glitter_n_gore: (han solo)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, both the book by Brian Selznick and the movie (called simply Hugo) directed by Martin Scorcese, is about this kid who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. He keeps all the clocks in the station running, routinely pinches food from the shops to survive, and sometimes clockwork toys from the toy shop for parts. You see, he's trying to repair an automaton--a mechanical man who can write. The automaton is his last connection to his father, who died in a fire at the museum where he worked, and Hugo is sure that when he can get it working, the automaton will give him a message from his father.

Book Cover via GoodReads

Now, in order to get into the real meat of this story, I am going to have to spoil a mid-point plot twist--namely what Hugo actually finds when the automaton comes to life. I went into the movie completely cold and found myself spellbound, and I wouldn't want to rob anyone of that experience if you haven't seen / read it yet. So if you don't want to know any more, this is the place to stop reading.

Read more. . . )
glitter_n_gore: (jean gray)
This is not my usual format for a "Film of the Book" review, because there's just one aspect of this story I want to get into today.

One thing you probably know about me by now is I watch a lot of horror movies. So this is a fun time of year for me. Among my more recent traditions is the 31 Days of Halloween Movie Marathon wherein I try to watch a movie a day for a solid month--all horror, all stuff I haven't seen before--and see how far I get before the blessed day itself.

One thing you might also know is that October, in addition to being the month of candy, costumes and creepy things, is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Which makes it the month of pink ribbons. There was a time when this really annoyed me, because when I'm marathoning scary movies, I don't really want to be surrounded by pink everywhere I go. My relationship with the color is . . . complicated. For a long time, I hated it on principle because it was "girly" and therefore "stupid" and "bad." More recently, I started to question why exactly I associated it with those latter two. Why does "girly" equal "stupid" and "bad," I wondered?

(Image property of MGM)

This year, the first movie in my marathon queue was the 2013 version of Carrie directed by Kimberly Pierce and starring Chloe Grace Moretz. Counting the TV movie with Angela Bettis that came out in 2002, it's the third on-screen adaptation I've seen of Stephen King's novel, but also the first I've seen since I actually read the book. All three movies are very similar--nothing marks this one as different except a posting-horrible-things-on-the-internet side plot that I was expecting to go way further than it did. I think this is a good thing since the story is so universal, so timeless, yet so particular to the unique hell that is life as a teenage girl, that it wouldn't be the same if you shifted it too much in another direction.

What jumped out at me this time, however, was the use of color. I'm not talking about the blood-drenched finale or the harrowing shower scene in the beginning--red is an obvious go-to in stories like this. I'm talking about Carrie's prom dress. If you're only superficially familiar with the story, then there are two things you need to know about that dress: 1) Carrie makes it herself. 2) It's pink.

Read more. . . )
glitter_n_gore: (eric draven)
2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1994 adaptation of James O'Barr's The Crow. Which, sadly, makes it also the 20th anniversary of star Brandon Lee's untimely death.

I feel like The Crow is one of those movies like Jacob's Ladder and Silent Hill that I've seen dozens of times, and I talk around it every so often without going into a lot of depth. This week, before realizing thanks to an article in the current issue of Rue Morgue that it has been twenty years now (!), I had already started a mini-marathon focusing on Bruce and Brandon Lee's movies. I'm taking it as a sign. I'm also going to assume you've seen it already, and leave out my usual plot summary partly for the sake of brevity, but mostly because the plot is not really my main talking point here.

Let's talk about The Crow. . . )

Cross-posted to [ profile] rhoda_rants.
glitter_n_gore: (jean gray)
Like every other thirteen-year-old girl in 1996, I was in looooove with Leonardo DiCaprio. He was just so gosh-darn cute, and he had two sweeping, tragic romances out one year after the other, and he had that lovely Italian name--how could we resist? Leo was my generation's Robert Pattinson, and I still have the scrapbook to prove it. The fact that he could actually, y'know, act, was beside the point.

It's hard for me to look at the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo and Juliet without my nostalgia goggles on. I loved it then, I still love it now, and I honestly have no idea how much of that is my residual fangirl self and how much is my analytical reviewer self who thinks it's a genuinely good movie. So bear with me here--I'm biased, I know that, I can't help it.


