A Brief Review of Manchester By the Sea

Because I finally decided to watch it.

  • I still think that’s the most pretentious title
    • Why not call In the Freezer or just Manchester?
  • Yes, I cried
  • A lot less by the numbers than I thought it was going to be.
    • The strength comes from the moments where characters fumble (their words or behave clumsily) that give it sparks of life. Without them, I think the film would have been “by-the-numbers drama”
  • I am glad that they gave a good reason for Lee (Casey Affleck) being such a dick because of for the first 30 minutes I thought, “why do we need another movie about a guy who is a dick
  • Mini Moonrise Kingdom reunion!
    • Only just realized!
  • MBTS_1170.CR2
  • The funny thing about that is how the score reminded me Wes Anderson films
  • While I liked the character, Lee, I don’t think Casey Affleck had that much to work with. Lee’s a great character and Affleck gives a good performance. I still don’t know how I feel about his Oscar win.
  • The cinematography, while fitting to the story, is all that pleasing to the eye, except in one of the most dramatic scenes of the film, following the tragedy that is the key moment of Lee’s backstory.
  • I liked the ending. Was it a happy ending? Not exactly, but it was realistic and a good bookend conclusion.

Ranking: 8/10


Quote of the Day

“The thing about Dan [Radcliffe] is, like, he unlike any other actor I’ve worked with get mobbed…He transcends actor and he’s, I guess, iconic, you would say…It’s really strange to be with him, because he gets recognized in a way that most actors don’t…He gets recognized in a way that I think people associate their childhoods with him.”

Jesse Eisenberg 

On “The Witches” and Dahl’s tendency for being unhappy with adaptations

(There be spoilers)

In spite of a busy week, I found time to enjoy Roald Dahl day with a documentary about his life, and a re-watch of The Witches yesterday.

I would like to discuss my thoughts on how the book and the movie ended since they were so infamously different. The ending of the book was moving, but also kind of depressing, and I remember when I first watched The Witches in sixth grade maybe, feeling this incredible since of joy when Susan Irvine (Jane Horrocks) turn him back into a boy.

Only yesterday did I realized that Jane Horrocks played Miss Susan Irvine, I developed quite the love for Jane Horrocks after watching Little Voice a few years back. I don’t see why one must be chosen over the other and the two forms can’t appreciated for what they are. It is not as if Henson set out to do a malicious disservice to the novel. Something I find interesting is the following from a Mental Floss article.

Much has also been said of casting an American in the role of the main character. Perhaps I don’t see the issue, being that I am American, but I like Luke, and I thought his voice bodded well for the animatronic mouse following Luke’s transformation. The actor, Jasen Fisher, was in second grade at the time, and I found that his voice-acting served the exceptional puppeteering. Those mice are too damn cute. Also, another note, how can you hate a kid that looks like Maculay Culkin in The Pagemaster?

What is more, on the point of Dahl’s distaste with the ending, he said it goes against the message of the intial ending. Dahl’s ending had the grandmother and the hero, who is never made human, planning on going to the Grand High Witch’s castle to kill her replacement and all the witche’s there, turning them all into mice, and setting loose a bunch of cats to kill them, and dying togetether. This reality seemed to fit with the unnamed grandmother’s nature, but in Henson’s version, we see that Helga is in tears as Luke expresses his contentment with his supposed fate of being a mouse, we can assume he is only saying it for her sake, or that if he does like being a mouse, it is selfish, since it causes Helga sorrow that he can’t have a normal life.

However, I will admit that the plot point with Susan was bull-rushed. And I am pretty sure there was a mistake when Susan is shown in the window as Luke and Helga are leaving. She does not appear to be wearing gloves. Given the way her hands are seen moving towards the camera, this may have been intentional as a cue to the observant watcher and something to see upon multiple viewings, as one might expect at the first watch that she is planning something devious.

I think that look on Susan’s face and giggling at the very ending makes up for everything.

Sunshine of my life Jane Horrocks

Dahl, a screenwriter in addition to being a writer of children’s fiction and adult fiction. In my opinion, this should have made him empathetic to those who adapted his work. This was not the case. He was famously disatisfied with Gene Wilder being cast in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was retitled due to the fact  that “at the time of release, the Vietnam War was at its height and American soldiers referred to both Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces as ‘Charlie'” (source). Writers do develop a fondness for their characters, but a writer must remain aware how their characters will be interpreted in a different way from person to person.  With The Witches, Dahl was successful in convincing Roeg to cut an opening scene of a funeral, with a coffin being lowered into the ground.

According to Dahl’s second wife and widow Felicity “Liccy” Dahl, “Roald was horrified. He liked death in his books to be short, quick and humorous – not something to be lingered over.”

But, ultimately, the thing that made Dahl say, “take my name off this thing. You’ve missed the whole point of the book,” was the alternate ending that the testing audience preferred to the ending where the boy stays the mouse and expects to only live another nine years, dying with his grandmother.

But Roeg shot two endings, one faithful to Dahl’s book, the other stripped of the darker elements that made the book so effective. “Nic Roeg showed us the first ending, and Roald had tears running down his cheeks, he was so pleased,” says Liccy. “But then he showed us the other one, and Roald said: ‘Take my name off this thing. You’ve missed the whole point of the book.’ I’d never seen him so upset.”

The film’s producer, Allan Scott, said in response to Dahl’s unhappiness, said something along the lines of “if writers received payments for their books to be adapted, they shouldn’t grumble.”

Liccy Dahl, responding ot Scottt’s statement in an article written by David Gritten for The Telegraph, said,”I rather agree,” with “sighs.”

