Sunday, March 19, 2006

Have A Pleasant.

This week there've been a lot of very good interviews with Mister Alan Moore doing the rounds. (Here's a written one, and look!, a moving talking one too.

This in turn made me want to buy the copy of Mr. Moore's first non-graphic novel I'd seen at Ferret. On the way home from said purchase, I saw that some industrious individual had begun pasting up pseudo-revolutionary anarchy malarkey concerning the impending movie unconnected with Mr. Moore by any official channels, V For Vendetta.

(As a keen movie-poster-peruser, I find the official cinema posters for this movie to run the gamut from uncommonly exciting to astoundingly mediocre; of course, we mainly get the mediocre one here, but one I should have little regard for either way gets turned into a perplexingly engaging standee, so that's nice).

I don't want to seem like a great big fanboy here, but I have to agree with Moore here when he says he doesn't know why this movie was made. I find the urge to turn any narrative into a movie as soon as it's seen to have struck a chord with anyone to be somewhat ugly: somewhere between Hollywood waving its dick about and proving that anything any art form can do, it can do better[1]; and some sort of cynical assumption that if something is good, but it's in written-down form, that it'll never reach the audiences it could, so we'd better give it a leg-up by transforming those outmoded scrawly bits of paper into The Dominant Art Form Of The Twentieth Century[3].

And, I mean, I'm all for cinema, but really, how many okay movies do we need? If a narrative was invented in a certain medium, is tailored to fit that medium, and has enjoyed huge success in that medium, I fail to see how the logical next step is, "So of course it follows it should be converted into a completely different medium".

(I'd like someone who believes wholeheartedly in turning everything into a movie to explain whether this is done so as to allow the narrative to attain its full potential as a piece of storytelling - the ridiculousness of which should be apparent - or as an adjunct, an add-on to the source material, in the way film scripts get put into the past tense and have the dialogue directions replaced with far too many synonyms for "said" so as to justify the lofty title of "novelisation". I mean, nobody in their right mind treats the novelisations of such fine motion pictures as Alien and Superman 4 as real literature; isn't the movie-isation of V For Vendetta - and all other movies basd on previously existing material - until proven otherwise, much the same thing?)

I have not seen V For Vendetta. And if I were to list my favourite movies, a few adaptations would crop up. So my argument is flawed.

Alan Moore has not seen V For Vendetta. If he were to list his favourite movies, Don Murphy's adaptations of his prior work would not crop up[4]. This movie is not produced by Mr. Murphy[5]; it is produced by Joel Silver, a man known for high-quality motion pictures in an alternate universe. Look, MTV have conducted an insightful interview with him, which they have bookended with other insightful statements about the movie:

V For Retarded

...So while my reasons for not thinking V For Vendetta will be good are flawed, I remain cautiously confident that it will not be very good.

If I were a notch cleverer, I'd equate Hollywood's Need To Adapt Everything with exactly the sort of malevolence depicted in popular motion pictures such as V For Vendetta; luckily for y'all, I remain, as ever, far below that sort of thing.

[1] Patently untrue. It's a scientifically demonstrable truth that 90% of all movies-from-books, well over 50% of all movies-from-discographies, and 99.9%[2] of all movies-from-lives have fallen - quoting Science here again, people - a zillion miles short of doing justice to their source material.
[2] Find here provisional exception for documentaries that eschew strict Voglerifying of the narrative of a person's life; and/or biographies of people who've lived exceptionally boring lives and somehow had movies made of them. None of the latter spring to mind.
[3] There are quarters where people will tell you that the Twentieth Century is over with - which is, I'll admit, true - and that videogames are the dominant art form of the new century. These people are, of course, cretins who don't even make very good games.
[4] I actually rather enjoyed From Hell, albiet with the expected caveat of "utterly independent of the comic book". I can, however, see the point of someone who adhered fastidiously to actual historical details, characters and - where possible - actual lines of dialogue, only to have a movie come out that was an adaptation of your source material in as much as it was called the same thing.
[5] Who once accused me of splitting my time evenly between onanism and spending too long typing posts that would end up on; neither of which are actually false claims, though he did go so far as to imply that I sometimes did both at the same time, which would be impressive.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Armchair Pundit

So we learned yesterday that Them Racists are sexier than Them Gays, Them Jews, Them Commies, or Them Liberals. If I were in the ridiculous habit of ascribing some measure of single-mindedness to the Academy, I'd be sure there was a very good reasoning behind this (and I will admit to trying to fathom whatever memetic damage-control may've influenced the voting); I'm more likely instead to figure this has been a while coming and it ain't worth no fussin' over.

