The Virtual Stoa Goes To The Movies (So You Don’t Have To): 2007 Edition

In order to pretend to myself that it isn’t really admissions season, I’ve been going to the cinema.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is quite good. It’s not very good, but it is quite good, and it manages not to be dull, even though hardly anything happens, it all moves along very slowly, and you know exactly what’s going to happen towards the end. Beautifully filmed, and the acting’s not bad at all. It doesn’t, however, make me want to go off and live in Missouri. In the dispute between Norm and Adele and Sarah Churchwell on gender in the film, I think Sarah Churchwell edges it on points, with her shrewd remarks on the (d)evolution of the Western since Clint Eastwood showed up. (Do note the fine correction at the end of Churchwell’s piece.)

The Darjeeling Limited is quite funny when it’s being a silly film, but about halfway through it tries to become Meaningful, whereupon it becomes moderately tiresome, except for a couple of jokes towards the end and a brief appearance by a tiger. Ros K has more over here.

The trailer to The Golden Compass makes it look cracking, esp. the polar bear. But is it clear whether I should have a look at a Pullman novel or two ahead of time, or just wander along to see the film?

8 thoughts on “The Virtual Stoa Goes To The Movies (So You Don’t Have To): 2007 Edition”

  1. Northern Lights (the book) and the Dark Materials Trilogy are far superior to the film, which seems to lack the subtlety, depth and moral ambiguity of the books.

    The film might be good (I’m not sure, I can only measure it against the book) but the book is far superior. You can probably understand the film without the books, however.

  2. This has been added to the bottom of the Churchwell piece:

    “This article was amended on Thursday December 6 2007. Ringo Starr did not appear in Stagecoach, as we said in the article above, though the Ringo Kid, played by John Wayne, did. This has been corrected.”

    I think my life is now complete.

  3. Re: Pullman novels

    The His Dark Materials is by all means a children’s series, but it’s a damn enjoyable one none the less.

  4. Nothing wrong with children’s books. Where the Wild Things Are, A Wizard of Earthsea and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are all fine books. And don’t get me started on Arnold Lobel’s mighty Owl at Home.

  5. I saw an extremely silly and enormously entertaining Russian film called Mongol yesterday, which purported to be the first accurate film about Genghis Khan, but this only stretched to it being shot in Mongolia and Mongolian – in all other respects it was about as plausible as a typical Hollywood epic, and apparently Mongolians are up in arms about it.

    As a Mongolian commenter on the IMDB put it:

    “Imagine that somebody makes a movie about Abraham Lincoln and his great history of uniting the USA. What if he invites an actor barely speaks English from Mexico to play as President Lincoln, and brings an actor from Quebec, Canada with heavy french accent to play as Lincoln’s close friend (in this case Jamuha, Temujin’s friend) and rest of the people borrowed from all of the Mexico, Haiti and Puerto Rico. And they rewrote the actual history and changed it into something incorrect and ordered all actors to speak (in very bad) English in order to create an impression to feel original. May be an ordinary person lives in Asia who knows not much about Lincoln and his history may receive this movie “fine and nice” to watch, but I’m sure it will not touch Americans, it will rather disturb them and make them angry or disgusted. This movie has same acceptance to any Mongolian.”

    On the other hand, as someone who wouldn’t know the Quebec equivalent of a Mongolian accent from Adam, it does have some quite spectacular scenery and battle scenes and a distinct dearth of dull bits – YouTube has the trailer and a generous chunk of the climactic battle.

    Oh, and it’s not out for another six months, so don’t get too excited.

  6. You’ve probably noticed by now that Maria Farrell of CT has a review:

    http://crookedtimber.org/2007/12/07/northern-lights-the-intercision/

    I read the whole triology, and I largely agree with those who think that the quality dropped after the first one. More accurately, I think the two sequels are increasingly about ideas at the expense of plot. I think ‘Northern Lights’ was very good, and I suspect you’d enjoy it (it’s also set in Oxford, which may add something for you). It’s an intelligent book of the sort that can’t be made into a film; I think it really has to be read rather than seen. I could be talking out of my arse here, because I believe the stage version was well reviewed. However, both books and theatre require considerable imaginative effort on the part of the audience, and that seems to be something Pullman’s work needs.

  7. Read Northern Lights, which is one of the great Oxford children’s books (if you haven’t read the Alice books, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The House in Norham Gardens and the Hobbit, do so first). Haven’t yet seen the film, but it would be much better to read the book and find the film a let down than the see the film, and then be unable to enjoy the book in its own right.

  8. Thanks to all who’ve replied on the site and off: I’m half-way through Northern Lights now (I’ve just learned what intercision is, if you want to track my progress).

    I don’t know The House in Norham Gardens.

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