Archive for January 2007
Am I the only person who wasn’t moved by Pan’s Labyrinth? Here’s what I recently wrote my Friend Myla:
I was really disappointed by it. I felt it was exactly what I expected
when I first saw the trailers: a simple, simplistic story of a escape
and fantasy and dream by a little girl in a desperate situation. It
was very Spielburgian. Good was good, evil was evil, fantasy was
intense (and awesome for the viewer- of course. That frog!) but it
gave me nothing I didn’t expect, which is why I have never seen Lord
of the Rings, or Narnia or any other recent fantasy movies. They’re
merely spectacle, and not new.
(I have no familial relationship with fascism (my
ancestors are Pennsylvania farmers) – did I need to?)
Two movies I can think of tackle different aspects of that movie do it
much better: horror of children during war: Grave of the Fireflies, a
Japanese animation (and any of the Kurd, Gobadi’s movies…
esepecially TURTLES CAN FLY) and a children’s spirit world as complex
underworld: Spirited Away. Those movies were surprising…
I wasn’t that moved by the girl’s story in a deep way (I mean apart
from the sound design- the surprises, the movie manipulations, etc)
and I didn’t feel dismayed at her death (or that her
death was awful). The story seemed perfectly in keeping with fairy tales,
everything I saw- including the girl’s mistakes, etc. (Parenthetically, I
felt like a lot of the fairy tale stuff could have been more
developed, and thus wind up being more engaging, deep, interesting.
The child – eater scene for instance, was dramatically dull: it’s
basically a chase scene.)
I think I’ve read too many screenwriting books to find much new in the
story. The only reason she goes hunting the frog in her dress is so
she can get in trouble later and you can worry about her during. The
only reason she eats a grape is to do something wrong in the
underworld (was she under a spell? Hungry from going to be without
dinner? Was she normally impulsive? None of that was explored.) The
only reason Mercedes doesn’t kill the Captain is so the Captain can
kill the girl later. Too many of those things got stuck in my craw. I
can’t think of a single moment like that in Spirited Away, depspite it
being fairly simple and straightforward.
I’m pleased to say I’ve tracked down Mr. Phelps’ terrific earlier book of essays, Covering Ground. His language is such a wonderful tangle of metaphor and triangulation: he’s always trying to describe what it is a work does. These essays consist mostly of commentary on literature, from IB Singer to Collodi’s Pinocchio, to the usual handful of writers and authors I’ve never heard of. He writes about Doc Savage and William F. Buckley with equal depth and curiousity. Also, pornography and losing his own teeth.
I bounce between reading more of Reading the Funnies and thumbing through this. In the meantime, I post this to fire your imagination and maybe credit cards- go find it online. It can be found for only a handful of bucks easily.
The dozens of things I have yet to blog about:
Touring and Dining at the UN
4th Season of The Wire vs teaching in Washington Heights, NYC
Seeing Bread and Puppet with Heather and Ben
Getting rid of my tuburculosis
Getting a ticket on the subway in NYC and completely failing to charm the attendant judges or officers.
I’ll get to these things but for now, read the strip, that’s the blog.