Remember, Remember…

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Good and/or bad news for V For Vendetta fans: Reader Ethan Mackin sends along the trailer (Quicktime required) for the Wachowski-approved movie adaptation of Alan Moore's popular comic book, ahem, graphic novel. As always when viewing a trailer, the main impression I get is of the way every trailer manages to look like every other trailer: Where V For Vendetta ends and Aeon Flux begins I have no idea, and I'm confident future generations will develop the technology to do a perfect mashup of the two. (By the way, who's the genius wot decided to dress Aeon Flux in a jumpsuit? Note to producers: If the slumming Oscar-winner you've cast in the lead isn't willing to humiliate herself the way the part requires, then hire a B-lister who will give it her all.)

So my two cents: I'm always happy to see Stephen Rea off the dole, and if they're at all faithful to the source, his character will be the center of the picture, despite Natalie Portman's higher billing. Portman, a thespian I wouldn't believe if she were reading the line "Your name is Tim Cavanaugh," looks as unpersuasive as ever, but it looks like she actually shaved her head rather than putting on a baldness cap, so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. The action sequences look like the same old shit, but on balance it could be a pip.

Go ahead and hate me, but my real hesitation is with the source book, which I've always thought was the least impressive of Alan Moore's eighties epics. I'm not one of those freakazoids who believes MiracleMan was the real masterpiece, but I even liked that one better than V, which is one of those falsely bold political fantasies: It sets up a situation nobody could ever agree with, then dares to disagree with it. (For my money, "The Bowing Machine" is Moore's real masterpiece.) They could get a great movie out of it by beefing up and sharpening Rea's man-in-the-middle role: Fans will recall (i.e., spoiler alert) that Finch's conversion comes when he drops acid and gets naked in an abandoned concentration camp, and I have no doubt Rea, who did not win the Oscar he deserved, will be up to that challenge.

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  1. Regarding your most important point: Yes, Portman did shave her head for the part.

  2. The last I saw of Stephen Rea, he was slumming in “fear dot com.”

  3. f the slumming Oscar-winner you’ve cast in the lead isn’t willing to humiliate herself the way the part requires, then hire a B-lister who will give it her all

    I actually don’t think it’s Theron’s fault in this case. For one thing, she was scantily clad in the trailer and plus she’s done nude scenes in the past, if I remember correctly. Maybe the producers wanted a more realistic touch.

  4. I read MiracleMan for the first time just a few weeks ago. I thought Moore did a great job, but it was Gaiman who really took the idea and ran with it.

    “The Winter’s Tale” was one of the bleakest depictions of human relationships I have ever seen in literature. It made Thomas Hardy look like Reader’s Digest.

  5. It sets up a situation nobody could ever agree with, then dares to disagree with it.

    The setting of the graphic novel was certainly contrived and hard to swallow, but no more so than the setting of “1984”. I thought the graphic novel was interesting because the character of V was by no means clearly in the right — as bad as fascism was, it was never any more than V’s opinion that anarchy would be better, and indeed the story ends with riots and turmoil.

    Also, Evie was pretty much the main character of the story — it starts and ends with her, spends the most time with her, and she’s the character who undergoes the most development. V acts as a catalyst, not a protagonist.

    Anyway, Alan Moore reportedly hates the film, but Alan Moore hates everyone and everything so I’m going to wait and see for myself. 🙂

  6. Maybe Alan Moore wouldn’t hate the shitpiles based on his work if he were to take a page from Frank Miller’s playbook and, oh, I dunno, actually take an interest in who is making the adaptation, help with casting decisions, show up on set, and, you know, actually put some effort into making the movie not suck.

  7. Oh. Well then she can go to hell.

  8. To be fair, it is most difficult to bring to film, a masterpiece like the Dystopian novel V is for Vendetta. No matter how the film turns out, I give props to W brothers for trying.

  9. The setting of the graphic novel was certainly contrived and hard to swallow, but no more so than the setting of “1984”.

    Acually, the setting was the setting of 1984, but with assorted bad improvements: Instead of the O’Brien character turning out to be a servant of the state, he’s on the level as a graffiti-sprayin’, power-fightin’, man-stickin’-it-to rebel; instead of an unsparing ending where the protagonist gets turned by Big Brother, the protagonist joins a hipster revolution that brings Big Brother down; instead of chaos and rebellion being tools the state turns to its own advantage, they bring down that square old state, and so on. It’s 1984 filtered through the mentality of an aging 68er, which, it turns out, is not such a good thing. Ezra Pound (a man who knew a thing or two about sucking up to totalitarians) said the only artistic crime is to do less well what somebody’s already done, and in this case I think he was right.

    Maybe for UK readers at the tail end of the “repatriation” movement, V had more punch and relevance than it had for me-for whom it seemed too close to the “Ronnie Raygun’s building concentration camps for political prisoners in the Pacific Northwest” school of political science. I didn’t hate it; I just wasn’t surprised by it.

    On other matters: Will no-one rid me of Charlize Theron? Or rather, will no-one take away Charlize Theron’s Monster Oscar and give it to Lily Taylor for I Shot Andy Warhol? After a killer dyke performance that great, all other killer dyke performances are superfluous.

