Blog Response 7: American Splendor

Analyze the Book

1. The American Splendor comics were written in direct contrast to the typical superhero comic books in the era of its conception. Harvey Pekar coopted the underground comic movement in making a comic book story about ‘adult’ things. Adult in the sense that there was thought provoking material that was difficult and emotional in a realistic way, contrary to how story book the typical super hero comic book plays out. Whether or not it was completely intentional American Splendor gives an honest and thorough commentary on working class neglected Americans in the rust belt region — As seen through the eyes of an obsessive compulsive writer. The art style compliments the gritty detail and ugly realities that Pekar covers in the comic. There is charm to be found in a cynics struggle for small victories in life and that might be a major attraction to the work.

Analyze the Movie

2.This film intentionally avoids being placed in a genre. While on the one hand it is a drama starring Paul Giomatti, on the other its a documentary and then an artistic coupling of the two. The actual Pekar as seen in the interviews is just as charaicatureesque as you would imagine if not more. Giomatti almost fails to exaggerate the type of character Pekar is. When parts of the film seem exaggerated or dramatized, the directors cut to real life interviews to reinforce the nature of the man in the biopic. The film plays out like a biography film but the whole thing has an arc, artfully crafted by the directors. There is a narrative seated in the life of Pekar on its own about a cynical man who very slowly and awkwardly warms up to certain parts of the world — like embracing optimism to overcome cancer, adopting his daughter and retiring with a group of co-workers/friends/family.

Analyze the Adaptation

3. From an adaptational point of view does well to keep the spirit of the rust belt brand of depression alive(?) in the film. The employment of actual footage of cleavland keeps, for the most part, the film from feeling too much like a glamourized version of the story. The use of actual comic book framing and artwork was done sparringly limiting the chaos of genre jumping but keeping the film tied together with the comic but keeping the film version its own thing. With the film being part documentary, the arc of the story was a little more optimistic in theme then the actual American Splendor. The directors use snippets of interviews and cover sections of Pekars life that piece together the story.

Online Research on the film

4.

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/american-splendor-2003

Roger Ebert seems just very attached to the story of Pekar’s life and the people in it. The movie does a great job telling his story in an original way so he loved the movie.

http://filmconnoisseur.blogspot.com/2012/06/american-splendor-2003.html

The writer really feels like the film was meant for him and points out that this is sort of the appeal of the comics American Splendor since it was about an every man who was an artist on the inside.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2011/nov/07/my-favourite-film-american-splendor

‘Harvey Pekar didnt do happy but he did funny and truth and so does this movie — beautifully’ This last line really resonated with me on how I felt about this movie. The truth of the movie wasn’t muddied by hacky feel good scenes but it was still successful in being charming in its own right. The movie ends in Pekars actual retirement party, a sort of misreble looking setting but some genuine touching interactions between the feel like friends and family of Pekar. The post modern approach to telling the story allowed for this.

Critical Argument

5. The Film definitely paints a different picture than the comics themselves do.  In a way there is reason to cry sellout since the story ends up softening up the perception of Harvey to a family man, mildly successful and happy guy. As much as Pekar fights the smiles in his interviews and real life footage the documentary is edited in such a way that the joy shines through. This really couldn’t be said for the comic that was heavy handed with the cynical and bleak outlook. The comic has redeeming qualities but it wasn’t a feel good read, and I can’t help but to get the feeling the Harvey Pekar was doing alright by the end of this film.

Advertisements

Blog Response 6: Adaptation

1. The Orchid Thief, is a story that might have had a difficult time being expanded into a book. The wording is very lofty and the focus drifts all over. The main characters of the book are said to be John LaRouche and the state of Florida, in that the state of Florida is described sparing no detail. The book is a story but its identity is creative non-fiction, as such the book relies heavily on the the narrative voice being an integral element that creates intrigue in the story. Most of the meat of a book like this comes through the colorful analogies and inner monologue of the narrator. The narrator can supplement with her imagination where perhaps the factual reality lacks.

