Wednesday, March 17, 2010

BBC News has some disturbing images of the demonstrations in Bangkok where people have spilled blood as a protest on the current government. This morning, there were reports on the cyclone hitting Fiji; this is the third catastrophic storm Fiji has had since January, and the images are just so sad.

CNN had a lot on the scandal of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church; Christianne Amanpour devoted her show to trying to figure out why the Catholic Church is so culpable in this matter. Now, BBC News has a little segment on Haiti and how the entire prison system has been destroyed in Port-au-Prince. And (of course) when the prisons fell apart, the guards ran for their lives, and the prisoners just ran.

The various discussions on the abuse scandal in the Irish Catholic Church brings me to "The Lovely Bones". I went to see it this afternoon (i probably would have given it a miss, but it was playing here and at least two people said it was interesting), and i understand why Peter Jackson was attracted to the material; there are similarities to "Heavenly Creatures" in that there are all these fantasy sequences and a horrific act. In "Heavenly Creatures", the fantasies lead up to the horrific act; in "The Lovely Bones", the story begins with the horrific act, and then there are all those fantasy sequences. That may seem to be a quibbling detail, but it's not: the story arc in "Heavenly Creatures" gradually builds, the apprehension is a slow process, the initial fantasies are exhilarating. But in "The Lovely Bones", the movie starts to seem unbalanced as the fantasy overwhelms the painful narrative.

Though i didn't think it worked, i was glad i saw "The Lovely Bones" and i think it was an honorable try by Peter Jackson. Jackson's problem is that he has developed this extraordinary technical mastery, especially in regards to CGI and special effects, but what is it good for? The meeting of Jackson's technical skills (and the skills of his amazing crew of special effects artists in New Zealand) with the mythological narrative of J.R.R. Tolkein was a match made in heaven, but now what?

And some material may, in fact, be intractable. Something similar seems to have happened with Michael Winterbottom's "The Killer Inside Me", rather reminiscent of Wittgenstein's dictum, "Everything that can be thought can be thought clearly, everything that can be said can be said clearly, but not everything that can be thought can be said." That is: some books deal with extreme subject matter, but when a movie shows you some of these things, is it appropriate for viewing?

It's hard to explain. For example: i remember watching Oshima's "In the Realm of the Senses" and getting thrown out of the framework of the movie whenever the sex got really graphic, yet i can watch porn with no problem. What's the difference? But there is a difference, and that difference made me uncomfortable watching "In the Realm of the Senses".

Can everything be made into a movie? But doesn't it depend on the way it's made?


Blogger GEORGE ROBINSON said...

Of course, anything can be made into a movie. Eisenstein had plans to make a film of "Das Kapital." Happily, he didn't. I'm at a loss to recall other, similarly preposterous projects, but I'm sure there are plenty more. The question is whether everything can be made into a GOOD movie. And that would depend on the match of film and filmmaker. If you told me that Chris Marker was planning a film of "Das Kapital," I might be a trifle skeptical but I suspect it would be a fascinating effort. Give the same material to, oh, the Coen Brothers, and I'd run in the other direction so fast you'd think Usain Bolt was passing by.

11:24 PM


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