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Thursday, January 2nd, 2020
10:18 pm - Collected Fanfiction Post
Links to all fanfiction I've written in various fandoms. That I'm admitting to.

Alias )


Angel the Series )


Babylon 5 )

Battlestar Galactica )

Breaking Bad )

Buffy the Vampire Slayer )


Citizen Kane )

Doctor Who )

Farscape )


Earth: Final Conflict )

Heroes )

Highlander: The Series )

Historical Fiction )

Lost )

Merlin )

Mythology )


Once upon a time )

Rome )

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine )

Star Trek: The Next Generation )


Star Wars )

Sunset Boulevard )

The Beatles )

The Borgias )
The Godfather )


Torchwood )


X-Men )

The West Wing )


Crossovers )

current mood: exhausted

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Friday, October 24th, 2014
3:14 pm - Patrick McGilligan: Alfred Hitchcock. A life in Darkness and Light. (Book Review)
Reccommended to me as the best current Hitchcock biography around. Not having read the others - though of course I knew about Donald Spoto's The Dark Side of Genius (i.e. Spoto is to Hitchcock fans what Albert Goldmann is to Lennon fans) via pop culture osmosis, Spoto having been the one to launch the Director-as-Actress-Abusing-Monster interpretation -, I couldn't say whether or not it is the best, but it's certainly solid, if noticable biased on the pro-Hitchcock side. Some of McGilligan's points against Spoto are well earned, for example, this one about young Hitchcock's school days:

One notorious transgression was the dangerous practical joke presented by Donald Spoto as a tone-setting anecdote of his biography The Dark Side of Genius. As Spoto told the anecdote, Hitchock and an accomplice grabbed a younger student named Robert Goold and hauled him off to the boiler room, immobilizing him for a "carefully planned psychological torture", ending when the two depantsed Goold and pinned a string of lit firecrackers to his underwear. Goold told this story to Spoto and others over the years. Unfortunately, his recollection couldn't possibly be true; admission records show Goold entered St. Ignatius a full term after Hitchcock departed. Confronted with the contradiction in 1998, Goold realized that he was "wrong in ascribing the incident to him (Hitchcock)".

Game, set and match for McGilligan. At other times, though, his defense of Hitchcock isn't nearly as well founded, as when the biography gets to the wretched chapter(s) of Hitchcock's relationship with Tippi Hedren. "What if he was only joking" doesn't quite cut it. (Cunningly, McGilligan quotes previous Hitchcock leading lady Joan Fontaine on that one: "'I was with Tippi Hedren once on a CBS show', recalled actress Joan Fontaine, who could boast of surviving a similarly complicated relationship with Hitchcock, 'when she said he had propositioned her. Well, what he did was to see her Achilles' heel, and, knowing that pretty young actresses wanted to feel that he was a dirty old man, he would play it up. 'Yes, I must get into your bloomers, young lady', he would puff and growl. I can just see him leering at them in jest, but they never realized he was teasing them.' With all due respect to Ms. Fontaine, she wasn't present during the shooting of Marnie, and whether or not Hitchcock was teasing when she knew him, implying that Hedren (or anyone else) should have just handled it with a wink and an "oh that Hitch!" attitude is just wrong.)

What makes McGilligan's biography a great source, though, is that defensiveness of Hitchcock aside, he's thorough, especially with the collaborative process that is moviemaking, and very time, place and period evocative. Because this biography doesn't rush to to get to the point where our hero makes it to Hollywood but goes into great detail about his English youth and silent movie days, I learned a great deal that was new to me. As for example: the first film Hitchcock directed - after working his way upwards from advertising to script lettering to editing and set decorating to assistant director - on his own, The Pleasure Garden, was actually made mostly in Germany, in Munich, 1925, for the Emelka (a production company which tried to be a South German alternative to the Berlin based UFA), with young (as in: early 20s) Hitch, his future wife and life long collaborator Alma Reville (who came along as editor and assistant director, exactly the same age as himself - she was born one day after him, but had started working for the movies at age 15, five years before Hitchcock did) and a handfull others the only Brits involved. McGilligan is great in pointing out how international the silient movie era truly was (and could be because the actors weren't limited to the languages they could speak). So the Hitchcock/Reville team could work with a mostly German crew, Alma could take the actresses to Paris to buy their frocks, and once photography at the Geiselgasteig in Munich was done, everyone was off by train to Genoa, Italy for the outdoor shootings. Bear in mind here this was a first time director and his motley crew with not a big budget, not the later Hitchcock who could command millions from the studio. It must have been an incredibly exciting time for everyone involved, and it was followed up with another German film, The Mountain Eagle/Der Bergadler, where they got snowed in while working on the script in Obergurgl, Tyrolia. (Nice skiing area, btw, I've been there.)

