Mr Grey Will Not See Me Now

By some bizarre coincidence, just over a week after I wrote about my disgust towards the upcoming ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ soon to be vomited on to cinema screens, CinemaCon kicks off and presents us with teasers concerning the much unwanted monstrosity. At the moment the public only have posters and more plot details, if plot isn’t too heavy a word to use, and we’re assured actual footage of the film is soon to be released into the public domain. This has already sent fans of the book into a frenzy of excitement, claiming it will be one of the best films of all time. After nearly choking on my tea, readjusting on my seat and re reading the comments I think I’m ready to pick up from where I left off; the film has the potential to be absolutely awful.

I know fans of the book are already defending it, saying it will be good and it will have some level of depth to it, but honestly I think those people are being far too optimistic. It’s the equivalent of people being stuck on the Titanic as it was sinking, but not actually panicking because they’re convinced the ship will sprout wings and fly off in to the sunset. In reality, they’re stuck clinging to the barriers on the main deck listening to Kate Winslet recite everything that’s happened between her and Leo so far.

Do people honestly think it’s going to be artistic? Based on the source material and how good that is, I think people need to lower their expectations. A word that I’d use to describe what I think the film will be like would be something more along the lines of “tedious” or “uncomfortable”, seems to have a certain ring to it. I think the reason I’m not a fan of the book is because I’m not middle aged and looking for a bit of thrill whilst sat on a sun bed on holiday.

Various words are already being thrown about to describe the film, all of which are a little unrealistic. I’ve actually taken the time to compile a list of words that people are using to describe the film, just so I can show how annoyed I am at people:

#1 “exciting” – the last time I checked the definition of the word was a little different from watching two characters who are based heavily on stereotypes, locked in a relationship that no one cares about.

#2 “romantic” – it’s not exactly going to be Casablanca is it?

#3 “dramatic” – based on how the plot of the book runs I’d say there’s more tension in the opening sequence of ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ than there is going to be through the entirety of the film.

#4 “sexy” – now as I’ve explained before when I talked of ‘500 Days of Summer’ a couple of weeks ago, I hate the use of this word when describing a film. It suggests to me that there is nothing else to say about a film, there is no other merit to it other than the possibility of frontal nudity. If a film is described as “sexy” then I try to avoid it at all costs.

#5 “erotic” – see now this is the one that confuses me, because it makes it sound more complex than it actually is. I think a better term you could use to describe it is “sexually frustrated”. Some of the things described in the book sound like they’ve been taken directly from a teenage girl’s tumblr page. Equally it sounds as thought it was written by someone who writes fan fiction on a regular basis. Just replace the names of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele with character from ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Sherlock’ or ‘Supernatural’ and that’s essentially what you’ve got here.

So as you can probably tell I’m still quite bitter about the whole situation and I still maintain the opinion that the film shouldn’t be made. In today’s world, where we are striving for gender equality, why would we want to see a film based on such stereotypical characters that are actually quite demeaning to both genders? You’ve got the male character who sees himself as dominant in every scenario and likes to assert this dominance as often as he can, and then the female character who sees this dominance as acceptable and then acts accordingly based on the out dated idea that sexual favours are the only way to please a man.

It just makes me think back to the James Bond films from the sixties, with Sean Connery spanking women on screen and telling them not to talk, or taking their bra off and using it to strangle them. That sort of behaviour was looked down upon and quite rightly so, and yet a film that’s going to show a billionaire asserting his dominance in an openly sexual fashion appears to be fine. I cannot comprehend why people find the character or Christian Grey as interesting as they do. He sounds like you’ve taken Richard Branson, filled him with the arrogance of a footballer and then given him the sexual frustration of a teenage boy with an internet porn addiction. That person sounds as repellent as Christian Grey actually is. But apparently because the book became a best seller we can forgive all of the monstrosities presented in the book. I think not.

And as if I’m not annoyed enough already, I can already tell that the film is going to ask me to do at least one of the following things:

1. Forgive Mr Grey for all of his deviant acts – not going to happen I’m afraid. If I could throw bricks at him I would, alas he is but a name on a piece of paper.

2. Sympathise with Miss Steele – also not going to happen. Her character is but another one added to a long list of characters who learn what true romance is the hard way by falling for someone with a poisonous personality. As if we haven’t seen that before countless times.