2. Adaptation the film is satirical in its tone and themes. The whole film pokes fun at the reality that faces the actual screenwriter. Doing a book like the Orchid thief justice in film seems like an impossibility and writers are always presented with easy cop outs. The character of Donald Kaufman is a personification of this cheap avenue of screenwriting, and the random acceleration of the story arc with Susan Orleans affair/drug-use/homicide is a self referential submission Hollywood norms of a typical thriller film. The confusion between reality and fantasy is blurred in many ways in the film and it gives suspicion to the fantastical things that happen at the end of the film. Since the perspective is from the screenwriter of the actual film the view feels he is subject to his whims and whether or not he succumbs to typical Hollywood story arc for the sake of it is up for interpretation.

3. The Film comments on the impossibility of adaptation although the film does not do much in the pursuit of actually breaking the meta when it comes to film adaptations. The hilarious difficulty of adapting a book like The Orchid Thief is not followed by an attempt to do an adaptation justice, in fact the whole latter third of the movie seems like a joke that average viewers might not be in on. The plot gets accelerated so fast after the realm of the Orchid Thief’s time line has ended. In the span of 15 minutes we find out that Orleans is cheating on her husband, has a drug problem, and is willing to murder. All this seems like a hilarious inside joke since Charlie Kaufman in and out of the films world is struggling with completing the stories arc. It seems he may have contrived the whole ending to make a joke of the cop out most screenwriters deploy to a difficult and subtle story that lacks arc. So what we get is a very funny and meta ending but one that doesn’t propose to solve any problems.

4. http://nymag.com/nymetro/movies/reviews/n_8075/

Weighs the courage of the movie to be original rather than conform to business industry genericism.

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-adaptation-2002

Roger Ebert appreciates the accurate portrayal of the adaptation process for a screenwriter.

http://blogs.uoregon.edu/eng110spring2014/2014/05/23/adaptation-a-film-review/

This blog post is interesting and it comments on the fact that the viewer seems to walk away from this movie wondering what he just watched. There is no explicit messaging or theme to the movie, the main ideas are subverted in the meta-fictional elements in the film. There is a bit of a bizarre sense that the movie is writing itself right in front of you. It is not told to the viewer that Charlie Kaufman is actively changing the movie you are watching but it seems that way upon reflection.

5. Adaptation as a film is an educated insight to the difficulties of adapting an enigmatic book into film. Some aspects of the film poke fun at itself for failing to break the meta of book to film adaptation. The majority of the first part of the film has Charlie Kaufman stressing himself over making a film true to the Orchid Theif book, and nothing is more important to him than avoiding cliche dues ex machinas or gimick storylines. By the end of the  film we are actually watching the writer seems to employ all these things. The acceleration of the storyline through Orleans affair,drug use, and murder plot is a satirical white flag from Charlie Kuafman. There was no other percievable way to please the audience of a Hollywood film than to submit to these types of norms. An insight to the difficulties a screenwriter has in these situations and the devices they use to avoid disappointing everyone.

Blog Response 5: The Hours

Analyze the Book

1. The Hours is a book comprised of three main story lines: 1920’s Virginia Woolf, a 1950s housewife Laura Brown, and 1980s Clarissa Vaughn. The three storylines weave in and out of each other but create a similar arc of main characters growing alienated and lonely over time, desperately quietly suffering. Stream on consciousness is used to capture the wandering minds of the increasingly introspective characters in the novel, giving you insight to their thoughts and pains. While the stories mingle and ultimately converge in way, the abstraction is kept to a minimum since a common theme is spun in each one of the characters lives.

Analyze the Movie

2. As the three leading ladies: Juliane Moore, Meryl Streep, and Nicole Kidman volley screen time between each other throughout the film. There is no lack of talent in portraying the roles of three depressed main characters. The film really tackles human condition and the quiet submission some people accept in their life path. According to this film there isn’t much to live for if life is not exhilarating or passionate, and the truth is  some humans continue to persist just for a friends sake. Most of the characters delay their suicide for the sake of their loved ones around them, they lose the will to eat or sleep or socialize, but their loved ones motivate and insist them to mush on.