McGilligan is very good throughout the biography in pointing out the importance of Alma's input, whether or not she was officially co-scriptwriting. (She stopped being credited after Capricorn, the failure of which gave her a crisis of confidence, but still mapped out, storyboarded and co-edited the later Hitchcock movies. McGilligan gives us some great examples of how that shared brainstorming of the Hitchcocks worked, because there were peope present to witness it for To Catch a Thief and the original plan for Frenzy, which wasn't the scenario Hitchcock filmed years later.) Which is why the ending for both of them is so heartbreaking to read - Alma suffered a series of strokes culminating in one when they were both 78 which crippled her, took away both her physical ability to move (and unlike her husband, she'd always kept fit) and some of her mind. He'd lost touch with the audience by then and only kidded himself, plotting movies that would never get made anymore, and Freeman with whom he plotted such a never-made-movie once observed them together when he and Hitchcock moved their plotting sessions from the studio to the director's home at Bellagio Road: 'He was showing off for her,' David Freeman recalled. 'Strutting his stuff. He was saying, 'Look, I can still do it. There's a future. There's going to be another movie. It's worth it to go on.'

But there never was, he drank more and more while sliding into senility, she was able to understand the world around her less and less, and then he died, with her surviving him for two more years and not knowing even that he was gone (according to their daughter, Alma would tell visitors "Hitch is at the studio. Don't worry, he'll be home soon".) I must admit that even bearing in mind how flawed Hitchcock was as a person, this made me maudlin and misty-eyed when I had finished the book.

With the decades that Hitchcock's career lasted, there is of course a very huge supporting cast in the book. McGilligan, on a mission to be anti-Spoto, points out that for every Vera Miles and Tippi Hedren, who got bullied and had to deal with a creepily possessive and vengeful director, there were Ingrid Bergmann (who adored him, stayed friends through the decades and was one of the last people to see him before he died), Grace Kelly (mutual adoration society) and Janet Leigh (found his pranks funny and remained fond of him post movie as well). (Also Anny Ondra, who was one of the first Hitchcock blondes and another case of "wow, it was a small movie world" for me because I know her name in completely a different context - she was an Austrian-Czech actress who later married Max Schmeling (he of the Louis/Schmeling boxing match); they were one of the few celebrity couples who never divorced and are in fact buried next to each other. Hitchcock was so fond of her that when the studio decided their next movie would be a sound one, which would have ordinarily cancelled her out because of her accent when speaking English, he insisted on Joan Barry dubbing her instead so he could keep Ondra as the star). Which is worth bearing in mind, but what McGilligan seems to ignore is that kindness to one person doesn't excuse or cancel out cruelty to another. Hitchcock's relationships with his male actors is also interesting to read about. He got along best with those playing villains (Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, and, against type, Joseph Cotten in Shadow of a Doubt) and classified a great deal of those playing heroes in his movies as "too weak" , with the notable exceptions of Cary Grant and James Stewart (not that he was best buddies with either, but he respected them); McGilligan points out, accurately, that Hitchcock got darker performances out of both Grant and Stewart than their usual screen persona allowed in other films. The famous "actors are cattle" quotation is duly examined (it's one of those quotes that everyone is sure the celebrity in question has said but nobody can trace down to a first use and source) and given context; what I hadn't known is that it was already (in)famous in Hitchcock's lfe time so he himself was asked whether or not he had said it, and believed it. With the result of Hitchcock writing an article - in 1940! - titled "Actors aren't really cattle": Silliest of all Hollywood arguments is between the school that claims to believe the actor is completely a puppet, putting into a role only the director's genius (I am, God forgive me, charged with belonging to that school) and the equally asinine school of 'natural acting' in which the player is supposed to wander through the scenes at will, a self-propelling, floating, free-wheeling, embodied inspiration.

