I’m trying to think of something I’ve read recently since it seems to have been so much time since I published a post. I read a lot so it’s not like I’ve not read anything it’s just a matter of choosing something. I thought of one… a book I hated reading: The Martian by Andy Weir. My friend Thomas and I were trying to work our way through some bestsellers and this was the first one we decided to try. He ripped through it like a pro. I started off strong and hobbled through it for a month… or two… or was it three?
I have a hard time reading a book I don’t like. Even when I’m determined to finish it. I mean, it was even made into a movie so it has to be good, right? Wrong. I didn’t even mind all of the crazy theoretical science. I think had Weir weaved it expertly into the narrative (a la Jules Verne) I could have followed the story more easily, but it wasn’t even the science that bothered me, it was: Mark Watney. One of the most annoying characters I’ve read to-date. He reminded me of that guy at a party who’s trying to be funny, but no one is laughing at his jokes. Maybe it was just me, but I did not find myself laughing at any of his many “wise-cracks.” He says, “Yippeee” way to many times and all I see is a teenage boy on a gamer message board.
Maybe one could argue, well, he’s that adult science-nerd type of guy who fits the character-type. But even what other characters said about him didn’t make sense. One even said he was chosen for the Mars mission because he’s “that kind of guy everyone likes” or something to that effect. I didn’t buy it. I do want to see the film because I think Matt Damon would make me like this guy. Almost like when you read a script and you can’t wait to see how an actor adds depth to a flat person on the page. Watney had no depth. There’s was no reason I wanted to see him get off of Mars. And, hey, I’m not rooting for the main character if I don’t like him. None of the others characters drew me out either, they seemed more like caricatures from a 90s sitcom or some of them were so bland they just blended into each other. Bring on the movie, I’m done with the book.
Ever wonder what two women with degrees think about some of the popular adaptations of great works of literature? Now is your chance to find out by listening to the It’s Not That Terriblepodcast where me and my pal Camilla tear apart and analyze literary classics and their film adaptations. This episode features commentary on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice(everyone’s favorite) and its 2005 film adaptation (not everyone’s favorite) directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen .
Click Here to download the first episode. Special thanks to Ace Garcia for our music.
Up next: The ever popular and currently over-blown The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Maybe I should read the book before I actually do a review on the film, but no one ever wrote these rules down so I think I have every right to break them. I doubt the literary police will come knocking at my door. With this review (or rather personal critique) I am expanding my blog to include reviews of films based on works of literature. Today’s feature is Atonement by Ian McEwan (film directed by Joe Wright screenplay by Christopher Hampton). I always wonder what the process is when a screenwriter writes a book, it becomes widely read, and then someone else writes the screenplay. One would think that it would be a natural progression for the original writer to adapt his own work of film, but then, I’m not in the business of making films. What do I know?
I’m not going to bother with much of a plot summary because my pet peeve in reviews is when people spend half of it on plot summary. Did no one take high school English? Basically it’s this: Sister sees older sister with childhood crush. Younger sister gets jealous and pins horrendous crime on said crush as revenge. Spends rest of movie “atoning” for sin.
I should have known from the reviews that I would not care for this film. When I was looking it up on Netflix I saw someone post something to the effect of, “If you love The English Patient you’ll like this film!” RED FLAG. I love me some British drama. I love me some good acting. I don’t love me some pacing problems. I can even handle the artsy-fartsy long-shots and brooding close-ups and scenes that are meant to illicit an emotional response without the proper set-up, now and again. However, I’ve found that when screenwriters (and directors) take a lengthy novel and attempt to adapt it to the screen (especially one with such gravitas as Atonement) they get so caught up in capturing the same weight of the novel that some of the effect is lost in translation.
I have one of those DVD players that lets you see the time of the film as you watch it. Meaning I can see the timer at 30mins when I’m thinking, “What’s the conflict in this movie? Where is this going?” There’s a lengthy set-up and this slow and delicate pace carries through the rest of the film. Through war, rain, sleet and snow. Not to mention a lack of focus (i.e.: which character am I following and whose story is this?). I imagine, in the novel, the story belongs to both sisters, but in the film it may have been beneficial to narrow it down to Briony (Romola Garai) since the second act seems to be going in that direction anyway and the film certainly ends on that note. I know I’m suppose to feel for Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and Robbie (James McAvoy), but I don’t. I really don’t. I didn’t spend enough time with them and I really don’t think there is enough time. Even in a 2-hour film. The moments we spend with Briony are so powerful that we should have been given more time to see her perspective and her plight in the intermittent years. As it stands, she only reappears after “the incident” with about 45 mins left of film!
The acting is fantastic, the cinematography is wonderful, but oh that writing and oh that direction. Thanks Joe Wright, I am sufficiently drained.
Home to Kassie Duke: Literary enthusiast. Full-time copywriter. Freelance film, television & script reviewer.