A Dialogue on Movies, Books and More

Posts tagged ‘books’

What We Read Last Week and What We’re Watching This Week

Justin: Woo hoo! Yeah!!

Zoe: Woo hoo!  … Wait why are we woo hooing?

Justin: It’s college football season!

Zoe: Ugg… I am retracting my Woo hoo.

Justin: Come on, you aren’t a little bit excited? Miami University is doing decently so far this year and Virginia Tech might start looking like the team they were last year. They both won this weekend.

Zoe: Good for them, but I still couldn’t care less.

Justin: Well fine then. How was your mini-vacation weekend with the husband?

Zoe: It was excellent!  The driving, the food, the views!  Yourself? What trouble did you get up to?

Justin: Not a whole lot. I worked a little on Saturday but then got to see my friend Denise who came down to visit her brother at Miami. Then Sunday afternoon I recorded a podcast with my friend Matt who is in Texas.

Zoe: Wait, you did a podcast?

Justin: Yep, it was fun. I actually don’t sound as bad as I thought I would. I probably made a complete fool of myself, but that is to be expected. Need to get a new microphone if I ever do another though. There was a little lag with the one I was using and at times it sounded like a demon was talking under my voice. Overall though it went well and you can find this wonderful piece of media on my friend’s website.

Zoe: Before I go there, why don’t you tell me what it’s about?  And, did you at least plug this blog, since you are plugging his website?

Justin: Why, yes, I did, thank you very much. The podcast wasn’t about anything specific, we talked about “Google health”, Halo: Reach and a few other topics.  It’s primarily a “technology” podcast that Matt does on the side for fun. I hope to do more episodes with him. Anyway, on to the topic of today’s post. I really don’t have anything specific this week to talk about so I figured we would do a potluck of topics.

Zoe: Sounds like a plan. In fact I would like to start out on the topic of books.  Because of the romantic weekend getaway, I read what men would call “a bodice-ripper” about a huge, honorable Scottish warrior falling madly in love with a beautiful Scottish lass.

Justin: No, we call those trashy romance novels that give us complexes because we will never live up to the men in those books.

Zoe: Please.  Most good men I know are way better at romance than they want to admit, they just feel really stupid doing it.

Justin: Hmmmph.  I’m reading something with a strong female lead right now too.  I am currently reading the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series by Stieg Larsson. I finished the first book, which is excellent and am now trying to make my way through the second, The Girl Who Played with Fire. I really am enjoying the series, however, my one complaint is that the author loves to describe “down time.” It is like a little bit of action followed by describing how the characters are redecorating their apartment and what they bought at Ikea. Then the action picks back up. The books have been a little slow getting into but once the mystery starts up they have been ones that I have trouble putting down. I am also reading a book called No Applause – Just Throw Money by Trav S.D. It was recommended to me by my boss after he read our post on Physical Comedy. It is on the history of Vaudeville and so far is an interesting read.

Zoe: Wow, I’m not reading anything like either of those.

Justin: What can I say, I love all kinds of books, as anyone who has read some of my previous post can see. My problem however, is I tend to start to many books at once or I start reading one and then find another topic/book I am interested in and start reading that. It is like book ADD.

Zoe: I have a recommendation for you, a book that will definitely hold your attention.  Last week I finished Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It’s a big picture sort of book, about abstract ideas, of a type I’ve read before, about gods (or… God…) running kind of like what we/characters think of as experiments (or… tests of faith…) on us people.  Seems to me that anyone who knows the definition of all-knowing, or omnipotent if you like SAT words, should already know the upshot of these stories.  And yet, these two guys’ wry, silly humor and pure (British) cheekiness make it a great read in any case.  Oh, and I finished A Feast for Crows, now that you mention that you bounce from book to book.  I read lots of books in an overlapping kind of way.  I don’t see anything at all wrong with it.

Justin: Well, it’s kind of hard to stay focused on each story, for me anyway, when I’m reading a dozen.

Zoe: I guess I’m writing a couple dozen stories in my head at any given time, so I’ve had practice keeping things straight like that.

Justin: If you say so…

Zoe: Okay, back to Feast.  I’ve found the series by George R.R. Martin so far very interesting and satisfying, but I completely understand the borderline-bitterness of people who read the books as they were released, in good faith that he’d keep releasing them in reasonable intervals.  I, however, already knew what I was getting into when I started A Game of Thrones.  I think it’s made my experience better than the borderline-bitter readers’ experience; I read it leisurely, knowing I have time to go back and reread the whole thing at least once more before the final book is out.

Justin: That’s very magnanimous of you.  It sounds really obnoxious to me, that book number four came out four-ish years ago and book number five is now way overdue–and there’s a book number six, too, right?

