Saturday, December 4, 2010

In Which Deb is High on Painkillers And Waxes Literary

I'll say it.  I don't like the Harry Potter movies.

I love the books, but really don't care for the film versions.  The last time I tried to watch Part V (Order of the Angst), Momz and I eventually just shut it off and referred to it as an "ordeal."  I don't want to watch a movie that makes me fight to stay awake through every moment unless it stars Charlton Heston and something is made out of people.

Here's my take: the people who have made the Harry Potter movies are afraid of backlash from the audience, who will criticize any detail that is not exactly like the book.  I used to be one of those people myself before I understood a basic truth: film and written fiction are two completely different art forms, therefore different techniques will be used to tell the same story in each.

(True story:  When whats-his-name was making the film version of Rosemary's Baby, he called the author (Ira Levin?) and asked him about a reference that was made in the book to a shirt Rosemary said she bought for her husband that was "in The New Yorker."  The director wanted to know what issue, what brand shirt it was, etc.  Levin said, "I don't know, I made it up.")

Take the Twilight series.  (You knew I was going there, don't judge me.)  The first movie was not great, as it tried very hard to include every hokey line of dialogue that might work in print but would never sound right to the ear if spoken aloud.  The second movie was a big improvement.  The third movie was actually pretty good as they focused more on telling a story and less on making every fanatic in the world happy about including their favorite line.  (I'll also say it: I think the film version of Eclipse had a lot of improvements over the book in terms of narrative flow and plot, but that is part of the limitation of writing a book with a first-person narrator, particularly one as self-centered and self-analytical as Bella.  I told you I was high at the beginning of this.)

For me, the best book-to-film adaptations are the ones that preserve the essential feel of the story while not being afraid to make changes that make the story work better for film.  Here, then, are some of my favorite book-to-film adaptations:

  • Gone With the Wind: because Scarlett really only needed one child, right?
  • Interview with the Vampire: Did you know Tom Cruise didn't even know he was in that movie until a year later?
  • Carrie: I love a movie in which teenagers don't take themselves too seriously, except the one who slaughters the entire town with the force of her mind.
  • The Princess Bride: If you've never read this book, you should.  It was written by the guy who also wrote the movie, but there's some great satire there that doesn't translate to film at all and, bless him, he didn't try.
  • Rebecca/Jane Eyre: Aren't these really the same movie?  All I can say is, Joan Fontaine's nostrils are magnificent.
So, I hope that is a lesson to all of you aspiring screenwriters/directors out there.  If you're adapting existing material, don't be afraid to change it up a bit, make it your own.

And stay off the painkillers.  Makes it difficult to write a coherent weasel got in the corn.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Which Deb Reassesses a Major Belief

I have always tried to be a polite person.  Not just by following the rules of etiquette; there are times when, in fact, it is actually less polite to stick to the rules.  (Don't question me, it just is.)  For me, being polite means that I know how to stand up for myself without being obnoxious, that I try to have empathy for other people and not take my frustrations with a systemic problem out on an individual, and that I choose my battles carefully; if it isn't my "hill to die on," so to speak, I let things go.

Today I experienced something that, for the first time, made me wish that I was a rude person.  Today I experienced a kidney stone.  (In fact, I am still experiencing it, as my pain medication is wearing off as I write this post, so I'd better hurry before I reach out through the internets and tear all of your faces off.)

When I woke up this morning, I had my usual vague lower back pain that always goes away after I move around a bit.  This morning, the pain didn't go away, it localized to the bottom left quadrant of my back and settled in.

"That's odd," I said.  "This back pain is kind of weird this morning."

"You're spending too much time on the computer," Sven grumbled.  "It's bad for your back."  (For the record, this is also why I have to wear glasses, have painful menstrual periods, suffer from itchy toes in the winter, and have experienced bouts of puff-knuckle, at least according to Sven.)

"Maybe you're right," I said automatically, and got dressed for work.  That nagging pain would not go away!  By the time I got to work, I knew things weren't right.  I was dizzy and sweaty and felt like I was about to vomit.  I called Sven ("No, I'll be fine, you stay at work,") left work and went to the emergency room, where being polite gets you nowhere.

"Excuse me," I said, gasping in pain, "I'm in a great deal of pain and need to see someone."

"Fill out the top form and have a seat," the nurse said mechanically.  It was at this point that my logical, polite mind said Don't get mad at her, she's following procedure, and yelling at people never solved anything.  There was another, louder part of my mind, however, that was screaming Tell that stupid so-and-so that you're not filling out a damn thing until you get some Demerol!  Fortunately, I listened to my polite self and filled out the form and hunched my way over to the chairs.  It took seventeen hours in my time (but only about fifteen minutes in real time, I suppose) to get back to a room.

"Do you mind if I ask you some questions?" a perky intern asked.  Again, polite Deb is thinking Bless her heart, she's just taking my history, no need to get upset, while the raving lunatic unleashed by unspeakable pain is screaming Tell her to shove that clipboard somewhere dark and get me some morphine! NOW!  I again managed to leash the beast and answered her questions as best I could, though I will tell you now I have no recollection of what she asked me.  I was in so much pain at that point that my hearing was affected.  I wanted to call Sven and tell him to come and hold my hand, but I was in too much pain to even ask for my phone.  Then the lady from the business office came in to ask me about how I was going to pay.  I don't even remember what happened next.

Fortunately, drawing on nearly seventeen years' worth of couples' telepathy, Sven walked in at that point and I could just start crying while he answered the questions.

Pain medication was introduced then, and I felt much better.  Just about normal, in fact.  One CAT scan later, it was confirmed that a tiny, 3mm ball of yuck had lodged in my left kidney and I have to evict him.  Hopefully said eviction will be accomplished today by means of my enormous Bass Pro Shop mug and amazing willpower, but I could be here for a while.  Sven is out now getting my prescriptions filled.

And he'd better get back soon, because Angry Deb is lurking.  Watch out.