Neither of these are going to happen I’m afraid. You’ve got a male character who reminds me of Jordan Belfort, treating women in a disgusting manner and then indulging in whatever sexual activities he sees fit because he has so much money. Then a female character who reminds me of Daisy Buchanan from ‘The Great Gatsby’, presenting women as frail and easily manipulated by men. I don’t know if the writer of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is aware of this but times have changed. Presenting such outdated caricatures whose character development relies on stereotypes is not only infuriating, but it’s bordering on offensive.

If people want to see a film that’s based on uncontrolled sexual behaviour, the challenging of social norms, an uncomfortable story line and a collection of characters you dislike then I would refer them straight away to Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Boogie Nights’. I will admit that it is one of my favourite films but it’s because it was written and directed by someone who has a good sense of film and understands that visual style and careful writing are at the heart of a good film. The writing behind the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ film would have to be completely reworked and change almost every element of it, most importantly the characters, so it can start from scratch and attempt to make a half decent piece of film.

So in response to what the posters are saying (“Mr Grey will see you now”), I’m afraid he shan’t be seeing me any time soon, and nor will I be seeing him soon. Because while other people are going to be sucked in to it and fuel the film’s success at the box office, I’ll avoid it as best as I can to ensure myself that I have some form of dignity in this life.

Like I said last week, I want to be proved wrong on this. I want the film to actually be good to show me that I should stop being judgemental and that I should actually give things a fair chance. I want it to prove me wrong and give me a good cinema experience because it’s one of the best feelings for someone who is a fan of film. But at the moment it is looking very doubtful. If there is a constant media trail for a film then I start to lose faith quite early on, but it’s just because the book is so badly written, so uninteresting, so utterly without merit, that I fail to see how a good film can be made from it. But I still have hope that I will be proved wrong.

As it stands, the very idea of the film is making me think back to when I watched ‘Cloud Atlas’. It’s making me think that maybe there are worse books out there to make in to a film. Maybe ‘Cloud Atlas’ had something after all.

 

Advertisements

The Tim Burton Problem Continues

Thinking back to last year, one of the most popular posts I wrote was about Tim Burton and how I felt his Batman films weren’t as good as those created by Christopher Nolan. I made it clear that I liked Tim Burton’s films and I respect him as a director, but he is someone I can admit has somewhat deteriorated in his standard of film making.

The original post from last year was well received by the majority of people and still remains my most viewed piece of writing, but I was met with a small amount of negativity. I wasn’t bothered by it because people are entitled to their own opinion and I jump at any chance to discuss films and talk about different perspectives. In fact one of the best things about being interested in films is the number of opportunities available to talk about them in depth. Just recently however it did get me thinking about Tim Burton as a director and a writer and why I’m beginning to dislike him.

Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love some of Tim Burton’s work; I think he has proved on occasion that he has a really good eye for cinema and is capable of producing works of art. It’s clichéd but I do like ‘Edward Scissorhands’ but mainly because it’s a film I’ve grown up with. A lot of people will regard it as his best piece of film but I would argue that his genius lies in ‘Corpse Bride’, it took things back to a simple but artistic gothic style that really worked. The story worked well with the addition of musical numbers which made it entertaining, but what made it special was the deeper messages about what love actually is and how it effects people. This is what I admired and liked Tim Burton for, so where did it go?

I think most people hope that film directors get better with age, like Martin Scorsese. He went through the phase of making gritty films like ‘Taxi Driver’ and then of course ‘Goodfellas’ (which are both superb) and it seemed like he wasn’t going to settle down and was trying to keep the seventies alive, even if he was dragging it through to the nineties. But then he showed he was capable of making something like ‘Hugo’ in 2009 that was for a completely different cinema audience and showed how his directing abilities are broad. With Tim Burton he’s still stuck in the phase of trying to be different, and putting Johnny Depp in as many odd costumes as he can. I swear that man will wear anything as long as Burton pays him.

The thing with Burton is this, his approach to films was different in the nineties and it was entertaining, but the novelty has faded. He’s still trying to apply the same formula of visual technique and it’s not good enough. Take one of his latest pieces, ‘Dark Shadows’, the ill-advised venture into a gothic comedy. I saw the trailer and thought there could be something there, it made me laugh slightly to myself and looked like it could be sharply witty. So I sat down to watch it and found myself bitterly disappointed. I wanted it to be good, I really did, but it just lacked substance. If you take away the half decent visuals, silly wardrobe choice and hairstyles, the childish characters all you’re left with is a 113 minute period of dull dialogue, tedious set pieces, and gothic rubbish designed to make the film a little darker. It was an ill disciplined piece from someone who is capable of better.