(Three guesses as to what Hitchcock's reaction was once method acting got popular.)


Voluminous as it is, the book still leaves open questions, but I think in a fair way, i.e. the author acknowledges they are there but doesn't pretend to have the answers. Alma's whole pov on her marriage, for starters. She only gave a very few interviews in her life, and those almost exclusively dealing with her husband's films. Now, Hitchcock through the decades kept telling all and sunder that not only was their pre-marital relationship chaste (during their first German film, he didn't even know what menustration was until an actress told him she couldn't do a scene in the water because it was her time of the month - apparantly they didn't teach female biology at St. Ignatius) but that once their daughter Pat was born so was their post marital relationship due to him being impotent. ("Hitch without the cock" was a favourite pun.) (Most people McGilligan quotes seem to agree he got his jollies the voyeuristic and gossiping way instead, with the occasional tongue kiss launched at an embarrassed actress thrown in.) But, as McGilligan writes, If Hitchcock was sexually impotent, what about Alma? He could make wisecracks about his impotence, his lack of sexual activity, but what how did Alma feel? He could flirt with or try to kiss an actress, but what about Alma? Wasn't she a perfectly normal woman with a sexual appetite that wasn't satisfied?. In lack of any statement from Alma, McGilligan can only offer her co-writer Whitfield Cook's account who says they had an almost-affair, with their one and only attempt at making love interrupted, true movie style fashion, by a phone call from her husband. As to what she thought about her husband's relationships with actresses, full stop: no quotes exist, and thus McGilligan leaves it at "we don't know".

Other observations: actresses aside, McGilligan's partisanship is also noticable in any Hitch versus writers dispute. Hitchcock filmed a great many books but usually considered them just a springboard on which he build his movie, and the biography gives you the impression that the first thing he and Alma did was to take a few ideas from the book in question and then rewrite the story an dcharacterisations entirely. And McGilligan, being a fan of the end result, always considers whoever objected to this - be it David O. Selznick re: Rebecca where his memos frequently had the refrain of "go back to the book!" , John Steinbeck who wrote an unpublished novella that was to be the basis for Lifeboat (bye, bye, novella) or Raymond Chandler (who was supposed to adopt Patricia Highsmith's Strangers in a Train with Hitchcock; he and Hitchcock ended up developing such an hate/hate relationship that his treatments literally landed in the dustbin while Hitchcock went back to Alma, Joan Harrison and some more of his regular staff writers for the script) as in the wrong and not thinking cinematically enough. In this reader, this evoked a "Yes, but" reaction. I mean, I can see McGilligan's point - a book is not a movie, etc. But speaking as someone who often experienced a favourite book turned into a non favourite movie (not by Hitchcock, though), a little more empathy for the writerly side of things wouldn't have gone amiss!

Lastly, first a quote that amuses me and might you: Cary Grant didn't requite Hitchcock to pick out his wardrobe. Cary Grant gave grooming tips, and Hitchcock usually told him just to "dress like Cary Grant'.

And a favourite bit of trivia: Hitchcock loved the US, loved living there. But he also stood by his inner Englishman: Years later in Hollywood, when the slate board reading 24-1 went up, Hitchcock would murmur, "Hampstead Heath to Victoria", that being the route of the 24 bus in those days.

And with a whistle of "in spite of all temptations, to belong to other nations", I conclude this review.

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1023175.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: contemplative

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Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
3:35 pm - The Good Wife 4.05
Due to having been on the road, I only got to watch this one now.

Well now... )

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current mood: blah

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Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
8:37 am - Manhattan 1.13
This was the season finale, right? It definitely felt like one. And I am ever so glad we're getting another season.

