‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Film Translation

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Cinema screens worldwide are soon to be poisoned with this unwanted and unjustified big screen transferral, and it’s safe to say Mr Grey will not see me now, or my money for that matter.

I was hoping I was going to wake up from this nightmare world where bad books were somehow granted access to cinema screens, but it seems as though that nightmare was in fact reality. I had doubts when I was sat in a cinema screening for a genuine adaptation of The Fault in our Stars which apparently happened, and now that I realise how real all of this is it would appear that the next of these pieces of rubbish is rapidly approaching on the horizon. So lock up your daughters and other family members, head for the underground bunkers and wait for Armageddon because Fifty Shades of Grey‘s big screen adaption is coming soon! I hope the radiation seeps in and sucks my eye balls out of skull so I don’t have to watch the film.

I still maintain that the film does not need to be made. Because it doesn’t. It’s based on a book that is appallingly written and completely lacks substance or any real interest, so how on earth can you make a film of that? It’s going to be a grotesque and completely unartistic piece of film that is already making me lose faith in people because they actually want to see it. They want to give money to this disgusting enterprise.

It’s going to cause all sorts of controversy, much like the book did, just because in terms of what statement it is making with its gender politics is a complete backwards step. And then a couple more. In fact a whole marathon backwards. We’re living in a world that is quite rightfully striving for gender equality, with more and more books and films showing female characters as independent and really breaking free from the shackles of how they were previously portrayed. And now we have this film. A film showing an arrogant self obsessed man who is animalistic and boulder headed, with a woman who is wracked with self doubt, weak willed to the point of being submissive at the first signs of challenging characteristics, and basically showing how a man can take complete control of her. That is not welcome. Male supremacy is an ugly undertone to the books so one can only assume the film is going to be of the same nature. It isn’t sexy, it’s infuriating and completely counterproductive. But still it’s being sold to us a romantic movie? I’m sorry but I am not convinced for one moment that this film is going to be romantic in any sense of the word.

As of yet we’ve only had a couple of trailers for the film and the odd poster thrown at us but already people are labelling the film “exciting” and even “sexy”, which I think is a bit too kind. See I think what the trailers have done is tricked people in to thinking it’s going to be this sexy film that’s romantic or good in any sense of the word. It’s got loads of lines of dialogue that are written to make people think it’s romantic, much like the song Blurred Lines did last year, until you stepped back and listened to it more carefully and realised that actually it has some sinister undertones. I analysed that song on this very blog and basically gave a translation for some of the lines that needed a little bit of clarification. So what I’ve decided to do this time is to break down some of the lines from the trailers that have been released for this film so far and clear the air as to what they really mean and what they are really telling us about the characters. I think there is more of an air of truth to my translations but obviously people will interpret them in different ways. Make of them what you will:

“Mr Grey will see you now” –  Let’s get this ball rolling with a line that makes him sound more mysterious than he actually is. Really it’s more of a warning has to how arrogant he is and it’s the perfect time to turn around and ditch the interview. No? Don’t worry, you’ll learn the hard way”

“He was polite, intense, smart, really intimidating” – “He’s a successful man and I’m just a woman. Also he was wearing a suit. I’m one of those people who finds anyone in a suit attractive. Like literally anyone. Successful business man? Check. Groom at a wedding? Check. The manager of a department store? Check. The people that carry the coffin on their shoulders at a funeral? Check. Serial killer appearing in court? mmmmm sexy”

“There’s really not much to know about me, I mean look at me” – “Open invite for him to make a cliched line that shows how a big successful man can somehow find something attractive in a wilting flower of a lady. I don’t need anyone else to tell me I’m unimportant because I’m doing that for myself, I mean why be self confident? Urgh, so unattractive!”

“I exercise control in all things Miss Steele” – “blah blah blah hegemonic masculinity blah blah blah successful blah blah better than you blah blah blah I’m complex blah blah blah sociopath blah blah blah pontification”

*response to the previous line* “it must be really boring” – “it’s funny because I’m going to find out later that actually he’s not boring because he’s going to take control of me. Love the irony there, classic”

“I’m incapable of leaving you alone” – “the courts have not stopped me yet so make hay while the sun shines!”

“I had a rough start in life, you should stay clear of me” – “this is cliched and ambiguous enough to make it sound like there is some level of depth to my character right? I mean we have established I am a fully one dimensional character with absolutely no substance at all but this slightly mysterious line makes it sound like there could be more to me right? Let’s just go with that, who gives a shit about writing anyway? BORING! Let’s get to some whipping scenes man! Bring on the chains and handcuffs!”