The whole gothic approach to film is wearing thin, so people could argue that Burton is keeping this flare alive. But in actual fact he is clinging to this with every fibre of his being and trying not to let it slip away, and he is losing that battle. ‘Dark Shadows’ showed how far he had fallen from works such as ‘Beetlejuice’ because it showed a lack of imagination, and a ‘copy and paste’ approach to film, regurgitating Johnny Depp in a silly costume as a dark character, a family that have to accept a weird addition to the household, and a large gothic building that looks like it’s from an episode of Scooby Doo. Sound like ‘Edward Scissorhands’ much?

It’s not just ‘Dark Shadows’ that annoyed me though, I’ve had to sit through ‘Alice in Wonderland’ countless times and attempt to like it when I know that it’s bad. It took a classic novel and turned it up to eleven on the stupid scale, stuck Johnny Depp on screen in a silly costume and added visuals that would have looked impressive back in 2004. It’s disappointing because I expected a lot more from a director who can be good, and a novel that is beautifully constructed to be so intricate. That is why the film was unsatisfactory, because it didn’t feel like a Burton film. It felt like you’d taken bits of Burton and jumbled them together and I’m sorry, it just didn’t work. You can put a star studded cast on screen in silly outfits up against a green screen backdrop and it doesn’t make it a good film.

While on the topic of that film it’s worth mentioning that Tim Burton put film makers to shame during the making of that film. He showed exactly what is wrong with Hollywood and modern cinema. Now I don’t know if it was his decision because I am aware it was probably out of his hands, but accepting to have the film released in 3D showed how film makers are so fixed upon making money. It’s slowly slipping away from being an art form designed to entertain a mass audience and it’s moving more in to a business, where people in suits sit at the top of the pile and watch the money come tumbling in. As I said I don’t know if it was Burton’s decision personally because the matter may have been out of his hands, but it was annoying nonetheless because didn’t add anything to the film and is again showing how stupid cinema audiences can be by paying for such nonsense.

You could see the signs on Burton slipping slowly down the scale years ago though, having to sit through ‘Sweeney Todd’ you could see that his style is losing its touch. I don’t completely hate the film because there is some level of enjoyment, but as a whole it felt quite shambolic and disjointed because it didn’t run smoothly. It appeared that the gothic element and the musical element were constantly competing against each other so the film doesn’t settle in one camp or the other and that does bother me. Not because my OCD traits want my DVDs organised in to genres but because it means the tone of the film darts about and it never really finds itself. As soon as it feels like it’s going to settle, something ruins it and it begins to be very repetitive and makes me lose interest. It is a shame because again I wanted the film to be good, but I found myself disappointed.

I realise that this is the point in which Tim Burton fans will want to hit me, but as I have said before I do like him as a director, it’s just I prefer is old films to his new ones. He will always have classics such as ‘Beetlejuice’ that will remain classics and quite rightly so, but his new films are nowhere near as good as his old work. His old films were artistic and near perfect, his new films are annoying ill disciplined. I can only hope that he’s on his way to being as good as he once was. It may just be a case of him going through a bit a low point but then rising back up to former glory. I hope it’ll happen, but with the state of things how they are, it doesn’t look hopeful.

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is still better.

The Perfect Guide On How To Turn A Book Into A Film – Oil! vs There Will Be Blood

Recently I’ve been getting quite caught up in a frenzy of ranting about books being made into films and why certain adaptions annoy me more than others. This means that I’ve only really been discussing the films that make me annoyed, and I’m angry at myself for this. I’ve once again gotten so caught up in a state of negativity that it’s lead to me coming across as a horrible person who finds no joy in life. I would still like to think that this isn’t the case, but the evidence continues to expand.

I find that much like with most things in life, if you focus too much on the negatives you soon fail to see the positives that are right in front of you. It is all well and good me spending time discussing how much a film annoys me, but I think it’s time much better spent if I talk about the films that had a positive impact on me.

As I said before, I’ve been writing a lot about novels being adapted for the big screen and how it’s difficult to get this right. As per usual I’ve talked the hind legs off a horse about ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘The Hobbit’, but if there’s one film I know I will always appreciate as well as the book, then it’s Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece ‘There Will Be Blood’.

