Archive for the '2014 Movies' Category

The 2014 “Wuthering Heights” Film Binge

Monday, November 24th, 2014

My book group Gods & Monsters is discussing Wuthering Heights this Sunday. In preparation for it, I’ve re-read the book and gathered all the adaptations that I can get, streaming or from the library. Last year I did the same for Jane Eyre, and finally blogged about the seven adaptations I watched.

Wuthering Heights, a more complex narrative, has even more adaptations! There have been eleven major ones, of which I’m hoping to watch nine, because two are proving problematic.

The 1953 film, Abismos de Pasion directed by Luis Bunuel, is not available on DVD in my library system or my usual streaming options. Two of Six sections of it are available on Youtube, but in Spanish without subtitles. Given how well I know the book, watching probably wouldn’t be a problem, but for now, given there are nine other adaptations easier to watch, that feels like a bridge too far. At least one writer/reviewer out there favors the Bunuel, but I wonder if that’s affectation and/or knowing that others can’t quibble because it’s so hard to find.

The 1978 miniseries with Ken Hutchinson as Heathcliff and Kay Adshead as Cathy 1, was hard to find, but I used some of my librarian connections to procure a copy of the DVD from Chicago instead of buying it from amazon. When I went to watch it last night, it’s not coded for the US, so I may not be able to watch it. Given that it’s over 4 hours, I can’t say I’m devastated, but still.

I’ll try to post one by one about each movie, labeling them with year and Cathy/Heathcliff actors and then do a gathering post at the end.

Some More from CLOUD ATLAS, plus a bit on the film

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Do you have that thing, writers, where you keep something you want to write about nearby as a reminder, and then it lurks, and lurks, and eventually you forget what you wanted to write about?

I’m pretty sure I was so full of geek joy when I finished Cloud Atlas that I wanted to share ALL the quotes that I’d flagged. We’ll see if they still resonate months later.

But first, my husband G Grod and I watched the 2012 film Cloud Atlas, though it was generally trounced by critics. It was a collaboration among the Wachowski sibs and Tom Twyker (Run, Lola, Run) so even if was bad, we knew it would bad in interesting ways. But it wasn’t bad. It was ambitious, missed the mark a couple times, and was super long as you would expect a compression of 6 novellas would be. But I enjoyed it nonetheless, in spite of putting some actors in Asian face, some over-tidy re-interpretations, and the worst, IMO, casting adult Tom Hanks in the role of boy Zachry.

Two things that might have improved the watching: 1. splitting it over two nights. 2. Possibly watching the extras in front of, or instead of, the movie. They were many but the interviews with directors and cast plus clips was at least as fascinating as the movie, and made me like it more.

Now, some quotes:

Implausible truth can serve one better than plausible fiction.


A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.


And I marked a few others, but those were my favorites I think. And now I will shelve Cloud Atlas, which enters the home library as one we like well enough to have his n hers copies.

“The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting” (1963)

Thursday, October 30th, 2014


October’s book for the book group I lead, Gods and Monsters was Shirley Jackson’s classic psychological haunted house story, The Haunting of Hill House.

I read it last year for the first time, and liked it even more on re-reading. It actively terrified me at different points, and its main character, Eleanor, is now one of my favorites. Jackson makes me care for her deeply as she develops and reveals her over the course of the novel.

Written and set in the 50’s, the book couldn’t work today–witness the critically reviled 1999 movie remake The Haunting. Cell phones, any phone, really, would ruin it.

What I loved about the book is that it inspired terror in me, but wasn’t graphically horrifying, as in the work of Stephen King (a huge fan of Jackson’s), or The Shining Girls, which I recently read.

Like Henry James’ classic Turn of the Screw, this is a psychological work, putting the interpretation in the mind of the reader. Is the house haunted by a ghost? Is it inherently evil?

