December 2nd, 2009


"Mirror, mirror on the wall, show me where them bombs will fall."


Well, I learned that December is Cthulhu month at, and ellen_datlow has included both Threshold and The Red Tree on a list of selected Lovecraftian fiction (you can get a discount on the books via, I think).

Also, Sirenia Digest #48 went out to subscribers late last night. Comments welcome (mostly).

But yesterday was mostly an unexpected trip to Boston. For a week or so, we'd been planning to see John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road on December 1st. Little did we know that immediately before the November 25th release date, The Weinstein Company decided to radically scale back the number of theatres where the film would be screened. There's all sorts of confusion, apparently, about what's happened. But what it amounts to is that instead of getting a wide release, as planned, it opened in only "31 markets" across the US. And none of those were in Rhode Island. Yesterday morning I discovered that the nearest easily accessible theatre to us showing the film is Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

So...yesterday we went to Boston.

And I am not sorry that we went to such trouble to see The Road on a big (well, biggish) screen. All last night, I tried to decide how to write about the film, but I don't think I can say anything that will do it justice. I can say that it does McCarthy's novel justice. It is far more faithful to the book than I'd expected. It is, possibly, a perfect adaptation. Perfectly cast, perfectly acted, perfectly scored (by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis), just damned near perfect all the way 'round. It is one of the most terrible, beautiful, and true films I've ever seen. And no, I'm not ashamed to say that I was in tears through most of The Road. Viggo Mortensen (Man), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Boy), Charlize Theron (Woman), Robert Duvall (Old Man) all give pitch-perfect performances. Indeed, there is no miscast actor in the film. Hillcoat has translated McCarthy's film...well, I just don't have the words. I said that much at the start. You need to see this movie, not hear me talk about having seen it, even if seeing it means you have to go out of your way. It is not just art. It's important art. We should not be reluctant to inconvenience ourselves for important art. In this film, man confronts the face of all gods, which is Mortality and Extinction, Loss and Despair and Endurance. This film will hurt you, if you're still alive, and it will remind you that the best art does us harm, in one way or another. Harm we need to feel to know that we're alive, and to understand, fully and without reserve, how brief life is, and how frail.

As we left the city, the almost-full moon rose over the Charles River, and it looked as cold and empty and distant from the world as I felt.

Nothing lasts forever
That's the way it's gotta be
There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea
For me
For you
For me

("Black Wave," Arcade Fire)