Sunday, March 27, 2011

Groan.

I really didn't want to write this; I've been putting it off for days. But I suppose if I'm going to join the "legitimate" media writers out there, I'm going to have to be honest and maybe unkind when something is really bad. I haven't ever had a problem bashing films before because 1. clearly no producer or director gives a good goddamn about what I think and 2. films are *productions,* group efforts, not the accomplishment (or in this case failing) of one single person---like the cast and crew of Vanilla Sky: they ALL had a hand in its badness.

Writing is different. I know this because I write and I know writers. Even if we know we've written something that honestly is not great, we live with our own judgements every day; judgements coming from other people are difficult. Here it is:

The Language of Fear, 1995 by Del James.

I really wanted to like this. A little background: "Without You," one of the short stories included in this collection was the inspiration behind Guns and Roses' epic video, November Rain. You'll probably remember the scrawling credit of James's name, I did, and searched high and low for the title when I was in high school. Couldn't find it anywhere. Then, back on Valentine's Day when I put the video on here, I looked it up on Amazon and there it was. Maybe I built it up too much because I was such a huge fan of the video and song, or maybe I'm just getting really intolerant and bitchy (and bitter and jealous!) when it comes to what gets published, but this collection was really difficult to read.

It's not the subject matter, which is dark. If anything all the porn, heroin, and general violence kept me reading just because they were interesting topics. And I've never been much of a format purist, but the lack of structure together with some really choppy writing had me cringing. A lot. I think the thing that bothered me the most was this constant referring to the main character (after introduction, exposition, pages and pages into the story) in this third person kind of way: "the drunkard," "the musician," "the junkie," etc., this after we already know the characters' names and the fact that they are these things. It was . . . cheesy. In some stories there was a really serious divide between whose point of view the story was told from and in "Adult Nature Material" there was a completely superfluous sex dream that really added nothing to what actually happened in the story but took up about half of the pages dedicated to it. Also, there wasn't much done in the way of alignment with any of the characters, many of them were just rude, selfish dicks with no redeeming qualities. There has to be *something* that makes us care about them, right? Otherwise, why bother?

The writing was mottled with way too many adjectives and adverbs and this really caused the narratives to suffer. I don't doubt that the author has first hand experience with much of what he's written about---I think these stories would have really been killer had he not let all the language get in the way. The author has really interesting things to say and obviously a lot of heart and honesty, but just tell us the story. Or maybe look into getting a bitchier editor. (Ugh. I already feel awful. Sorry).

Not. Even. Close. BUD.
Also: Grown Ups, 2010, directed by Dennis Dugan.

"After their high school basketball coach passes away, five good friends and former teammates reunite for a Fourth of July holiday weekend." (IMDB).


This was the opposite of funny. And honestly the worst thing I've seen in months. Who . . . why . . . HOW did this ever get made? I have to give the actors credit, their laughing all seemed to be genuine, which is baffling as nothing that happens is even remotely funny. It's not completely uninteresting though, it was kind of neat (and disgusting) trying to figure out whose children were the worst behaved . . . for maybe seven minutes. I shut it off. And squeezed it hard when I put it in the mailbox the next morning. And I'm not sorry. Boo.

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