Some revelation is at hand )

In conclusion: definitely one of the smartest shows of the year, about complicated people and issues. So many pop culture stories treat WWII basically as the ultimate role playing game, clear cut good/evil issues, compromise with the other side impossible because the other side is bent on genocide and led by the embodiment of evil in the 20th century, therefore only dashing heroism on the Allies side. And so often it gets contrasted to the present with murky issues, endless wars, and ever shifting alliances and the impossibility to see anyone as the dashingly heroic side. Yet here is this show, picking up a very specific part of the homefront of the war seen as the "good war" in US public memory, and relates it directly to one of the most disturbing current day issues, the way state surveillance, "enhanced" interrogation and the giving up of liberties has become an accepted and even deemed necessary practice. Wow.

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current mood: impressed

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Monday, October 20th, 2014
2:32 pm - OuaT 4.04 The Apprentice
In which Goethe joins the ranks of OuaT writers, and given Regina's stated goal this season, this suddenly makes me think of crazy RPF crossovers. She'd be his type. Emma, otoh, would be Schiller's.

Hat der alte Hexenmeister sich nun einmal wegbegeben... )

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current mood: amused

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7:15 am - Dear Yuletide Writer
Dear Yuletide Writer,

I'm happy and grateful you're going to write a story for me. We must share at least one fandom, and I hope you'll have fun writing in it. The ideas in my requests are just that: ideas. If you feel inspired by another direction of story altogether, go for it, as long as it features the characters I requested.


General likes and dislikes: pretty ordinary. I don't like character bashing. (Or the bashing of a relationship in favour of another, but that hardly applies with my requests.) Not to be confused with whitewashing; some of the characters I asked so have canonically done some pretty apalling things, and you don't have to pretend they didn't, or that it was all someone else's fault, just because I love them. As long as they come across as three dimensional people with flaws and strengths, I'll be content.

Quiet character exploration or plotty tale, gen or slash/het/any combination thereof, humor or dark fic, canon or AU, it's all good, though unless you're one of those awesomely talented people who can write characterisation via sex, I'd prefer a story that's more than a PWP.
Now, as to individual requests:


The Americans )



Penny Dreadful )





15th Century RPF )

Bates Motel )

Armadale )

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current mood: awake

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Sunday, October 19th, 2014
4:30 pm - Doctor Who 8.09 Flatline
In case I haven't mentioned this before, I really like this season. Not without individual complaints, of course, but those always happen. In totem I haven't liked a Moffat season so much since s5. (There is a difference between liking individual episodes and liking an overal season.) I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but the dynamic between Clara and Twelve works for me, the Doctor's re-emphasized alienness works for me, and the way (present day) Clara suddenly came into her own constantly reminds me that in the utopian day when I have more time, I want to write an essay about Doctor-Companion combinations and why some Companions work with different Doctors (though in different aspects, like Sarah Jane), while others click with just one specific regeneration.

Now, on to Flatline, which definitely belongs into the "liked much, want to rewatch!" category of episodes for me.

To misquote Stephen Sondheim, exceptional is different from good )

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current mood: good

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Saturday, October 18th, 2014
7:12 pm - I do not think that word means what you think it means
Sometimes it really seems that the time between fannish expressions being coined and them being used in a way that's far from their original meaning gets shorter and shorter. The most prominent example being "Mary Sue" which after a gazillion people used it just in the sense of "female character I don't like" lost all its usefulness. Two or three days ago, I started to add "man pain" to the number, after reading a tweet wherein the writer of same talked about Steve Rogers' "man pain" in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

Errr.

Steve isn't even my favourite MCU character. Or comic book character. But. If there is one superhero who reliably puts saving people first and his own angst for later, it's Steve Rogers. This, btw, is something I like about him. "Man pain", as far as I know, was coined to signify a character (usually male, though I did see people use the expression for the occasional female character as well) making not only something bad happening to him but something worse happening to other people into fodder for his own angst, and his own drama. (Come to think of it, wouldn't the female version be the expression "white women's tears"? Though that one is strictly related to poc's fates being used as angst fodder for a white female character, which "man pain" is not.) Meanwhile, Steve throughout "Winter Soldier", where he gets a couple of shattering revelations both general and personal, never loses sight of what's most important (that would be: no fascist surveillance state taking out its enemies) while finding the time to comfort Natasha through her moment of of "what the hell was my life about?"' angst. The point where he whited for spoilersprioritizes Bucky isn't until Hydra is already defeated. When it's solely his, Steve's, own life n the line. Which he's prepared to sacrifice rather than kill his friend. But when everyone else's lives were still at stake, he did fight, and he did finish that mission. Again: if there's one superhero currently in the MCU who never prioritizes his own pain over anyone else's danger or pain, and who certainly does NOT make other people's tragedies about himself, it's Steve Rogers.

