The Sh– To Just Sh–ty… The Girl With The Drag-On Preview

I thought this preview was The Shit:

It really spoke volumes to me.  (Probably because it is a very loud preview in the theater.)  I’ve been a longtime fan of director David Fincher, and even with his misstep that was the ingratiating The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I had hopes that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo could be good.

Until I saw this:

Boooooooooooorrrrrriiiinnnnnngggg…

If I wanted to read the book, I would have read the book.  This follow-up “explanatory” trailer has completely turned me off of the movie.  And that’s Just Shitty

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Coinkydink Or Coinkydonk? Is Diablo Cody Trying To Tell Us Something?

Remember the Alamo the Titans that Coinkydink stands for Coincidence, and that Coinkydonk sits for On Purpose. Comprende?

jennifersjuno

"She's soy sauce, and I'm Worcestershire," Juno might say of Jennifer, apropos of nothing.

I feel like writer Diablo Cody is a kindred spirit.  We’re both from the Midwest.  We’re both Children of the 80’s.  We’re both bloggers.  We’re both screenwriters (I’m just not yet produced).  And we’re both exhibitionists (she was a stripper; I enjoy walking around the mall in a long brown trench coat… that’s all I’m saying).

But of late, I noticed something about Ms. Cody’s produced works.  So far she has three: Juno, Jennifer’s Body, and United States of Tara. And they all share something thematic in common.

united_states_of_tara

Tara with her Id, Ego, and Superego

Let it be known, I was fortunate enough to see Juno before it became the Incredible Hype, and I was knocked a bit off my feet by its sentiment and reality, despite the strange language that filled the characters’ mouths at the get-go.  I’m still not sure if the movie laid off the weird speak as the movie progressed, or if I got used to it (and who am I to knock weird speakCoinkydink or Coinkydonk?), but I never held it against the flick.

Jennifer’s Body, on the other hand, felt like a misstep.  There was a lot of potential for homages, over-the-top zaniness, and ironic parallels to real high school life that never came to fruition, but this film spurned my thought processes.  Then I recalled her Showtime series, and it clicked:

All Diablo Cody’s characters are women dealing with things inside their bodies.

  • Juno – a baby
  • Jennifer – a succubus
  • Tara – multiple personalities

There’s an old adage about writing: “write what you know.”  It’s not surprising (and it’s actually quite refreshing) that Ms. Cody’s scripts would center on female leads, but it is interesting to note the duality involved in each of the above characters, considering the duality of Ms. Cody herself (if that’s her real name).  Until she inevitably directs and becomes a true auteur, we’re left to wonder how her adaptation of Sweet Valley High will end up, or her future original works.

(SIDENOTE: I’m reminded of the oeuvre of screenwriter Larry Cohen, which includes: Phone Booth, Cellular, and Messages Deleted.  And there’s always Eric Roth, and his Curious Case of Benjamin Gump, plus his Forrest Button.)

So what do you think?  Is it a Coinkydink or a Coinkydonk…

Happy Find… A New Game I Can Use To Annoy My Friends!

While late night stumbling through the TripleDoubleU when I should be going to be bed before I have to go back to work (is this even a sentence?), I found this on Videogum (they’re my Hubba Bubba):

hudhudhudhudhudhud...hudhud......hudhud... ("Jaws" theme backwards)

hudhudhudhudhudhud...hudhud......hudhud... ("Jaws" theme backwards)

And they found it through BuzzFeed and they found it threw Reddit… blah blah…

Basically, it has the potential to be a great time-killing/altered-state/show-offy game, I think.

You take a familiar film (a filmiliar, you might say) and tell it in reverse.  A gag on the BuzzFeed states The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is about a man who is born and grows old and dies.  Simple, yes… but effective.

The more elaborate samples on Reddit:

If you watch Fight Club backwards, you see Ed Norton turn from a crazy streetperson into a successful productive member of society.

If you watch American History X backwards, you see Ed Norton turn from a successful productive member of society into a crazy streetperson.

I would try one right now, but my brain’s on the fade out.

Oh wait… I got one. 

If you watch the Muppet Movie backwards, Kermit and the Gang watch a movie, and then act it out in real life.  Dumb.

The Curious Case of the Frog and the Pig

The Curious Case of Interspecies Love

Furious Case of Benjamin Bashin’

Okay, I know I’ve already hinted at my growing disdain toward The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in this post, but in this entry, I’m going to dig a little deeper.

Let me preface this rant by stating in no way or form am I holding this increasingly steaming pile of doo against David Fincher, Brad Pitt, or Cate Blanchett.  I hold no ill will toward any of the supporting players, the producers, or the studios.  This one is 100% against Eric Roth – the writer – and the scam he perpetuated on this production.

To begin – I liked Forrest Gump.  A lot.  I saw it in an advance screening way before all the hype, and it surprised and moved me.  My sister, Becky, makes this silent crying face that’s reminiscent of the Predator when she watches emotional films (like Steel Magnolias, ‘natch ), and I’ll never forget the middle-aged man sitting next to me making love to his tonic and gin who was sobbing uncontrollably by the film’s end and making the same face.

Stop crying, Becky... it's not that sad.

Stop crying, Becky... it's not that sad.

And I’ll even go as far to say that Roth deserved the Oscar for that adaptation (I’ll add that his Munich script was really intense).  I read the original novel by Winston Groom, and the streamlining of themes and the adventures through modern history and pop culture were welcome additions/changes.

But then we come to Button.  WTF.  When I first watched the film, I kept thinking that it reminded me of Gump, but at the time, I didn’t know it was the same screenwriter.  Besides noticing that, the modern day intercutting distracted from the flow of Button’s tale, and brought little more to the story than what could have been accomplished in three scenes:

  • “I didn’t know he said that.”
  • “I didn’t know he thought that.”
  • “Oh yeah – he’s your daddy.”

