Friday, May 27, 2016

How Julian Fellowes' Doctor Thorne spoilers itself; a spoiler-free review that addresses point of view

I have not read Anthony Trollope's Doctor Thorne, so I don't know if the main weakness of Fellowes' adaptation comes from it. I hope so, because if not, Fellowes has done Trollope an enormous disservice.

But before I get to that, a few quick observations:

1. If you like BBC tales of the 19th century, you'll like this. The actors and settings are all fine.

2. The director is barely competent. There are too many cuts and close-ups, perhaps because he was told to shoot for TV rather than the big screen, and some of the group shots are not as effectively composed as tbey might be.

3. The production's not quite historically accurate. Emma thinks they overdid the flowers in women's hair, and there's one scene that must not be from the book in which a gentleman and a lady behave on a public street in a way no one of the time would have.

On to my realization:

The story gives us all the background for what happens in a way that makes the plot seem weak: we know who must die and when they must die for the story to reach the conclusion it promises us, and sure enough, they do.

The problem is not with the plot. Dickens and Wilkie would've taken the same story and revealed the important truth at the end. The details of the story would not have to change a bit: Doctor Thorne's niece learns the important things exactly when we, the audience, should learn them. But because the story's point of view is generally with Doctor Thorne instead of Mary Thorne, we learn the facts much too soon for any dramatic effect. The result's like watching a story that's been spoilered—we know what will happen, so the only pleasure left is in watching how things happen, a pleasure that should be left for the second viewing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Captain America is not a Hydra agent, and Superman didn't blow up Krypton

Yes, I think the idea of retconning Captain America as a Hydra agent is high on the list of stupidest ideas comic book people have had. But I'm not upset, because it's just a stupid comic book, and a smart writer will easily retcon it in turn. If I was in charge, it would be explained as a bad dream that a Marvel editor had.

Captain America being a Hydra agent makes as much sense as:

1. Kal-El blew up Krypton.

2. Wonder Woman was Hitler's lover.

3. Bruce Wayne's parents faked their death to escape being prosecuted for tax evasion.

4. Tony Stark pretended he had heart problems to make women feel sorry for him.

5. Peter Parker's Uncle Ben was a child molester who was not killed by a burglar, but by one of his victims.

6. Reed Richards went into space to prove the Earth is flat.

Okay, maybe #5 would make a decent story, but the original version is still better.

Please note that I'm not opposed to retconning. Alan Moore's retcon of Swamp Thing was brilliant. But Captain America's story is beautifully simple: an idealistic kid gets the chance to become the hero he wants to be. To change it is to deny that there are idealistic kids who manage to become good adults.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dividing my blogs yet again

I want to make my main blog a place for art, but I can't ignore politics, so I'm dividing my blogging once again. It's All One Thing will only be political when the politics are part of art—see my previous post for an example. From now on, explicitly political posts will be found at Another Thing Is Still the Same Thing.