Analyze the Adaptation

3. The Film actually seems to adapt very well from the book. According to Cunningham his style of writing is very cinematic; in that he writes story with scenes in mind. While this part seems to be true and came across faithfully in the film, the levels of inner monologue must have been very difficult to adapt. Save the occasional voice over, there is no way to do justice to the deep inner thoughts of a main character in a novel when adapting to film. What is done in effort to supplement this fact is very subtle acting and intention based filming. Close ups on jerky stressed hand motions to simulate suppressed frustration, long dry spells of silence with little to no break from facial expression to bring across the feeling of melancholy. So where the film is forced to omit 90% of the inner monologues it does in its own way show the emotion rather than tell.

Online Research on the film

4.

http://feelthefilms.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/motifs-of-feminism-analytical-essay-of-the-hours/

Makes arguments for the feminist themes in the film and the use of motif to interconnect the three leading ladies lives.

http://blog.timesunion.com/movies/nicole-kidman-in-the-hours/13399/

This guy really likes Nicole Kidmans big nose in this movie.

http://www.entertainyourbrain.com/hoursrev.htm

This critic definitely did not enjoy the very thick layer of sadness on this film. Claims the suicidal acts were irrational, I think this just highlights that Woolf’s style to which Cunningham is paying homage is just one that may not resonate with everyone. There needs to be a level of empathy here since some people’s brain chemistry will just not allow them to take small victories out of every day. A melancholy life throws them into deep depression. Maybe the message does not come across to the mainstream so easily.

Critical Argument

5. Based purely on the merits of acting and direction alone, The Hours does a justice to the source text it was based on that could only be realized in film. subtleties in facial expression body language and tone speak a whole paragraphs worth of emotion. The breakdown scene by scene of a character can tell you there condition and story. The introduction of the character Richard needed no elaboration, an introverted man living on the top floor of some armpit apartment with little to no regard of his appearance, gaunt and withered. He has not the capability of being trusted to eat on his own, he rejects award on the account of his sickness. This is a man with not much keeping him attached to the living realm. All the detail in the character can be availed by the scene of his introduction, and through scene construction like this Daldry tells stories on film that might not have been conceivably possible.

Blog Response 4: Sherlock Holmes

1. Arthur Conan Doyles Sherlock Holmes is the story of a high functioning sociopath with quirks and drug habits — who happens to be a genius detective. The main themes seem to revolve around Holmes harnessing his own quirks to be an ultra successful detective. This is not to say that Holmes does not land himself in trouble due to his lack of social subtlety, often jeopardizing his own case for the sake of humor or entertainment. Holmes is a flawed hero that you end up rooting for.

2. The Film is about a hyper intelligent smooth talking detective who saves the world. Themes would include bad ass-ness and sexified violence. Steam punk would definitely best describe the style for this movie, a world where devices exist that shouldn’t in the Victorian era. Mostly just Sexy sexy violence with some fast talking savant crime solving. The criminal underworld is something Guy Richie is experienced in portraying, and he just does this in the victorian era with Sherlock Holmes as the main character.

3. As pointed out in Dr. Byrnes review, this adaptation had a lot of material to spin off of or live up to. A re-boot of a re-boot in many ways. There are so many versions of Sherlock Holmes in the world at the moment, some of which have grown a fair bit away from the original Doyle text. This film might have only drifted slightly further that the last but in comparison to its origin it seems a far leap. Sherlock has done so much in the canon and fanon world that this movie has to one up everything else that came before it, and in doing so turns every Holmes dial-up to 11/10. The violence is ramped up, the intelligence is ramped up, the sexuality is ramped up, the crimes are bigger, and the world is more evil.

4. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/25/movies/25sherlock.html?_r=1&

Pretty much destroys this movie for being like fight club with mysteries.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2009/dec/22/sherlock-holmes-stories-elementary

An interesting opinion on the writers boredom with Sherlock Holmes the story in general.

http://www.flickfilosopher.com/2009/12/sherlock-holmes-review.html

Sides with the idea that the premise for the movie and the behaviors of the characters arent too far removed from the realm of possibility that Arther Conan Doyle intended.

