toys, no dropping mines in playgrounds (what kind of animal signs off on that? You do my friends. With every tax dollar you pay and flag you wave. You do, when you say ‘yes sir’ to terms like war power acts, and patriot acts, and laughable misnomers like homeland security… you do, we do. We did. Not anymore), not even any nuclear subs or good old grunts on the ground. No, we don’t give you any of that to wage war with, none of your cowardly, expedient toys to turn countless people into your faceless collateral damage, instead just a cage match with you old, hateful, fat f**ks in a cage with other old, hateful, fat f**ks.

We’ll give you some boxing gloves, maybe even a club or two, and you guys go at it. Work it out. Get along or kill each other, but either way, the world would be a lot better if you old manifest destiny, new world order, ‘woodrow wilson’ idolizing mfers would just die.

Because honestly, you effers have had your day, and all we have seen since the industrial revolution, is more of the same. The rich few get richer, and the rest of the people and the planet, gets raped and used up until we are clinging to a burnt out dying ball of rock.

What is the good of all your imagined power then you dumb f**ks?!!

The world can’t afford doing the same insanity that got us here, to this point, and expecting a different result. In fact that’s the definition of insanity, trying the same thing, and expecting a different result.

So give it to the young.

The world… give it to the young. They might eff up, they might not. They might find a different way, a better way. They’ll at least fall down going forward, going toward something new, which is more than any of you old ingrained effers have done in the last century and a couple decades, of mounting genocide.

Hell, maybe young people, devoid of you old people riding them to ensure they make your comfortable, beloved mistakes, they’ll even make a REAL democracy out of America, instead of a tyranny dressed as capitalism.

And as far as you old dudes and dudettes, you seekers or power and despoilers of wisdom, when you die, which is sad but more than likely a probability, that whole ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ thing, we’ll grill a hot-dog or hamburger to you on the next memorial day.

Really we will.

Happy memorial day. 🙂

Price The White Cliffs Of Dover

Price Short Night of Glass Dolls

PODCAST OF THE DAY: A Group Interview on A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

“So it came to my imagination, that Fantasy has been so lily-white, so northern European, let’s just turn it on its head. That’s the simplest way to reverse a train, turn it inside out…it’s only quite recently…that I’ve heard from people, some of them are just kids, some of them are remembering back to when they first read the Earth Sea Books. People of color telling me that was the first fantasy they ever felt included in, and what it meant to them. And I tell you, it moved me very much.” — Ursula K. Leguin

Podcast of the Day: National Endowment for the Arts Presents: Big Read: A Group Interview on A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

For more on the National Endowment of the Arts and EarthSea, go here!

“Earthsea is a creation of Ursula K. Le Guin. The original Trilogy was composed of A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan (1971), and The Farthest Shore (1972). The fourth book, Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea was published in 1990. A number of stories have now been published as Tales from Earthsea (2001) and a fifth novel, The Other Wind, also came out in late 2001. The first published story in the Earthsea world was The Word of Unbinding, which was originally published in Fantastic (1964) and later reprinted in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters (1975). The series has won a number of awards.”–scv.bu.edu

“It consists of three short novels, the longest just over 200 small pages in my old Puffin edition. And, though adults can read it without feeling at all out of place, it is written for children — “For readers of eleven and over” the covers say, though it could be read by, or to, very much younger children. But the Earthsea trilogy is still the first work that comes to mind when I’m asked “The Lord of the Rings, yes, but what then?”

A Taoist conception of “Balance” underlies Earthsea: the use of magic is dangerous, and can destabilise the natural order. And there are many patterns and parallels in the trilogy. A Wizard of Earthsea is about a young man’s coming of age, in which he attends an all-male school for wizards, and much of it is set at sea; The Tombs of Atuan is a young woman’s coming of age in an all-female temple complex, and much of it happens underground. And so forth. None of this is explicit, however, nor is conscious understanding of it at all necessary for appreciation of the novels. They are, first and foremost, spellbinding stories, with memorable characters.

There are now sequels to the Earthsea trilogy. Fifteen years later Le Guin wrote Tehanu, which is often coupled with these three novels to form an Earthsea “Quartet”. Tehanu is different in many ways, however — it is not a children’s book, for one thing — and I consider its inclusion in one volume with the trilogy to be misguided. More recently has come The Other Wind and a book of short stories, Tales From Earthsea.

