Thursday, May 17, 2012

I resent Dark Shadows, miss Donna Summer, and work in two Jane Austen references

It's Thursday, and I am counting down the last hour and a half or so until the Person of Interest season finale (less time, by the time I finish writing). I haven't gotten to interact with my blog or social media as much as I would have liked over the past few days - my hubby and I rehabbed my parents' bathroom while they were out of town, and then I spent two days helping him with an exterior painting job. I've been painting porch pickets - hence the lackluster WIP Wednesday yesterday.

Pride and Prejudice and Person of Interest
 Earlier today, I learned that Donna Summer passed away at the young age of 63 after a battle with cancer.  I'm not a huge disco fan, but there was one summer when I drove an old Chevy Cavalier with a cassette player and wore out a cassette of disco favorites. One of them was "Bad Girls," but I think my all-time favorite Donna Summer song is "Love to Love You Baby."

In She's a Rebel, Gillian G. Gaar calls Summer "the undisputed Queen of Disco" and details how the Boston-born pop star was inspired by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. After the decline of disco, Summer went through a born-again Christian/gospel music phase, but then returned to the pop charts with "She Works Hard for the Money."

My Facebook friend and fellow author/blogger Donald Peebles (he's on Blogger here) wrote, "My BFF DjMonalisa Indasoul and I used to talk about the infamous Kaminsky Park incident where many White males crushed and broke numerous disco albums at Kaminsky Park, Chicago as part of their "DISCO SUCKS" campaign. Disco was a musical form in which many White American males could not really capitalize on and dominate whereas African-American women, gay people, and newly independent White women navigated freely. This backlash more or less ended disco as well as the war on the gay liberation movement."

Disco - uniting African-Americans, the gay community and women in a way that white males couldn't appreciate or understand and felt threatened by. Whether you like the music or not, you've got to respect that it was a cultural force to be reckoned with from the mid-'70s into the early '80s.

Later this afternoon, Mom and I went to a matinee showing of Dark Shadows, starring Johnny Depp, written by Seth Grahame-Smith and directed by Tim Burton. I should state that I've never seen an episode of the 1970s TV show of the same name, the inspiration for the current film. Thus, I have no idea how the film compares to the original. (I can, however, read about the original on pages 146-151 of Vampire Lovers: Screen's Seductive Creatures of the Night by Gavin Baddeley.)

I liked Depp's performance as Barnabas Collins, a vampire chained in a coffin in the 1770s, only to emerge in the 1970s. He's absolutely charming. The problem with the film's plot and characterization is that the women are too easily charmed by him - to the degree that one love interest kills herself because she can't have him and the other goes completely psychotic when her love is unrequited.

The psycho with the unrequited crush on the pretty vampire is a witch, and I didn't appreciate the witch-bashing. The worst part, though, was the climactic battle scene in which Collins and the witch, Angie, battle it out in the Collins mansion. Although she's threatened his family, she isn't trying to kill him, so when Collins slaps Angie around, it just reeks of relationship violence. I like Johnny Depp; he's my beloved gypsy Roux from Chocolat. I don't want to see him as a character who slaps his ex around.

I didn't like his hasty disposal of the Helena Bonham Carter character, Dr. Hoffman, either. Her "crimes" of getting drunk and wanting to be immortal were hardly worth the death sentence. She's not Bellatrix LeStrange here, and she doesn't deserve the contempt the other characters treat her with.

Et tu, Seth Grahame-Smith? You, the same guy who made Elizabeth Bennett into a deadly ninja warrior in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? If Mr. Darcy would have raised his hand to Lizzy in anger, she would have snapped him in half like a twig. She did kick him into a marble mantelpiece, and all he did was propose to her (albeit in a rather backhanded way).

The best part, actually, was a farcical sex scene in which Collins and Angie destroy an office in a fashion that puts Bella and Edward's bed-wrecking to shame. That, my friends, is what should have happened between Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont in A Discovery of Witches.

The same theater was also showing The Lucky One (based on the Nicholas Sparks novel I recently read- and loved. That ending - oy! I literally threw the book down and said, "Now THAT is how you end a novel! Well done, Mr. Sparks!") and The Hunger Games. I have a feeling I would have been better off seeing either one.

Oh, and earlier today, while I did a bit of online research, I watched The Thin Red Line. I admit I've never read a James Jones novel. Once, when I was 16 or so, I checked From Here to Eternity out of the library. Because the profanity and sexuality of the book were considered somewhat controversial when it was published, I thought I might enjoy it. I don't think I made it past page 10. Line (the title comes from a Kipling poem) is a sort of sequel to Eternity.

It's a brilliant film, although I don't particularly care for Sean Penn. Jim Caviezel is playing Private Witt, a Southerner who's not particularly intellectually gifted, but who is nonetheless amazingly perceptive, kind and noble. His observations in voice-over are lovely. Now I'm forced to wonder how much of Witt comes from James Jones and how much comes from the screenwriters. Might have to go to the library and peek inside the book.

Witt, your soul is pure. You're as pretty on the inside as you are on the  outside. Which is a lot. 


Erin O'Riordan said...

My father's take on 'The Thin Red Line?' "I've never made it past the first twenty minutes. I can't stand Sean Penn." So that's where I get that from.

We had this conversation at the breakfast table because my uncle brought up the subject of wartime human trophy collecting. Death came up a lot today, in fact.

New moon - dark goddess energy.

Erin O'Riordan said...

Actually, Sean Penn is on my Permanent Shit List stemming from his domestic violence conviction, which occurred in the '80s when he was married to, of all people, Madonna. You mess with my girl Madonna, you're going on the Shit List.

Sir Neil said...

Greetings! Did you somehow manage to make all the options of this domain by yourself or you got professional help?