“I don’t do romance” – “as long as my sexual needs are met then this is a functioning relationship. That’s the way this thing works right? She is finding all of this sexy? Alright then! All I have to do is wait until the next time she’s menstruating and we are good to go!”

“My tastes are very singular” – “Blurred lines! I know you want it! I know you want it, you’re a good gi- oh…. yeah I should have mentioned this before. You know how some guys aren’t in to sharing? Like when you go out for a meal they’ll want to order separate meals and pay for separate meals and leave it at that? That’s what we’re talking here. I promise it doesn’t get any worse than that. What was that? What’s the blindfold and riding crop for? Nothing….”

“Enlighten me then” – “Let me in to your world where I can be reduced to a dog toy within this relationship! It’ll still be sexy because the man in the suit is in charge and the anxious woman is serving her purpose”

“I have a natural instinct for what makes a person tick” – “mainly myself. I understand myself quite well”

“You do realise he hasn’t stopped looking at you?” – “I think Hannibal likes you. I mean Dorian Gray. Shit I mean Christian Grey. Fuck sake creeps are all the same”

I mean obviously the translations aren’t word for word and there are a few other words thrown in to the mix so the lines are slightly longer, but it’s near enough a direct translation. Maybe with a dose of sarcasm too, but it’s hardly noticeable.

As said before, other people will interpret these lines in different ways and so will get different things from them. All I got from them was a feeling of discomfort and a suspicion that there is some fucking awful writing afoot. I wonder why.

Don’t get me wrong I’m a fan of romance films, I will admit that. When romance films are written well then they can make it as some of the best films you will ever see in your life. Films like Casablanca and Annie Hall are utterly fantastic and kick start a whole cocktail of emotions because they are fantastically written are just so engaging on a raw level. This is nothing like that. This is a film that it is the complete opposite of romantic. It is toxic to its very core, and I hope that some of the petitions to get this film banned from local multiplexes are taken seriously. It is a film that is going to suck more money out of the idiots who already bought the book, and then the people who made it can claim that it’s a good film because the box office stats were booming. Just because it takes money it doesn’t mean it is a good film. Titanic, Transformers 1,2,3 &4, Pirates of the Caribbean, Avatar, Grown Ups 2 and the Hangover Trilogy is living proof that the box office stats mean bugger all.

Everyone involved in this film should feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves. And that is including, and I am sorry to say this because previously she was admirable, but Beyonce. When she was involved in campaigns that encouraged young girls to be confident and stand up for themselves, I was happy. Now that she’s taken a back step and is recording alternative versions of her songs to help advertise a movie as degrading as this, I will admit my opinion has been altered. I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed because I expected better from her.

But as I have said before when I wrote about this film, I want to be proven wrong. I want this film to come out and kick all of my opinions out of the window and show me that I was wrong and that actually it is a good film. There’s nothing better for a film fanatic than when you expect a film to be bad but it proves you wrong and shows itself to be brilliant. I want it to happen of course I do. Do I think it’s going to happen? No. Looking at the source material, I’d say there is a very slim chance this film will be good.

To summarise, I merely have to quote the poem Storm by Tim Minchin:

“You show me that it works and how it works, and after I have recovered from the shock, I will take a compass and carve “fancy that” on the side of my cock!”

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The Tedium of Augustus Waters

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The latest obsession for simple minds is found in the form of this unimaginative and dull character from The Fault in our Stars. 

It’s coming to the end of the year now and so I am preparing my round up of the best films of this year, so it’s a real time for reflection and remembering what has been truly brilliant about this year. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the film many have labelled “the best film of the year” isn’t the best film of the year. Not even close. And this is of course the much unwanted big screen adaptation of John Green’s 313 page sleeping pill The Fault in our Stars. 

It wasn’t a good film, not even close to being a good film in any shape or form, but this was not helped by the fact that one of the main characters is ridiculously unengaging. Augustus Waters, the love interest of protagonist Hazel, has to be one of the most annoying characters I have ever had the misfortune to have been stuck with for over two hours of screen time. And it’s only now that I have found myself looking back over films from the past year, and now that I’m thinking about this film in particular I see just how many things are wrong with this character.

I genuinely have a list of things that I dislike about his character, and I was willing to document these and present them for others to see because it bothered me so much. Now I’m not going to waste my time by talking about the character from the novel, because to be honest the novel showed less depth and creative flare than the instructions manual for my new blu ray player. So I shall leave that version of the character left alone, as he should be, and focus on the idiot we see on screen.

