Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Proof of Something. Just Not Sure What.

I heard a sound.
I turned around.
I turned around to find the thing that made the sound.
--They Might Be Giants, "Fingertips"

Y'know, I hate movies based on stage plays. Other than Casablanca (from the play Everybody Comes to Rick's), Twelve Angry Men, and Inherit the Wind, most of the movies I have seen that were originally plays have a certainly static quality to them. The dialogue, which seems to work on stage, strikes a forced, flat note on film. The mise en scene that is, I guess, real or stunning or fitting for a stage, just looks like a boring room in a boring house on film; the film director has to work really hard to do something to justify the camera's presence on the set of a movie adapted from a stage drama. It just never works for me. It always just feels like an episode of American Playhouse (which actually plays better than a filmed adaptation of a play).

Why do I bring this up? This past weekend, Monkey and I watched Proof. John Madden (the OTHER John Madden) directed. Gwyneth Paltrow reprised her London stage role as Catherine, the brilliant, scared-she-might-go-crazy-doing-all-that-math daughter, and Anthony Hopkins (brilliant, went-crazy-doing-all-that-math, dead dad Robert), Jake Gyllenhal (drum-playing-anti-uber-nerd-math-geek-afraid-he's-over-the-hill-at-twenty-six-kinda-got-a-thing-for-Catherine love interest Hal), and Hope Davis (controlling, bugging-out-of-Chicago-while-Dad-goes-ape-shit-crazy-but-now-he's-dead-so-I'm-back-to-tell-you-how-it's-going-to-be sister Claire) joined her for a filmed adaptation of David Auburn's 2001 Tony Award-winning play. Auburn also wrote the screenplay, so the film has every possible chance to be a--well, you read the last paragraph.

By the way, could you imagine the football coach-turned-analyst John Madden directing this movie? ("Okay, Gwynny, you're over here. Okay? And, you know, you're mad and sad and glad and all at the same time, like you just finished a big turducken, and you feel good, but then, the bus driver tells you that the fridge is not working on the bus, so you you're mad as hell, but then you realize there's a chocolate creme pie for dessert, but you can't eat another bite, and the pie is not going to last without the fridge, and you just feel tremendously unhappy about that...uh, you know? And Jake, you stand here, okay, and you want to kiss this girl like the dickens, but then Hope...HOPE! Okay, Hope comes in as you go in for the kiss and--BOOM! Okay? Okay, let's do it. Check the gate!")

Anyway, the film was everything I was expecting, which wasn't much. It wasn't bad, it was just a filmed adaptation of a stage play. And a good play, too. Saw it in KC. At the Unicorn. It was a good one.

On a related note, I was in the Language Arts Resource Center today, and I saw the book V for Vendetta, you know, the graphic novel that was turned into a movie. When I opened it up, it wasn't a graphic novel at all. It was a regular novel. Or, as it was termed on the cover, a "novelization". So, what I held in my hand was an after-the-fact novel version of a film based on a graphic novel. A novelization of an filmization of a comic book. I imagine next we will be seeing the (Ack!) musical version on Broadway. (See Wicked, a (Ack!) musical based on a book written about characters from a book that was made into a movie--"What a world! What a world!")

Oddly, what I sat down to write was not about plays turned into films or films turned into novelizations or anything turned into (Ack!) musicals, but about how lately I've been having weird visual things happening. I sometimes think I see something moving in my periphery, yet turn my head to find nothing there. This happened at lunch today. I thought I saw something darting or scurrying or whatever little things on the ground in your periphery do, but when I turned, there was nothing but carpet there. This has happened at least a half dozen times this week. Plus, I have been misreading things. Last night, I was reading my current before bed book, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. The chapter was titled something about the theory of happiness. I read the whole chapter, and it really had nothing to do with happiness. It didn't dwell on unhappiness or discuss much in the way of any specific emotions. It was about the hero and his sixteen year old neighbor sitting in a subway station gauging the degrees of baldness of the people that passed by. It was a job they were doing for a wig company. I looked at the beginning of the chapter three times before I realized it was the theory of hairpieces. Not happiness, at all. Earlier today, I misread a subheading on a web page about short stories as the Era of Masturbation instead of the Era of Modernism (which to some literary scholars may actually be the same thing, so I guess I can give myself a pass on that one--but does that make the Period of Postmodernism the Period of Postmasturbation? I am going to stop here on this particular tangent. Y'all can thank me later.).

The whole point of this is that there is no point, I guess. The end of the school year is perhaps bringing on some stressors that are manifesting themselves in weird visual signals. Or maybe I'm just losing touch with reality a little bit. No big deal, either way.

By the way, the Outlaw Birders had a good Sunday. It was cold, but a Nashville warbler made up for it. Also, and I say this with all dry sarcasm intended, the new dryer is simply fabulous.


Anonymous said...

John Madden works my nerves because he loves to draw all over the TV screen. I'd imagine him drawing even bigger and more obnoxio all over the movie screen.

Huh, about those visual issues. Could be that you're exhausto. I too am exhausto at the end of the academic year. But I'm not misseeing isht. Perhaps instead your unconscious is trying to tell you something?


ATR said...

That is a scary thought, considering...


Jill said...

Particle Man.
Particle Man.
Doin' the things a particle can.