I also kept wondering if Pitt felt bad for Julia Ormond, the Once-Upon-A-Time-It-Girl who costarred with him in Legends of the Fall, so he had her scenes expanded to the point of pointlessness, but that’s besides the, um, point.

The greatest issue I have with Button is that the script borrows so liberally from Gump’s tropes.  (Check out the video in this post for further illustration.)  And whereas the Gump script was at least based on the novel, the Button script is based on the Gump script.  Just replace simple with backwards aging.

My other issues:

  • The original short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald does not take place in New Orleans, but in Baltimore.  Was this a Roth call, or Pitt call (since he’s done so much charity work after Hurricane Katrina)?  Who knows…
  • In the original, Benjamin is born a full-grown, shrivelled-up old man who can speak and walk (the logistics of his birth are never brought up).  His father does not abandon him;  in fact, he works rather diligently at treating him like he is a baby, buying him toys, feeding him only milk.  Benjamin instead takes up smoking Havana cigars and reading encyclopedias.  An excerpt:

The cool perspiration redoubled on Mr. Button’s forehead. He closed his eyes, and then, opening them, looked again. There was no mistake–he was gazing at a man of threescore and ten–a baby of threescore and ten, a baby whose feet hung over the sides of the crib in which it was reposing.

The old man looked placidly from one to the other for a moment, and then suddenly spoke in a cracked and ancient voice. “Are you my father?” he demanded.

  • As Benjamin goes through his life in the story, he regresses and shrinks in size.  This is okay because he starts out large.  In the film, he’s an elderly baby that grows.  Shouldn’t he die a large size baby?  (Thanks to Brandon for catching that one!)
  • The love story isn’t the primary focus of the original, which is a fine addition to the film.  But there still might be a problem (via io9):

In fact, the Button movie has one crucial similarity to Andrew Sean Greer’s 2004 novel, The Confessions Of Max Tivoli: they’re both structured as a love story. In both works, a man who’s born old and ages backwards falls in love as a child. And he loves the same woman for his entire lifetime. And in both the Greer novel and the new movie, the man and the woman connect at three different stages of their lives, as he grows younger and she grows older.

  • The original almost seems more tragic (and mines more humor) from his familial relations.  They are always around him.  When he’s an old toddler – he befriends his grandfather.  When he’s in his 20’s – he passes for his father’s brother (and falls in love with a 20 year old that likes older men).  As his wife ages, he grows disinterested by her appearance.  He can’t get into college because he looks too old, and he can’t return to war because he looks too young.  His own grown son forces him to call him uncle.  There’s enough fresh material there to not even have to snatch a snippet from the script of Gump.

I want to know how even though the adaptation of Die Hard followed its source more closely than Button does its own, screenwriter Steven E. de Souza never even get an Oscar wink, let alone a nod… come on, he deserved one (via Wikipedia):

Die Hard follows its source material — Roderick Thorp’s novel Nothing Lasts Forever— closely, much of the film’s memorable scenes, characters, and dialogue taken directly from the novel… changes included the older hero of the novel becoming younger, the hero’s daughter becoming his wife, and the American Klaxon Oil Corporation becoming the Japanese Nakatomi Corporation.

Good thing Eric Roth didn’t adapt that novel, or Forrest Gump might have been tracking down terrorists alongside Benjamin Button, like in Munich.  Wait, that might have actually been kind of cool…

The Curious Case Of Dark Knight’s Snubbing (And Kate Winslet’s Nudity)

The nominations for this year’s Academy Awards came out today, and while a lot of other better informed, better thought-out, better written sites will have their two cents to suck on and hope they pass the Breathalyzer, here’s my wheat penny’s worth.

Um, hello…?  The Dark Knight anybody?  Sure, Heath Ledger received his well-deserved posthumous nomination for his portrayal/reinvention of the Joker, but where’s the Best Picture nod?  This film was hands down a surefire contender, if not the absolute best.  I thought the original Batman Beginswas award-worthy, and the sequel was ten times smarter, darker, and realistic than, gah, well I guess The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire (the other three are based on true stories, and we all know that’s code for loose adaptation). 

Don’t get me wrong – I love David Fincher and Danny Boyle (Trainspotting – ‘natch), and I’m happy to see them nominated as well, but where’s Chris Nolan’s nod?  And although I found Slumdog to be fascinating and worthy, Button kinda bit it.  I wanted to love the film, like I do Fight Club and Seven, but the intercutting between “Katrina’s coming” New Orleans and the overwhelming similarity to Forrest Gump (which screenwriter Eric Roth also scripted) sank it for me.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Curious Case of Forrest Gump from…“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

OTHER WHEAT PENNIES:

I am glad that Martin McDonagh got nominated for writing In Bruges.  My friend, Chris, had recommended checking it out before I visited Belgium last year, and I wish I had… Bruges looked like a dream, except you’re awake (check out the film – it’s awesome).

Holla at Robert Downey, Jr!  Nominated not only for a role in a comedy film, but for wearing black face in Tropic Thunder.  Whodathunk?

WALL-E got nominated for Best Animated Feature.  WHOOPT-E FUCK-N DO.  Why should Beauty and the Beast continue to carry the distinction of the only animated film nominated for Best Picture when this (and Finding Nemo) blow it away?

In closing… my friend, Dave, asked if I had seen The Reader yet.  I had told him I hadn’t, but I heard Kate Winslet was nude in it, to which he replied, “When is she not?”  I dubbed her the female Harvey Keitel, and he did a spit-take with his coffee. 

Finis.