Sunday, April 18th, 2004
1:13 pm - Movies, Comics, Movies, and Movies...  
It's gorgeous outside. Sunny. Seventies! I want to do yardwork. (How often do you hear that?) I want to ride my bike. Stoopid wrists. Stoopid ribs.

Things are progressing. I abandoned the splint finally Friday night. The right wrist is still a little sore, but not so much that I can't use it. The left wrist is still a little problematic. I can lift things with my left arm as long as I don't try to flex my wrist while doing it. If I flex it, there's pain. Still the swelling and pretty colors are slowly receding, so it's just a matter of waiting.

My left rib area is bothering me far out of proportion to any injury I seem to have suffered there. There are no bruises, which I assume I would see if I actually cracked one of the ribs, yet if it's a muscle pull, it should've started to heal already, no? Unless it's a muscle spasm which just refuses to unspaz. Tres annoying and painful.

---

Had dinner with veejane Friday night. We talked a bit about comics (I now have a borrowed copy of Batman: Year One to read) and European lines of succession in the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, and then we saw Hellboy. Okay, it's not a very deep movie, but it is great fun. Ron Perlman is great as Hellboy, sort of Vincent from Beauty and the Beast with attitude. (Note: Comparisons to BatB are pretty much inevitable. Not only is the beastly hero in love with a beautiful young woman, he was raised by a father with an English accent, and there are fantastic underground realms everywhere.) Perlman has always been very good at expressing himself despite being covered in layers of latex. Actually, all the acting is pretty good. Rupert Evans' character could've been strictly a white-bread hanger-on, but he isn't. Jeffrey Tambor's character could've been a one-note bureaucrat, but he isn't, either. There is a great moment between him and Perlman late in the movie over a cigar. Tambor also figures in a scene that Vee totally called prior to it's appearing on screen.

I thought the film did a good job of capturing the spirit of comic books. (I've never read the Hellboy books. I may now.) There are a lot of things that have to be hand-waved or eye-rolled. The organizations that are nominally charged with protecting the mundanes don't seem to be very competent. In the prologue, the only way the US Army unit sneaking up on the Nazi camp could've been less stealthy would've been if they'd brought along a marching band. The FBI agents, with the exception of Myers, assigned to accompany Hellboy and Abe don't seem much better. I never really did figure out what was up with Darth Nazi, nor how girl!Nazi managed not to age over the last sixty years. Shrug. It was fun. If there's a sequel, I'll go. There's also apparently going to be a director's cut released on DVD, and I'll probably get that, too.

---

Yesterday I took a ride up to Newbury's to track down a copy of the final issue of 1602. I also picked up some DVDs (The Hudsucker Proxy, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Hunt for Red October). I was a little disappointed with how Gaiman wrapped up 1602. Last ish it was revealed that Rojhaz was the actual Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, sent back through time. That event is what has caused the timeline to shift, and is threatening the very existence of the universe. Fair enough. They all travel to where the portal is located, Sir Reed figures how to manipulate it, Javier and Reed get Magneto and Thor to help, And Fury carries Rogers through the portal back to the future. Meanwhile the radiation released by the portal washes over Banner, creating the Hulk. The radiation also gets a spider, which then bites Peter Parquah in the final panel (and about time, too).

It wasn't a very satisfying ending. A lot of loose ends get wrapped up in a very short time, and it all feels very rushed. The timeline doesn't reset once Rogers is gone. Elizabeth is still dead, and James is king (with Murdoch looking over his shoulder). The superheroes are still there. We never really do find out what the deal was with Virginia Dare.

Perhaps some of my reservations will disappear when I go back and reread the series as a whole. I don't know. Although it was fun to reimagine these characters, one problem I have is that two of the three main characters in the series (Fury and Strange) are probably my least favorite characters in the Marvel universe. I can see why those were the guys Gaiman picked to be the plot bearers, and I did actually like them better here than I did way back when, but it means characters I like more got short shrift. Thor mostly just mopes. The Human Torch is almost as invisible as his sister. It's interesting to note the change of importance of various characters over the years. In this series, most of the superheroing falls to the X-Men. Had it been written in the sixties, it probably would've been the Fantastic Four front and center, with the X-Men showing up only as side notes, if at all. (The X-Men really weren't very popular early on.)

---

It was a lovely afternoon yesterday, as well, but since I couldn't do anything constructive, I spent it watching the movies I'd bought. I know The Hudsucker Proxy was almost universally panned, but I've always liked it a lot. Maybe it's because I remember the hula hoop craze. Maybe it's because of the big clock. (One of the things both Vee and I liked about Hellboy was the huge clockwork mechanisms that kept showing up. They were neat.) Maybe it's because the humor is so over the top. Or maybe it's because I loved seeing "Third Base Coach" show up as one of the job listings at the employment agency. My feeling is that any film with Tim Robbins being funny and Paul Newman being evil can't be all bad. I'll even forgive Jennifer Jason Leigh the horrible Rosalind Russell impersonation. Plus it has Bruce Campbell and Charles Durning.

---

One of my favorite movies when I was a boy was the 1936 version of The Last off the Mohicans, with Randolph Scott as Hawkeye. I don't know if that's available as on DVD. I like the Daniel Day-Lewis version a great deal, too, and after it came out, I tried reading the book. Unfortunately, Cooper's prose is thicker than cold oatmeal, and I gave up after a chapter or three. I did read the Monarch Notes summary (somewhere, I have a CD version of *all* the Monarch Notes books published up to 1990 or so), and discovered that the movie diverges quite a bit from the book. For one thing, it's Cora who dies in the book, not Alice. There are also hints that Cora is perhaps half-indian, which is why she's the darker of the two sisters. I may have to try to read the book again someday. Anyway, I wondered how Michael Mann had gotten from the events in the book to what wound up on screen.

