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Yesterday...

Well, I learned that December is Cthulhu month at Tor.com, 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 Tor.com, 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)

Comments

( 36 comments — Have your say! )
shefallsalot
Dec. 2nd, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC)
I'm very much afraid that I won't be able to hold out until Friday evening to see the film...
opalblack
Dec. 2nd, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
What I meant to say was that I met a Damned cat on Saturday night.
robyn_ma
Dec. 2nd, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
This is why you don't get asked more often to write ad blurbs.

'This film will hurt you.' - Caitlín R. Kiernan

...I'm as amped to see it as anyone, but I think they dropped the ball by releasing it around the holidays. People like you and me will chew through a pile of dead babies to go see it regardless, but the prevailing response among the masses will be 'A gray, devastating movie about the end of the world! It'll hurt us! Yeah, let's go see that! Merry fuckin' Christmas!'

What I'm saying is, a September/October release might've been wiser. Then again, a film like this wasn't going to do New Moon box office even if Viggo Mortensen sparkled, so, fuck it, release it whenever and let posterity judge its worth.
greygirlbeast
Dec. 2nd, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC)


What I'm saying is, a September/October release might've been wiser. Then again, a film like this wasn't going to do New Moon box office even if Viggo Mortensen sparkled, so, fuck it, release it whenever and let posterity judge its worth.


Frankly, I think the Weinsteins have been at a loss as to when or how to release the film. The release was pushed forward repeatedly. There's talk of a wider release. I just hope it's not lost between the cracks.
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sovay
Dec. 2nd, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Also, Sirenia Digest #48 went out to subscribers late last night. Comments welcome (mostly).

I am profoundly thankful The Red Tree did not turn out to be its synopsis. The novel projected in the synopsis is not bad, but it sounds neither as powerful nor strange nor painful—speaking of The Road—as the book that exists. And I much prefer Constance Hopkins to a peculiar young man.

It is not just art. It's important art. We should not be reluctant to inconvenience ourselves for important art.

That is beautifully said and true. I hope the makers of The Road read it.
greygirlbeast
Dec. 2nd, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)

I am profoundly thankful The Red Tree did not turn out to be its synopsis.

Same here.

And I much prefer Constance Hopkins to a peculiar young man.

I don't know what I was thinking. Probably, "Just put something down, and you can figure out what really happens later on."
(no subject) - sovay - Dec. 2nd, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
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spank_an_elf
Dec. 2nd, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the review of “The Road.” The Weinstein Co. seems intent on sabotaging this film, first with the year long delay, now the limited release and the release timing. Why? Are they hoping to write if off as a major loss? Hmm. I hope to see it either tomorrow night or Sunday. Thanks for the tissue alert.

And thank you for “Exuvium”. The tale brought a touch of grace to a day filled with running around gathering items to sell on eBay since today the auctions are half price. Needing money sucks.

In general, thanks.
greygirlbeast
Dec. 2nd, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)

Thank you for the review of “The Road.”

You're very welcome.

Needing money sucks.

Fuckin' A.
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Dec. 2nd, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)

The Road is not funny. But in your opinion, can Art that Makes People Laugh have any place in the canon of Important Art? (And, if you'd care to, would you give us examples of funny books, movies or music that have moved you?) Just curious.

Well...I was just explaining to Spooky a couple of days ago how I have a much harder time with comedy. I come to it less willingly. But yes, certainly, there's a lot of great art that's comedic (though the comedy may often be in the service of the tragic). I think the list is too long for me to begin.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Dec. 2nd, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
lady_theadora
Dec. 2nd, 2009 06:12 pm (UTC)
I ignored most of the fuss about The Road when the novel first came out, but last year a friend gave me a copy so I decided to read it. I agree that the writing is really amazing. I was instantly sucked into it. But I was really disappointed with the ending because I felt like The Boy became a Christ-like figure, someone with the potential to bring into the future characteristics of the past society that would be better left dead. That glimmer of persistence at the end was the most troubling aspect of the whole story for me. I figured any mainstream audience could tolerate the story because it can be interpreted through a Christian lens. You obviously don't see it that way though, which surprises me. Maybe I'll give it another chance by seeing the film...
greygirlbeast
Dec. 2nd, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
You obviously don't see it that way though, which surprises me.

No, I don't see it that way. I do think that the Man may view his son that way. In fact, he's fairly explicit on that point, in the film and in the novel. The Boy is even described as "an angel," "a new god," and "the word of God." But these are natural human thoughts, occurring naturally in a ravished and irredeemable landscape.

It may be that I view the novel and film as I do because I view them as a scientist. We see a world that has been devastated to a point that, even if life persists, humanity is finished. There is no biological redemption or resurrection is coming. It's over. If any of the characters remain hopeful, or (more likely) simply force themselves to persevere, they do so in obvious futility.

Edited at 2009-12-02 07:16 pm (UTC)
derekcfpegritz
Dec. 2nd, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
You do know the folks who "rescues" the kid at the end just killed him and ate him, right?
greygirlbeast
Dec. 2nd, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)

You do know the folks who "rescues" the kid at the end just killed him and ate him, right?

That's certainly one possibility, yes.
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thimbleofrain
Dec. 2nd, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
I don’t think I’ve ever been affected by a movie the way you describe. I think I’m jealous.
greygirlbeast
Dec. 2nd, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)

I don’t think I’ve ever been affected by a movie the way you describe. I think I’m jealous.

If I were not affected this way, and in other (but equally intense ways), I'd stop seeing movies. Same with books...
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ardiril
Dec. 2nd, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC)
A limited release may just mean they are waiting to see if they pick up any 2009 nominations.

As for Sirenia Digest #48, I haven't read "Xuvium" yet, but I love Dulac's "Alone" as the cover. Quite evocative.
miss_misc
Dec. 3rd, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
Sirenia
Rather than lurking gleefully as I usually do I need to say that, as a grateful subscriber to Sirenia Disgest, I'm in love with Exuvium. I really liked Silk as well. There was a quality to Exuvium, though, kind of lulling the reader into this weird calm but captivated place. I wish I could pin down why, but it reminded me of one of my other favorite authors, Peter S. Beagle. Thank you very much for the stories! (I dreamed about at least one after reading them, they definitely got to me. In a good way).
greygirlbeast
Dec. 3rd, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
Re: Sirenia

I wish I could pin down why, but it reminded me of one of my other favorite authors, Peter S. Beagle.

Thanks for telling me. That's a flattering comparison, indeed.
chris_walsh
Dec. 3rd, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
Crying for the right reasons: I'm so glad when that happens when watching a film. (For a bunch of personal reasons, one of the movies that made me cry that way was The Truman Show.)

Any further commenting I could make now seems really shallow, so: ending now.

Peace.
nballingrud
Dec. 3rd, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
" ... the best art does us harm, in one way or another."

Hell yes. I believe this to my core. It's immensely satisfying to me to see this sentiment expressed.
( 36 comments — Have your say! )