So without any further delays I present to you the Tedium of Augustus Waters:

Calling a girl by her first and middle name – this isn’t funny or cute, it is just plain annoying. I don’t see how the girls in the cinema screening I attended found it so funny every time he calls Hazel “Hazel Grace” when this is clearly a cliched part of the picking up girls routine we have see so many times before.

Being scared of “oblivion” is so ambiguous and actually rather pretentious – it’s not clear as to what he actually means by this. Does he mean the game in the series of Elder Scrolls? Does he mean the cheesy science fiction flick starring Tom Cruise? The meaning behind this so ambiguous and yet we’re meant to see some form of depth to this character? He may as well have said his fear is “stuff”.

The cross between the flirtatious moron and the virgin does not work – it doesn’t really make sense to have a guy who is willing to openly flirt with a complete stranger, call her beautiful etcetera etcetera, and then suddenly reveal that actually he’s not had any success with women up until this point. It doesn’t make sense to set him up as a charming young man who can make any female swoon just by saying her first and middle name and suddenly juxtapose this with characteristics that are completely the opposite. It’s like having an F1 racer that can’t actually drive.

His reckless driving is not funny, considering the fact they both have cancer which is enough to be worried about, why run the risk with your health even more? – This was another thing that made people in the cinema screening laugh but made me feel furious. How would Hazel’s parents feel if she said that hew new boyfriend drives likes someone who bribed the examiner? Even if she did find it funny, any good parent would not let her in a car with him again. But for the sake of creating a sloppy teenage romance it’s just something we can shrug off. Ha bloody ha.

“That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt” – This isn’t a deep line at all, it’s just stating the obvious. Generally, yes pain does demand to be felt because that’s how it functions. Pain is a message sent through your body to inform you that some form of damage has taken place in a specific area. Unless he’s talking about emotional pain which pretty much works in the same way. The reason we feel emotional pain is because whatever it is concerning meant something to us, it’s showing damage in an area that is important (e.g. family) much like physical pain highlights an area of our body is experiencing significant damage. Augustus can’t just say this to his friend and expect him to get over what has happened when we all know he would be an emotional wreck is Hazel were to suddenly ditch him and never speak to him again. This line means nothing. He is suggesting that pain is something that demands to be felt, which my implication means it can ignored, which is wrong.

We’re meant to feel sympathy for a person that blames their sexual hiatus on the fact he only has one leg – he doesn’t think maybe it’s something to with is attitude or his own personality that prevents him from engaging in coital activity? No! Let’s just assume that everyone is as shallow minded as he is and assume that everyone shares this rather ugly view that people with disabilities can’t possibly be loved. Yes, let’s assume that and laugh at the poor little virgin. Honestly if this character was a real person his personality alone would make him unlikeable.

It’s odd how he can go from mocking the “”always” “always”” thing and yet think it is perfectly acceptable to apply this to “okay” – the whole idea of this “okay” repetition is pure nonsense and is not romantic in the slightest, which is made even worse by the fact that they mock repetition between two lovers earlier in the film but then end up adhering to this annoying habit. Augustus’ complete change of heart makes his character even more unengaging for us as the audience and proceeds to change 30% of the remaining dialogue to that one word. Great.

As soon as they go to Amsterdam the film starts thinking it is Before Sunrise and by default Augustus is suddenly turned in to Jesse, which he isn’t – the film tries to do what was done so perfectly with all three of the Before films, which this film cannot possibly replicate because the screenplay is so badly written. The concept of two young lovers just talking can be a beautiful creation, but that relies heavily upon the hope that they actually have something to talk about. So with Before Sunrise you have two people who are getting to know each other and gradually falling in love just by talking, but with TFIOS you have one annoying guy talking nonsense, meshed together with modern hipster music. “Romantic” is not an adjective I would use to describe this section of the film, and neither is “acceptable”.

“yes, I definitely believe in something” – again, an ambiguous line that doesn’t actually mean anything to anyone. I know he’s talking about the afterlife but technically everyone believes in something in that respect. Some believe it’s nothingness, some believe we walk the earth as spirits, some believe we just stay in a hole in the ground or in a tin on the mantlepiece, all Augustus is doing here is not voicing his opinion because he doesn’t want Hazel to be disappointed with the outcome. Instead he takes to higher ground and plays it safe so he’s still in with a shot of getting laid. Smart move you slimey young man.