  10. tim: the prison note sequence was worth the price of admission, however.

  11. I enjoyed the original V for Vendetta graphics novel but like Tim Cavanaugh I found Moors examination of fascism unsurprising and (for me personally) rather shallow. I did like the way that V turns the fascist states own overly centralized mechanism of control against it.

  12. After a killer dyke performance that great, all other killer dyke performances are superfluous.

    I agree.

    In Taylor’s performance, we imagine Val in the shadows just as Andy does, and we’re just as afraid of her as he is.

    Theron’s character played for sympathy–took the easy way out. We were supposed to think of her as the victim of abuse and society and Christina Ricci. …blech!

    They should have given Theron’s Oscar to Naomi Watts in 21 Grams. …It would have made up for overlooking Watt’s amazing performance in Mulholland Drive. …which may have been the best performance by an actress in the last ten years.

  13. Tom,

    You had me up until you gave credit for crap like 21 grams and Mulholland drive. Bleh

  14. 21 Grams is a very good film. Amores Perros is a great film.

    Say what you like about Mullholland Dr.–I think it would have worked better if it was either cut dramatically or stretched out into a week long television mini-series. …Naomi Watts was still magnficent.

    …and I think part of the reason Theron got that Oscar was because she was willing to look so God awful in Monster. The Academy likes that; it’s like De Niro gaining weight for Raging Bull. Theron’s willingness to do whatever for the part has changed, apparently.

    …Showing yourself getting raped and almost murdered is okay, I guess, and depicting the all but senseless murders of Johns is perfectly appropriate. Your Aon Flux costume, however, is too revealing for your mother? …Come on! : (

    With blather like that, I hold out little hope that Aon Flux will amount to much, but I still have great hope for V For Vendetta.

    …It’s my understanding that they’ll miss the November 5th release date. I’m hoping that’s due to re-edits or re-shoots rather than the train bombings in London. I prefer good and tardy films to bad and punctual ones.

    If Theron were the one doing V for Vendetta, I wonder if she would have shaved her head?

    …and Cavanaugh’s right. If you can’t do something better than it’s already been done, why bother?

    P.S. The Nightmare before Christmaswas better than Corpse Bride.

  15. V for Vendetta? Aeon Flux? Good lord, what’s next, a DangerMouse live action film?

    Anon

  16. instead of an unsparing ending where the protagonist gets turned by Big Brother, the protagonist joins a hipster revolution that brings Big Brother down

    One man’s “unsparing” is another man’s “contrived and absurd”, I guess. 1984 suffers from the pop psychology of its day, which mistakenly believed that you reprogram humans by controlling their thoughts or subjecting them to torture.

    V’s ending was also contrived, but at least it wasn’t based in junk science.

  17. Re: Frank Miller vs. Alan Moore and their involvement in films. The difference is that Robert Rodriguez actually wants input from writers. He wants the films to be adaptations from the books. Hollywood wants, in many cases, to just buy the name value of a property. Perfect recent example: I, ROBOT. It would have made more sense to have bought the MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER property for that film, to be honest. But they just wanted the name so they could put their own action film behind it. I AM LEGEND, STARSHIP TROOPERS, the list goes on and on. King was another prime example of that: they made how many sequels to CHILDREN OF THE CORN? He finally took the sequel rights out of his contracts going forward after, I don’t know…COTC 6 or something?

    Anyway, Hollywood doesn’t trust the writers of primary source material, even when they say they do. Ray Bradbury was ignored on SOMETHING WICKED only to be brought in at the last minute when the film was testing horribly. He was also ignored back when Mel Gibson was going to do FAHRENHEIT 451 and kept asking to see the script or something, until some unidentified individual sent him a copy of the script, whereupon he was very dismayed–and rightly so. But basically unless a writer has a contract that says they will get some say in the film, they’re SOL and would be only frustrated if they tried to get involved.

    And as enjoyable a read as V was, my favorite Moore is FROM HELL, anyway. Sad what that film turned into. Oh well.

  18. the film version of starship troopers is fucking amazing. i don’t know what you’re talking about.

  19. Dhex: No no, don’t misconstrue. Sorry I was unclear. I enjoyed the movie of Starship Troopers. I thought it was a blast. I’m just talking about the fact that it’s a departure from the book and that you could have had the same movie under the title Bug Hunt and it wouldn’t have affected anything.

  20. what’s next, a DangerMouse live action film?

    Oh, cool! Kelsey Grmmar as Penfold! Who plays Dangermouse?

  21. I’m glad to know about this. I’m looking forward to more stuff on this topic.

  22. Just one quibble. Star Wars dreck aside, Portman can act. See The Professional and Garden State.

  23. Hollywood wants, in many cases, to just buy the name value of a property.

    To be fair, the creators themselves, in many cases, just want to cash the paycheck. The film versions of “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “From Hell” sucked because Moore sold them to the guys with the biggest wallets instead of selling them to the people who would make the best movie.

    I’m not criticizing Moore for this — if I ever right something Hollywood wants to buy I’m sure as hell going for the big payday — but I am criticizing his attempt to play the Poor Poor Pitiful Me card. He could have done what Miller did, and kept a death-grip on the rights until the right director came along.

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