Thanks to being far more busy over the last week than I anticipated I haven’t had the chance to delight you all with my witticisms and hilarity. For that I am sorry, but it’s OK – I’m back! – If only for a while.
I decided to ditch the book vs. movie format I experimented with all of once, because let’s face it, the book is always better – but the first two are movies I watched within 24 hours of reading the last page of the book.
Pet Semetary (1989)
I’ve recently fallen into King, which I guess makes me a late bloomer. But I’ve been marching through his books slowly and watching the movie renditions. I’d warn of spoilers but the movie is 25 years old. There are a few key differences between book and film.
The most annoying to me was probably the cat. After he dies and Louis buries him, he returns. In the movie he’s immediately portrayed as sinister, through cuts of hissing and yowling. Terrifying? Sure. In the book, though, the cat (named Church), is more eerie than terrifying. He loses his cat-like qualities such as agility and speed, and becomes a docile, reclusive and uncoordinated anomaly. Why is this different? I guess it’s pretty hard to justify the use of some kind of heavy sedative on a cat just for the sake of the movie. Still, it’s weak.
Then of course there is the baby (Gage). On a side not – what’s with the stupid name? Anyway. After the kid gets hit by the truck, Louis buries him and OF COURSE he comes back. What you’re supposed to feel as he stalks his way through the house in the final scenes is terror and revulsion. Not only is he back from the dead, his body was absolutely pulverised by a truck, leaving him a disjointed soup of organs (see, even I can paint a pretty gross picture).
Instead, he’s in perfect condition – not even some minor deformities. Once again some dramatic cuts and some close ups of laughs fail to create the atmosphere the final pages of the book. I know it was a long time ago but why didn’t they just ask Henson and co to create a creepy as all-hell little puppet for when he comes back instead? Easy.
Last but not least is the music. There are certain parts of the tale that are supposed to be ominous, and instead the drama is horribly mangled by jaunty xylophones. I love a good xylophone as much as the next person, but it makes scenes that could be really dark almost comical.
Overall? It’s pretty weak. Midday movie material that reeks of the decade it was made in. I prefer the South Park versions 4/10
It’s strange to think that this film was made only a year later, when it’s so much better on the whole. Perhaps the big difference is the quality of the leads, with Kathy Bates delivering a great performance. Out of context it could appear over-acted, but the development of her mania over time is fantastic. James Caan is pretty solid too.
There are, once again, differences that land in the books favour.
First and foremost, the craziest scene of the book. When Annie discovers that Paul has been hiding the knife, she wakes him in the middle of the night and reveals she knows all about his trips through the house while she’s been gone, and what he’s planning to do. She then informs him of the old slave-era practice of hobbling – and while what happened in the movie still fits the definition, in the book she doesn’t break his ankle with a sledgehammer, but cuts his foot off with an axe. Did they think people would be too disgusted by it? Was it too hard to arrange prosthesis? Who knows?
In the film, Paul starts hiding the painkillers from the get-go, which not only confuses the reason he leaves the room in the first place, but goes completely against the drug dependence he develops in the book.
The story he writes, Misery’s Return, seems completely different to the book as well but that could perhaps be a minor detail. What the film also leaves out is the arrival of the first policeman, who’s attention Paul grabs and who is subsequently killed by Annie.
The book really lives up to the name. The only indication you get that someone might be looking for Paul comes months later, and even then the search has only been going for a week. Up until that point it is just the two of them, alone, isolated, and in the case of one of them – truly miserable.
Meanwhile the movie fills you with hope from the start. The police find the car in the snow (didn’t happen) and start a detailed search of his whereabouts in the lead up to his disappearance (didn’t happen). This completely destroys the misery that Paul’s helpless isolation is bound to convey, and the fact that they wasted screen-time that could have been dedicated to letting the two characters flourish more on SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T EVEN HAPPEN was frustrating to say the least.
From a non-book perspective, though, it’s a great film – and one that’s desperately crying out for a remake – perhaps within the additional context of the fact that books are a dying market? THAT’S MY IDEA YOU FUCKS COPYRIGHT 2014! 7/10
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
I consider myself a Kubrick fan to at least some degree, but it wasn’t until the montage in the Simpsons Kubrick dedication the other week that I realised I still hadn’t seen this one. I was then told by someone who I consider a film aficionado that it was his best work, so I just had to watch it.
Yes, you’re reminded that Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise can act, and that the former has nice buttocks, but I found this difficult to enjoy – and not just because of the erection I had for the bits that consist of nudity and sex (which is certainly the majority).
I can’t remember the character names so; they both seem like pretty average parents, and one day when they’re smoking a doobie in bed in their underwear Kidman goes freaking psycho and tells a raunchy story that gets Cruise jealous. He keeps thinking about it. Two girls want to have sex with him and he’s led away. He goes to see a prostitute and gets called away, all the while spending thousands and thousands of dollars. All because his wife told him a story about how she wanted to do someone else.
Then thanks to a piano playing friend he ends up at a giant sex party where everybody wears masks and capes (boing), and just before he goes to get some he gets kicked out. For a movie full of sex and nudity, Tom Cruise doesn’t seem to get any.
Then he keeps investigating how to get back in, is told not to, goes and confesses to his wife. They take the kid shopping and agree that they should have sex.
Seriously, FIN. I should have seen it coming when I read that it was based on a French book or something, but yes. FIN.
Yes, it bears afterthought and undoubtedly has deep themes about sexuality, masculinity and the inner self – perhaps too much so (if that’s possible). Yes, it’s laced with those brilliant continuous shots that Kubrick was so good at, particularly in the first half. Yes, the lead actors both, in retrospect, turn in good performances. Yes, it was full of lots of nudity, wonderful bottoms and some freaking raunchy sex scenes.
But even after I’ve listed all that, and realised that the list itself makes the movie sound pretty damn good, I can’t honestly say I enjoyed it. Then again I said EXACTLY the same thing (apart from the sex and nudity) about 2001: A Space Odyssey the first time I watched it, but I can now say it’s an amazing film.
Perhaps I’ll end up saying the same thing about Eyes Wide Shut – but I haven’t done acid in ages. 5/10