Based on the novel Oil! written by Upton Sinclair in the early 1920s, the film tells the story of a businessman navigating his way to the top of the oil market in early 20th century America. It shows how his greed and his lust for power control his personality and have lasting impacts for those around him, including family members. The film may not follow the book directly, but I admire that.

The book is very complex, switching from second person narrative to third person narrative and following a range of different characters as they encounter conflict, political changes and the questioning of religion.  The social issues are explored in great depth and it draws an intriguing comparison to how society is nowadays to how it once was. At its core the novel has characters that are consistent to the plot, but whereas the novel focuses more on Daniel Plainview’s son and the people he interacts with, the film strips away a lot of the padding and leaves us with just Mr Plainview himself and his actions.

The book moves on quite quickly from the events surrounding Daniel Plainview and soon become focused on his son moving away and becoming tangled in conflict and political struggles, but with the film Paul Thomas Anderson stuck to the events surrounding Daniel Plainview. It might annoy others who like the book because it does detract away from the topics the book covers, but I like it because it keeps the film simplistic. Stylistically PTA keeps his films simple so that they focus on the characters, which I think he achieved perfectly with ‘There Will Be Blood’, the character of Plainview was so complex. I went from thinking he was a good business, to hating him, to feeling some sympathy for him, before hating his guts again.

There was a bold changing of the character presented in the novel, taking someone who was essentially a family man who wanted to do the best for his family and turning him to a sinister, cold hearted shell of a man. It kept the flare for business and passion for making money, but it twisted it and made it show more about what happens when greed is left to manifest itself. The film is very simplistic and does centre on one man, but that is what made it so chilling. It left us following a man we in all likelihood hate as we see his greed completely change who he was.

There’s always a popular complaint from people when a big screen adaptation is released, because people will always compare it to the book and say that the film doesn’t follow the story of the book. In some cases, such as Harry Potter, I don’t care because I wasn’t engaged enough in the books to care about what happens with the films. In the case of The Hobbit I care because it’s one of my favourite books and I care about what happens to it. In the case of Oil! I admire the changes that PTA made. I like the fact he respected the source material, but then made it something different. I think it’s so admirable that a film maker who is the writer and director can take a fine piece of literature and be inspired. That was the key thing with this film, it inspired Paul Thomas Anderson.

It’s all well and good taking a book and directly transferring it to screen, much like a lot of film makers do nowadays anyway, but it shows something special when they can be inspired by a book and use that inspiration to make it in to something different. PTA took a source that he respected, took the elements that inspired him the most and made a film that was tangential to the novel, but worked not only as a piece of cinema but as a solid narrative. He took an idea, a character, a made an entire film out of it, questioning what it is that makes us human.

As a screenplay writer as well, PTA tested how far a character can be strengthened by speech. The film takes a full nineteen minutes before speech is heard, before that it’s footage of Plainview digging and discovering oil. It was chilling to see such vast desert landscapes with just one man walking across. It was the sort of shot that made me reflect on how small my existence is, it made realise that I am such a small part of this enormous planet we live on. That was chilling.

The correlation between the film being one of my favourites and the novel being one of my favourites is not clichéd, nor is it coincidental, I appreciate both for different reasons and I will always hold them close to me. The film was the first film I saw by Paul Thomas Anderson who has grown in to my favourite screenplay writer, and the novel kept me company over a series of lunch breaks at my part time job and two days ill in bed whilst on holiday in Tunisia. It will always means something special to me and be a book I can look back on a remember how it made me feel after reading it for the first time.

As the title suggests, I believe this was a perfect example of how to turn a book into a film, and it is. It showed how a film maker can appreciate a piece of literature, be inspired by it and make a piece of film from that spark of inspiration. It showed how you don’t just have to copy and paste a book to the big screen, you don’t have to follow a book just like a rule book, and you certainly do not have to add things to influence the pace of a film. That wasn’t a dig at The Hobbit. Not in the slightest.

If you haven’t read the book then I would heavily recommend it, it’s a classic novel exploring greed and jealously and how they affect us as humans. I may dislike the character of Daniel Plainview but in the end I know he represents all of us. He is a physical representation of the deeply pitted greed that hides in all humans, and is a display of what happens when this greed is set free.

