Film Adaptation. Done Right.

You know how people say: “You should’ve seen it on the big screen“? I have discovered recently this also applies to The Silence of the Lambs, one of my favourite movies of all times.

The Silence of the Lambs is one of those movies which I have watched enough times to have memorized not only all the lines, but also the way those lines are delivered as well as facial expressions of characters as they deliver them. I guess this tends to happen when a movie is directed masterfully, the casting is freakishly good and the script kicks ass. So, not very often.

I’ve seen the movie a billion times and I thought I appreciated it for all its worth. However, I was wrong. Only on big screen can you appreciate the sheer genius of Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Demme. For the first time I was able to fully appreciate how good Jodie Foster is as Clarice Starling.

Aside from the obvious reasons for loving this movie, I also love it because it is the best film adaptation I have ever seen. It is the epitome of film adaptation. It’s film adaptation, done the right way. You take the source material (which is awesome, requires no tweaking and needs not be tampered with) and you give it a dimension only the medium you’re adapting it to can give it.

You give it a voice, you give it a face. You use a simple thing as a look to convey a thousand words that a book cannot communicate. You use the camera and sound the way a book uses words and descriptions – to draw in the audience, make it a part of the scene, make it feel the story, make them live it and suffer it. The Silence of the Lambs is proof that Demme understood his medium and had respect for the source material.

It’s a fucking masterpiece, this movie. It’s also one of the rare film adaptations that I actually like more than I the source material.

The only thing that would make me appreciate it more would be hearing the lambs scream as they are being slaughtered. But I think the current level of appreciation will have to suffice.

5 Freak-out Films

Movies, books, TV shows… Even those which seem as nothing more than mindless entertainment, if positioned properly within a life-cycle, can leave an indelible mark. Maybe it is not the dictionary definition of experience (every language should have a word equivalent to vicarious, btw), but it is nonetheless something you’ve been through. As with any and all experiences, the effect often depends on how much of yourself you put into the process, but sometimes you simply have no choice.

I believe I would not be who I am today if I haven’t read certain books at a certain point in my life. The same goes for movies. The best examples are probably Star Wars and Star Trek which have shaped the way my imagination works in space. However, when I am tasked with imagining a robot, the first thing that pops up is that very chic guy from the Forbidden Planet.

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I was prompted to write a post about movies which freaked me out by the recent release of the live action Ghost in the Shell and the first IT trailer.

Think. Which movies freaked you out so much you still shudder when you think of them? (NOTE: I’m not talking about Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo).

1. Stephen King (beyond time)

Long before I even knew what a Stephen King was, I developed an epic distaste for clowns, and I never managed to develop a balloon fancy – something which most kids seem to have had at one point or the other. Sewage and drains have held no appeal for decades due to fear of floating. Needless to say, there is Misery and Kathy Bates who decided to use a sledge hammer and mash Jimmy’s legs. No blood. No gore. And I was physically sick. The fact that both books were disturbing on a whole other level is a matter for a different post.

2. Enemy Mine (1987)

Some years ago Boyfriend Mine and I were discussing 80s and 90s movies and he mentioned Enemy Mine at which point I had an epiphany because I realized that he was talking about one of THE movies.

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In this movie, one of the main characters is an alien, which is in itself perfectly normal. Now this alien, who I’d considered a dude, turns out not only not to be a dude but to be pregnant, because it’s “that time”. I think this movie was a major step on my road to realization that being different is cool, that you just need to try and understand and accept those differences.

Jurassic Park paraphrased it nicely in 1993: “Life finds a way”. Then Feyerabend expanded on it: “The only principle that does not inhibit progress is: anything goes”, after which Le Guin pretty much nailed it (as she usually does, the vixen): “The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.”

3. Waterland (1992)

I’ve had disturbing dreams for years. Sometimes I thought those were caused by repressed memories. Then one day, some years ago, I stumbled upon Waterland on TV. It would seem that it is not very good to watch it when you’re 7 or 8 because it causes serious mental scarring. I’d thought there was something seriously wrong with me. Ok. It’s possible that there is something very wrong with me, but at least I know a part of it was caused by Waterland.

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I really don’t want to go into the specifics because to date I prefer not to think about those.

4. Monster (2003)

Back in early 2000s when I watched Monster I decided that I am done with drama, tragedy and “difficult” movies. I decided nothing is worth the misery and anguish, no matter how good or how true it was. I think it took me a month to recuperate from the desolation and hopelessness of the world and “human” beings depicted in this movie. This one really f#$%&d me up.

5. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

I’ve saved this one for the end because it might debunk the tentative claim I have made about not being crazy. I’ve had this dream when I was in high school. It was all cyberpunk-y and totally cool. It was one of those that stick with you because it’s as realistic as it is improbable. And there I am, walking around town and I notice a DVD of something called Ghost in the Shell. Mind you, this was before I was into anime and all things Japanese (now you’re thinking about hentai, aren’t you?). The moment I’ve noticed the cover I knew that was what I’ve dreamt about. It was extra weird. The conviction that I’ve dreamt a movie that someone actually made. Now, I’m a rational person and I’m aware that it is possible that this was the same situation as with the Waterland. But I could not recall ever having seen Ghost in the Shell and the weirdness of that moment, the certainty of that particular déjà vu still disturbs me.

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I will, however, like to end this one with a hearty recommendation: I, Daniel Blake. I cannot remember how long has it been since I’ve seen a movie so beautiful and so heartbreakingly painful. A masterpiece.

 

Give Me My Binary Opposition

I’m really sick of being strong. Of enduring. Of keeping it real. Of gritting my teeth and pushing forward with a vengeance. I need a fucking break. Give me it. I need some leeway. I just need a minute or two where I can let go, be dependant, a pathetic, malleable jellybean.

Of course I’m ashamed of this. I’m ashamed of this desire to have the privilege of being weak. I’d probably hate it. I’d probably go mental from having someone guide me with a firm hand through even one moment of my life. I’d kick and scream, be all like:

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Still, I need my binary opposition to make sense of the world.

A Year in Life

Some 15 years ago I had a big fight with my mother. I was in high school (yes, I am that old) and we were watching the latest episode of Gilmore Girls. This was before Netflix, before binge TV. This was in the world of Napster – when it took hours to download a single song. This was a world in which, after a weeks’ worth of downloading you had an album to burn on a CD (a round disc with a hole in the middle which went into that slot in your computer, you know – the cup holder). Back then you could use your mobile phone for five things: call, text, calculate, wake up and play the snake.

In that world, in that particular episode Rory gets hurt after going for a drive (to get ice-cream) with Jess in a car that Dean had built for her. Lorelai, being a Jess-hater that she was, freaks out at Jess’s role in the accident. I don’t remember the particulars, but basically she blames everything on the irresponsible, token bad-boy of the show. She’s presenting her frantic case to Luke when I remark she’s overreacting and that she’s being a bitch about it just because she doesn’t like Jess.

At that point my mother says, calmly, that I shouldn’t comment because I don’t have any children. Today, my mum and I have a relationship akin to Rory and Lorelai. Back then we were Lorelai and Emily. So I freaked out, of course, because I believed (and I still do) that just because I have not experienced something first hand doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have an opinion about it.

All hell broke loose because the fight transcended into a fight about my right to have an opinion, to voice it and to have my opinion acknowledged. Note, it was a MASSIVE fight.

This is, I think, why people care about Gilmore Girls. Female people, that is. I think every mother wanted to be Lorelai to her daughter and every daughter wanted Lorelai to be her mother. With all its ups and downs, it was a relationship we wanted.  Some of us wanted to go to a fancy private school and live in a fairy-tale little town. Most wanted Dean, Jess or Logan. But I think it all boiled down to that mother-daughter relationship.

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It was hard not to get excited about A Year in Life, because it reminded me of how much I wanted to see how everyone was doing. It might sound sad, but fictional characters make out a significant part of my life and, often, they don’t give you closure. Closure rarely happens in fiction, because you don’t want the fiction to end.

Yes, A Year in Life did not show me what I wanted to see. There are some things that I consider stupid and unnecessary, but it didn’t diminish anything about it. Because I always thought what happens in Gilmore Girls just has to happen that way. It’s how it’s supposed to be, because that’s how life goes. Silly, I know, but I have always accepted the plot as a fact of life. Sure, I believe that some (most) plot choices in A Year in Life were made due to the availability of the actors, but I don’t care because it’s Gilmore Girls. It’s the way it should be.

2016 has been one of the lousiest years in my life. Made me question pretty much everything. Everything but my family. And that’s what Gilmore Girls is essentially about. It’s about family, and people you consider to be your family. Frankly, I think that family can get you through everything, even 2016.

In case you were wondering…

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A thank you note for my dad

Dear dad, happy birthday.

Thank you for being the best dad ever. Thank you for always treating me like a person, never like a child. Thank you for always expecting more from me than anyone else. Thank you for being the sort of person who makes this world a better place. Thank you for your support, for tolerating me in times when I could not tolerate myself. Thank you for raising me not to care about money and material things and for teaching me that giving your best for something you believe in is the only way to go through life.

Thank you for never lecturing me, but talking to me like an equal. Thank you for being one of my best friends in the world.

I’m thankful for all your shortcomings, for your stubbornness and lack of patience because without them you would not be you.

Nikoleta

P.S. I do wish you would take better care of yourself.

Shape without form, shade without colour

I was considering writing something really profound and revealing. I’d reconsidered. I’m not very good at written honesty. It bugs the shit out of me.