“would it be absolutely ludicrous if we just, made out now?” – yes, yes it would, so don’t bother. You have kept a secret from me that is hurting me right now and is something you only decided to tell me this after we had sex? I don’t really want to speak to you right now let alone kiss you.

His metaphor with the cigarette does not work, for a number of reasons:

1. Anything can kill you – honestly, does he do this with everything? It’s not just cigarettes that have the power to kill him. Other things have the power to kill him without him being able to take that power away from them. Like choking on food. Or hurricanes.

2. What he’s saying is rubbish because his cancer eventually kills him – He is using this metaphor to say that something can only kill you if you let it. He undermines his own argument with his inevitable demise.

3. He is trying to link the cigarette to his cancer, which is stupid because cancer is not a choice – again he going with the whole idea of something can’t kill you if you don’t let it, but he can’t possibly link that to a lot of things because they are out of his control. Smoking is in his control and he can do something about it. Cancer is not something you can control or prevent just by being strong willed.

4. He talks about giving the thing that can kill you the power to do so, but this doesn’t work for cancer. He is talking about power and yet he doesn’t possess power over his cancer – this is drawing on the previous points but really his metaphor doesn’t make sense because a lot of the causes of death are out of our control. Is he going to link this to old age or anything else he doesn’t have power over? It’s rather naive to undermine such a strong force as death and think it is in our control. This probably why he doesn’t like the abrupt mid sentence ending to An Imperial Affliction because it’s realistic. Cancer is a serious topic and yet he is approaching it in a juvenile fashion just to recite some philosophical nonsense he actually believes.

5. The whole point of this was to be open about his cancer and show that it doesn’t scare him, and yet he hides it from Hazel. This is the most counter productive move he could have made – this character needs to make up his mind as to whether he is afraid of death or not. At first he fears oblivion, then he’s fearless because he has his cigarette metaphor, then he’s a nervous wreck again because his cancer comes back. He is showing that actually he is scared of what will happen to him, so he may as well give up on this supposedly philosophical metaphor because it’s not a viewpoint he maintains enough for it to mean anything.

The whole mock up funeral is ridiculous – funerals are emotional enough as it and it’s not an experience to be taken lightly, so why would someone put the two people he closest to in the world through this despite the fact a) he is not dead and b) they will have to do this all over again. I know it’s meant to make him feel better in a dark time but he isn’t really taking their feelings in to consideration. I wouldn’t make the person I love read a eulogy to me before I died just because I wanted to hear certain things said alive. The whole point of a funeral is that things are said after someone has passed, it’s a harsh reality but one we must all face, so why Augustus suddenly get some kind of exception?

There you have it, something of a diatribe towards someone that doesn’t exist, but that’s the whole point of a character. They’re meant to convince us that they are real without actually being real, but in this case Augustus only managed to show me that if he was a real person a lot of things that happen to him in the film wouldn’t happen and it’s because of his own personality. There were more points I could have added to the list but that would have been taking it too far.

It’s not just because I’m a guy and I don’t like romantic films because honestly I love them. If a romantic film is written well then it impresses me greatly, much like Blue Jasmine did recently. This is neither well written nor romantic. It is what film critic Mark Kermode once described as “sentimentality porn” which I believe he used to describe a film that is equally as bad: Marley & Me. It is crucial to have characters you will sympathise with in a romantic film otherwise it is harder to connect with. And even if we’re not meant to connect with them at least make them a little more one sided like Oliver Tate in Submarine. 

So it’s safe to say this is not a good film, and it is far from the best film of the year as many have labelled it. I suggest that anyone who thought this was a good romantic film should watch other films and realise just how bad it is. Watch something like Moonrise Kingdom or About Time and then readdress the situation. And if at that point you still aren’t convinced I would recommend a strong dosage of Casablanca as the cure.

Now that is a good romantic film. 

 

The Fault in Our Stars – Review

The much awaited adaption of the John Green novel delivers near enough as I expected it to. 

Not so long ago I found myself writing about how as someone who loves films one of the best things you can experience is being proved wrong. By this I mean when you judge a film too quickly and think it’s going to be bad, only to find that once you’ve watched it you realise just how good it actually is. It’s happened to me on numerous occasions and I really wish that I could have said this about the film in question, but I found that my rather low expectations were met. 

Now I will say first of all that I haven’t read the book so I knew very little about the events and the characters, so I can’t possibly comment on the book itself. Any opinions I hold are on the film alone, I’m not about to criticise Green without ever actually having read his work. 

