Friday, August 31, 2007

Sow's Ear For Some, Silk Purse For Kathleen

Bourne Ultimatum worked for me. Totally.

I've been thinking about this all week, and I decided to offer a counterpoint to Deb's view (Monday). We've been talking about vampires most of the week, and behind the scenes the vamp-lover Riders have fretted about the possibility of vamp overload. No worries here. I'm not a vamp fan, but it's fascinating to see how it works for other people. It's all about that suspension of disbelief phenomenon. It's so much fun when it totally works, and sometimes you can't even explain why. All you know is that for a brief time you were somewhere else.

Action-adventure is not my favorite fare, but a good a-v movie is worth the price of the big screen. Bourne Ultimatum will lose a lot on your TV, no matter what kind you have. I don't read many a-v novels, not a Ludlum fan, but I'm going to guess that this movie is not the same animal as the book. This is a different experience. It's heavily visual, and it's the camera work that makes it so. This is not "jiggly" or amateurish like Blair Witch. It's masterfully crafted. I'm thinking of paying the price a second time just to study that aspect. You saw strong images in the midst of motion--things catching your eye as you're moving. Those sequences drew me into an immediate, exciting experience in a new way. It was, for me, a ground-breaking kind of movie.

If you're looking for a relationship story, this isn't it, but I thought it was interesting that the women served to ground the story. They were human. They had the courage to see the truth about the "company men" who would serve the organization at all cost. They were the ones who cared about people and had a conscience. But this movie is all about action and suspense. It slowed down in the "command post" scenes, where the intelligence agency gone amok was able to watch the hero as though he were an ant in a glass farm. I did think there were political points well made--unchecked power leads to Big Brother. But that was a sidelight to the suspense. It had me on the edge of my seat, heart pounding, hands gripping whatever was handy. Fun stuff!

Casino Royale not so much. Now, this was a nice shot. Lovely shades of blue and beefcake. And I did enjoy the tender moment in the shower. But this movie was way too long. I knew it was too long because I was aware of real time. If it was working, I wouldn't be.

I had several problems. One, Bond is nothing if not suave, and Craig's Bond falls short in my book. He's nicely put together, and he does moody well, but he's no Sean Connery. Two, the big competition between hero and villain finally came down to a poker game. It was boring. Bond is no Maverick. And finally, the foot chase through the construction site made me laugh. Didn't work for me. Couldn't believe it. In my mind both men had broken all their bones by the time it was finally over. I don't care if they were gold medalists in the Decathlon. And that was the difference between Bourne and Casino for me. It wasn't a choice. It was getting sucked in and not getting sucked in.

I'll take a book over a movie most days, and I really love movies. But few movies explore relationships in a way that satisfies the way a good novel does. On the other hand, I don't think I could get the same physical, visual experience from the printed page that I got from Bourne. It took the movie experience to a new level for me.

What do you think? What are the differences between camera and pen? There's a place for both, but is it enough to keep both alive? Will books and movie theaters still be around in 2050?

7 comments:

Betina Krahn said...

Interesting, Kathy, that you loved "Bourne" so much-- I wouldn't have predicted it. You must not have many problems with motion sickness! LOL!

And as to movies and books being such different mediums-- absolutely! That's why books that are so moving and connect so personally with readers seldom do well on the big screen. It's the intimacy of the action on the screen in your head and playing across your guts and heartstrings that makes the reading experience so powerful. Some of that gets lost on the big screen-- probably the reason romance novels don't translate so well into movies. On the other hand, Ludlum's prose in the Bourne books can't hold a candle to the visual excitement and pulse-pounding effects of a well-made movie. Action in a book is a very different thing from action in a movie-- generally a lot less immediate and involving.

But hey-- I'm a BIG action/adventure fan in both media. And because the experiences are so different, I think there'll still be plenty of both around in 2050. Albeit, with a few changes here and there.

The e-reader is coming, folks; it's just a matter of time. But the movie theater is a special experience in itself-- popcorn, low lights, snuggle-bunnies in the back row. . . lots of reasons to keep them around besides just the love of movies!

Helen Brenna said...

Remember years ago people predicted theaters would go out of business with the advent of video stores? Seems to me theaters are doing just fine.

I think the same will hold for books. There's a time and place for movies, and a time and place for books. E-books may or may not prosper, but I don't think they'll ever completely take the place of paper.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Actually, small neighborhood theaters did go out of biz, Helen, just like our beloved neighborhood bookstores. And movies have changed. The kind I've always liked tend to be made by the "indies" now, and too often they don't get much play on the big screen.

I worry about "dumbing down" on so many fronts these days. It's all about blockbusters in movies and books. It has to make a pile of money the as soon as it hits. Will the tide turn, do you think?

Debra Dixon said...

Kathleen-- That's great to see a different perspective. Helps explain why Bourne has done well at the box office! And I love that you've pointed out the women were the "humans" of the piece. I missed that, which is kind of embarrassing now that you've pointed it out. I should have at least given the movie points for that!

About the foot chase in Casino, there is apparently a sport of this urban chase stuff and the black guy in the film is the premiere athlete. It's one of the extreme sports. If I remember correctly they just brought him to the site and turned him lose on the "course" for most of it.

Michele Hauf said...

I certainly hope theaters are still around. There are just some things that you must experience on a large screen, with surround sound and digital graphics.

As for that construction scene chase, Kathy—I haven't seen Bond—was that the parkour scene I've heard about? Leaping and jumping from buildings? Using the landscape as an obstacle course?
I would love to rent the movie just for the parkour scene, because down well, it is amazing to watch and really will make a person doubt it can be done, when it really can be.
M

Michele Hauf said...

..because DONE well... What is down well? Whatever!

Kathleen Eagle said...

I read about the parkour sport after seeing the movie, and I thought it was amazing. The jumping I could believe, but the distances they appeared to be dropping and the way they were landing over and over again, you couldn't believe they'd get up and walk away. Plus, the sport wasn't part of the story. And Bond isn't Spiderman or Bruce Lee, so I just didn't buy it. I had to laugh where I wasn't supposed to.

But if those weren't stunts, man, that WAS amazing!