The latest instalment of Cinefix’s What’s the Difference is out. This time they tackle the ridiculously named X-Men: Days of Future Past.
So this is one book in the book vs movie series that I haven’t read. Although, in my defence, the Marvel Comic Universe is such an overlapping, rebooted, reshaped, alternate-time-lined, mish-mash of ridiculous proportions that it probably wouldn’t matter if I had. Watching the breakdown it becomes obvious that the screenwriters did a good job of streamlining the plot and picking characters who would work for the movie adaptation. Less clear is why the movie got so lazy with the “and then he woke up” ending.
The Cinefix team are back once again with their series on movies based on books. This instalment is in two parts and is slightly different. 2001: A Space Odyssey wasn’t so much a movie based upon a book as much as it was a collaboration between Kubrick and Clarke.
I think the summary in the second video (from about 9:40 onward) encapsulates the main differences between the book and the movie nicely. Essentially Kubrick dispensed with the pedantic explanations and descriptions in favour of stunning visuals and esoteric story telling. Whereas Clarke made that esoteric story telling understandable with all the motivations and insights. I.e. to understand the film read the book, to experience the book watch the film.
Another great breakdown of the differences between the book and the movie from Cinefix. This time it is Alan Moore’s Watchmen.
If I’m honest I’d have to say I prefer the movie over the book in this instance. I liked both, but I thought the changes they made for the movie made for better spectacle and entertainment. Obviously that wasn’t Moore’s original intention, so it is unsurprising that fans were annoyed with these changes. I felt that Snyder’s adaptation remained relatively faithful to the source material whilst also creating a film that cinema goers would enjoy. This is the hard path to tread in any adaptation: making sure the film works but remains true to the source.
Of course Snyder managed to make a film that people didn’t watch in the cinema and that fans of the book complained about. Guess there is just no pleasing some people.
Another great instalment from the Cinefix team.
A point I’d make about the final chapter of the novel is that I thought the implication was that the narrator was so drugged up in the mental hospital that he wasn’t sure what was going on. And I also thought that the people with the tell-tale bruising were the Project Mayhem members implying they were waiting for him to escape so they could try again.
Also one plot point I really liked in the book was the bit about the type of explosive used, the Narrator preferring one, Tyler the other. This explained why the explosives failed and also implied that the Narrator had been able to sabotage the plan.
Couple of interesting videos I thought I’d share. The first is a recent video that refers to some fascinating research that looked at musical creativity with fMRI scans.
The second video is from the indomitable John Cleese.
Creativity is not an easy thing to achieve. I hope these two videos give others a few pointers.
Update: Another great video from Brain Craft on creativity to add to the list.
This latest video from the Ideas Channel raises an interesting point about how there appears to be more complex narratives in TV shows now.
Of course, there are several problems with this idea. The first is perception. For every Breaking Bad and Justified we have CSI Whatever and the banality of reality TV. So without some hard data on the number of shows and relative audiences, it is really hard to say how real that perception is.
The second problem is that TV shows run a continuum from pure episodic shows, where everything is wrapped up in an episode and the next episode has little to no changes evident to the characters or larger show, through to serials, which have more complex plot lines that often take at least a season to develop and resolve with character arcs building over the course of the entire series. The key word is continuum, as most shows have some aspects of the serial and episodic about them. Again, without breaking down each show on this continuum, and then comparing shows now versus the past, we don’t have any idea of what has changed, if anything has changed.
The third problem is the good old sample or selection bias, especially as it relates to our favourite shows and the shows we remember. E.g. Survivor has been running since 2000 (or 1997 if you are in the UK), yet without looking that up I’d have had no idea when the show started, let alone whether it is still running. I don’t remember it because I’m not a fan. But I will still complain bitterly about the cancellation of Firefly. My frame of reference is biased, so I’m going to remember some shows more than others and think more favourably of some of the ones I remember than others.