For those who are unaware as to what the film is about it basically focuses on the relationship between a young cancer patient named Hazel, and ex-cancer patient Gus. They meet at a group meeting for those affected by cancer and soon find themselves floating between friendship and something more. There are obvious developments, one of which involves a trip to Amsterdam amongst various emotional troubles as well. It’s not particularly complex but the main characters and smaller characters do hold it together quite nicely for the majority. It did become quite tedious for me at times, particularly in the middle where we find the characters going through a repetitive “we’re going to Amsterdam, oh no we aren’t, actually we are, on second thoughts no we’re not” which did rack up the running time making it, in my opinion, far too long. At over two hours long there is clearly come material that could be taken out in order to make it more engaging. At one point in the cinema screening I began looking at the light fixtures and thinking about them, which just shows how disengaged I was from the film because it did start to get boring. It’s not completely without interest, it just became a little ill disciplined. 

For me the characters were varied, in the sense that there were some who I really liked and others I could not stand. The female protagonist Hazel is one that I liked, partly due to how well she was played by Shailene Woodly. She upholds a firm level of realism when addressing her illness so it did make her easy to connect with without being annoyingly optimistic or pessimistic. She is rather complex, reading the same book over and over and not really liking a lot of people but this was quite a nice change from ordinary female characters in romance films. Then on the opposite side of the spectrum you’ve got her love interest, Gus. For me the character of Gus was very annoying. I know he’s meant to be charming and funny and the ‘mr right’ type figure but I found his arrogance very off putting, and with reference to his “unlit cigarette” metaphor I’m afraid to say I did find him very pretentious. I didn’t completely hate him because there are developments in his character that show he is three dimensional, but for the most part I found myself to be the only one in the screening who didn’t laugh at him. 

The supporting cast is very strong, with Laura Dern and Sam Trammwell proving to be excellent as Hazel’s parents. However one of the best performances for me came in the form of the writer Van Houten played by Willem Dafoe. He managed to capture how worn down and uncaring the writer was and presented him as someone who wasn’t very likable at all. I felt that Dafoe brought something to a rather cold character, making his character one that both intrigued me and annoyed me. He is at the base of his character a fatalist; he sees endings as inevitable and accepts them all to willingly, but he isn’t just bitter. He has a different side to him as we see him as someone who can change his mind. I was worried he was going to be the bog standard run down writer who drinks and shouts a lot but I was pleasantly surprised to see him develop. 

 

I feel bad for saying this but I didn’t cry at the film. I can understand why someone would cry because it is an incredibly sad story, but I don’t think I’m the target audience so it didn’t have as big an impact on me as all of the young girls in the same screening. I think it helps if you’ve read the book because you understand the characters more and you know what’s coming. In fact I would go so far as to argue that if you haven’t read the book then it’s very likely you won’t cry at the film. 

As well as not crying, I didn’t laugh once at the film. The character of Gus is one that is designed to be funny but I found him so annoying that when everyone was laughing at him I was sat with my eyes closed and my head in my hands because it just wasn’t funny. I understand that the script was written by the same people who wrote ‘500 Days of Summer’ so they are good at what they do, but I had the same problem with that film too, it tries to hard to be different and to avoid cliches that is just ends up falling in to a whole other bunch of cliches. There were times when I acknowledged that something was funny but it still didn’t cause me to laugh. 

There were other problems with the script for me in the sense that for a romance film it was very sloppy in places. I’m opened minded about films so I don’t mind romance films, but they have to be done well. In the case of this film there were lines that did make me think and had different levels of meaning behind it, but then there are others that were ridiculous. The best example of this I can give is the reoccurring line throughout the film, which I am informed is actually in the book, and it’s the repetition of the word “ok”. It basically spawns from a couple at the start of the film who repeatedly say “always” to each other, meaning that they will always love each other. Cringe worthy already I know but this is developed by Hazel and Gus who realise they are saying “ok” a lot, to which one of them remarks “perhaps ok will be our always”. I know various teenagers love this line and think it means a lot, but really it doesn’t. It was one of the most frustrating and badly written lines I’ve come across recently, which is a shame because there are lines in the film I did like. It might just be because I’m interested in screenplay writing and I’ve become very picky but I just felt that like I said before, it tried too hard to avoid cliches that it fell in to another category of cliches. 

There were other things that annoyed me about the film but they were so small that it made me realise that I can’t have been engaged enough in the film. It was simple things like the product placement. There were far too many Apple products splattered throughout the film that it makes you realise just whos’ paying for the film. But I doubt this was a problem for many other people. 

