On Sea Creatures and Sad Middle Age

Apparently there’s a story going around about Dick Van Dyke (yes, THAT Dick Van Dyke, and yes, I too was surprised to hear he’s still alive). He fell asleep on his surf board, drifted out to sea, and then was rescued by a pod of porpoises. Susan Orlean writes about it in her blog. Personally, I think he’s been reading too many Greek myths, and perhaps drinking too many margueritas… The Guardian writes “The porpoises were unavailable for comment.” Hee.

And on the opposite scale, here’s a guy who definitely needs a bigger boat. Yikes.

And in totally other news, much as I love Mike Leigh, I don’t think I’m going to be going to see his latest film. Can I just say that, as a happy, single-by-(mostly)-choice middle aged woman I am so effing sick of middle-aged spinsters being portrayed as needy, neurotic and desperate? I would have expected better.

Just for fun

In the spirit of our investigation of old movie reviews of the Matrix last class:



Cinema Politica

Cinema Politica’s first showing is King Corn, which follows two brothers as they farm an acre of corn. In the process they, and we, learn about the ramifications of the increasing industrialization of corn growing in America. Introducing the film will be Don Genova, the coordinator of the group “Slow Food.” Don Genova writes food columns for the CBC, and has written/produced a film called Islands on the Edge which is about food security on Vancouver Island. He’ll be showing clips of that film on Wednesday. You can read more about him and listen to his podcasts at his website, Pacific Palate.

Wednesday, September 23, 7:00 pm. Camosun College, Young 216.

The Time Traveller’s Wife

Those of you who have read and loved the book of The Time Traveller’s Wife can be reassured that the movie is not a travesty. It is a respectful adaptation, trimming the book to its main storyline. The two leads are lovely, and I was also impressed with the children who played Claire as a child and Alba, Henry and Claire’s daughter.

Although it captures the romantic core story of the book, it misses the novel’s complexity. We lose the sense of how devastating Henry’s condition is to him – in some ways it is treated almost like a joke or a novelty, not the real curse that it is. Some of the time paradoxes seemed more blatant – I don’t remember if this was something that I just didn’t notice in the book or if some of the changes made things worse. Obviously, the movie also loses the rich layers of intertextuality: art, poetry and music are both essential elements in the novel that are mentioned but not developed in the movie. On the other hand, the faithfulness of the adaptation makes the movie lose some identity or even coherence of its own as a movie; the friend I saw it with commented that those who had not read the book, as we had, might have found it confusing.

I am not sorry I saw it – it was a pleasant way to spend an evening. I did not feel that it was in any way a violation of the book; if anything, it reminded me what a lovely experience reading it had been and made me want to read it again. I’m not sure whether to recommend it to anyone who has NOT read the original, however – you might find the movie confusing and silly, and I would hate it to put you off reading the novel.

Literary Movies

With Fall and the new school year, also comes the Serious Movie Season (yay!!). Get out your handkerchiefs! All these look rather promising

Here’s the first trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones on Apple.com (hasn’t Peter Jackson got thin!).

The Time Traveller’s Wife opens this week. I adored this book and had the usual concerns about a movie adaptation, but the trailer made me tear up; that’s not all that difficult, but still..

And then there’s Jane Campion’s movie about the relationship between Keats and Fannie Brawne: Bright Star”. Of course we know it’s not going to end well, but we might have some fun getting there…

The Scholars Weigh in on Beowulf (the movie)

(crossposted to Gladly Learne)

I haven’t seen it yet, and am not sure I want to. I’d rather like to go with my 280 students and sit in the back and be silly and throw things, but I think we’re all mired in writing papers and marking papers and just Getting Through the next few weeks. Maybe we’ll go – we’ll see.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested to read a few responses from the scholars of Old English and/or Medieval studies on my blogroll.

Dr Virago calls it similar to a student’s B- paper, which I think is a very good analogy. Something that has good intentions and some ideas but fails in the application.

Michael Drout, on Wormtalk and Slugspeak, has rather the opposite reaction: he thinks there are some marvellous visuals (naked Angelina Joli being one) but that the themes are tedious and cliche.

Richard Nokes is still waiting for the Great Beowulf Film. He seems to quite like the theme (of narrative unreliability) but didn’t seem to like much else except Angelina Jolie’s prehensile tail braid.