Jay Gatsby – If We Hate Him, We Hate Ourselves

As regular readers will know I have talked many times about The Great Gatsby in regards to the film from last year. It’s nearly been a year since I saw the film and my opinion still remains the same, but I think it’s high time I spoke about the novel.

I will start by saying that the novel is excellent. It is one of the finest pieces of literature I’ve had the pleasure of reading and I would regard it as one of my favourite books. F Scott Fitzgerald manages to comment on the idea of love and desire but connects it to such intriguing characters, none more so than the title character of Jay Gatsby.

Initially he appears as a mysterious millionaire who likes nothing more than to hold extravagant parties for everyone but himself. Even this was intriguing for me, seeing a man who has so much money appears to be so hollow was fascinating. As members of today’s society we’re all drawn in to the idea of financial gain and material possessions but I think the first sighting of Gatsby shows what happens when you achieve this ideal. Money leaves you quite literally having everything and nothing.

But as the story develops we see that there is more to this gentleman than meets the eye, moving from something of a sixties James Bond villain to someone more third dimensional. If you look past all of the expensive clothing and lavish property ownership you see that he is a man who is very conflicted. His history is obscure and complicated and he tries his hardest to hide many things from people but, none more so than his love for the young Daisy Buchanan.

The plot develops to show how the one thing that Gatsby actually wants is the love of the one he desires. He wants to be reunited with the person he fell in love with at a very young age. His first love, something that some people would look back on with fondness but can accept that it was always going to end, but in the case of Gatsby he clings to this and keeps it in the front of his mind. Some would say that he goes too far to achieve this but personally I feel that he does exactly what any human being would do, and it’s not something worth hating him for.

I know a lot of people will disagree with me but I don’t think he is a character worth disliking, because in the end he represents humanity. He is a physical representation of the desire all human beings have. The desire to be somebody, the desire to be accepted,  the desire to be accepted by those around us but most importantly the desire to be with the one we love. Now people approach this in a manner of different ways, some write poetic letter and some sit in a room crying and trying to make everything seem fine, and then there’s Gatsby. The sporadic approach. The approach that wants that one person at any cost, without seeing barriers or limitations.

He’s sporadic because he is quite literally all over the place, he cannot control his emotions. One minute he’s a grown man with a strong heart and his head held high, the next he’s a flustered teenager who doesn’t know how to handle raging hormones. It’s love that makes him as conflicted as he is, as happy as he is, and most importantly as angry as he is. He blames himself and knows that inevitably it is his own actions that cause him to be unhappy.

That’s not something worth disliking him for, because he’s constructed as such an intricate and complex character, surrounded by lies and deceit and such lavish lucre but it’s all part of the hole left in his life. The material possessions, the house with the swimming pool, the yellow Rolls Royce, the clothing, is all just to plug the hole in his life left by Daisy. As a young man who was unsuccessful and had nothing to his name he felt that being poor was his mistake. It was what lead to him eventually being alone, so money was a way to fix this. That isn’t distasteful or something to dislike him for because we all do it. When we get upset or annoyed we buy things, be it comfort food, clothes or a limited edition blu ray steel book of Total Recall (yes, this happened to me last year) we all plug emotional holes with material possessions. Gatsby is us.

In regards to the lying it’s just the same, he was a nobody to one person, so he lies to become a somebody to everyone. The lies he constructs are to build an identity worth noticing and to quite literally buy friends. It’s admirable that he only has Nick Carraway as a friend because it shows how much a true friend really means to him. It shows a clear distinction between the two sets of friends we all have as humans: the ones we try to impress by being someone we’re not, and the ones who accept us for who we are and stand by us. Carraway was right, he was worth the whole damn bunch.

In the end I think Gatsby is us. He is a subversive look on the human condition and how we all try to be something we’re not. He represents how love impacts us all and what it does to us. If you dislike Gatsby then essentially you dislike yourself. Because he is a physical representation of all the jealously, lust, anger and self loathing that humans contain. Gatsby takes all of the raw emotions that we try to hide and brings them to the surface. He is someone to be feared because he is what all humans are capable of. We hate him because he is everything we hate in ourselves.

At the end of the day we are all Gatsby, stood on the end of a pier reaching out to the light on the other side. Close to it, and yet equally so far.

