Saturday 14 March 2009

i believe I have lately admitted to myself that I do not care for Hollywood and its product, and I have resolved that before i start advancing into old age i should allow myself to be more opinionated. When You see comic book content having to be dumbed down in order to be turned into movies, you know that something is wrong with the world. To start with, what's all this stupid business about giving Dr. Manhattan a circumcision, when he was not portrayed thus in the book, and turning him into beefcake? He was based on the classical ideal of proportions expounded in Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man:

The circumcision is therefore another slice of American baloney. To suggest that he made himself thus because, faced with unlimited choices, he chose that which was fashionable (a justification I have just read on a discussion forum), is to turn a sophisticated idea into a commonplace one. Man imitates the gods after all, not the other way around. And all that musclebound stuff came in when the Image artists started referencing the body-building mags. In Classical anatomy, that look was reserved only for Hercules.

email from Hayley Campbell: (WATCHMEN SPOILER ALERT)

cal's right, it really is sparta.

saw watchmen yesterday.

the first five minutes are amazing. in the credits they do 5 second bits about what happened in the past. there's dollar bill slumped against the bank, his cape caught in the revolving door (the one he wouldn't have designed for himself only the bank wanted something iconic, remember?). there's mothman being dragged off to the loony bin. there's silhouette kissing a pretty nurse at the end of the war then being found dead in bed with her, old fashioned flash bulbs exploding above them. the design of it all is so perfect it's gobsmacking.

then it starts. most of it is such a carbon copy of the book that some of what alan's saying gets across by accident. it's kind of like someone with no sense of humour retelling a joke he heard once. some lines are taken out of context and you remember them from the book so you KNOW they're a good line, you KNOW they made sense and had a purpose once but without that it's probably just another 'i gave birth to the 20th century'. i wonder if the movie makes a glimmer of sense to someone who's never read it. i re-read it so recently that i'm not sure if stuff was in the film or if i just remember it so vividly from the book.

i liked the way the violence in the book was implied rather than seen. the worst we saw was a man getting his fingers bent backwards. in the movie we see arms broken in half, the skin splitting open and bone shards shooting past the camera. when they fight the comedian in the beginning to toss him out the window it's as if his entire apartment has been dipped in liquid nitrogen -- they throw him against a wall and it shatters. they slam him against what looks like a marble bench top and he leaves a head-shaped hole. everyone seems to be full of 90 pints of blood. when the dogs fight each other for a bone in the book it's just a long bone - it's up to us to realise the true horror of it all. in the movie, it's a leg bone with a frilly sock and a small pink shoe on the end. it's all there, it's just so fucking obvious.

but the worst bit - the bit that keeps replaying in my mind which means i can't look away - was the sex in the owl ship. jesus fucking christ. WHO'S FUCKING IDEA WAS IT to play 'hallelujah' when poor ol' dan sorts out his willy problems? i would have suggested that in the meeting as a JOKE. HALLELUJAH HE'S FINALLY NAILING THE SILK SPECTRE! the bird who plays the silk spectre, incidentally, is one of the worst actresses i've seen in a long time. but back to the sex scene: it goes on for ages. i think they used every verse and chorus in the cohen song and we all know that goes on for 3 weeks. there's the close-up of spectre coming against the dashboard, pull-out (oo-er) to a wide shot of nite owl thrusting just as the choir sings 'hallelujah'. the timing. they did it on purpose. oh it's awful. it's so, so awful. offensively obvious the lot of it.

there were lots of things, little human details, that were skimmed over for the sake of time (it wasn't janey's watch jon went back to get - the one that got broken on the pier - it was his own, we don't see the psychiatrist having problems with his wife, we don't get to listen to the newsstand vendor telling us what he thinks, nor do we see kovacs going to buy his new frontiersman so that when rorschach's face is revealed you didn't see enough of him to go 'oh, he's that guy.') but if they cut the bogus fight scenes in half they could have fit so much more stuff in. my favourite bits in the book were the tiny details. when veidt says 'bubastis...forgive me' and she says 'owr?' before she's exploded. i liked that. in the movie he says 'sorry, girl.' but she's so busy menacing dr manhattan she doesn't notice.