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I hated the film, but equally I wouldn’t say that it’s a good film. The redeeming feature for me that held the film together was the character of Hazel. Her complexity and her strength as a character made her very likable and I did sympathise for her because she was a character worth liking. She was written very well and played equally well so it was nice to have something in the film that remained a constant merit throughout. Not once did I think something negative about her character and did save the film for me. 

As much as I disliked the film I do have to admire it to an extent. It took a topic that is sensitive and moulded it around a love story without being insensitive. It dealt with the topic very well and it was with the help of the supporting characters that the film felt human. I was worried that the film was going to attempt to be too different but it appears the screenplay writers have learned their lesson since ‘500 Days of Summer’ so that was a relief. 

Overall on the five star scale I would give the film two and a half, but if we were to use the Roger Ebert four star scale I would give it two stars. It’s difficult to judge this film because I’m aware that it is aimed at a certain audience and I haven’t read the book. As a piece of film I didn’t think it was as good as it could have been which was a shame and it’s not the sort of film I’m bitter about, I’m just disappointed. There were elements that ultimately I didn’t like, but it was the central character of Hazel that held the film together for me. 

Also for those who haven’t read my post about ‘500 Days of Summer’ and don’t understand my views on it, the original post can be found here: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/500-days-of-summer-results-in-500-minutes-of-over-thinking/ 

 

My Predictions For How Game of Thrones Ends, Place Your Bets

I can guarantee that the majority of people who see the title of this post, wherever they may see it, will continue to scroll because they’re not interested. In which case shame on all of those people, they don’t know what they’re missing out on.

As of last week I am fully up to date on all Game of Thrones events, having blitzed through the third season over the space of two afternoons. I now understand so many references and can indulge in various discussions about the programme, and with the fourth season now airing and two more seasons confirmed, it seems only appropriate to talk about the different possibilities for how it all ends. So what I thought I’d do is take every main character and guess what will be their eventual outcome, based on their current state, what I think of them, and what I would like to see happen. So I’ve devised two different outcomes for the characters, what I want to happen and what I think will actually happen.

I will say in advance I haven’t read the books so I don’t actually know what happens to the characters, the predictions here mere guesses, written to provide some form of entertaining experience for fellow GOT fans. There may be slight spoilers, but I shall do my best to speak spoilerese.

Tyrion Lannister 

Ideal – I want him to be happy, settle down with the woman he loves in a nice condo in California and become a successful director. Possibly becoming king by some bizarre route, alas there is more chance of Ned Stark becoming king.

Actual – I get the feeling he’s going to continue being unhappy and having decisions made for him, forcing him to take a part time job on the checkouts in a supermarket. Tywin will probably push him into working for Walmart.

Cersei Lannister

Ideal – just to be unhappy. To realise that she is quite a repellent human being and to be banished to a place that fits her personality. Like Hull.

Actual – she will remain the same, annoying everything and everyone and being one of the few people that does not die. Her inappropriate behaviour will continue to grow, expanding in to areas such as internet fraud, and still she will receive no form of justice for her actions.

Arya Stark

Ideal- can she just be happy please? She’s gone through so much already, I just want her journeying to reach a nice conclusion and for her to settle down somewhere. She could even become a teacher of self defence for young people. Or use needle to teach sewing, I don’t know, just as long as she’s happy

Actual – she is doomed to spend the next three years walking/ running, in a Forrest Gump like fashion, until she needs new trainers and grows a full beard

Daenerys Targaryen

Ideal – she finally reaches Westeros, still bent on claiming the throne and becoming Queen, however when she gets there it turns out all of the soldiers are a figment of her imagination and her dragons are mere kites she guides on string. It turns out she was a patient on Shutter Island who was allowed to act out her fantasy as a way of realising who she really was. It didn’t work.

Actual – I want her to continue building her army up to make it strong and stronger, until she eventually reaches Westeros and no one recognises her. She has no reputation and so has to open her own pet shop, specialising in lizards and other reptiles

Jon Snow

Ideal – finally knows something

Actual – knows nothing

Jorah (AKA Captain Friend-zone)

Ideal – he finally tells Daenerys what he thinks of her, and after venting his emotions he goes on to lead a happy life and eventually moves on to someone who is less obsessed with bloody dragons. The mentioning of the word “dragon” causes him to have panic attacks for some time.

Actual – he delves deeper and deeper in to the friend-zone, forever doomed to see naked Daenerys, but no touchy touchy

Sansa Stark

Ideal – she realises that Joffrey had essentially brainwashed her in to this whole “traitor” mindset, she slaps him and applies for a place at the University of Sheffield to study graphic design. Eventually she defers her entry and moves to Alaska with Sam Tarly. He’s used to the cold weather and he’s looking for a career change so it works out perfectly for the both of them.

