Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stephen King's The Sit. So last night and this morning I watched the 1994 miniseries of Stephen King's The Stand, all six hours of it. (It's available in full on YouTube.) It's pretty clunky stuff. I frequently got impatient at how drawn-out some of the scenes felt, and there was lots of didactic soundtrack music (twangy sinister country guitar; syrupy strings over 'emotional' scenes; most risibly, Fran Goldsmith (Molly Ringwald) somehow has an old 7-inch of Crowded House's 'Don't Dream It's Over' in her garage).

Also, I found the post 'poc scenes with gross dead bodies everywhere and mayhem in the streets to be my favourite, possibly from this year's intense binge of The Walking Dead. The scene in which Stu escapes from the medical facility struck me as so similar to the scene from The Walking Dead in which Rick escapes from the hospital – even down to the stairwell. (I can't remember Danny Boyle lingering over the scene in which Cillian Murphy's Jim escapes from the hospital in 28 Days Later. – for me that film is much more about Jim wandering around an eerily deserted London.)

Most of the acting was pretty broad and wooden, although Gary Sinise was pretty natural as Stuart Redman. Still, there was a certain Forrest Gumpness about the bit where quote-unquote "retarded" Tom Cullen (Bill Fagerbakke) helps Stu when his leg is broken. I also liked Miguel Ferrer as Lloyd Henreid, who is probably the most decent of Randall Flagg's henchmen, but ironically only discovers his best self after agreeing to serve evil. Ferrer brings a great intertextual henchmanly sliminess from having played Bob Morton in RoboCop.

Hey, have Ed Harris and Matt Frewer ever been cast as brothers? I think they should be.

I also quite liked Adam Storke who plays Larry Underwood, who reminded me uncannily of a cross between Andrew McCarthy and Jimmy Fallon.

Ruby Dee, who just died earlier this year (and whose longtime husband Ossie Davis is also in The Stand as the Judge), was 72 when she played the 106-year-old Mother Abagail, and her ageing makeup is pretty shonky. (Even in 2010, at 88, she looked younger!)

Oh, also, Laura San Giacomo as the traumatised 'just fucked Satan' Nadine Cross reminded me of another woman raped in an arranged marriage…

Bless executive producer Stephen King himself, who insisted on copious screen time as Captain Obvious – some random who was seemingly only there to comment ingenuously at various key moments. And at the end we get a hero reel of all the good guys who died along the way.

But having read the book earlier this year (here's my review on Goodreads), I can also appreciate King's choices in cutting the fat from the book and trimming characters and plotlines. I think it works pretty well, although of course some questions about why the characters act the way they do could have been raised by the lack of backstory here. One of the things I've always liked in King's novels is that people are never 'just' good or bad, but are moulded by their backgrounds, and he has sympathy for the psyches of even the meanest villains.

That said, I thought Randall Flagg could totally have been more evil. I think after Matthew McConaughey's turn in 'Killer Joe' a lot of people have wanted to see him as Flagg, although the creepiness that the Devil was a countercultural hippie is sort of lost here, as is the atmosphere of coldness and dread that he creates (which is really only evoked in dream sequences).

At this point, the remake has secured The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone, plus Nat Wolff, who played the blind destructive hipster in that movie. To me he seems the obvious choice to play Nick Andros and quite possibly he could not do worse than Rob Lowe.

The new iteration will benefit from two recent cinema trends – massive 3-hour mainstream epics and splitting one story over two films. King recently said it could go either way. Another thing the new iteration will probably include is much more of the book's sex and violence. I found the miniseries oddly prim in cutting away from those things, especially the gore that we're now so used to in mainstream cinema. I mean, I recently saw Fury, which shows Brad Pitt stabbing a Nazi through the eye in the opening minutes.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Next week on Crazy Cat ConvosHaving read an article on cat communication, MEL decides to 'slow blink' at GRAHAM.

GRAHAM slow-blinks back.

MEL tries again in case this was a random occurrence, like the time she clicked her fingers and he leapt onto the footpath couch.

GRAHAM slow-blinks back again.

MEL: It works, puff! It works!

GRAHAM: *purrs*

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