they changed the ending. i think it probably makes more sense. it's a far more likely scenario (as comics go) than having an island full of artists designing a cthulhu. but it wasn't as ridiculous and lovable. i wanted a squid, i just got another BANG! THWAP! BOOM! explosion. once again the movie has turned out more comicbooky than the comic ever was.

but the thing i think most reviewers are missing is that dr manhattan has no scrotum. it's amazing. he's a eunuch. that's why laurie left him, i reckon.

and that's my two cents.

Thanks for letting me use it, Hales.

In summary, I wouldn't say that a good movie is an impossibility. In the realm of the classics, Branagh made a great version of Hamlet that was able to incorporate old brit tv stand-up comic, Ken Dodd as Yorick. Negative reviews were few and nitpicky. And in the popular realm, J K Rowling stuck to her guns and now there is a whole series of Harry Potter movies that, once again barring a few nitpickers, has not failed to please the fans. And I guess that's what keeps fools like me from completely writing off the idea of the screen adaptation, apart from the fact that the world of comics is about as dumb a world as you could hope not to live in. However, I believe that trying to make superheroes, which are but graphic symbols, stylised and colour-coded, look real on film, is as absurd as the person dressed up as Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. High camp is the only way to do it, like the old Batman tv show, which I loved as a kid. Scenes like the Penguin fixing the races by throwing itching powder around the stables so that several horses had to be 'scratched'. Or Batman calling police headquarters to say that he was trapped in a giant cookery book at the corner of Broadway and Fifth. (or some such coordinates). Not that I could be bothered watching them again, mind you. I'd rather be thumped on the top of my head.

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Thursday 12 March 2009

browsing the usual blather this morning, I arrive via Heidi MacDonald at Colleen Doran's post: Conservative Blogger has Meltdown Over Watchmen, a response to "Conservative Info-Babe Commentator" Debbie Schlussel's review of Watchmen, a movie I still haven't seen as the baloney surrounding it is entertainment enough for me in one week. A line of Schlussel's sticks out for me because it sent me scurrying among her ravings to see if I could find any incidence of irony that might support this as being an intelligent comment:

"A few lines of dialogue by the character "Rorschach" deriding "liberals and intellectuals" doesn't excuse the nearly three hours of poison here. In fact, the movie kind of has a peacenik-themed ending and "message" regarding nuclear weapons. If this move is "conservative," who the heck needs liberal?

"This is Sparta!"

(Alan Moore:"But it seems to be that things that were meant satirically or critically in Watchmen now seem to be simply accepted as kind of what they appear to be on the surface.")

in other news, a man got his bollock bitten off by a horse.
"Luckily the horse did not chew up or swallow his testicle, but spit it onto the pavement," the bystander was quoted as saying.


Tuesday 10 March 2009

This newly found portrait of Shakespeare is an interesting story

... one of the Cobbes walked into the National Portrait Gallery in London's Trafalgar Square to see a traveling exhibit called "Searching for Shakespeare. One of the first things he saw was a famous portrait of the Bard that usually hangs in the renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington. "His jaw dropped," said Edmondson. "He realized he had one at home."

Reminds me of the old gag. Shakespeare never wrote those plays. It was another guy with the same name.


Monday 9 March 2009

hero in underpants tackles a 'roo
A man in Australia suffered scratched buttocks and shredded underpants wrestling with a kangaroo after it smashed through his bedroom window.
Beat Ettlin, his wife and daughter cowered beneath their blankets as it jumped on their bed.
But it then bounded into the room of the Ettlins' young son, who screamed, and Mr Ettlin was forced to act.
Mr Ettlin, who is 42 and originally from Switzerland, described himself as a lucky man.
"My initial thought when I was half awake was, 'it's a lunatic ninja coming through the window'," he said. (video interview at link)