End of MCU Captain America Has No Man Pain rant.

Meanwhile, via [personal profile] lonelywalker, a fabulous interview with John Logan, the creator of Penny Dreadful, in which we find out that Vanessa Ives is a Wilkie Collins kind of heroine (of course she is!), the Ives-Murray abode in London is the bridge of the Enterprise, and Victor Frankenstein isn't likely to find out happiness in season 2 (naturally; he's Victor). Consider me more thrilled than ever we'll get more of this show.

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1021657.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: irritated

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Friday, October 17th, 2014
1:08 pm - Still sick, but....
Briefly, re: multifandom news:

1) New Twin Peaks: Do not want. Leave well enough alone, I say. The second season has been pretty shaky already, and although the ending was great (in a completely mean way, of course), I can't see what a follow up would achieve that would improve on it. I'd rather not know for sure one way or the ther whether SPOILER ever managed to get rid of SPOILER. Or whether SPOILER survived. And that's leaving aside that a lot of what made Twin Peaks so charming and original back in the 1990s has been copied, quoted etc. ad infinitum ever since.

...Otoh, what do I know? I'd have said "do not want" about a Shining sequel, too. And Doctor Sleep turned out to be Stephen King's best book in years (not least because he ditched the first person narration of the last few again), which I wouldn't wanted to have missed.

2.) MCU does Civil War rumor: I'll believe it if it's a bit more substantial than, well, rumor. For starters, the whole Civil War premise makes no sense in the current MCU as it is - only a few superheroes who, after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, had their identities revealed to all and sunder. And that's before we get to the part where the emotional content of Civil War depends on these people having been friends for eons, not being a couple of new aquaintances who just started to get over hostilities.

And a vid rec from the X-Men films: A beautiful portrait of Raven/Mystique!

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1021249.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: exanimate

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Thursday, October 16th, 2014
10:02 am - Manhattan 1.12
Still an awful combination of sick and busy, so behind with replying to everyone's replies. But finally able to catch up on Manhattan which I just learned got renewed for another season!

Transparacy is democracy )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1021061.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: cold

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Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
1:41 pm - The Good Wife 6.04
In which the creators of The Americans have a cameo which is distracting for me and makes crossovers difficult (and here I thought Alicia could represent Henry and/or Paige when they try to sort out their citizenship issues decades later), but also made me smile. Oh, and the episode continues to prove this show is just sublimely confident in itself, and justly so, in its sixth year.

Reporters don't like irony )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1020920.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: excited

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Monday, October 13th, 2014
1:36 pm - Once upon a Time 4.03
In which your faithful reviewer was treated to a couple of familiar (actorly) faces while the characters found out a couple of new things.

It's getting frosty )

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current mood: curious

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11:19 am - Doctor Who 8.08
Running a fever doesn't stop you from watching tv, thankfully.

Read more... )

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current mood: calm

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Sunday, October 12th, 2014
9:29 pm - Frankfurt Book Fair 2014
This year's Frankfurt Book Fair was exciting and eventful as ever, but unfortunately I cought the dreaded Book Fair Flu. It happens nearly every year to those of us who stay the entire week in the small city of halls with thousands of people breathing the same air, but usually the symptoms wait for Monday. Not this year, where I'm running a fever and sniffling like a Dickensian orphan, so the report will be shorter than usual.

 photo 2014_1012FrankfurtMersse0063_zpse110a9ae.jpg

Report under the cut )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1019941.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: exhausted

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Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
2:22 pm - off to the fair
It's that time of the year again - starting tonight, with the opening ceremony, the world's largest book fair takes place in Frankfurt. This year's guest of honor is Finnland. I won't be able to go to the opening ceremony for the first time in eons because of other rl obligations, but from Wednesday morning till Sunday afternoon, I'll be inhaling books at the fair, and hence rarely online.