I wish I just could, you know, rip myself apart on a piece of paper or in a Word document. It’s an itch I cannot bring myself to scratch. I used to do it – for my eyes only – but that’s shit. If you write something and no one reads it – it’s like it didn’t happen. It’s like that famous story about a tree which fell and no one heard the poor thing. If I fall, I want people to hear about it.

It doesn’t have to be a bang, I’ll be satisfied with a whimper.

This is the part where I stare at the screen, willing myself to do the brave thing. To spill my guts, idiomatically. The wall in my brain refuses to cooperate though, because I cannot, I will not write down something I don’t have the balls to publish.

Am I afraid to put things in writing because I know that once you infuse emotional reality with linguistic structure you’re forced to face the truth? Probably.

Maybe I just prefer it that way. Uncondensed and unbound, wreaking everyday havoc, making life more fun and exciting. Yawn.

I keep searching for a way to structure my life in a way which will stop me from thinking about all the glorious ways I could set fire to the flimsy reality I cling to.

Title courtesy of T.S.Eliot 

Danger Will Robinson

The first thing Will Robinson does upon hearing these words? He reluctantly, but unmistakably walks towards Danger. Will does not want Danger, not really. He wants to be ensconced in the embrace of safety.

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Now I should write that I have often wondered what it was that pulls people towards danger, but I have not. It is not a mystery. Not to someone who takes the safe road, who does what is expected, who has an unhealthy penchant for control (colloquially – a control freak).

I do not like unforeseen circumstances. I like stuff to fall into neatly arranged brackets. Fitting perfectly.

I also hate it.

Every single time I do the right thing, every single time I do what is expected I actually feel like puking. Physically sick.

It’s really ridiculous, having the compulsion to control everything, do what is right and having an unearthly desire to fuck everything up just to see what happens. Just to see how it feels standing atop the smouldering ashes of what was.

It’s been a while since I took a sledge hammer and applied it to everything that I am, everything that I believe I should be.

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Yes, please.

Head

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my head recently. Just hanging out. Not really doing anything of import. I wish I’d realized it sooner, because if I had I would have done something about it.

My head is not a very big place and developing claustrophobia is inevitable. But at the same time, my head is enormous. It wants more information, more knowledge, more points of reference. So there’s a bit of agoraphobia waiting for all my head-dwellers (there is no record of there being more than one…for now).

The problem is me being in my head does not require me:

  • to be alone
  • to be at home
  • to do nothing

I have perfected the art of head-dwelling. I’m capable to hang out in my head while attending a heavy metal concert. People do not bother me. I can even engage in a lively conversation with real people while being in my head.

And it sucks. Before I could discover a lot of interesting stuff there. Now all I’m surrounded is so mundane and “real”. It’s all work, money, obligations, facts, numbers… To do lists have replaced abstract thought and notions. My head has become lame (note that here I’m actually blatantly claiming that my head was once interesting and noteworthy).

I need to run away from the constraints of my immediate reality. The only thing that comes to mind is books. More books. Books, books, books.

The terrifying thought is that what I need is a new reality.

Discombobulated Evisceration

I just feel like typing. I have this urge to hear the sound the keyboard makes as I string words to make a coherent structure. I don’t need to write about something. I just have an urge to write something. It seems like a silly exercise, purposeless and a bit self-indulging, but I wonder how much I can write – writing about nothing.

Words are fun. Sentences are even more fun. I just want them see them appear on the screen as my fingers feverishly run over the keyboard. Just that. Nothing more. I just need random words.

The first one that comes to mind is discombobulate. I don’t like it much; I think it has too many bs which discombobulate its connotation. The bob part is just to ridiculous to confound anything. It makes me wonder what would bobulation be? If I was to bobulate something to someone would that mean I’ve made something clear and understandable? I was able to bobulate the meaning of discombobulation to Mark. Nah, it’d have to mean I did something silly.

Eviscerate – now that’s a good word. When something is eviscerated you can hear a hiss of air preceding annihilation. You feel the state of deprivation from the mere feel of the letters rolling off of your tongue. First, you part your lips, ever so gently. The first sound resembles a struggled moan, deep in your throat. Then your lower teeth meet your upper lip, only to breathe out before hissing slightly. You flatten then twist your tongue around the r until it lightly touches your palate and finishes with the slight brush at the back of your teeth. And then suddenly, it is finished. Cut off. Forgotten.

There are so many wonderful words. I just can seem to find an idea around which to weave them. Shit, I seem to be developing a topic. Time to end this.

I’ve Made a Boo-boo

I’ve screwed up. Like BIG time. I got this idea that it would be FUN to read Grey. I know! What a crazy, crazy idea. I should blame Leo DiCaprio. I’m quite sure I did not come up with this idiotic thing all by myself.

And then, my sadistic reading buddy over at Anatomy of Reading (and other demented things) decided to go along with my idea, probably anticipating that I would not be able to endure it and that she’ll have the last laugh, making me finish what I’ve started.

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Curse you, Leo! Curse you, reading buddy! Curse you, tiny toilet!