Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why you should see WINTER'S TALE and other deep thoughts about stuff

Last night, I went to see WINTER'S TALE, Mark Helprin's remarkable novel, made into a film by writer (and now director) Akiva Goldsman.

Firstly: I really, really enjoyed it. Akiva took a huge, sprawling novel that spans over a hundred years and took the elements he needed from it to tell the story he had to tell. He made it small, of necessity. It's a fantasy movie, with demons and angels and a flying horse: it contains a noble burglar, a beautiful dying pianist, an absolutely terrifying Russell Crowe,  Will Smith stealing scenes as Lucifer, and New York, New York all the way.

Secondly, I'd seen a trailer or two before I went to see it. And the trailer is, well it's wrong. It tells you it's going to be a specific kind of movie and it isn't that. It's not really a love story, small l about the love between two attractive people who want to do kissing, although it may be a Love story (capital L about Love, and who and what we love, and why, and what it means for those we love to die).

If you like fantasy, or New York, or magical realism, you should see it. You really should. (You should also read the book. And John Crowley's novel Little, Big, which was published about the same time.) The screening audience loved it.

My only qualm, cavil or beef is this...

There's a thing that happens in Hollywood, when you hand in a script with magic in it, and the people at the studio who read it say "We don't quite understand... can you explain the rules? What are the rules here? The magic must have rules" and sometimes when they say that to me I explain that I am sure it does, just as life has rules, but they didn't give me a rule book to life when I was born, and I've been trying to figure it out as I go along, and I am sure it is the same thing for magic; and sometimes I explain that, yes, the magic has rules, and if they read again carefully they can figure out what they are; and sometimes I sigh and put in a line here and a line there that spells things out, says, YES THESE ARE THE RULES YOU DON'T ACTUALLY HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION and then everyone is very happy.

And there were places in the film where it felt like Akiva was, either because he'd been asked, or preemptively, explaining the magical rules. And I trusted him and the film and would rather have just figured it out for myself.

There.  It's a real film -- it reminded me most of all of Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King...


Which reminds me, I don't think I ever blogged (although I Twittered, back in those halcyon twittery days) about Tim's Vermeer, a documentary directed by Teller (of Penn and Teller) about a man who thinks he has figured out the optical principle by which Vermeer did his paintings, and sets out to reproduce it, and one of them.

It's not a dry documentary about art. It's a glorious, challenging, funny film about being human. Here's a link to the website, which tells you where it's showing. GO AND SEE IT. You'll thank me later.


For some years now, P. Craig Russell and some of the finest artists in comics have been beavering away on a two volume adaptation of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. And it's coming out this year: Volume 1 comes out on July the 29th, Volume 2 on September the 30th. Different artists each take a chapter.

Here's a couple of pages of Chapter Two...

Volume 1 artists
Kevin Nowlan
P. Craig Russell
Tony Harris
Scott Hampton
Galen Showman
Jill Thompson
Stephen B. Scott

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Volume 2 – on sale 9/30/2014
Volume 2 artists
David Lafuente
Scott Hampton
P. Craig Russell
Kevin Nowlan
Galen Showman

It will be on sale in bookshops, and also, I hope, in your local comic shops. It's an amazingly beautiful two books.


I see from the BBC that Penguin India has agreed to recall and pulp all copies of Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History. (Here was the NYT review of the book when it came out:  It's sad not to see a publisher defend its book.  

The solution to a book you don't like is to explain why you don't like it, point out its flaws, write your own book. It's not to get the book pulped because it offends you. even if you think it's bad. Especially if you think it's bad.

(And I note that the book is now tearing its way up the Amazon charts. Which may not have been the outcome that the people who tried to get it suppressed had hoped for. It's called The Streisand Effect.)

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