My take is that we are well aware a story will take on different forms when it comes from different people. Evident from the different forms we have of the fairy tales from oral tradition. I also believe that the people of my generation and those that succeed mine will not take as much of an offense to alterations. We are used to “reimaginings,” and feel that change is good if the change is good; it is fine to change something as long as it does not hurt the story.

Dahl was right to feel hurt by the happy ending if he honestly thought the production did not understand the point of the book, but I don’t understand why he would take offense when the ending they invented went along with his original idea for the ending, and not the ending his editor convinced him to write.

I am watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on television, too overjoyed to cry with nostalgia, as I did when trying to watch it a little while back, following Gene Wilder’s death.

If there is an afterlife, I hope there is a way for Dahl to apologize to Gene Wilder.


Quote of the Day

We’re going to triple up!

“It always does seem to me that I am doing more work than I should do. It is not that I object to the work, mind you; I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart.” – Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome. 

“I was looking for something like this because I love all the shows that I’ve gotten to do, but the time commitment is so overwhelming in a single show like West Wing, or even with Mr. Sunshine—that was a single-camera comedy, and the hours are pretty grueling. This multi-cam work is fast and furious, and very civilized in terms of, like, I can go to work and be home for dinner. I can be home to walk my dog. I can have a life and a job—the kind of job that I’ve been waiting for my whole life, I feel like.” – Allison Janney

MATT DIEHL: I recently saw a clip of you being interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel, and you said something so funny and telling: “My mind goes to tragedy first.”

FIONA APPLE: I think everybody’s mind does. That’s why we’re here—why humans have survived. Our ancestors always thought of the worst thing that could happen, and that’s why we’re alive.

DIEHL: So you’re prepared for the worst.

APPLE: Yes, but I also always start with tragedy because if somebody’s going to hurt me, then I want to have gotten there first.

Interview Magazine, 2012

Quote of the Day

I know I don’t need to double, but I’m going to anyway.
“What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go off the…That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” — JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“-Why do you always use binoculars?
   -It helps me see things closer, even if they’re not very far away. I pretend it’s my        magic power.
    -That sounds like poetry. Poems don’t always have to rhyme, you know. They’re just
supposed to be creative.” – Moonrise Kingdom

All of my literature classes have me re-reading books I read in 12th grade, and in my writing class we watched Moonrise Kingdom, one of my favorite movies of 2012. I also went through a JD Salinger phase in 12th grade. 

Quote of the Day

Here’s a double dose.

“I want to remember everything. I want to know everything.” – Harriet the Spy (1996)

“If it’s a frivolous, relaxing book, I read every word. But serious books I read on the right-hand side only because I’ve discovered enormous redundancy in any well-written book, and I find that by reading only the right-hand page this keeps me very wide awake, filling in the other page out of my own noodle.” – Marshall McLuhan

Women in Science Fiction

[Image Source]

With women winning in all of the fiction categories at the Hugo Awards of the weekend, I would like to take this time to discuss female science fiction writers, and how they don’t get the the recognition they deserve. It is as good as fact that women writers are, in large part, only accepted in the fantasy or soft science fiction.

As my best friend from high school, io9, explains, “To some extent, this comes from preconceptions about the types of people who read hard SF, and that indirectly influences expectations about who’s going to be writing in that genre.”

And the writers that do exist and are revered aren’t revered enough to be introduced or mentioned in high school or colleges, keep in mind, I did not receive the best high school education, I am lucky that I was the sci-fi girl in my reading team in high school, and to have read The Martian Chronicles, Brave New Worldand 1984, but I would have loved to have heard about Ursula K LeGuin or Kit Reed.

I give myself grief that I did not know of Ursula K Le Guin until Open Culture introduced me to her some months ago. It would have been nice to have a teacher introduce me to her. A living person. I only learned about Kit Reed over the weekend, and that was thanks to Joachim Boaz. But the shortcomings of teachers when it comes to literary citizenship is not what this post is about. It’s about how female sci-fi writers need to be better known.

Who is the first living, female, sci-fi writer you can think of, besides the two mentioned? I can only think of Margaret Atwood, and I do not like that one bit, for I know there are many others out there. I mention a lot how I want to scream because the amount of books out there are overwhelming, and it is up to educators to help students find books. While educators do help students find literature, the way that science fiction and other genres of speculative fiction aren’t appreciated unless they become adapted into films means that the idea that only certain types of people read science fiction continues, and it is caused by the fact that no one is comfortable with the genre.

I grew up enjoying the Canadian sci-fi shows created for children. I also grew up playing video games, many of which had sci-fi elements. I was introduced to the genre in a visual form from an early age, and I take pride in that. I assume that childhoods like mine will become commonplace over time, as children are introduced to technology at earlier ages, and seek to create their own forms of technology in real and ficitional ways. As education aims to include females into the sciences, it is important that they be included in imaginary science.

But let’s keep in mind science fiction isn’t the only genre where women are overshadowed by men. It is in science fiction, however, where it has the greatest prevalence. Science fiction has its flaws, which is why I prefer watching science fiction to reading it, for I too often am disatisfied and I abandon it, but it is my opinion that science fiction is for everyone. I don’t think it will begin to be taken seriously until it expands, and it can only expand with the inclusion of more voices. The same way that the cure for cancer can be trapped in the mind of a kid who can’t afford college, the first Pulitze Prize and Hugo award winner could be trapped in the mind of a girl, who has been victimized by what society deems a woman’s imagination capable of.