What I do know is there's a sizeable contingent of people who can't stand this movie, and I understand why. Usually their reasons come down to one of two things: either the decision to modernize the setting but keep the original text, or Luhrmann's flashy direction. Both are impossible to escape and hit the viewer hard from the get-go. So if either of those things bug you, it's gonna be a hard movie to sit through. Personally, I've always had an affinity for the uncompromisingly weird, so it never bothered me. Plus, if you happened to be studying the play in school at the exact same time (which I was), the modern context made the language a little more accessible--not so daunting and archaic.

The resulting film is one of the stranger interpretations of the classic play out there, but one of the most faithful at the same time. That's pretty impressive if you think about it. Additionally, because it is such a faithful adaptation, it makes a perfect case study for the classic Elizabethan tragedy.

Read more... )
glitter_n_gore: (jean gray)
Shakespeare Detour: West Side Story

I'm tackling these in the order I first saw them, although as it so happens West Side Story also has the earliest release date of the films I'm looking at. This 1961 film adaptation of the 1957 musical swept the Oscars and enchanted audiences for decades. The music alone is searingly romantic even without any context to back it up, and I've heard "One Hand, One Heart" in actual weddings in the real world. This retelling takes place in contemporary New York--well, contemporary for the time period in which it was created, meaning late '50s/early '60s--and makes some fairly signficant changes in the relationships between the characters, and the ending.


Our young lovers are here represented by Tony (Richard Beymer), a former member of street gang The Jets, now trying to earn an honest living and waxing poetical about this extremely vague dream he keeps having; and Maria (Natalie Wood), the younger sister of rival gang The Sharks, who at the start of the movie wants nothing more than to go to the big party and hang out with the cool kids. Also, she's supposed to be with this guy Chino, but she just doesn't love him that way.

Now, while the overall structure of the original play gets changed a little every time it's revisited, even in traditional adaptations, there are a few key scenes that I feel need to happen in order for this to still be the "Romeo and Juliet" story:

-The love-at-first-sight meeting between the two lovers

-The balcony scene/mutual declaration of love

-The death of Mercutio

-The death of Tybalt

-The tragic finale with the deaths of the two lovers

West Side Story covers most of it pretty faithfully, hitting a lot of the same beats and unfolding at roughly the same pace. However, in this version, "Juliet" gets to live.

Read more... )
glitter_n_gore: (emma)
Welcome to the first of my Shakespeare Detours! This is a sub-category of my Film of the Book series that I didn't foresee, but since every single one of the Bard's timeless plays have been adapted to film multiple times (3 and counting this year alone), I felt it warranted discussion. This is an introduction to my first subject of study, and a personal favorite: Romeo and Juliet.

(Side note: people always seem to think my favorite Shakespeare play is Macbeth. No idea why.) (And yes, this is my sarcastic voice.)

So, there's a new movie adaptation out directed by Carlo Carlei, starring Hailee Steinfield (True Grit) and Douglas Booth as the titular leads. I'm told screenwriter Julian Fellowes has something to do with Downton Abbey, which everyone but me is obsessed with apparently. As of this writing, it's barely cracked a million at the box office (only $500,000 on opening weekend), and reviews have ranged from dismissive to scathing. Rotten Tomatoes tallies opinions at a measely 22% "rotten."

Now, I've occasionally liked movies that critics and audiences alike were fairly unimpressed by, such as Silent Hill: Revelation and John Carter. Personally, I wrote off this movie as "not for me" the second I first saw trailers for it, and the reason is quite simple: they changed the language. >__< No. When you're adapting Shakespeare, the one thing that adamantly does NOT need "fixing" is the language. Not unless you're moving the entire story to a different setting and time period, and sometimes not even then. (This version did neither, by the way.) SO yeah, I was prejudiced from the get-go.

All that aside, cinematic quality is not necessarily a requisite for driving up box office numbers and generating a decent profit. Just looking at the other box office toppers this week, one of them has a Tomatometer rating even lower. Also, as any literary or theater geek will tell you (with rare exceptions), R + J is not highly rated as one of the Bard's best works. But it is easily his most popular--in his day as well as ours--and the fact that it continues to gain followers many centuries after its first performance speaks volumes to its enduring success. Something about this story resonates with people no matter what era we're in. It seems like every new generation gets a fresh revisiting to swoon over.

The 1960s had not one, but two extremely lucrative and popular film adaptations of the play: Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (which is still the highest-rated among critics and movie-goers alike), and West Side Story (a musical transplanting that moved the story to contemporary New York and added a racial prejudice angle to the animosity between the two families). When I came of swooning age in the mid-90s, we had Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio, which remains my favorite to this day, and not just for nostalgic reasons. There's even an anime version that turns Juliet into katana-wielding vigilante.

