Tag Archives: Movie Reviews

Things That are More Victorian than Victorian Literature: Crimson Peak

I’m back! Though I can’t make any promises about when my next post will be, due to a combination of overwork and my frankly hellish mental state these days.

Speaking of hellish, though: I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about something as obviously Victorian as Guillermo del Torro’s thriller/romance Crimson Peak. I also couldn’t write about it effectively without giving away major plot points, however, so read at your own peril…

I was going to begin this post with something like “I came to Crimson Peak for the incest and stayed for the class commentary,” but then it hit me just how thoroughly the Shmoop writing style has permeated my consciousness, and I began to feel a little bad about the extreme glibness of my writing these days. Though—as you see—not bad enough to resist throwing the line in anyway. Continue reading

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Quick Thoughts on Mockingjay – Part 1: Rebellion, Propaganda, and Metafiction

Please Note: The following post contains some spoilers for both Mockingjay – Part 1 and the Hunger Games series as a whole, so read at your own discretion.

Right up until last week’s premiere, I was concerned that Mockingjay would be the stumbling block when it came to adapting the Hunger Games trilogy. No, I do not count myself amongst the readers who grew exasperated with the final installment’s unrelenting grimness; if anything, Suzanne Collins earned my undying respect by painting such a plausibly—if dishearteningly—bleak portrait of a revolution (let’s not forget how frequently real revolutions die out, are hijacked, or result in a regime even worse than the one that preceded it). My concern therefore had less to do with Mockingjay’s tone or subject matter than it did with its structure. In both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, the Games themselves function as a kind of narrative scaffolding; they carry with them their own climaxes and conclusions and, at least in Catching Fire, are the linchpin in the plans of both the Capitol and the insurgency. Mockingjay lacks this obvious structuring device, and in the added absence of the coherence provided by Katniss’s first-person narration, the movie seemed likely to falter. Continue reading

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Gone Girl: Book vs. Movie

Note: The following review contains massive spoilers for both the novel and movie, because a) I’m going to assume a lot of people have already read Gone Girl anyway, and b) it’s simply impossible to dig into the movie in any meaningful way without giving away important plot points.

Let me begin by saying what I love about Gone Girl as a novel (apart from a truly gripping plot). Mostly what I love is its uncanny ability to identify and then amplify the tensions that underwrite many a romantic relationship. Its melodrama is always rooted in reality and, as such, it systematically exposes how very dysfunctional the underpinnings of these apparently functional relationships truly are. Continue reading

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In Secret, and Other Serviceable Adaptations

At this point, it’s almost a truism to say that film adaptations are more successful when they’re faithful to the spirit rather than the letter of their source material. To be fair, there’s a certain amount of sense in this; strict adaptations can easily become slavish and unimaginative, sagging under the weight of excessive detail and too little concerned with finding a way to capture the work’s overall tone. And certainly, some excellent adaptations take significant liberties with the original text. In fact, one of my favorite adaptations entirely scraps Othello’s original script—always a dicey proposition when you’re dealing with Shakespeare—and moves the setting to present-day London. It works brilliantly, giving new urgency to questions of race and gender. Much as I love Shakespeare’s play, I think that this particular adaptation also serves an important purpose.

On the other hand, look at the words I’ve used to describe more by-the-book (literally) adaptations: strict, slavish, unimaginative. I think that sometimes we stack the deck unfairly against these safer adaptations, and I want to make a case for their existence. Continue reading

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