Friday, June 18, 2010
Take the only tree that's left and stuff it up the hole in your culture.
Feeling the Leonard Cohen today and kicking off the Ransom Notes piece with a quote from The Future then I go on to feature Gabriel Cohen's The Ninth Step and other desperately seeking redemption titles.
In other news - I saw Debra Granik's Winter's Bone today and can confirm it's a good movie. It's a very good movie. But it's from a great book. I did really enjoy the cast and the story is faithful, but there's a big ol' hole down the middle of my experience of the film that turned out to be Daniel Woodrell's prose. Where Ang Lee's Ride With the Devil overflowerfied the speechin in an attempt to recreate the source in a visual medium, Winter's Bone keeps a lot of the speaking bits from the book and, thankfully, doesn't try to inject the prose into voice-over or unnecessary dialogue. But without the pertified, lyricality of the words, the pictures paint it awfully bleak.
The bright spot is, as it should be, Ree's character and Jennifer Lawrence can hold her head high. Also, I did enjoy the location shooting. I've been to those kinds of homes and hills and they simply could not be recreated anywhere. And though, I took part in a few of those down home jam sessions in my day, so I know they exist, the musical element, (an addition of the film), does feel a bit forced. Still, I'd say it's a picture worthy of the attention it's getting and if it brings more readers to the ever deserving Woodrell, bully for him.
Another picture I saw this week is John Hillcoat's The Road. Like adaptations from Woodrell's books, those made from Cormac McCarthy's need to solve the problem of prose. You can overload a picture with voice-over or artificially plant the book's best lines into dialogue, but that rarely works out well. Only somebody working on the level of say Terence Malick should try the former and a sure, deft directorial touch and masterful actor are required to pull off the latter. The lightening in a bottle effect of The Coen Brother's No Country For Old Men, where the spare dialogue lifted from the novel was complimented by silence and actors doing their jobs - filling us in on everything going on beneath the surface with only their eyes and physicality - don't strike twice, (ask James Ellroy).
The Road had a harder task ahead of it, than any previous McCarthy adaptation, though, in that it was required to create a world only sparsely described in the book. The post apocalyptic scenery, quickly drops away from the reader's mind as they immerse themselve's in the father's thoughts - it was an intimate story told against the background of an epic. But by the very nature of the medium, the film was tasked with supplying convincing and striking representation of that world all the way through, so that it had to work against it's greatest asset - the harsh and desolate setting - to deliver its emotional core without overshadowing the transaction, (a hand-off rather than a long ball). Still, the visuals are striking and the performances worthy. I guess in the end you're left with the apples and oranges nature of the two mediums.
Also, Plots With Guns has a new issue out. The lineup this time: Crimefactory's own Cameron Ashley, Nolan Knight, Jeffery Hess, Mr. 'I'm everywhere right now' - Kieran Shea, Mark Joseph Kiewlak, Jeff Kerr, Garnett Elliot, Richard Thomas, the late Dartren Subarton, N@B alumn Frankie Bill and N@B future alumn, (Monday, June 28 baby and signing copies of his brand new book The Wolves of Fairmount Park!), Dennis Tafoya.
And now the wheels of heaven stop, you feel the devil's riding crop. Get ready for the future. It is murder.