I would not normally have considered reviewing the Earthsea books: they have received plenty of academic criticism and have been set texts in schools, so they should need no promotion. (Though the cynical might argue quite the opposite.) I keep running into people, however, who rave about Harry Potter and claim to be fantasy fanatics, but who haven’t heard of Earthsea.”— Danny Yee of Danny Reviews

“The Sci-Fi channel aired a 2-part, 4-hour miniseries based on the first two books in December, 2004… Ursula Le Guin… railed against it [Leguin discusses eloquently the whitewashing of her novel here] and I can not in any way recommend it… this is an absolute travesty against a wonderful piece of fantasy literature.” —scv.bu.edu

“I reread the whole thing once a year. Kid’s fantasy doesn’t get better than this. Actually, grownup fantasy doesn’t get better than this. The whole series is a virtuous performance from one of the greatest writers ever to work in the genre. The Tombs of Atuan (vol. 2) is probably my personal favorite; it has a special magic both because of the Borgesian labyrinth setting, and because it’s one of the first and greatest feminist subversions of epic fantasy. But A Wizard of Earthsea (vol 1) is probably the single most perfect fantasy book ever written. It distills the essence of epic fantasy into its purest form and restates it in deceptively simple prose that rises to the level of poetry.”— Chris Moriarty at GOOD READS.com

The Earthsea Quartet (Puffin Books)


So take a listen to the audio (don’t listen to the whole thing until after you read the books, you’ll know when to stop. Around the 17 minute mark), avoid the SciFi/SyFy channel series and all work by its director Robert Lieberman :), and pick up a copy of Ursula’s four book series here.

And generally just enjoy the source, the progenitor for later fictions such as HARRY POTTER and the MAGICIANS.

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Movie Review: HUNGER GAMES leaves you a bit famished?! :)

I saw the HUNGER GAMES this past weekend. It was good, and inventive story. Well relatively inventive, mixing equal parts Logan’s Run, Battle Royal, and Running Man, it still adds enough of its own mythology to keep from seeming rehashed.

Nicely acted throughout, particularly it’s a joy to see Donald Sutherland still commanding the screen, and still creepy. His role as president just another in a long line of memorable performances. All of the actors do a great job. And the film is nicely photographed and for the most part engagingly presented.

All that said the film never really goes beyond good for me. It never rises to being great. And I don’t think that understated ending, though I’m told it follows the book, helps the film. In fact I’m sure it hurts the film.

When I pay $10 to $16 for a movie, I want for the most part a beginning, a middle, and an end. I’m not a big fan of the TV-ization (yes I did just make that up :)) of movies. So that non-ending was the main problem I had with the film, and would have had the same problem if the book ends as… blandly. Some films have put enough in the can that they can pull off such an ending, such as NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. That curt ending comes, but you’ve already had the climax, the payoff, and the wrap-up of loose ends, so I was perfectly fine with that ending. Not so with HUNGER GAMES.

That non-ending and the fact that the sentimentality seemed at times just a tad much and obvious and forced, are the main things I came out of HUNGER GAMES with. And this comes from a guy who likes sentimentality when it’s done well.

Sentimentality when done well you don’t feel them pulling your strings. Sentimentality when done well, is definitely less is more. You get the audience to cry for the characters, not the audience watching the characters cry.


Akiro: “Why do you cry?”
Subotai: “Because he is Conan. Cimmerian. He won’t cry. So I cry for him.”
—CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982)

But my caveats aside the film has done exceptionally well on its opening weekend. However, when you open it on thousands of screens, in every money grubbing 3D format there is, and toss a Dark Knight level marketing and hype campaign with it, you’re bound to draw in the numbers. Add to that there is nothing in the theaters to compete with it, and it all spells dominating performance.

At least for the first couple of weekends after that I think the word of mouth will be a lukewarm, “it’s okay, but you can wait for DVD”.

Everybody wants to be the next uber franchise, the next Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. If the hope of this Hunger Games film was to get people geared for sequels, it failed on me. Had more attention been paid to making this a good FILM, rather than just a good 1st chapter, I would have been much happier with the movie.

So based on this, the rest of the series, not really interested… I’ll stick to catching them when they hit DVD; as I did with the Potter Series, and the last two films of the RINGS trilogy.

Final Grade: B-


A minor update: Ray over on WSJ wrote the following which I thought was worth repeating 🙂 :

“Battle Royale: In a post-apocalyptic future where all of the world’s major societies have fallen, the government has decided to keep the people in line by having entire classes of students fight to the death on a live broadcast. They are randomly assigned weapons in an ever-changing arena filled with traps that punishes those who break the rules or fail to pay attention. The winner is the last child standing, who is taken on a whirlwind publicity tour to show the power of the government. However, in the latest game, two students team up to beat the system and hopefully make it out alive.

Hunger Games: In a post-apocalyptic future where all of the world’s major societies have fallen, the government has decided to keep the people in line by having randomly chosen children and teenagers from all over the country fight to the death on a live broadcast. They are trained to use randomly selected weapons in an ever-changing arena filled with traps that punishes those who break the rules or fail to pay attention. The winner is the last child standing, who is taken on a whirlwind publicity tour to show the power of the government. However, in the latest game, two children team up to beat the system and hopefully make it out alive.”
— Ray at WSJ