Zoe: Yeah…

Justin: Don’t worry, you’ll only have to wait three years after book five is released to read book six, hopefully.

Zoe: To be fair, I would be hard-pressed to stop myself from feeling betrayed by J.K. Rowling if she’d released The Deathly Hollows: Part 1, saying Part 2 would follow in, say, a year, and then five years later I’m still waiting waiting waiting to find out the ending.  I would have harsh things to say to her…  But hey, there is a “Game of Thrones” TV series starting this spring on HBO to placate me for a little while.  Now that, I can’t wait for! Actually I think this is a good time to move on to our to topic two of today’s post.

Justin: “To the Louvre!”

Zoe: No, topic two.

Justin: Mi scusi, I was having a Euro Trip moment.

Zoe: Very nice.

Justin: Speaking of Game of Thrones being turned into a television series, I was thinking that we could talk about the upcoming fall television line up and what we are excited about.

Zoe: I concur and now that I have cable and DVR, I won’t have to rely on Hulu to watch my favorite shows.  I’ll kind of miss their little “Is this add useful?” Yes or No buttons during commercials.  Kind of.

Justin: Ha. To be honest, I haven’t really seen much about the fall lineup this year. I know “Glee” is coming back and there is something about an “event” going on but other than that not sure. The only shows that I am excited for right now are “Castle” and “Bones.” One, because they are amazing shows; and two, because the ends of the last seasons left relationship questions wide open for both cast of each series. I am also curious about “House.” It completely fell off my radar after the first few episodes of the last season. However, I was flipping through channels this weekend and saw an advertisement for it which caught my attention. (Spoiler alert for anyone who doesn’t have a TV set.) It looks like House and Cuddy finally got together. So since I have been waiting for this moment I might catch up on the series and watch it this fall.

Zoe: The writers can’t tease us with the possibility of House/Cuddy for six seasons and then just let it slip away without exploring it.  They would be teases.  Worse, they would have lead us on!  I mean, yes, I love “House” for its crazy one-in-a-billion-chance cases and the “Aha!” lightbulb moments House’s colleagues and random strangers cause.  But like with “Rescue Me,” another show with a lead struggling, I  I still want all the characters to evolve… and I want House to be able to get better, be happier, after all that’s happened.

Justin: … Maybe I will start watching it again…

Zoe: Yeah.  I agree, this season I’m mostly interested in my old shows starting up again.  I also love “How I Met Your Mother,” “Chuck,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Glee” which you already mentioned.  There are a few new shows that look interesting, but I think that’s what I’ll use Hulu for: If someone is like, “Dude, ‘No Ordinary Family’ is the best new show EVER!” then I’ll use Hulu to catch up and, if I like it, start watching it when it airs first-run.

Justin: I might try that one too.

Zoe: I am bummed out that “Mercy” was canceled, though, and I’m kind of annoyed at shows like “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Burn Notice,” and “Weeds” that all seem to start on random days and end on random days, so they’re easy to just miss completely.  It’s hard for me to even figure out if I’ve missed one season, or half a season, or what, and how long I have before the next new episode / season airs…  It’s all confusing.  I need an Idiot’s Guide to TV programs.  The TV Guide and the Comcast tv guide channel are annoying, too; why can’t I make it only show the channels I watch??

Justin: Yeah I feel that way about some shows as well. Shows like “Eureka” or several other cable shows that premier for half a season and then disappear for several months and then come back to finish the season. It’s kind of a weird schedule. I’ve started seeing some of those shows come out with DVDs that say season 3.0 and then season 3.5 meaning its the other half of the season. Just give me the whole season darn it.

Zoe: Exactly!

Justin: And on that note we end this half of season one of Idle Banter & Escapades….

Zoe: No we don’t–this isn’t a TV series.

Justin: Fine, fine. We’ll stick to our regularly scheduled times for posting.

Zoe: Thats more like it and as they say on cliffhanger episodes: To Be Continued…

Justin: Dun Dun Duuuuun!


Percy Jackson or “Why people should stick to f-ing canons”

After reading Zoe’s blog last Friday, I decided to weigh in on the discussion in my own unique, ranting way.

I love to read. Anyone who knows me, knows this little fact.  Growing up my parents didn’t have cable TV and my brother and I didn’t have the latest video game console. We had books. We had lots of books and we were encouraged to read those books. However, this love affair with books has probably screwed me up for the rest of my life. At least when it comes to watching movies and this is a problem…

Because movies are my second favorite thing after books.