Actual – I can’t be too specific, but I don’t think she’s going to be happy. There’s more this “I’m not hungry” and “I’m going to pray” rubbish so all we can do is hope it’s a teenage phase she grows out of.

Joffrey Baratheon 

Ideal – suffering, lots and lots of suffering. Involving his crossbow. Oh and Tyrion gets to slap him again and tell him to go to bed.

Actual – his reign of error shall continue and he’ll grow old as a the king, and none shall oppose him. It’ll be a similar situation to Margaret Thatcher; he’ll lose his position but only after a number of years and a lot of controversial decisions. There will be an uproar of celebrations once he eventually dies (another possible link to Thatcher, interpret as you wish)

Hodor

Ideal – Hodor

Actual – Hodor

‘The Hound’

Ideal – He will continue with his “not giving a f***” attitude and his anti-establishment views because he’s his own man, allowing him to form his own punk band called “f*** the king”. Their debut album “don’t play with fire” reached number 17 in the charts.

Actual – a freak accident will lead to permanent brain damage, restricting his vocabulary to the word “yarp” and forcing him to become a trolley boy at Somerfield working for Timothy Dalton. I hope people get the reference.

Bran Stark

Ideal – he shall continue with his animal talking and shall live in the jungle like Mowgli

Actual – he’s going to take over from Eddie Murphy and make some more Doctor Dolittle films, nearly killing off his career completely

Jaime Lannister 

Ideal – he realises that he no longer needs his sister for coitus and moves on to a more conventional relationship with someone who isn’t psychopathic.

Actual – with his new metal hand he goes on with Han Solo to take on the empire and defeat Darth Vader

Tywin Lannister

Ideal – he backs down and gets his arse back to Harrenhal, leaving Tyrion to his own devices

Actual – he moves away to Hawaii with Hodor, where they elope and have a healthy relationship, running a cafe on the beach

Lord Baelish

Ideal – he becomes more and more mysterious as a person until he eventually just disappears as a puff of smoke in the night.

Actual – he goes on to become a very successful Gary Oldman impersonator

Bronn

Ideal – the banter never stops and he continues to serve Tyrion through thick and thin, with various disputes about whether he is being paid enough.

Actual – HBO funds a comedy programme consisting of Bronn and Tyrion improvising conversations. It runs for 16 successful seasons before ending with a christmas special set in Spain.

Ygritte 

Ideal – she stumbles across the Doctor as a young child, goes travelling through time and space and marries Rory.

Actual – she wanders for miles and miles before realising that she’s actually two centimetres tall and is in fact living inside a giant snow globe. She curses the glass sky and shouts “who am I to have sexy cave times with now?”

Now I’m not particularly good at maths, I got my A at GCSE and left it there, so I don’t know what the odds are of these things actually happening, but at the moment I’d say they’re about 3:1.

Already I can hear fans of George R. R. Martin leaning back in their chairs and cracking their knuckles, ready to type various comments about how wrong I am or how childish I am for writing such nonsense, but I look forward to reading them. It can’t be as bad as all of the abuse I got for my views on The Hobbit. Tolkien fans are vicious. And quite bitchy too.

So those are my guesses as to what happens, I’m very interested to find out what other people think is going to happen, please feel free to leave your opinions.

I’m nearly certain that some of these things could possibly happen.

 

 

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.

 

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”.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Review

I will apologise in advance for not making this one of my rapid reviews. I was going to make this a reasonably short review but I realised I did have quite a lot to say about the film. So it’s time to batten down the hatches and wait for the storm of comments from Tolkien fans like last time, but the most basic comment I could make about it is simply: it is better and I enjoyed it, but it is still too long.

I sat down in the afternoon screening, drink at my side, replica of the one ring around my neck (please don’t judge) and an open mind that was ready for a new cinema experience. I went in wanting this to be a really good film and to come out of it ranting and raving about how incredible it was and how right the mass audiences were. However my patience was tested somewhat after 160 minutes of footage.

I will say first of all that I do think it is good. Honestly, I thought it worked perfectly as an action film and delivered me a lot of pleasure in seeing some of my favourite sections of the book put to the big screen with delicacy. Peter Jackson clearly cares about the source material and respects it, which is why he takes so much care in making his films. Unlike the first film the pace is better, but I think that’s purely based on it’s timing in the novel, starting a point that is quite literally in the middle of the action and then delivering us a chunk of the events from the adventure. I still hold the belief that this will be the best film of the trilogy.

