John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

This week in the arts

I watched four DVDs this week:

I’d been meaning to watvh The Cabin in the Woods for a while, and something or another — I don't remember what — made me think I'd be better off seeing it sooner rather than later, lest the vaunted twist be revealed to me. It was enjoyable enough; clever and well-written, with good special effects, but it wasn't particularly scary, which is kind of a problem for a horror movie, even a post-modern one. I do sort of regret not having seen it on a larger screen; I know from the commentary and the special features that a lot of work went into the scenes at the end, and it would've been nice to see it all better.

Earlier in my Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar winners project, I encountered an unexpected similarity between two consecutive films: both featured a father impregnating his daughter. This week, another similarity, though not an unexpected one: A Room with a View was my second consecutive Merchant Ivory adaptation of an E.M. Forster novel.. I liked this one slightly better than Howards End, largely because I found it funnier. With this movie, I had seen the last 29 Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar winners

And with Terms of Endearment I've seen the last 30. I'm now back to where I started, in a manner of speaking; from this point on, there are way more winners I haven't seen than I have. Of the previous ten winners, I've only seen three, and only one of the ten before those. May as well keep going, though. As for Terms of Endearment, I found it kind of uneven. I really enjoyed the scenes between Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson; I was less interested in Debra Winger's side of the story, and as a former Iowan I was vaguely offended by the idea that moving from Houston to Des Moines would be a step down.

I'm closing in on the end of the first season of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, which continues to be very amusing. The highlight of this particular disc was the episode "Mystery Solvers Club State Finals," which is a tribute to many of the knockoffs Hanna-Barbera created in the 70s and 80s to capitalize on the popularity of the original Scooby-Doo series. Not only did it guest-star Speed Buggy, the Funky Phantom, Jabberjaws, and Captain Caveman (and their associated teams of mystery-solving teens, it was also almost entirely animated in the style of the series, rather in the more stylized versions of the characters seen in SDMI. I was, however, slightly bothered by another episode on the disc, "Where Walks Aphrodite," which was surprisingly and glaringly heteronormative. The bad guy in this episode uses a love potion to take over the town, and without exception every couple seen on screen is male-female. I understand that Warner Brothers would rather not court controversy, but come one, this is the 21st century.

Wordwise, I reached the end of Part I of The Mysteries of Udolpho. It is, to use the words of my friend Pete, a slog. It did start to pick up a bit in the last two chapters, in part because Mrs. Radcliffe was setting the stage for Emily's move from France to Italy, but mostly because they feature the character Madame Montoni, who a vain, shallow social-climber and, not coincidentally, a hoot. She's so much fun that it actually inspired the author to write something funny and clever: "Whatever were the weaknesses of Madame Montoni, she might have avoided to accuse herself with those of compassion and tenderness to the feelings of others, and especially to those of Emily." Speaking of Emily, she's a drip, and her beloved Valancourt is not much better. The next 43 chapter of this are going to be pretty dire, I can tell.

Before moving on to Part II of Udolpho, a took some time to read a Laurence Block short story, "A Candle for the Bag Lady," featuring the PI Matthew Scudder. If you haven't read Block's novels featuring the character, you're missing out. Eight Million Ways to Day is a classic of the genre. As for this story, I t was good, not to mention an interesting look back at the New York City of the 1970s.

Tags: awards: oscars, movies, reading: books
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