Some Films Are Like Having Your Favourite Book Shouted At You

It’s curious how when a film is made in to a novel people are cautious to compare them. I’m not sure if it’s out of fear that one might be ruined for them or one might annoy them but it’s always a grey area talking about a film that’s based on a book someone near you loves. I have be to cautious when I talk about ‘The Hobbit’ series of films currently being made because I’ve read the book and dislike them, and yet I know a lot of people who haven’t read the book and love them. I think despite what people say, the book does matter.

There’s this common idea floating around that you shouldn’t compare the film to the book, or that the book doesn’t matter because the film stands as something independent merely based on source material. I don’t think this is the right way to go about things, if you feel passionate about a novel then surely you want to see a film make respect it too?

I’ve always found it quite difficult to watch a film a bad film that’s based on a good book, because it takes something you care about and twists and breaks it right in front of your eyes. Just recently when I sat down to watch the latest instalment of ‘The Hobbit’ I found myself liking it and disliking it at the same time. I liked it because it brought to life the world of such a magnificent book that has such vast landscapes that were captured beautifully on screen, but then I disliked it because the action was always going to be the main focus to reel in cinema audiences. For me the book was a display of human spirit and the idea of wanting to be free to have an adventure so I wanted the film to capture that idea and show the real leap of faith we all want to take, but because there are dwarves with an all manner of weapons, they suddenly become the focus to get people’s interest. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the film is terrible, but I was disappointed. My full review of the film can be found here if anyone missed it and is interested to see my full view explained: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-the-film-is-long-meaning-my-review-is/

I think it’s the old case of the wrong element of a novel being emphasised. It’s almost as if some films adapted from novels are too loud and it pushes the boundary so it’s like having your favourite book shouted at you as opposed to read to you. The best example I can think of to give for this was the latest big screen adaptation of the classic novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ last year by Baz Luhrmann. I think I would go so far as to say that Gatbsy is my favourite book, it is a masterfully written look at what love does to humans and what love actually is, with such powerful characters and detail that pulls you in to a world very close to our own. So you can imagine how annoyed I was when I saw the recent film. It was a technicolour splattering of over the top visuals and a soundtrack that was so misplaced it still annoys me today. The book has so much substance based around dialogue and characterisation and yet Luhrmann’s approach was to throw it all in your face and turn it up to eleven when it just wasn’t necessary. He emphasised the party scenes and the fast cars so much it completely took away any depth the characters had and the deeper meanings behind the plot. I don’t even know if I can say I was annoyed about it, I was just disappointed. Again I don’t want to take up more room talking about it so a full summary of my views can be found in my review: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/the-could-be-better-gatsby-no-spoilers/

When a novel is adapted for the big screen you assume that the director and writers for the film have read it, understand it and most importantly appreciate it, but it seems as though some film makers still jump in and ruin thing. At least with Peter Jackson making ‘The Hobbit’ he’s read the book and he appreciates the source material, there are still people who don’t appreciate the source enough to make a good film. This was exactly the case when my old favourite Zack Snyder attempted to make a film based on the classic graphic novel ‘Watchmen’ in 2009. In fairness it is a challenging source to make a film from, but if you approach it focusing on the visual element that you’ve lost my respect I’m afraid sir. There is so much more to source material than just tight costumes, violence and uncomfortable set pieces. He even admitted recently that he made the film for himself, and that he likes to watch it because it’s his favourite film he’s made. This is an example of how we don’t make films ladies and gentlemen. Although from the man who brought us ‘300’ I’m not entirely sure what else we were expecting.

On the other hand, there are the odd occasions where I find the opposite happening, when a film manages to live up to the book or indeed surpass it. This happened quite nicely just over a year ago with the release of ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, based on the novel by Matthew Quick but not a direct copy and paste job to the big screen. It was quite different from the book, but to be honest I preferred it. David O. Russell took a novel that was quite good, nothing too special, and made it funnier and a really uplifting film. The humour he added to it worked really well and he focused on just how human the characters are. Sometimes film makers get so caught up in making films based on out of this world characters and set thousands of years away from our time that they forget humanity, the one thing that can make a film hit the audience. The character of Pat in the novel was quite interesting, but the way it was brought to the screen by David O. Russell was something special, because it was uplifting and made me feel positive. There are times when I laughed at him, times when I wanted to throw things at him on screen but nothing beats the times I smiled when he was thinking positively. That was something the book missed out on.

