So, on the advice of a good friend who is now a neighbour, I went to a local rental video outlet and rented a foursome of films on BD. I will talk about what happened with the outlet in question later. For now, I want to talk about something that I think a lot of so-called creative artists need to learn.
The foursome of films that I hired were, in no particular order, Taken 2, The Hunger Games, God Bless America, and The Hobbit.
It is somewhat ironic that as I sit and type this, I am watching Paul Verhoeven‘s 2006 masterpiece, Zwartboek. You see, Paul Verhoeven as a director is everything that Peter Jackass is not. Reviews of Verhoeven films, especially ones in the English language, are often peppered with comments about how unsubtle Verhoeven or his work is.
Irony number one: Compared to the Paul Verhoeven that directed RoboCop and Total Recall, Peter Jackass would not know subtle if it rolled around in bullshit, crawled up his anal passage, farted, and then died.
Irony number two: Paul Verhoeven knows when to be subtle.
That is a critically important point. Zwartboek is basically two and a half hours of testament to how unbelievably cruel Germans and Dutch were to each other in the closing stages and aftermath of World War II. People are tortured, murdered, have shit poured on them in copious amounts, and in a great example of saving the best for last, sealed up in a coffin and left to suffocate.
It is this last example of extreme brutality on the part of the heroine that proves Verhoeven‘s mastery as a storyteller. Throughout the rest of the film, we are spared no details of when people are put through the worst. In this final death scene, however, we simply see the heroine and one of her fellow survivors discuss their situation whilst the villain our heroine has sealed in a coffin slowly ceases to scream. You know he is dying in one of the most painful ways a Human can possibly die, and you know that he deserves every bit of it, and then some. But instead of seeing him choke to death in excruciating detail, we get to let our mind’s eye compose a picture of it. Hence, Paul Verhoeven knows when to be subtle.
One of my favourite sites on the web is flyingmoose.org, a little hobby site that was clearly created before the turn of the new century and has not changed one bit since. Remember when sites did not choke the almighty fukking shit out of your computer with Java and other completely unnecessary shite? Well, I do, and I miss those days. But the salient point here is the Tolkien Sarcasm Page, a segment of the site devoted to comical work based on the writings of Tolkien. The author’s review of Ralph Bakshi‘s 1978 adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings is especially hilarious. But as one reads through it, one notices an interesting little pattern. Specifically, the more Bakshi alters and changes Tolkien‘s story, the less interesting it gets.
Which raises a very interesting question. Given 1978 filmmaking techniques and a budget in the mere tens of millions, would Peter Jackass make anything different in quality terms to Ralph Bakshi? I. Sincerely. Fukking. Doubt. It.
I will give credit where credit is due. Jackass at least resisted the urge to make the thirteen Dwarrow that Bilbo accompanies into walking joke machines. He must have been painfully grinding his teeth throughout the filming process, trying to justify it to all around him. And he also gets a few points for demonstrating from the get-go what an absolute jackass the Elf King called Thranduil really is.
But when one is reading the credits, one notices something. In addition to himself and the arrogant skanks he co-writes with, the script is also credited to one Guillermo Del Toro. You know, the guy I sincerely wish had directed the film, as he has consistently proven himself both a good director and capable of realising fantastic worlds. Anyone who has seen the Troll Market segment of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, or the climactic showdown in same film, knows that Del Toro has more than just the chops to realise the visuals of a fantasy society. He has the necessary respect for the Humanity and dimensions of his characters.
In El Laberinto Del Fauno, Del Toro establishes a lot of depth for all of his characters. Even the semi-anonymous fighters in the Resistance are meaningful characters because one understands their motives and fears. But a particularly strong point is the Fascist Captain. We see his vanity, his pride, and his disregard for anyone other than himself. And when he is slashed and shot in the face, we not only see it as his just desserts, we see how powerfully it hurts him. The words spoken to him just before being shot dead are enough to induce cheering.
To say that I felt robbed when I learned that Guillermo Del Toro would not be directing The Hobbit is like saying that my stomach and intestines presently feel very uncomfortable. Del Toro, like Verhoeven, understands that the timing of your subtlety is important. Watch Abe Sapien’s final moment with Princess Nuala if you think I am exaggerating.
Oh yeah, and I am experiencing a good and persistent bout of diarrhoea. Not as bad as the one I had towards the end of my time in
hell Brisbane, but bad enough that I plan on going to see a doctor very soon. Just wanted everyone to know that.
So after going into great similes to explain that one film was not as bad as expected, I will tell you about the one I was pleasantly surprised by. God Bless America is not, as the title suggests, propaganda. It is a satire of the state of disarray our media and society are in. The main reason I decided to watch it, of course, is because Bobcat Goldthwait directed it. And whilst it is not laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end, it tells the kind of story that I would like to see more of from what is a declining industry.
If I could sum up my present feelings and thoughts in a word, it would be “scattered”. I am still very unsure of what I am doing. Or what I will do.
I am tired.