It had been decades since I'd seen the Scott version, but then I saw it again not long after that, and I got my answer. Michael Mann never read the book. He based his film on the 1936 version's script, which ends in exactly the same way as the newer film. Still doesn't answer how the 1936 version ended up that way, but what the heck.

The version I bought is the "Director's Expanded Edition" which supposedly has additional footage. I noticed one scene that I didn't remember offhand from the theatrical release. According to IMDb, the theatrical release is 112 minutes, this version is 117 minutes, so really not much. (Apparently there was a love scene between Uncas and Alice filmed, but that didn't make this cut, either.)

I loved Wes Studi's performance in this, making Magua more than a one-note villain. The bit near the end where Alice is standing on the precipice, and he is trying to convince her not to jump is a fine piece of acting, all done without words, just body language, gestures, and facial expressions. Another thing I really like about this movie is the score, and how well it seems to fit the film.

---

Damn. Took me three hours to write all that. Ooh. Lunch time
 
 
Current Mood: analytical
Current Music: "I'm Looking Through You" -- the Wallflowers
 
 
( Post a new comment )
sumisumik on April 18th, 2004 - 11:44 am
I just ordered Batman: Year One yesterday!

I've been infected by the Bats virus.

You make Hellboy sound interesting. Not that it didn't seem like fun, before. . .

Having a blech day myself, people on the 'net (not associated with this community or b.org or WX) are upsetting. I really shouldn't let them.

Also, it's windy as the day Dorothy went to Oz today. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that there are tornado watches/warnings in this general area today. (Yes, THAT was the reason that Spring can't really be my favorite season.)
(Reply) (Thread) (Link)
DXMachinadxmachina on April 18th, 2004 - 12:00 pm
I read a lot of Batman back in the day, but apart from the two Dark Knight series, I haven't read much recent stuff.

Sorry about annoying net people.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
Veejaneveejane on April 18th, 2004 - 10:07 pm
the movie diverges quite a bit from the book. For one thing, it's Cora who dies in the book, not Alice. There are also hints that Cora is perhaps half-indian, which is why she's the darker of the two sisters.

Indeed, Cora is part-black, as her mother was a mixed-race creole in the Caribbean, where Munro had been stationed before moving up to New York. Cora being black means that the Nice English Officer falls in love with her, asks Munro for Cora's hand, finds out Cora is not all white, and then falls out of love with her and in love with Alice. Who is all white, you see.

Cora becomes the love object of Uncas, and most of the rest is mostly the way the movies show it all. (Less with the exciting mountain plunges and waterfalls.) But you see, it's "okay" if Cora and Uncas fall in love, because (a) they're both non-white characters and (b) they both die.

See, in the book, Cora is the active, aggressive sister and Alice is a noodle. I long suspected that the who-loves-which-sister switch was something to allow the non-noodle to survive the last reel. In the books, Cora's aggressiveness is clearly linked to her plebeian and mixed heritage, as opposed to Alice's genteel helplessness; as that detail got whitewashed out -- imagine anybody in 1930s Hollywood tackling miscegenation! -- it became just a question of whether you liked active women, or noodles.

Luckily, the active woman won out! I think casting brunette Madeleine Stowe is as close as we'll ever get to "dealing with" the racial politics of the book.

One thing I learned from reading The Last of the Mohicans in a Connecticut classroom is that there are Mohicans and Mohegans, and they're not the same thing, so the town of Uncasville in CT is sort of a giant ripoff and if there were to be a town called that it should be in, like, Vermont.
(Reply) (Thread) (Link)
DXMachinadxmachina on April 19th, 2004 - 06:50 am
I'm trying to remember about the Mohican/Mohegan thing. Doesn't Cooper mention it in the foreward/prologue to the book? I vaguely recall having a "Duh!" moment when I read that because I remember that he implied they were the same tribe (which as you say doesn't make sense geographically). Or maybe I misread it. I'm going to have to read it now, aren't I?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
Veejaneveejane on April 19th, 2004 - 08:45 am
I don't remember whether Cooper addresses this specifically; but my history teacher did. Mohicans and Mohegans are related, but like divergent tribes -- enough so that their languages differed a lot (hence the different pronunciations). Mohegans = lower CT river valley, closer to the sea; Mohicans = way upper CT river valley, and westward into New York, in the freezy deezy parts of the country.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
DXMachinadxmachina on April 19th, 2004 - 12:14 pm
You know I'd have to check...

Cooper does mention it, but he gets it wrong. This is the passage I remembered from the Introduction (Project Gutenberg is a wonderful thing):
The whites have assisted greatly in rendering the traditions of the Aborigines more obscure by their own manner of corrupting names. Thus, the term used in the title of this book has undergone the changes of Mahicanni, Mohicans, and Mohegans; the latter being the word commonly used by the whites. When it is remembered that the Dutch (who first settled New York), the English, and the French, all gave appellations to the tribes that dwelt within the country which is the scene of this story, and that the Indians not only gave different names to their enemies, but frequently to themselves, the cause of the confusion will be
understood.

Most of the articles I've found explain that the Mahicans (which came from the native word for the Hudson River) started out in NY, then a group split off and moved east, renaming themselves the Pequots (the "Destroyers"). The real Uncas rebelled from the Pequots and set up his own tribe, the Mohegans ("wolves"). Thus Uncasville comes by its name as legitimately as, say, Madison. And Uncas was the *first* Mohegan.

http://www.native-languages.org/mohican.htm
http://www.nativeamericans.com/Mohegan.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohican

One interesting, really weird coincidence, if it's the same John H. The Project Gutenberg text contains the following line:
This etext was produced by John Horner.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)