“But there will be a sequel, for which this frantic, harmless movie serves as an extended teaser, and it looks as if it might feature Holmes’s literary archnemesis, Professor Moriarty. No doubt Holmes will break a chair over Moriarty’s head, kidney-punch him and kick him in the face. Wittily, though, like the great detective he is. ”

I just thought the first NY times article was spot on about the adaptation. Guy Ritchie really wasn’t ever going to make a dry intellectual rendering of Sherlock Holmes, the man makes cool movies about cool shit with cool people. That is essentially what this movie does, Sherlock Holmes is a smart mouthed ass kicking detective — thats it. The movie is very much what you should expect from Guy Ritchie, not Arther Doyle.

 

5. The Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes reboot feels very unattached from the Sherlock Holmes story that one expects. But at the same time, the story has been retold so many times up until this point that this new retelling, may just be another shade removed from the original Sherlock Holmes. At some point this movie has as close of a relation to Sherlock Holmes as Wall-E does to the original Star Wars, or pehaps as much as the original Star Wars has to Episode 1. Both might be enjoyable instances of the same storied universe but stylistically and thematically they have grown a great deal apart. Sherlock Holmes the book shares pretty much the title and loosely the genre but all the typical Sherlockisms are given a redbull energy drink and breast implants. The sex is racier, the fights are nastier, the crimes are larger, the dialogue is wittier. This is an adaptation for the a.d.d. ridden generation who doesn’t have time to walk through the thorough and perhaps at times didactic approach that a brilliant detective must follow in order to solve an elusive mystery; instead the movie has Sherlock kick the shit out of every interaction with insignificant clues that he finds, drawing conclusions from arbitrary places and things. The movie doesn’t take it self too seriously and has created its own steam punk version of the Sherlock universe that is intended to set it self apart rather than remain faithful to the original Sherlock tone. The film is purposefully different from Arther Doyle’s book and doesn’t apologize for straying from a traditional adaptation.

Blog Response 3: Bride and Prejudice

1. Pride and Predjudice deals with the social and economic barriers in the way of marriage.The manner in which these barriers manifest themselves are explicitily stated in the title; some characters are too prideful to comprimise and others are blinded by prejudice which keeps them from understanding other characters in the story. Most of the archetype characters are challenged by complexity and subtlety of character, leading to suprising revelations contrary to expectations of someone in a certain social or economic standing.

2. A heavy handed theme in the movie is the one of culture clash. Lalita and Darcy are immediately at a misunderstanding due to eachothers ignorance to the norms in eachothers culture. There is no real bad intentions by the words that offend Lalita at the opening wedding scene but he misunderstands the wedding process in Indian culture and she mistakes his ignorance for chauvinism. And so much of the tension is more due to Lalitas pride not allowing her to empathize with Darcy, and Darcy’s prejudice in mistunderstanding the value system the poor in India have. The main themes are more centered around the culture, but the wealth disparity is certainly also adressed.

3. As an adaptation Bride and Prejudice takes the Jane Austin novel into the 21st century. As opposed to the early 19th century, there is much more intermingling of cultures than ever before. The parallel between culture clash and the barrier of wealth in the 19th century are interesting. Much of the same struggles remain, to see how the other half lives is the only solution to understanding eachother complexly. The characters and both the movie and the book have their mind made up about everyone before they ever get to know one another.

4. http://feministfilmcritic.blogspot.com/2005/04/bride-and-prejudice.html

Sort of concludes that the film was more of a fun telling of the story rather than a true to the text adaption.

http://popreflection.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/review-bride-and-prejudice/

More of a character analysis and how it resembles the book. Claims success in these areas.

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/bride-and-prejudice-2005

Makes and argument about the nature of the film being more hollywood musical than bollywood.