I have to say that one of my favourite elements of the film was how they put Mirkwood to the screen. I have never been so terrified of spiders in all my life, and to be honest the people who made the second Harry Potter film should really take note. It was brilliant. The huge landscape shots of this chilling environment were accompanied perfectly by the close up shots and attention to detail, to the point where you can honestly feel and smell the environment based on what’s on screen.

The acting is once again top notch, Bilbo is one of my favourite characters of all time and it is a real treat to see Martin Freeman playing the role perfectly. The dwarves are as funny as ever, lead of course by Richard Armitage who once again manages to portray a conflicted character longing for his home land but concerned for his own safety. The new star of the film for me personally was Benedict Cumberbatch who proved to be a very good choice as the voice of Smaug the dragon. I understand that his voice has been brutally edited to sound like it is coming from a creature rather than an actor in a studio, but I still think he has done a brilliant job and it is exactly the voice I heard in my head when reading his lines in the novel. The timing between words and sentences, the emphasis on certain words, and the times you can tell Cumberbatch wanted to sound menacing. He was fantastic.

Now I’m not a huge expert on visuals so I won’t pretend to be, but I feel I should address it nonetheless. Personally I didn’t like the visuals for some of the film, I feel as though they were too rushed and didn’t do the book justice. See the thing about the book is this, there is a lot of attention to detail, Tolkien is a fan of adding lots of detail so that the image in your head is as vivid as could possibly be. What you have in the case of the film is faced paced action sequences that are a little bit tricky to follow based on the head ache that develops each time an arrow is fired and the camera angle attempts to follow it. The dragon was always going to be an interesting element to the film, being an important character and a challenge for any visual team. The trailer earlier this year sparked some doubts among fans, but I don’t feel as though it was too bad. Smaug’s presence was intimidating and you could feel the weight of every step he took which was terrifying yet brilliant at the same time.But I would be lying if I said I thought it was perfect, because it was far from that. In fact there were times during Smaug’s appearance when I felt as though I was witnessing the final boss fight of a Playstation 2 game.

This is the bit where Tolkien fans will throw things at me and want to deliver fire upon my household, but I’m going to say it any way: the film is too long.

What annoyed me about the film was that the length was taken up by things we didn’t need to be added. All of the added plot lines surrounding the necromancer were not needed and took up screen time. There is a point also at which there are three different plot lines happening at once and it did make me feel quite irritated. I agree entirely with Mark Kermode in the sense that the film could be two hours long and still be a good film. I know that die hard Tolkien fans will think it’s brilliant because there’s elements added from The Silmarillion, but honestly we don’t need them. It pads out the film unnecessarily and derives the focus away from a book that has enough substance already. It was too long and it honestly didn’t need to be that long.

As if the fans didn’t hate me enough by this point I’m going to add to the reasons to dislike me by saying that I didn’t like the addition of Legolas to the proceedings. I know he added an element of action to the film. I know it an appearance from a character we all love. I know he was the most “bad ass” character in the film. But did we need it? No.

The pace of the film was, and I’m sorry this is the truth, what Kermode refers to as “turned up to eleventy-stupid” which was disappointing. Legolas added to the pace of the action scenes and showed that the second and first unit directors can handle a fast paced action sequence, but he added nothing to the plot. It annoys me that so much action was added to the film that wasn’t present in the book.  I know the film needs to be interesting and entertaining but what I loved most of all about the book is that it was clever. I love the character of Bilbo because he was clever with words and showed how intelligent he can be. For me this was not translated properly in the film, and the dwarves came charging in all too quickly. The parts of the book I enjoyed the most were when Bilbo was being clever, talking to Smaug for lengthy amounts of time which racked up the tension and added to the development of the characters. I realise I said earlier that the pace was better, but the problem is that the pace starts high and stays high, which for me took away the sense of adventure that the book and even the first film had and replaced it with an over emphasis on battle, which was a disappointment.

I know that different people get different things from films. Some people love it, some people hate it. Personally I hated it and loved it. I enjoyed it because it was made by someone who clearly respects the source material and someone who understands film. I disliked it because I’m too stubborn and I love the book with a passion. Of course I’m not right with what I’ve said about the film, it’s just how I felt after the cinema screening. I may need to review it again after a second viewing. It might be because I’m relying too much on the book and I’m comparing them too much, but the point still stands that it is too long.

Knowing what there is to come and what has already been, I don’t know if I should feel excited or worried about the last installment.