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So, in the midst of job-hunting, I've also taken in two movies and read a rather large book. I will try to keep my remarks as unspoiled (if you will) as possible.

Movie #1: Coraline. I liked this a great deal more than I expected to. This movie was what little I liked about The Nightmare Before Christmas with everything I utterly despised about The Nightmare Before Christmas hollowed out and replaced with Neil Gaiman awesometasticness. It was kind of a relief to know that my revulsion for that film was purely for the plot elements and had nothing to do with the animation style. It gives me hope that I may enjoy further Henry Selick films as long has he picks source material that doesn't annoy me on as many levels as that little scrap of Tim Burton's Clever Idea managed to do. I watched it in 3-D with scyllacat and found the glasses to be non-intrusive and the three dimensional elements to be quite impressive.

Movie #2: Watchmen. Well, as the "Saturday Morning Watchmen" vid that's been memeing about the internet showed, it could have been a hell of a lot worse. I thought it was almost fanatic at times in its faithfulness to the original material, but, if you're going to pick something to reproduce as exactly as possible, there are far worse books one could work from. I thought the ZOMG!changed ending hewed perfectly to the spirit of the original even if the events were slightly different. (Unlike, say, Peter Jackson's slight change to a certain climactic event in The Lord of the Rings, which had the same outcome, but changed the motive, which in my mind subverted the entire point of, well, everything.) [EDIT: azewewish has pointed out that I misremembered the sequence of events, and I defer to her superior knowledge of the subject. See comments below.]

The Book: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I was still working at Borders when this book was first published and I recall it being unveiled with a great deal of fanfare. I learned later it was because seven-hundred-odd pages worth of book is cheaper to print if printed in large quantities, ergo a massive blurb-wrangling and publicity campaign was mounted in order to make sure the things were likely to sell.* It would have been a bit difficult to have gotten as many effusive bits of praise from reliable sources to print on the back if the book had, in fact, sucked, so it's not like it was a bad read by any means. Just a really, really long one. And I'm honestly not sure if the length genuinely served the story or not. Perhaps I wouldn't feel so disappointed if there weren't so many reviews on the back reassuring me that this is an amazing and groundbreaking piece of literature. It's a hybrid of a historical novel set in the Napoleonic wars with a fantasy novel involving a complex invented history of magic in England and its fading and subsequent revival. It's a neat idea, it's competently executed and has some truly bone-chilling moments of Unnatural Horror in it. But it also has some flaws that nagged at me enough to make me question the praise lavished upon it. (Though, by all accounts, the full reviews might well have noted my same quibbles, but those aren't the parts you generally want to print on the backs of books.) I suspect there may be some other personal issues at work in my reading of it, since there are aspects that bear an uncomfortable similarity to the novel I've been working on myself. So your own personal mileage my vary. All in all, not a bad little novel to get lost in for a while, but not quite as brilliant as the hype may make it out to be.

* - Did it work? Well, given that I have a copy in the first place because I picked it up at the bargain table at Borders for four dollars and ninety-nine cents, I'm not entirely sure.

My sleep patterns have been skewed for dumb reasons and I really need to work on resetting them.

Today I took pleasure in finishing a good book.

Today I learned how it ended.

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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
azewewish
Mar. 13th, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
What plot point are you talking about in LOTR? I mean, for me, I managed to get over Eomer not being at Helm's Deep the entire time & the Elves showing up, but, man, that took some doing.
wonderbink
Mar. 13th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
Let me grab a copy of the book to make sure I'm not just remembering it wrong and I'll get back to you.
azewewish
Mar. 13th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
*waits*
wonderbink
Mar. 13th, 2009 08:33 pm (UTC)
I thought I had copies of the books, but I seem to have misplaced them somewhere, so I had to make a field trip to Borders to double-check.

I was contemplating a separate entry with a spoiler cut, but then I figured that the Statue of Limitations on Spoilers had pretty much expired since it's been five years or so, and, honestly, if anybody is going to whine that I spoiled the ending by telling you that Frodo succeeded in destroying the ring, what the hell is that person doing on my friends list?

Anyway. Mount Doom, Frodo on the edge, Frodo changes his mind, puts the ring on, Gollum springs from the shadows and gnaws Frodo's finger off, dances on the edge triumphantly.

The sequence of events is as it was in the book. Up to one thing.

Why Gollum falls.

In the book, Gollum falls because he's too busy celebrating his triumph to see where he's stepping and falls off of the ledge. Frodo just kinda sits to the side and bleeds.

In the film, Gollum falls because Frodo grapples with him to get the ring back.

It's a minor thing, but it casts a bit of a shadow over the moral of the story. Even in the book, Frodo admits that if Gollum hadn't intervened, he probably wouldn't have been able to destroy the ring. But in the book, the ring is destroyed by Gollum's corruption. The film makes it so that the ring is ultimately destroyed by Frodo's corruption, and that doesn't sit quite as well with me.
azewewish
Mar. 13th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
Actually, no, in the film, Gollum DOES fall because he slips. Frodo is on the side of the cliff wall when Gollum goes over the edge. They didn't change it. I would have remembered that, because you're right, it would have changed the entire moral conundrum of the story.
wonderbink
Mar. 13th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
I defer to your knowledge, since I'm pretty damn sure you've watched that film many more times than I have. Never mind, then. :)
azewewish
Mar. 13th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
*giggles* I'm sure I have no idea what you mean...
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