Monday, March 14, 2011

Tommy, Clint, and One More Book.

1. Briefly: Rescue Me, Season 2.
"Tommy! Baby and me want you to bring us some more Soup-y!"
"That better be the baby talking, because if it's you I'm gonna come over there and punch you in the face."

(in the middle of heated argument inside illegally sublet apartment where they must keep their voices down, Sheila writes furiously on a piece of paper) "YOU'RE AN ASS HOLE."
(Tommy writes back) "DUH!"

And no matter how silly and ridiculous Sheila is with all her whining, her silly-crazy dynamic with Tommy makes me laugh and she's literally a million times better than bitch-face (Harper) Janet.

2. Film vs. Book: The Bridges of Madison County.

Book by Robert James Waller, 1992. I'm not really going to say much about the book (other than it's not very good). Stephen King mentioned that it was bad in On Writing, and I agree that it is. I think the guy had a good idea for a story but completely cheesed the hell out of its writing, even for 1992: "The  watermelon was perfect. The beer was cold. The evening was blue. Francesca Johnson was forty-five years old, and Hank Snow sang a train song on KMA, Shenandoah, Iowa." (grimace).

Film directed by Clint Eastwood, 1995.
Written by Richard LaGravenes (screenplay)
starring: Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep

"Photographer Robert Kincaid wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson, for four days in the 1960s." (IMDB).

Now granted, this film is extremely cheesy. There are some scenes that are really hard to stomach, mostly involving the daughter and son reading the confessional notebooks, and some of the dialogue, even from Eastwood is a little . . . dorky. But there are some really nice, sentimental things that happen, too, and when compared to the novel, this film resonates. First off, I don't think that Meryl has ever looked prettier; secondly, Eastwood's Kincaid was like everyone he's ever played and no one he's ever played. A bit quiet, very subtle, but vulnerable. "I didn't want to need you." "Why?" "Because I can't have you!" Each time he came near Francesca (Streep), she wavered, or stammered, or held her breath, completely enchanted by him. I loved that; believe me, I've been there.  When she finally puts her hand on his shoulder after nearly two days' worth of obvious tension, it's amazing. The scene of him standing in the rain (yes, this is uncharacteristically sappy) turns me into a water works *every* time. It's almost too much, despite the fact that denied love in narratives is probably my favorite thing in the world.

So the film is worth seeing, definitely, but I think that even Sawyer would have pitched the book into the ocean, even with nothing else to read. (sorry).

3. Film and Literature: An Introduction and Reader, 1999, by Timothy Corrigan.
I think I picked this up at Half-Price last time I was there (getting Donald's gift card); it's a textbook, which is to say that it's not entertaining reading but scholarly reading mostly about film theory. Some people I went to school with really dug film theory; I really did not. Most of it is horribly long, hideously wordy (this from me, who loves words!), and *s u p e r* boring, times a million if it's been translated from French. I get the same feeling reading film theory that I do reading film reviews in City Pages, as in, HOW SMART DOES ONE NEED TO BE IN ORDER TO MAKE FILMS SOUND THIS LAME? If the word(s) post-modern comes up in a film review, sorry, I'm out.


My favorite chapters were on "Critical borders and boundaries;" themes, narratives, elements of style, and genres (15 pages). Out of the theorists (149 pages), only Eisenstein (whom I was forced to read, many times in school) didn't make me want to stick needles in my eyes. Kristin Thompson had an article in there toward the end, and I like her well enough (she's authored several film textbooks that are cool), but all in all this was just too theory-y. And call me immature, but I really only bought this because Emma and Clueless were pictured on the front cover---yeah, they each got about five lines worth of press inside:

"Does the fact that Cher knows Hamlet not via the presupposed Shakespearean original but only via Mel Gibson's role in Zeffirelli's movie signify her cultural illiteracy---or her literacy? Or does this exchange perhaps point us away from any presumptive original, be it Jane Austen's or Shakespeare's, and direct us instead toward a focus on just its mediating package, what might be called the Hollywoodization of Shakespeare in the 1990s?"

What a pisser.

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