Also, I wasn't able to catch the latest Good Wife before hitting the road, so I won't be able to watch it until next Monday, together with the next one. Something I did manage to watch before losing the benefit of broadbent access, courtesy of [personal profile] trobadora, is the lovely Snow and Regina scene they cut from the most recent Once upon a Time. Which really should have been in the episode!

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current mood: excited

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9:01 am - Manhattan 1.11.
In which people's love lives take a turn for the worse, and keeping secrets is a lost art.

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1019467.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: busy

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Monday, October 6th, 2014
5:42 pm - Once upon a Time 4.02
Beastly day for rl reasons, but I did manage (some) tv. OuaT, I embrace your endearing corniness! You make me happy when I direly need it!

It's your curse, you fix the electricity! )

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current mood: calm

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Sunday, October 5th, 2014
9:27 am - Doctor Who 8.07 Kill the Moon
Still chewing on this one, but in a good way. The scriptwriter is new, isn't he? I don't recall reading his name before.

Read more... )

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current mood: pensive

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6:28 am - Instant rec
So Days of Future Past came out on dvd, I rewatched (am still battling for time to write the Charles and Raven story I want to), was hit by the urge to check out what everyone else had written in the meantime that's relevant to my interests, and came across this fantastic and intense Hank McCoy portrait. This is MCU Hank, his massive issues, his loyalty, bravery and devotion, his smartness his love for Raven and Charles, from childhood till after the end of Days of Future Past.


the boy who blocked his own shot (12263 words) by primavera
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Hank McCoy/Charles Xavier, Hank McCoy/Raven | Mystique, Erik Lehnsherr/Charles Xavier
Characters: Hank McCoy, Charles Xavier, Raven | Mystique, Erik Lehnsherr, Sean Cassidy, Alex Summers
Additional Tags: Angst, Unrequited Love, Minor Character Death, Self-Esteem Issues, Self Confidence Issues, Self-Acceptance
Summary:

He doesn't look so terribly different from all the other boys. It's simply a stroke of dumb, genetic luck that he's asked to join Mensa when he's eleven years old.



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current mood: impressed

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Saturday, October 4th, 2014
7:41 am - Gone Girl (Film Review)
Having read the novel, I couldn't watch the movie unspoiled, so I can't tell you how it comes across to the unwary. The trailer, as opposed to many a trailer, has been very careful not to give away the big twists, so I expect the producers are counting on the fact a part of the audience has no idea. It's the type of story that provides a different type of reading/viewing pleasure the first and the second time around, and thus, I'll be careful with the spoilers, too, separating the review into unspoilery and spoilery comments.

First of all: it strikes me that if The Social Network felt like more imprinted by Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the script, than by Fincher as the director, this is even more true of Gone Girl, where the script is an adaption by Gillian Flynn of her novel by the same name. Or maybe I should say: David Fincher in both cases serves his writers well and adapts to them? (As opposed to the conventional view where the director's vision reshapes everything.) In this particular case, there is a gleeful malice to the dissection of both romance and suspense story tropes which I recognize from the novel and which came across to me as feminine. It's also interesting to compare this to Robert Altman movies because Altman is a director who specializes in presenting unlikeable characters which (not always, but often) nonetheless have interesting, often satiric stories, but his type of narrative comes across as masculine to me. (For that matter, the Sorkin/Fincher Social Network did, too, which also offered unlikeable characters - no, I didn't like Eduardo, either - in a fast paced narrative.) Gone Girl, by contrast, I couldn't see as an Altman movie. It would have weighted its narrative emphasis and view points differently, for starters. (And there'd have been lots of overlapping dialogue. :) )