The final problem I see is assigning time shift technologies and marathon watching as the driver of a change in our demands for more complex narratives. The idea itself is sound, as I can’t think of thing less interesting than watching the same episode with minor changes in a marathon. That would be like watching 9 hours of hobbits walking. The recording, DVD buying, streaming and subsequent marathon TV show watching would indeed favour shows that have more to them, that more complex narrative that will keep you pressing play on the next episode.
I don’t know that the time shifting, or recording, or DVD buying, or other methods of marathon watching, is driving a demand for more complex narratives. As I said above, I think the more complex shows lend themselves more to the marathon than other shows. But if we assume there are more of these shows worth grabbing a blanket and a couch dent, then I still think there are other things at play. I think we’ve seen more avenues for creativity come to the fore, such as Youtube channels, computer games, and the like that didn’t exist a decade ago as they do now. As a result, entertainment such as TV shows have a need to engage the audience on a deeper level. So while episodic shows like CSI Whatever are still huge, they don’t attract the same devotion and fan adoration as a good serialised show. Plus, the advantage of the more complex narratives is that it allows for more interesting characters, plot lines, etc, which is turn allows for better acting, direction, writing, etc, which creates a feedback loop that may one day cause fandom to implode due to awesome achieving gravitational singularity. I’m assuming this will happen when Netflix reboots Firefly.
NB: I hate the term binge watching and as such haven’t used it in this article. Binge implies that there is something wrong with what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with watching a TV show or movie series you enjoy, so we should stop implying there is something wrong.
There has been an interesting duo of videos by PBS’ Ideas Chanel. Mike discusses some interesting concepts surrounding fiction, like the fact that fiction is as much real as it is made-up and vice versa. Worth a watch.
The two videos cover a lot of ground, but one of the more important points I’d like to highlight is the idea that we can’t have fiction without reality. We need something to anchor our ideas and make-believe, shared experiences that allow us to understand and accept these fictions. There are plenty of examples of this, but one of the cooler examples is looking at depictions of the future at various stages throughout history. Compare what sci-fi movies of the 50s thought computers would look like now to what they actually look like, and you see a 1950s computer. Our imaginations actually suck a lot more than we think.
But here’s an idea about our inability to imagine the future: what if our imaginations don’t actually suck, but instead we ignore the outlandish imaginings that are actually more likely in favour of stuff we already know? Think about it. Or don’t, I’m not your boss.
Radio and Wedding DJs like to dedicate songs, but rarely do they get past the “This one goes out to all the ladies.” or “This one’s for all the lovers.” It seems odd to me that DJs don’t mix it up a bit and play some songs for more specific groups of people. For example:
This one is for everyone who loves kids.
Michael Jackson – Beat It – because Michael Jackson loved kids too.
This one is for anyone at home playing with rope.
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart – because rope lovers identify with the Joy Division front man.
This one is for those who are having a good day.
Dimmu Borgir – Burn In Hell (Twisted Sister cover) – because a DJ is never having a good day.
This one is for everyone arguing on the comments of Youtube.
Jackson 5 – ABC – because clearly no one commenting there have learnt them.
This one is for everyone driving slow.
The Beatles – Can’t Buy Me Love – because you aren’t buying love on the street.
This one is for the Westboro Baptist Church.
AC/DC – Highway to Hell – because that is exactly where this church belongs.
This one is for all the politicians.
Guns ‘n’ Roses – Get in the Ring – seriously, one round, no holds barred, no tap outs.
Last night I went to see the best band to come out of Canada: The Tea Party. They rocked!
I’ve been a fan since about 1994 and have seen them just about every time they have toured Australia, even managed to see Jeff Martin’s solo concerts on several occasions. Perth is like a second home to The Tea Party, Jeff Martin’s son was actually born in Perth. Jeff, Jeff and Stuart are a great example of what three fantastic musicians can achieve. Did I mention that they rock?
But something was driven home to me last night. When I started going to concerts it was all about seeing the band live. Then digital cameras came in and the response was to confiscate them before you were allowed into the venue. Now it seems that you don’t come to see a band play live, you come to film the concert on your smartphone to upload onto YouTube. Call me a purist but crappy video, and even worse sound recordings, is just not as fun as rocking out to one of your favourite bands (or artists).