Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book vs. Movie: L.A. Confidential

The likelihood of a given movie these days being based on a book or a short story or some other extra-cinematic source is pretty high these days.  Equally high is the chance of, when in conversation with others about such a movie, some motherfucker opening their mouth and saying, "it wasn't as good as the book!" as if this adds anything reasonable to the discourse.  In 'Book vs. Movie,' a title that sufficiently demonstrates my preternatural brilliance for nomenclature, I am that motherfucker.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Unbearable Violence of James Ellroy

One of the benefits/quirks of my current relationship is that when we engage in shared media consumption (i.e. watching shit) it causes me to call into question why exactly it is that I am so all right with seeing people die on-camera. We were watching L.A. Confidential the other night and mid-way through there's a montage, complete with Danny DeVito narration, of a bunch of mobsters being gunned down.  The movie, like any proper Ellroy adaptation, has what might be charitably described as an excessively high body count (Ellroy's patented three-narrator perspective might be viewed as a necessity, coming as it does from an author who might, were he to limit himself to two narrators, or even one, end up killing them before the book even ended.  This reads like a joke but it literally almost happened in Blood's a Rover, a book where he had to bring in new P.O.V. characters mid-way through because so many of them had died).  This caused me, at one point, to remark, somewhat sheepishly (for it was I who had selected the evening's entertainment), "I forgot how many people die in this movie."  Which was true.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why The Usual Suspects is a great movie

There's a moment near the end of the movie, when McManus and Keaton are searching the ship for the cocaine, killing everyone they come across.  We're in a long shot through a doorway, looking at McManus as he moves forward through the room.  There's a dog in the room (I think it was some kind of German Shepherd mix although it also had kind of a fuzzy terrier muzzle as well) and at this point you kind of expect McManus, played by Stephen Baldwin, to shoot the dog and keep going, or for it to attack.  But McManus just moves through the room, pets the dog's head for a moment, and keeps going.

That, to me, is art.  Someone, be it the screenwriter or the director or Baldwin himself thought through that scene, which is maybe ten seconds long, and made a decision.  And it makes sense if you think about it.  McManus would totally be a dog person.  He doesn't get along with people at all, but he values loyalty, which the movie has already established through his relationship with Fenster.  He may be a thug, and a thief, and a ruthless killer, but he's also a sniper, which lends itself to a certain economy of violence, and a man like that doesn't shoot the dog if he doesn't have to.  (Hockney shoots the dog if he walks through that room, I think.  Keaton ignores it.)

Monday, August 8, 2011


Blog posts have been accumulating in my head like bad similes, and so I go to write them down and then I think to myself, "wait, that can't possibly be the first post on your BRAND NEW BLOG you are doing it wrong, idiot," and then I go and do something else, usually involving video games or eating. So here I am, getting the first post out of the way so that I can do all the other posts.