The only thing that could be better than books (in a strictly media sense) is a series of books. I love series and the way that the worlds and characters evolve throughout the series. Relationships are created and destroyed and rebuilt again. Series can be an amazing thing to get sucked into. When I was younger it was The Boxcar Children and then I moved on to things like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Harry Potter is one of my all time favorites, mostly because it is one of the only series where I waited in anticipation for the next book to finally appear on my doorstep. Since then I have read things like the Dresden Files, The Percy Jackson series and Twilight. (Yes, I have read all of the Twilight series because you can’t make fun of it if you don’t know what you are talking about.)

So with my love of books, you can imagine my excitement when I hear that they will be turned into film. I get all tingly inside at the thought of it. However, this is all shot to hell the moment I see the film. Don’t get me wrong–there are some great movies out there that stick with the canon of the book. Lord of the Rings is a great example of this. Yes, there were a few changes, but it is a really long and complicated series of books. You have to expect some cuts. Only in a nerds wet dream would Peter Jackson have taken the whole story verbatim and put it on screen.

But, there are some series that the canon shouldn’t be all that hard to follow when adapted to film. Harry Potter is one of those. Just ask my father, who has read the series at least five times. He sat through the sixth movie going “That didn’t happen” and “Well they completely left out that important plot piece.”  And I agree with him, however, I am not going to tear into Harry Potter too much because it makes a piece of me die inside having to bash something I truly love. I am hoping that my faith is renewed by the last two films. You have two films to finish up one book, let’s make it a good one, guys. (The trailers for it looks sweet at least).

Instead, a movie based on a series that I will gladly rip apart is the recent Percy Jackson film. The series of books is no HP, but it is decently written and has a story line that is fun to follow. The author also sticks to the original Greek mythology (unlike some recent films cough cough Clash of the Titans cough cough), while updating to incorporate modern times. I had a lot of fun reading this and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good story to fall asleep to at night. I read the complete series in a little under two weeks and after completing the series I decided to see the movie.

This is where I went wrong. Now once again I will state that I understand due to budget and time constraint you might need to change things here and there. However, you don’t change your whole canon. Canon meaning the world/characters/events that an author creates through out a series of books or even movies that you learn to accept as fact in that series. Yes, the movie was about a boy named Percy Jackson who was the illegitimate son of Poseidon. Yes, he goes on a quest to clear his name with two friends. There is where the similarities end. The director and screen writer just took the rest of the story and cut and pasted and merged anything and everything until the final product was nowhere close to where the book had started. I mean, I guess that is one way of making something your own. However, after the movie had stopped playing I sat in my chair in stunned silence. Not just because the movie wasn’t really all that great, but if they were ever to continue on the story they would have to rewrite each book that came after the first because there were so many changes made.

“But Justin” you may say “Percy Jackson is directed by Chris Columbus, the director of the first Harry Potter movie, which was one HP movie that stuck to its original canon.” Yes this may be so but he apparently wanted nothing to do with the canon in this movie. Don’t get me wrong the movie was decent to look at, but that isn’t what we are talking about. I am not even sure the original author for the books was involved. I am guessing someone at FOX went “well I wonder what we can screw up next? We already screwed up the x-men series, the news, and canceled decent shows like Firefly and New Amsterdam. What could possibly be next?” To which some guy in a cheap suit replied “well my kid is reading this great series about modern day Greek gods, I’ll have someone who has never read the series skim it and write a screen play.”  I am sure this is what happened because to me the final product ended up being something someone scribbled out on napkins in crayon resembling nothing of the original story line.

As Zoe pointed out this shouldn’t be a big problem. Lots of movies do this and you really have to separate your book loving self from your movie loving self. This shouldn’t be the issue though. Part of the reason we get excited about series being transformed into movies is because we love both formats of media and we are ready to see our favorite books come to life. As I’ve said several times before, I get changing a few things to make up for time and money. But for the sake of all that is good and holy in film try to at least maintain a good fraction of the books plot line.

So future writers, screen writers, directors, production company managers, if you have a story that works, a story that has a huge following, DON’T SCREW IT UP! All you are doing is crushing the dreams of those who only wanted to see their favorite story come to life. I know that nothing is perfect and as Zoe pointed out last week, our imaginations are 10x better than anything that can be put onto the big screen. However, with film technology and CGI becoming more advanced every year, we should be getting close to reaching a point where films can start to look as fantastic as our imagination. I know that movies will never be better than books and to be honest I hope it stays that way. As much as I love films, there is nothing better than picking up a book for the first or the hundredth time and leaping into a fantastic world.

My recommendation, as the summer wears down and the days become cooler, go to your local library or used book store, grab a thick novel and just spend a day reading. Let your imagination rule for one more day.