Friday, April 30, 2010

Another post about movies

I consider myself to be a bit of a film aficionado ... I like foreign and indie films ... plus the old classics. I even took a film class in college! Not that this makes me an expert or anything ... but I find it strange that I usually like movies that get really BAD reviews!

Why is that?

Take for example, "The Lovely Bones." It's a film adaptation of a best-selling novel by Alice Sebold (which I did not read ... which also may explain why I liked the movie).

This brings up a point about book-to-movie translations. Should we view it as a comparison, or look to each as an entirely separate entity.

My Mom has started reading the Harry Potter series on my urging. She and my Dad are watching each corresponding movie as she finishes the book. My Dad really likes the movies, but my Mom is distracted by the differences from the books.
Anyway, back to "The Lovely Bones" --- basically, it's about a young girl about to get her first kiss and is in that key point in your life where you're leaving behind childhood and stepping into the great unknown ahead. She lives an idyllic family life with loving parents and a few siblings.

She is then murdered by a man in the neighborhood and enters a "purgatory" or fairyland of sorts of her own creation. She gradually realizes she is dead and has to help her family deal with her passing and her father solve her murder.

Here's what my favorite paper, The Guardian had to say about it:

How does one make a PG-certificate film about the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl? Director Peter Jackson provides an answer of sorts with The Lovely Bones, which leaves the murder unseen and the rape unmentioned.

His reward is a blushing mainstream entertainment that was tonight deemed fit to be introduced to polite society at a royal premiere in Leicester Square. Our reward is anyone's guess.

The drama ushers us through the afterlife of Susie Salmon (Atonement's Saoirse Ronan), a small-town kid in 1970s Pennsylvania who is killed by the local pervert (Stanley Tucci) and looks down on her scattered, shattered family from her place in limbo. She sees her mum (Rachel Weisz) flee the coop and her dad (Mark Wahlberg) come apart at the seams. From this celestial vantage, she starts to fear for the safety of her little sister (Rose McIver), whose jogging route leads her regularly past the killer's suburban home.

It's not that The Lovely Bones is a bad movie, exactly. It is handsomely made and strongly acted, while its woozy, lullaby ambience recalls Jackson's work on the brilliant Heavenly Creatures, before he set forth on his epic voyage through The Lord of the Rings.

Here, he audaciously conjures up heaven as designed by a teenage girl – a kitsch spread of sunflower fields, spinning turntables and the sort of airbrushed waterfalls that could have spilled straight off an Athena poster. All of which is entirely fitting, and often captivating. The problem, though, is that The Lovely Bones also gives us a real world as designed by a teenage girl. The land that Susie leaves behind is so infested with cartoon archetypes and whimsical asides that, at times, it scarcely feels real at all.

Might the fault lie with the source novel? Alice Sebold's best-selling book similarly held up Susie Salmon's innocent fancies as a kind of talisman to ward off evil. It dared to spin a sentimental fantasy out of a grisly tragedy, offsetting the tang of sulphur with the sweet taste of candyfloss. The difference was that Sebold's novel was not scared to look the central horror in the face. This ensured that it at least part earned its subsequent flights into the ether.

The screen version, by contrast, is so infuriatingly coy, and so desperate to preserve the modesty of its soulful victim that it amounts to an ongoing clean-up operation.

Gone is the dismembered body part that alerts the family to Susie's fate. Gone is her anguished mother's adulterous affair with the detective who leads the case. Gone is all mention of what really transpired in that lonely 1970s cornfield. Is this really the best way to secure a crime scene and retrieve the victim? Jackson turns up with his eyes averted, spraying cloying perfume to the left and right.

Anyways ... I forget what I was going to say about why I liked it ... but I did.


AlyGatr said...

I generally end up loving movies that critics pan. I love Peter Jackson, but then I'm an enormous LOTR fan. I think I have to see this movie, though I have a feeling I will cry a lot!

Alina V said...

I don't tend to read reviews. And if sometime tells me that a particular film has been getting some negative ones I ask them, have you seen it?
Exactly! You can't base your opinion on a film if you haven't taken the time to view it yourself.

I love films. And I have critiqed a few in the past. But i don't go out of my way to be negative.

I have found when it comes to books you need to look at them at totally separate entity's. They are not the same medium, and they can not be the same story for various reasons going from book to screen.

I love Alice Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones'. It's written so lyrically for such macarbic content.
The film on the other hand is just as beautiful. The way reality intermingles with Susie's vision of limbo is fascinating. And it has been filmed brilliantly.
The only thing I find that's really lacking is exactly the same thing that reviewer mentioned.
It was not graphic enough, and they removed the content from the book that really made the story. Really in an attempt to make it more ideal for younger viewers. As a lot of High School students have studied the novel over the years.

ANYWAY...I loved the film and the book. But the difference is, I would read the book again, I don't think I would watch the film all too often.

yellow finch designs said...

I was unsure about watching this movie because I loved the book and I find when I read a book then watch the movie I am so critical of the movie! (except for the Reader).
I think I'll watch this tonight!!!
Thanks ladies.

whichgoose said...

OOhh.... "The Reader" was good!

Ali said...

I am totally with you! I ALWAYS enjoy the movies that get bad ratings and don't really enjoy the ones that do (With the exception of some, such as the Blind Side. I love that movie)

But I have to agree with you about the Lovely Bones! I saw it with my friend when it first came out and I loved it! I know its kind of a sad movie, but I loved how they filmed it... It was very interesting!

Enchantments by Rhianana said...

This was an amazing movie. DH and myself watched it a couple weeks ago and I was totally blown away by it. I don't cry much after sad movies but this one had me with tears welling up for sure. I love Peter Jackson films.