As it happens, Carlei's version is actually the second Romeo and Juliet movie that came out this year. Although I don't know how many filmgoers picked up on the other one being an adaptation because, well, in that case the Montagues were zombies. (Warm Bodies. It also has the best critical reviews since the Zeffirelli version in 1968. I'm not kidding.)

So where's the love for this latest movie? Are today's teens simply not interested in the idea of tragic romance? Do they not care about classic literary tales without something else--like zombies or whiplash editing--to spice things up? Has this story finally worn out its welcome to the point where it's no longer relevent to the current cultural atmosphere?

I don't think so.

Read more... )
glitter_n_gore: (jean gray)
Let's get this out of the way first: her name is Moon Child. If you're asking "Who?" right now, then quit reading this review immediately and go watch The Neverending Story because this is going to be one of my main talking points. Okay, everybody on the same page? Good. Moving on!

The Neverending Story was a children's epic fantasy written by Michael Ende in 1979, translated from the German in 1983, and adapted to film by Wolfgang Petersen in 1984. The movie, of course, is what most people remember--and for good reason. It's fantastic, and one of my favorite movies of all time. Here, I'll be focusing on the first movie and how it lines up to the book, because like most fans, I prefer to pretend the two sequels don't exist. (Although the Nostalgia Critic does a pretty good throttling of them here and here, if you're curious--links Not Safe For Work, by the way.)

As I mentioned in the Ring review, this was my first exposure to the breaking of the fourth wall. And it BLEW MY MIND. Imagine you're four years old, creative, and more comfortable around books than people. Suddenly a movie arrives that tells you not only that books are real, but that the characters inside them need you to believe in them to keep them alive. I ran with that hard, and wound up with a vast menagerie of imaginary friends. (These days, I call them "characters" and write them into my own books.) There's a lot that I could gush about in this particular review, but I'll try to confine it to a few major points so this doesn't get too unwieldy.

Warning: We'll be talking about depression and suicide extensively in this review, so if anyone has triggers for that sort of thing, be aware.

In the beginning, it is always dark. )
glitter_n_gore: (arsenic and old lace)
There have been three feature-length films--the 1951 version with James Arness, the 1982 version with Kurt Russell, and the 2011 version with Mary Elizabeth Winstead--adapted from John W. Campbell's short story, "Who Goes There?" All have enjoyed varying degrees of success, although the best-known is of course the 1982 version directed by John Carpenter. It's also the most faithful to the source material, possessed Huskies, gooey gore-effects and all. What I find fascinating about this story is how long it's endured over the years, and how many people have revisited it. It stays relevent and paranoia-inducing no matter how many incarnations it goes through. I have a theory as to why.

The Thing )
glitter_n_gore: (samara)
Just to get this out of the way: I'm not gonna talk about Ringu 2, The Ring 2, Rasen, Ring 0: Birthday, or any of the other films that came out of the Ring world after the original Ringu, directed by Hideo Nakata, and the American remake starring Naomi Watts. Partly because I haven't seen any of those; partly because, with the exception of Rasen, the other films follow the movie-verse set up by Nakata and aren't true adaptations of Koji Suzuki's books. (In the same vein, I won't be addressing the books beyond Ring.)

That said, let's explore the now infamous story of a girl, a well, and a videotape. . .

Seven days. )
glitter_n_gore: (clockwork orange)
So, as I mentioned way, way back in the Jane Austen vs Romance post, I've put together a reading list for myself based on books that have been adapted to film. At first I was focusing on movies I had seen, plus books I hadn't read yet--exploring the original source material, because I'm cultured and literary and stuff.

Then, I had an idea: over the years, Iv'e become less critical of movies purely on the basis of whether they adapt the work faithfully. Most of the time, I do prefer the book, but film is a very different medium and ought to be judged on its own terms, inside its own time constraints and limitations. A poor adaptation doesn't automatically make a bad movie, and likewise a faithful adaptation doesn't always make a good one.

With that in mind, I decided to do a Film of the Book blog series reviewing both written works of fiction and their respective cinematic adaptations, detailing the differences between them, which version I personally prefer, and which version I encountered first.

Because I'm me, we'll be starting with Stephen King. . .

Children of the Corn )


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