It’s not all doom and gloom I’m glad to say, there are obviously films made from books that are very good and are successful for a number of reasons. There are just the odd times that a bit of a stinker comes along. There are examples such as ‘No Country For Old Men’, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy that was very good, and I think one of my favourite films adapted from a novel is ‘There Will Be Blood’ based on the novel ‘Oil!’ by Upton Sinclair. It took a novel that was based around greed, family struggles and political matters and made it darker. I admire Paul Thomas Anderson greatly for making the film because it showed how someone can be inspired by a novel to make a good film without trying to make it a direct match.

And even after all of this, I still do not know how to feel about ‘The Hunger Games’. I don’t know if I’ll ever like it.

Fifty Shades of Dismay

Now it might be because I’m a film fanatic or because I have the tolerance level of an old man, but I am getting quite concerned that growing development of the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ will lead to the release of a genuine film based on this atrocity. For a while it looked as though it was going to be scrapped completely, because they couldn’t settle on a cast or some issues with who was going to direct, but they’re all ignoring the obvious issue: the film doesn’t need to be made. 

You can put up any barriers you want to say that it’s going to be artistic and different, but I don’t care, it’s an appalling novel that should barely be considered for adapting for the big screen. It is a book that is fit for a small selection of purposes:

#1. For middle aged women to read on a sunbed in a hot country through sun glasses that they frequently have to lower in order to double check they read what was on the page properly 

#2. Propping open doors that are light and can be fixed in place easily

#3. Hitting a fly that enters your house unexpectedly when you’re trying to concentrate on something more important, like reading a good book

#4. Teaching people of an older audience how not to punctuate a piece of literature. Honestly, I don’t know who edited the book before it hit shelves but I think they need to re visit primary education and be taught effective use of punctuation

and most importantly

#5. Avoiding

I can’t see it as being a film that is going to be enjoyable for anybody, other than the person who wrote the book in the first place because it means their bank balance is going to be soaring through the roof and containing more digits than their mobile number. I don’t want to see a film based around a man who so rich that he think every woman is beneath him (yes, funny pun) and then a female character who adheres to his arrogance and expectations. 

On the other hand I am aware that some people think it will be a challenging film that has problematic themes and underlying messages about society and the human condition. I’m sorry have we not seen ‘Straw Dogs’? That’s a film that managed to chill audiences perfectly for a number of reasons without being bloody awful. 

If you want a film that was based on a problematic novel, go and watch ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ because at least that is based on a novel that was well written. It had an actual plot line to stick with and linked in to a number of themes, such as the value of family and how obsessions effects the human mind. It’s difficult to watch, and to read for that matter, but at least it’s not ridden with dull characters, loose plot points and a fan club that claim it’s “sexy”. 

As I said on post about 500 Days of Summer just yesterday if a film has to be described as “sexy” it’s because there is nothing else to say about it. And they can’t even say that about this film. It’s going to be a dull sequence of uncomfortable close up shots and nauseating dialogue so badly written it makes Dappy look like bloody Shakespeare. 

Alternatively, it could be released and I find myself pleasantly surprised to find that in actual fact a good film. I would love for that to happen because one of the best things to happen to someone who loves films as much as I do is for them to be proved wrong. To come away from a film and to find that you have been surprised by how good it was is one of the best feelings you can have, but this won’t be the case. The media trail for it has been raging on for so long now and realistically it will reach number one spot at the box office. 

I won’t be happy if it reaches number on at the box office, I won’t even be annoyed. I’ll be disappointed. I will be disappointed that people will pay money to go and see a film that is based on a book so black of heart, so badly written and so utterly without merit. It will be the day I will lose hope for humanity and the future of cinema, because it will be the day that shows me money grabbers have won the battle of cinema. Never Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson trying to keep the old artistic flare of cinema alive, all it takes is a film that is so dull and without substance to reel people in. 

It will be the sort of film that makes me think “actually the Hunger Games was a good film”.

500 Days of Summer Results in 500 Minutes of Over-Thinking

It’s only been four months since I turned eighteen and yet there are more signs appearing that I am a fifty four year old man trapped inside a young man’s body. I find myself feeling negative even after watching a film that’s meant to be funny. It’s not negative as in “everything is awful” or “I don’t like living” but it’s more just me thinking about why people are so annoying. 

