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Not At Home

I'm writing this from the downtown branch of the Providence Public Library where I'm going to try and work today, seeing as how it's been almost a week since I've been able to work at home, thanks to the heat. I cannot afford to continue losing days, especially considering I was at least two months behind when this fiasco began. But I have no idea if I'm going to be able to work sitting in this uncomfortable chair, in this overly lit room, with strangers wandering around me. I've been doing this now for a very long time, and, really, there's only one place I've ever been able to write: at home (wherever that happens to be), at my desk, in my chair alone. Rarely, and with considerable trouble, I can write away from my office by reconstructing a facsimile of my office elsewhere, such as at Neil's cabin in Woodstock, during the winter of 2014-2015. But it's rarely worth the effort and expense. In biological terms, I am an overspecialized organism, I'm the sort that faces extinction easily. Tinker with my environment just a little, and I'm gone.

I am not mobile.

“We write out of revenge against reality, to dream and enter into the lives of others.” ~ Francine du Plessix Gray

I've decided to ditch the plan for a new Natalie Beaumont story, in favor of something there's a more realistic chance I might actually be able to get written. Thus far this summer (which has only two weeks remaining), I've begun five stories. I've finished one. Four I've abandoned. I don't want to add a sixth. I have an editor waiting on me who's already agreed to give me more time.

I'd entertained some fantasy of writing an actual review of the Ghostbusters reboot. But I can see now that's not going to happen. And, really, what is there worth saying about that wretched film? I found it abysmally unfunny. It actually made Ghostbusters II (1989) look funny, and I thought that was fucking impossible. In forty-five minutes, I didn't laugh once. It lacked the charm, the wit, and the energy of Ivan Reitman's original. As I said to Kathryn, it was clear that neither Paul Feig nor the screenwriters Katie Dippold and Amy Pascal had a clue what made the first film work. Part of getting Ghostbusters right, part of doing it right again, requires that understanding of what Reitman, Ramis, and Aykroyd were doing way back when. It's like understanding the difference between the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges. The Marx Brothers managed, at their best, this wonderful trick: They were simultaneously low brow and high brow. That's what great comedy does. The Three Stooges, on the other hand, never rose above the most base slapstick. Ghostbusters (1984) was speaking from the madcap schizophrenia of the Marx Brothers, aiming high and low, filtered through the cultural zeitgeist of the early 1980s. Ghostbusters (2016) never aims for anything much more sophisticated than various incarnations of the Fart Joke. It thinks that it's funny to hear grown women say "poop." Just because. I'm not criticizing the film for crude humor. I'm a great admirer of crude humor. I'm criticizing it for being stupid. And there's a difference. The Marx Brothers knew this. Monty Python, kings of crude, they knew the difference, too. The folks who rebooted Ghostbusters, it's clear to me that they, sadly, don't.

And hell, at least the Three Stooges could be funny every now and then.

I have other criticisms: For example, the racism inherent in defaulting Leslie Jones to the Ernie Hudson role. The black ghostbuster, she had to be the one who works the subway stall (Hudson's character was in sanitation), right? Wrong. If a statement is being made by the filmmakers on inclusion, why not give the black character a teaching job at Columbia? And why three white women? Why not add a Hispanic woman and/or an Asian woman? Oh, and that whole nonsense with casting Chris Hemsworth as a dumb male secretary? I see how it was an attempt to flip a stereotype, but it falls flat as hammered shit, and it also seems to suggest that the filmmakers thought Annie Potts' character in the original film was a dingbat. She most certainly wasn't. So, why invest so much energy in a lame joke that doesn't come off, trying to subvert a stereotype in which the original film didn't indulge? These are, given what the film undertook, very fair questions.

I'm not even going to get started on the problems I have with the lazy story, absent characterization, and the shoddy CGI. Or the homophobia expressed by burying Jillian Holtzmann's gayness.

I saw, in the whole silly mess, a single bright spot, and her name is Kate McKinnon. With a different script and a different director, she'd have nailed the parallel to Ackroyd's Ray Stantz.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast

81516-1

Comments

( 2 comments — Have your say! )
setsuled
Aug. 15th, 2016 08:36 pm (UTC)
Note that Kristen Wiig sued to get her screenwriting credit removed from the film; smart woman.

Wow, I didn't know that. I could tell there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, as with nearly all movies made to be blockbusters in the past five years. Moments like where Leslie Jones acted like the bright blue glowing guy looked like a normal person who wandered onto the tracks made it pretty clear that completely different people were handling different stages of production.

They were simultaneously low brow and high brow.

On a side note, that's how a lot of reviews are describing Sausage Fest. I kind of want to see that.

Ghostbusters (1984) was speaking from the madcap schizophrenia of the Marx Brothers

I remember Siskel and Ebert comparing Bill Murray to Groucho Marx in their review of Stripes.

It thinks that it's funny to hear grown women say "poop." Just because.

It seemed like gross out humour for thirteen year olds.

Oh, and that whole nonsense with casting Chris Hemsworth as a dumb male secretary? I see how it was an attempt to flip a stereotype, but it falls flat as hammered shit, and it also seems to suggest that the filmmakers thought Annie Potts' character in the original film was a dingbat.

Yeah, that didn't make sense. Hemsworth is way over the top, too, the way he blankly stares at the ringing phone. Maybe there was a female secretary in a movie who was shown to be that dumb but it wasn't a bad joke just because it's a stereotype, it's just a bad joke in any context.

I saw, in the whole silly mess, a single bright spot, and her name is Kate McKinnon. With a different script and a different director, she'd have nailed the parallel to Ackroyd's Roy Stantz.

I agree, and it was definitely in her performance, not the script. She reminded me more of Bill Murray, actually, in that she seemed to be mocking the film while she was in it. This works whether it's a good movie or a bad movie. It worked with Murray in that very Groucho Marx way where he seems subtly on another plane of reality that works even better when the world around him has its own credibility. I would have loved to have seen McKinnon in a proper Ghostbusters film. Or maybe her and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn could team up.
Kiki Lang
Aug. 15th, 2016 09:01 pm (UTC)
Who's on first.
As kid, I loved watching late night television. "You Bet Your Life" with Groucho Marx, George Burns, and all the rest. It was the un-reality of it. It was like tuning in a different dimension.
( 2 comments — Have your say! )