The Monkey Movie (updated)

Kong2I loved it.

I love the original as well, though it’s flawed, of course. Peter Jackson’s version isn’t perfect, either–would that Jack Black had more depth as an actor, there’s just no charm to his con man–but it’s pretty damn close, and emotionally, it hits the mark.

I love that the violence is jarring enough that it makes Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow’s reactions to and feelings for Kong completely believable. I love the Joseph Conrad references and the look of the whole thing. The costumes and set dressing and how seamless the picture is, from Skull Island to period New York. I love that the male movie star gets to be interesting and only brave when it’s absolutely required. I love that the writer gets to be a convincing hero. I love that this island of monsters is the scariest island of monsters ever. That Kong is lonely and alone in such a terrible place. That the costumes of the "savages" at his theatrical debut back in New York quote the native dress in the original. How amazing the visual storytelling is and how little dialogue is necessary. So many, many things. I love that watching this movie made me feel like watching the original did when I was kid.

Most of all, I love the scenes between Watts and Kong. Just as in the original, it’s the interactions between the lady and Kong that steal the show, but I actually think these scenes are better. She is luminous. Not only does she hold her own against Kong (another remarkable turn by Andy Serkis), she’s able to reflect her humanity onto him. Watts is simply WONDERFUL.

I love that this is a huge, huge movie and that it still has so much to say at the personal and the societal levels.

That scene on the ice. Beautiful.

See also:
Megan O’Rourke in Slate on the sexual politics
David Edelstein’s review
A.O. Scott in the NYT
Stephen Hunter in the WaPo

And two more:
Silliman (via Matt)
Roger Ebert

The Monkey Movie (updated) Read More »


ChampersI finally finished the mega-rewrite of Girl’s Gang. She is now a sleek 53,000 words long, which means her diet worked.

Now I go get a massage, eat something delicious and unhealthy, then drink the bubbles. Have a great weekend.

(Updated: Or perhaps just stop and get the thing combbound for Christopher post-massage, eat food and fall into bed of exhaustion. My massage therapist said to me several things which led me to ask: "That bad, huh?" He replied, "Have you been rock climbing? Because if this is just typing, don’t do it for awhile." So champers tomorrow!)

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“All robots are pretty cool”

RobotsOver at Strange Horizons, I interview writer-director Greg Pak and review his wonderful movie Robot Stories alongside the new book collecting its screenplay and several other short and feature-length scripts.

Here’s my favorite answer from the interview, which will hopefully seem intriguingly mysterious out of context:

GP: I still regret never buying a Battlestar Galactica Cylon Bubble Machine.

And there’s lots of other goodness as always. Check it out.

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Why, Ms. Lynn, I Do Believe You’re Stoned


While a painkiller addiction may be troubling for a 30-year-old, Loretta Lynn proved at her Friday show that it can be hilarious for a 70-year-old. Not once, not twice, but three times, Ms. Loretta began to sing a song she’d already done. ("Fist City" (yay!), "You Ain’t Woman Enough," and "God Bless America.") The third time she explained this was because: "Every song I sing sounds alike."

Of course, when I say began to sing, I’m talking about the high points. For a good half the show she couldn’t remember the lyrics and would turn it over to her youngish, poofy-haired singing relative daughter with a barked order: "Sing it, Patsy!"

The audience could have cared less and was beyond forgiving during all this. And, of course, when Lynn was singing, no one could touch her. I believe she made it entirely through just one song. She sat in a crappy metal and plastic chair at center stage for the entire show. Apparently she’s just off a three month cancellation of the tour due to a broken foot. At one point, she remarked that it was the first time she’d had a shoe on the broken foot in months and someone from the audience yelled out, "Take it off!" To which she replied: "If it’s okay with you, honey, I’ll just leave it on. If I take it off I’ll never get the thing back on there. I have to get back to the bus."

Various extended members of her family who appeared to be supping at the Loretta Lynn, Inc, trough, were there to step in and carry the show at her command, including a son-in-law who also drives the bus and who did two ho-hum numbers sporting a gigantor cowboy hat. The back-up singers were untalented to an extremely unfortunate degree–their costumes consisted of the same black shirt, but they apparently are free to choose whatever pants they want. The "lead" back-up singer was sort of a white trash Owen Wilson and, rather obviously, had chosen leather pants. He led an extremely creepy version of "Peaceful Easy Feeling." (Aren’t all Eagles songs creepy though? They have a very serial killer preparing for an evening out vibe.)

But still, it was Loretta and so it was wonderful. If perhaps a bit more kitsch than even we expected. And hey, I got to hear "Fist City" more or less twice.

Now back to work. Keep an eye out for Mr. Rowe’s account; he’s much funnier on the whole experience than I. (I’ll link to it once it’s up.)

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I Loved It

Charles Taylor on Mr. and Mrs. Smith in the NYT:

It’s amusing to hear people claim Ms. Jolie has a limited range or bemoan her choice of projects when the sheer, breathtaking, abundant fact of her is the embodiment of everything that draws us to movies in the first place. To announce that you prefer Joan Allen or Laura Linney is to reveal that in your fantasy life, you’re Ashley Wilkes.

(Stolen entirely from the wiley Cinetrix.)

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Destroy This Sweater

Le Cineclub (aka Emma Garman and Lauren Cerand) on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang:

Lauren: It was a very "boyish" film.  Everything was cute in a too-clever way that men can get away with, especially men who make films for a living in Hollywood.

Emma: Yes.  There was even – dare I say it – some spiritual resemblance to Wedding Crashers.

Lauren: Yeah – kind of! Like it’s funny that the film keeps unraveling. Yet like Weezer, the film dares you to destroy its sweater by pointing out all of its many defects.

Emma: Yes! It’s this knowing nod to the audience: "We know you’re already too smart to suspend your disbelief!  Let’s all play together!"

And lots more where that came from… And four out of five peonies. Definitely seeing this one.

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They Should Just Get a Teapot*

Pinky of Pinky’s Paperhaus (which is the most beautifully designed site In The World) has a response to the whole dust-up in Salon that’s insightful and on the money — aided by the fact that she knows and likes both Mark and Almond:

Here is where Mark is right: he can dislike Steve Almond’s writing all he wants and can blog his opinion.  No feud, just Mark blogging about a writer, as he blogs about a zillion other writers.

Here is where Steve is right: litbloggers are a concentrated community that can be very closed. Sometimes it seems like a terrifically smart group of 15 people all talking to each other and nodding in agreement.* And I think Steve may be right in saying that blogging keeps people from the work of their "real" writing. Anyone who says it doesn’t isn’t being honest, or doesn’t have a day job.

I’m not sure whether I agree with that very last point about blogging keeping people from their "real" writing–for me it’s been the opposite (although I admit that reading blogs can sure be a procrastination tool)–but I’ve been meaning to post about that anyway, so I’ll save it until next week.

Anyway, the whole thing still makes my stomach hurt–especially the people who came screaming forward to be mean–like watching a fight break out too close to you in a bar. (I don’t blame Mark for turning off his comments.)

(Via the fantabulous Miss Cecil.)

*I couldn’t resist, but it’s snark-free, swear.

ETA: Scalzi weighs in. I admit my first reaction yesterday was: "Salon published this? How lame."

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