Acting wise, Rosamund Pike does most of the heavy lifting; she has the trickier character to play, and she does it beautifully. (Also with great comic timing, which is more important than you'd think.) More in the spoilery section. Ben Affleck's role is actually pretty straightforward by comparison; it's what the audience (both on an in-story and a viewer level) projects into him that counts, and you can see why Fincher cast Affleck, who from his image could plausibly be either creepy wife killer or wrongful suspect and at any rate can do that aura of seediness of someone whose best days are gone and whose charm, if employed, has become somewhat smug routine. (For a poignant version of this, see Hollywoodland, where he plays murder victim and ex TV Superman George Reeves in the flashbacks. But George Reeves is tragic, and Nick, his character in Gone Girl, is anything but.) Everyone in the supporting roles has great fun, especially Tyler Perry as Nick's slick lawyer (a true comrade of Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman) and Kim Dickens as shrewd Detective Rhonda Boney, who investigates Amy's disappearance and possible murder. (While the novel is strictly divided between Nick and Amy as first person narrators, the movie leaves their povs briefly now and then to show us Rhonda and her sidekick investigating and exchanging views.) I also really liked Carrie Coon as Nick's twin sister (Mar)Go. Now I have a soft spot for sibling relationships anyway, but in the novel I couldn't quite believe in Go and Nick as twins who grew up together. Without a change in dialogue or narration, the movie sells me on them via the acting; Coon and Affleck have that kind of easy rapport complete with occasional exasparated/disgusted eyeroll on Go's part. David Clennon and Lisa Banes as Amy's parents have only a few scenes, but they're absolutely golden; Lisa Banes especially, in the scene where she ends her plea for people with information about Amy to contact them by naming the newly established website for this; the slight pause before she says "dot com" makes it a maliciously comic masterpiece.

Speaking of Amy's parents, succcessful children's authors famous for their book series Amazing Amy, while both novel and film obviously target the media and the way it builds up (and destroys) public hate and sympathy figures, it only occured to me during watching that Amy's parents and Amy's backstory also makes it into an entry in the " parents/guardians/adults-with-close-relationship-to-you who write children's books and use fictionalized versions of you in them really suck" chronicles (for fictional versions, see A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book; in real life, step forward, James Barrie and Lewis Carrol). By necessity, the film had to leave out some things and could, for examply, only briefly sketch and hint at at Nick's background with his parents, but Amy's background with her parents is really important to who Amy is, and the film manages to convey it all in a flashback scene to the latest Amazing Amy book launch which Amy takes Nick to early in their relationship. (The art department also had fun with the Amazing Amy book covers.)