The Gay Cowboy genre is, of course, as old as the hills; I don't think it was concern over what The Academy as some sort of mythical hivemind thinks of Them Gays that caused Crash to win, rather simple trend-acknowledgement. As in, there's an lot of Ensemble pictures with blown-out cinematography and lots of handicam in them coming out lately, so it's about time one of them got an award.

Dissatisfied Brokeback fans complain that in fifty years, "their" movie will be the one remembered and Crash will be but a footnote: people will think back to the films of the early c21st and won't for the life of them be able to remember if that Thandie-fingering scene was in 21 Grams or Syriana, assuming of course it wasn't in Traffic. Which is probably right. The logical question being, then, so why do you care? Any Man On The Street feeling that Brokeback Mountain's loss actually means anything in the broader scheme of things might like to name me five Best Picture winners from, oh, before 1990. I don't mean to sound unnecessarily blase here, but honestly: if your movie had the best per-screen grosses of any live-action movie ever, which it did, and your movie meant so much to so many people, which obviously it did, is it really much of a deal either way whether it won or not?

I mean, hey. I'm a big fruitcake Liberal. People often mistake me for a gay writer. (Come to think of it, people often mistake me for an angry Jew - I guess cause I'm so damn witty and all). And who doesn't want to be a gay cowboy every now and then? So I can sympathise: it would be awful nice if a movie you identified with would win an Oscar and it would show that finally people were accepting The Community for who they were. But the fact is, that's not what it would mean anyway. The whole thing had been preemptively spun to high heaven so we'd be in no doubt that if a picture won that offended your own personal politics, it'd be because The Academy Is Out Of Touch.

(And, if I were to ascribe any credence to the memetic-damage-control theory, which I'm not saying I am and I'm not saying I'm not, I'd ascribe credence to the notion that "Racism=Bad" is just the most universal Message encoded into any of the nominees this year. "Universal" and "lowest-common-denominator" being somewhat exemplary of the potato/potahto dichotomy, and as such not worth exploring too much further).

But the #1 reason I really can't be fussed either way about the Oscars is that, what with Syriana, Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain, Goodnight And Good Luck, Crash et al, I've been far too busy enjoying uncommonly good movies to really be bothered which of them the Academy likes. And as a gay liberal Jewish writer, I think my message is universal as a sumbitch.

[EDIT]: While it be hatin', this piece by Erik Lundegaard is rather less charitable toward Mr. Haggis' efforts; and, while my thoughts on seeing Crash would seem to suggest that I enjoyed it, I can't actually find many counts on which I disagree with him. (Possibly the "Crash Sucks" one).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sisters are doin' it for themselves

I am thinking about this this evening. This is for women in South Dakota, where abortions may be about to be banned. It is an article on how to conduct an abortion in your own house.
There are many comments refining the advice given herein, which, of course, is exactly what this whole interweb thing is all about. And then there are many saying thank you very much for this advice, and it should be widely disseminated.
Which I agree with, but not so as many people as possible can conduct abortions in their kitchens. Why it should be disseminated is to remind people that if you take away the right to choose legal, professional treatment for pregancy, this is what will go on instead, and - it's not that Molly goes out of her way to shock, quite the reverse - but the fact is that the gravity of the circumstances somewhat mandate that that legal and professional environment is provided.
I don't think Molly provides the information so as to make life easy for women in South Dakota, as many of her commentors seem to be thanking her for. I think she's providing this guide to make apparent just how simple and painless things won't be if Roe v Wade is successfully overturned.
Which I think is a brilliant way for Molly to make a point that many people obviously agree with. Part of me wants as many right-wing logs as possible to pick up on it and make a big hooplah about the whole deal - hell, the dream should be that this thing gets poo-pooed and shot down on Fox And Friends at midnight on Prime TV, where I can hear it and be happy that the point has been successfully made. Aikido is what it is - using your opponent's loud belligerent idiocy against them, so that the most vocal, least thoughtful end of the spectrum holler themselves hoarse about what a bad thing it is you're doing, and meanwhile anyone with a brain in their noggin is thinking, well, if that's the face of anti-abortion these days...
But then, I may well be wrong.