I think the feminist film critic blog really makes the right points about the film. When there is an unfair standard placed on an adaptation the directors intention can be lost and misunderstood. Bride and Prejudice is a big, loud, fun movie about love and growing wiser about love. Many of the thematic elements stand from the Jane Austin novel, but the approach is very much bollywood and should not be expected to stand in as a Pride and Prejudice put to screen adaptation.

 

5.

Bride and Prejudice is a big, loud, fun movie about love and growing wiser about love. The big elements of the film come in the way o the jam packed shots with 5 to 50 characters on screen at a time, there are the occasional 1 on 1 scenes but the crowded Indian streets come to life in spirit through the wedding/party/city scenes. Loud and fun comes across through the singing numbers with unashamed goofy comedy and fast paced drum rythms. The film does not try to capture the tone of the Austin novel even though it does represent the themes with accuracy. The characters struggle and wrestle with the same difficulties of intermingling as in the source text but there is a unique spirit to the movie that gives it a flavor. Its not Pride and Prejudice with a dash of ginger, its more like a bowl of curry with some Pride and Prejudice pepper.

Blog Response 2 Tristram Sha

1. Whether intentional or not Tristram Shandy seems to have beated modernism and post modernism literature to the punch. A story that pokes fun at the novel and then pokes fun at its poking of fun. Not much is to be said about the book that is succinct and to the point. A purpouful labyrinth of themes and stoylines that lead to no particular conclusion.

2. The idea of giving this movie a synopsis is hilarious. It’s very title, calling itself a ‘ Cock and Bull’ story is poking fun at the very idea of summing up Tristram Shandy in a line (Stephen Frys appearance and line delivery of this part completely made this movie for me). To different people at different times, the film means different things and themes are over ridden and diverted. The film may be a comedy, a love story, or a war film. There is no genre that can hold this story.

3. A pursuit like recreating Tristram Shandy into a movie could only result in a hilarious failure, and in that sense, this movie is well accomplished. I think ironically though Tristram Shandy as a book and film actually manage to leave a subverted theme that maybe takes some digestion to read. The theme is that of life and its many faces. Character relationships take full 180s and some aspects that take paramount importance are supplanted by others. The book is very meta in this way if this theme is intended.

4. http://www.stormgods.com/dvd/tristram-shandy-a-cock-and-bull-story/

A curt review that dismisses the efforts to recreate Tristram Shandy the book. The writer claims the digressions in the book were meaningful and substantial in a way and the films were just arbitrary.

http://thevoid99.blogspot.com/2012/04/tristram-shandy-cock-bull-story.html

The writer suggests the humor might not be for anyone. Perhaps knowledge of the book or having read it directly would be ideal since the plot of the movie about the movie itself is the source of so much comedy.

http://filmadaptation.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2012/10/22/a-narration-of-tristram-shandy/

This is actually another universities class course blog about the movie and film adaptation from books.

British humor can definitely escape some people.  The timing of some of the jokes in Tristram Shandy arent delivered in a punchline, the growing awkwardness in a particular builds until a boiling point that strikes you to laugh at seemlingly unpredictable moments. Person to person the experience of when you actually lose it is different. The adaptation of this movie about a movie about the book really just lays in on thick from the get go and the tension of the absurdity just grows until a histeria.

5.

Steve Coogan does the superior Al Pacino by far! What the F*ck that was so good I was dying laughing.

The film is an interesting exercise in absurdity. There is so much purposeful disjointed material in the movie that it seems very percarious a job to keep the movie from slipping into absolute rediculousness. The humor is sort of meta-themed. There isn’t a cue for laugh track but I suppose the theme is pretty explicit in its representation. Stephen Frys story about the Cock and Bull sort of humoursly destroys any hope of finding a constant dicernable theme among readers. Also the various impressions (and dissapointments) of viewers after the films screening is a funny way to depict the impossiblity of pleasing everyone when adapting a story this daunting.

Side note: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0423409/plotsummary?ref_=tt_stry_pl

how fucking hilarious is it that imdb under synopsis:  has “It looks like we don’t have any Synopsis for this title yet.”  I mean is there anything more to say about this adaptation?