Now, on to some observations about both film and book which spoil the various twists and ending: In absolutely every review of the book I've seen, it's mentioned that it has not one but two unreliable narrators. Welll, yes and no. Or rather: only until half of the novel. Nick's an unreliable narrator during the first half in as much as he omits some information and later casually drops bombshells like the one about having an affair with his student from the writing class in a "oh yeah, did I forget to mention this?" manner, which serves to make a first time reader suspicious what else he's not mentioning/leaving out; also, his memories of Amy as manipulative conflict with the image Amy creates of herself in the sections of her diary (covering the years from her meeting Nick till her disappearance) that serve as counterparts to Nick's present day narration, and in which he comes across as a budding textbook future wife killer. However, around half point of the novel we reach the first big twist: Amy's diary is a fake, fabricated by Amy along with a lot of other Nick-incriminating evidence in careful preparation of her disappearance in order to frame him for her murder. Nick, while an adulterous jerk, is not an abuser or murderer. From this point onwards, both Nick and Amy continue to narrate the novel in the present, with the suspense question going from "did Nick murder Amy?" to "will Nick manage to get Amy to come back in order to save himself?" and "will Amy get away with it?" After this twist, there is no indication either Nick or Amy are unreliable narrators, or that what they describe happening in the present isn't exactly what happens. Now, one of the things I was most curious about was how the film would manage Amy's diary entries. Because it's one thing for a book to declare that part of what you've just been reading was actually not true because it was written by one of the characters with an in-story purpose to mislead other characters, and another for a visual medium to declare that those scenes you just saw didn't really happen this way. The film pulls this off two fold; one, every Amy flashback in the first half is framed by a brief glimpse at Amy's hand writing the relevant diary entry, so that the audience is reminded what they see is straight from this diary, not from an "objective" pov; and two, Amy's voice over in the second part as well as a scene between Nick and Rhonda makes clear which parts of the Amy flashbacks really happened (all until they're both unemployed; the gameboy scene, the argument about having a child and Nick pushing Amy were faked), and which didn't. Most of all, though, it's Rosamund Pike's performance which holds it together. In the novel, the transition from vulnerable victim!Amy in the diary to gleeful sociopath!Amy in the present day is jarring - and meant to be, since the former was a creation of the later. In the movie, you can see Amy's capacity for faking a facade while being seethingly angry - at her parents - in the book launch scene, as well as her joy in games, verbal and mind games, in her early relationship with Nick. Conversely, in the second half when Amy is vengefully watching Nick being torn apart by the media on tv with a new aquaintance, she within a lie tells a true story of how she found out he was cheating on her, and here she comes across as genuinely hurt, sociopath or no sociopath. And as I said: being the child of novelists who kept rewriting her life into a more perfect version through her childhood works as a suggestion as to one (not the only) reason why Amy became the way she is. Mind you: the film ditched one of Amy's victims from the book, the girl from her school whom she framed as a Single White Female type. Which in the movie leaves us with the ex boyfriends and Nick, none of whom are inviting much sympathy - though Nick, by virtue of his sibling relationship with Go and by being a considerate cat owner even when framed for murder , invites just enough that one doesn't want to see him dead for something he didn't do -, so the main feeling when watching Amy framing them is amusement at her ruthless cleverness. (I was wondering whether casting Neil Patrick Harris as Desi would make us feel sorry for the guy, but no; he comes across as the proverbial Nice Guy and so creepily obsessed with Amy that one could almost hear Chicago's "He had it coming" when the film got to its sole actual murder.)

Another thing, to explain further what I meant about male and female narratives: one obvious movie to compare this to is Hitchcock's Vertigo, because Vertigo, too, has a mid-story twist/reveal showing that the male main character has actually been set up and that the person whom the audience had been watching for half the film never existed but was an artificial creation. But the next emotional twist in Vertigo is to feel sorry for Judy as she's forced to recreate the "dead" Madeline for Scottie, with the scene in which he makes her completely transform being one of the most emotionally violent on film without any physical violence whatsoever. Part of what makes this scene so memorable, so intensely uncomfortable and great is that while on one level you know what Scottie does to Judy is horrible, on the other you can understand why because the movie sold "Madeline" so well before to the audience, too. (And then there's the meta level of Hitchcock creating a Hitchcock blonde by tormenting an actress, obviously.) Judy is an instrument - first for the real Madeline's husband, then for Scottie -, not a player, and she dies for real at the end; despite the mid story reveal the audience remains in Scottie's pov.

Meanwhile, Amy is no one's instrument, she's the mastermind. Not an invulnerable one or infallible one; she underestimates, very much for snobbish reasons, the dangers of the couple next door in her hideout, plus Nick once he's figured out what exactly is going on successfully manages to manipulate her back to save his life. But she is the stringpuller, and the ultimate winner of the tale. After the mid story reveal of Amy's survival and true nature, the narrative doesn't invite you to feel sorry for her but to share in her glee as she makes her unfaithful husband squirm. In Vertigo, Judy's post-reveal submission (and Scottie going from sympathetic hero to oppressive obsessive) is the emotional twist. In Gone Girl, Nick does the submitting. And how.

Now advance publicity for this movie made a big deal about a changed ending. This must have been so the people who already read the book would go and see the movie anyway, because the ending is exactly the same, the meanest twist on a "happily ever after" since Altmann's The Player. And honestly, I can't imagine another one for this particular story. Amy being exposed and arrested, or Nick snapping and actually killing Amy would both feel like a let down by comparison. To misquote Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, it's not that Amy and Nick deserve each other, but Amy and Nick deserve each other. Poor Go, though. And poor future spawn.


In conclusion: for this spoiled-by-the-novel viewer, the movie was a witty, biting and smoothly proceeding entertainment. Very watchable.

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1018400.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

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