I’m starting to consider the fact that it might not be films I dislike, but it’s the people in them that I dislike. It sounds silly because I know they’re not real, but I allow myself to get to immersed in to a film that for the time they’re on screen, they’re real people. It’s odd how I develop a bigger hatred over an hour and half running time for someone who doesn’t exist than I do for someone over a number of years who does exist. It’s the reason why films that are loved by everyone else are less enjoyable for me, as I found recently this is the case with the film ‘500 Days of Summer’. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like how the film is written and the style of it is very well delivered, it was a romantic comedy that I was able to sit through and find myself enjoying it, but it made me uncomfortable. It’s curious how romantic comedies are set up to make you like or dislike certain people, and even more curious how I can take this rule and turn it completely on it’s head. I’ve seen the film four times now and after each time my thoughts became more distorted, like so:

First viewing: “I dislike the female character. It was unfair for her to lead the man on and make him feel as bad as he did. It’s her fault that he ended up feeling so unhappy”

Second viewing: “Actually I dislike the male character. It’s his fault that he’s unhappy because she clearly stated at the beginning that she wasn’t looking for a relationship, so it’s his fault for jumping in too quickly and assuming it was a solid deal. His unhappiness is caused by his own stupidity”

Third viewing: “You know what? I dislike both of them. They’re not going to be happy together so there’s no point in them even trying to patch things up. I don’t think either of them actually know what they want because the line between friendship and having casual sex has been completely removed. If they’re going to string it out over a five hundred day period then they deserve to be unhappy quite frankly”

Fourth viewing: “I don’t like anyone in this film. The couple (if you can call them that) are just plain annoying because neither of them can look after themselves let alone another human being so they shouldn’t be trusted with the idea of a relationship, the friends are beyond useless because they’re written to be the stereotypical beer drinking, football watching guys that every American is supposed to know, I don’t even know why Chloe Grace Moretz is in this film because her character is about as important as the football she kicks around, and then the people that the guy works with are beyond irritating. Why do they care so much about stupid greetings cards? All of their ideas on love are so distorted, they just need to take a step back and think about their actions. Or are they all too busy singing Karaoke at the bar? I’m glad they’ve all stopped talking and don’t actually exist”

So when I said my thoughts became a little bit distorted, what I actually meant was that they spiralled out of control and lead to me not wanting to speak to anyone in case they annoyed me as much as people in the film did. It’s annoying how it went from being a film I actually quite liked the first time I watched it to being one that can easily irritate me when I think about it. 

It wasn’t just the whole relationship crisis that annoyed me in the film, it was the fact that Zoeey Deschanel plays the character that’s supposed to be different and mysterious…again. 

The word that is often used to describe the film, and Deschanel’s character in the film is “quirky”. It’s a word that annoys me beyond belief when describing a person, let alone a film. It’s a word that people use to justify being slightly odd, or dressing in a different way, or listening to music that others haven’t heard , or eating hummus in a onesie at three in the morning or blah blah blah. It’s a word that it used by so many people it completely negates the meaning of the word. Now to describe a film as that suggests to me that you haven’t got a lot else to say about it. It’s almost as bas as when a film is described as a “sexy comedy” because that suggests the best the writing team behind it could come up with was cleavage shots, a food fight and then a gag about male genitals.

Anyway getting back to the Deschanel’ issue, it was annoying how she was meant to be “quirky” because it made her character quite irritating, but then it was made worse by the fact they tried to link this behaviour to listening to the Smiths. Now I’m a big fan of the Smiths so it was annoying to see their name being used as another “quirky” interest for the young Summer. I like the Smiths but I’m not anything like Summer. I think the writing behind their lyrics is superb and it reflects so much about Morrissey, but I’m the sort of fan who knows that they have more songs than just “there is a light that never goes out”. 

I think it’s just one of those films that I like and dislike at the same time but I well never truly settle on one side of the argument. I will never go so far as to say I hate the film because it’s not that bad, but then equally I will never go so far as to say I love it because I admit it has flaws. I don’t know if I dislike it because I’m thinking about it too much or because it’s meant to be annoying, but either way it’s allowed the inner old man in me to moan, which shouldn’t be done on any occasion.

In summary the old man part of my mind doesn’t like female characters who flutter their eyelashes and have supposedly “cute” laughs, guys who don’t think properly about situatons, young people not appreciating old music, people who are named after seasons, greetings cards, and the word “quirky”.

After thinking about it for so long I’m worried what my thoughts on the film will be after watching it for a fifth time.