Blog Post 1: The Tempest

Blog Post 1 — Victor Trevino — The Tempest

 

1. The Tempest is a somewhat vanilla betrayal story from shakesspear. There are about three main sub-plots having to do with the lust for power and the wilingness to decieve for these ends. First it is Prospero ousted from his dukedom. Then Antonio and Sebastian plot to kill Alonso and Gonzalo and finally Trinculo plotting to kill Prospero in his sleep. There is but one female character in the whole play I believe and shes pretty much a blowup doll. Theres an element of forgivess with how Prospero forgives Alonso but it all seems really adhoc.

2. The film began to grow into the pace of a Shakespearan play by the middle portions. Early on the such as the first boat scene was sort of awkward since dialogue was pretty much just regurgitated rather than acted, but as maybe the actors settled into the pace and cadence that is Shakesspear I thought the acting got stronger (with the exception of Chris Cooper, who was just awful).Before looking into when this movie was made I was sure it was made in the early 2000’s judging by how bad the special effects were, the addition of the CGI scenes such as anything with Ariel and the spirit hounds was extremely offputting.

3. The film did its best to recreate Shakesspear but it is difficult to bring heavy stimulous from wardrobe/setting/specialFX and try to mix it with dense Shakespear dialogue. The clash of the demand for the viewers attention just detracts from the experience as a whole. The gender swap of Prospero was interesting and necessary — The play certainly did not pass the Bechdel test  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechdel_test

4. Roger Ebert: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-tempest-2010  — He pretty much asserts that Julie Taymore missed the mark as far as capturing Shakespears tone and meaning, but he does agree on the gender change of prospero and enjoyed Hellen Mirrens performance.

Sholomo Shwartzberg: http://www.criticsatlarge.ca/2010/12/waterlogged-julie-taymors-tempest.html — He claims the film “rarely comes to cinematic life” which I would have to #agree.

SI RosenBaum: http://thephoenix.com/boston/movies/112818-tempest/ — He really goes on a tear about the poor special effects, once again I feel like this is spot on criticism and just has to be said.

I want to piggy back off Rosenbaum because my main gripe with the file would have to be employment of CGI. Rosenbaum suggests: “Maybe if [Taymore] had stuck to puppets and masks [rather than CGI], the flesh and blood beneath them would have been more animated.” I just really could not agree more. The film felt cringeworthy in its exectution when it relied on CGI, in effect the script of the play was for no good reason competing with flashy visuals.

 

5. The film apadtion of The Tempest struggled in all the places you would expect of a Shakespear adaption and added more woes to itself with its own CGI budget. The fundamental leap from taking text to film is the visual representation of other wise simplistic or non exsistant imagery in the source text. The element of now showing instead of telling is the difficulty of going from text to film. The Tempest maybe tried to over compensate for the showign by planning to incooperate CGI for the supernatural elements of the play. The result was a removal of all things magical and left to the imagination in a shakespearan play and an insertion for a contrived and rushed pixelized version. Besides the difficulty with the CGI, the overall pace of the film had no rythm, since Taymore wanted to stay as faithful as possible to the play instead of interpreting and taking liberties, much of the scene juxtaposition just feels clunky and forced. When adapting a book to film there are important decisions that need to be made from the beginning on how you will capture a certain interpretation of the book, recreating a Shakespear and doing it absoulute justice is not just difficult, its also kind of pointless. Why recreate something that is already been done so well. The job of Taymore should have been to regimagine the play but I think she maybe was not bold enough break the play and ended up making a dud of a movie.

Sewper Excited For This Classs

Every single movie I have either: Seen and loved, heard nothing but great things, or am ready to be pleasantly suprised about.  What a great decision it was to enroll in this course last minute!!

A little background if you care to know. I’m a Computer Science Major graduating this fall. English is my minor. Im taking this couse online to lighten the final semester courseload some. I’m currently working at an internship in D.C. this summer.

I fancy myself a movie buff. Never have enough fun talking film with anyone that cares to listen. This course will be a pleasure.

I look forward to talking with all of you!