I followed the re-reading with the well-reviewed 1963 film The Haunting directed by Robert Wise (West Side Story). It took interesting departures from the text including the re-routing of a love interest that didn’t work well for me in the book but was a good interpretation of the work with excellent acting. It was a genuinely spooky movie, and fun to watch before Halloween this week.

Both book and 1963 move: HIGHLY RECOMMEND.


Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

It’s been a long winter, and we’re not even to the end of the shortest month. LOTS of movies here at our house, with much fun because the boys are now 8 and 10, and able to watch and understand lots more.

School of Rock: kids were slow to like, but came around by end.
Place Beyond the Pines: surprised me multiple times. Good performances.
Coming to America: funny!
Back to the Future II with the kids. I’d never seen it. Nice interweaving of past and present.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit. with the kids. scene of dipping the squeaky shoe? Haunts me.
Beverly Hills Cop. Funny!
The Italian Job (NB: 1969 with Michael Caine) and with the kids. Stylish and fun.
Sound of Music with the kids. Nazi’s! Singing! They were reluctant, but came around, a common dynamic with films we pick.
Emma, with Paltrow. Jeremy Northam is not Knightley enough. Unimpressed.
Bubba Ho-Tep. Could see what they were going for, but didn’t quite make it. Kind of boring, actually.
John Carter of Mars with the kids. They loved it. 8yo went into TV watching pose, stretched out, hands on fists to see it better.
World War Z. Good zombie movie. Scared me. Peter Capaldi, the new Doctor Who, as a WHO doctor!
Cold Comfort Farm. Timeout said it was a failure, but I enjoyed it though not perhaps as much as the book. Kate Beckinsale before she became a plastic-surgery barbie doll. Rufus Sewell is hilarious. Strangely, Stephen Fry didn’t quite work for me as Mybug.
A Serious Man. by the Coen Brothers. The only movie of theirs I’ve disliked. Just didn’t get it.
ET with the kids. They loved it, and watching their delight was a joy. However, I still don’t like it, and am bothered by Spielberg’s cheap emotional button pushing, and the blatant Christian images.
Possession. Such a pale shadow of the book, but still, perhaps worth watching. Aaron Eckhardt is painfully miscast as Roland. Ben Whishaw would’ve been ideal.
Shrek with the kids. They loved it, I merely liked it and was annoyed with the pseudo hip soundtrack and can we never hear All Star by that band that was ubiqutous in the 90’s?
All the President’s Men. I love 70’s movies and this one was awesome.
National Velvet with the kids. Thought I’d seen it, but hadn’t. They were doubtful, but came around.
Red Balloon with the kids. Never seen it. Lovely. Funny.
Parallax View. Good, good, good, till it wasn’t.
The Conversation. Did I mention, I love 70’s movies? And Gene Hackman? And young Harrison Ford? And Cindy Williams in a dramatic role?
Fellowship of the Ring with the kids. I gave up halfway through. Forgot how much I disliked these Peter Jackson movies, with the paternalistic Gandalf, the bumbling hobbits, and the ridiculous female characters. Ugh. Not for me. The boys watched the entire too-long trilogy with my husband and they enjoyed it.
Blow Out by De Palma with Travolta. Entertaining, but over the top.
Blowup by Anonioni. sometimes dull and pretentious, but with arresting images and style.
Red. With my husband. More his thing than mine.
Friday Night Lights. Good, but not as good as the series.
Pacific Rim. Terribly clicheed story with impressive del Toro monsters. Gave up on the last half hour, and don’t regret it.
Hamlet, 1947 Olivier. Didn’t care for his precious, mannered performance. Fell asleep both nights. Oedipal Gertrude who was younger than Olivier. C’mon, people.
Hamlet at Elsinore, 1964, Christopher Plummer. Didn’t love his manic interpretation of the prince, but still liked more than Olivier, and really liked Michael Caine as Horatio. No oedipal Gertrude. Hamlet question: are productions either or gay Hamlet/Horatio vs. Oedipal Gertrude?
Shaun of the Dead. Funny. Gory.
Hot Fuzz. Funny. But overlong at the end.