Finally, belatedly watched the film adaptation of The Dark Tower - really a mashup of bits from various novels, plus some stuff that IIRC never happened in the books, presumably needed to hold the rest together. I was relaxed about it being a rather free adaptation, and only began to worry a bit when I heard that they'd gutted it in editing; it seemed like one of those productions where people can't agree what it's about and, as R put it earlier, they settle that by making sure there's as little of it as possible. I've often advocated for shorter running times (behold the economy of a good 1940s film, and imagine it being applied to much of today's output), but an hour and a half was both more of this than I wanted and far less than it would have needed for us to actually care about the characters.

The biggest problem is that this needed to be a TV series, and fortunately there is an Amazon series in the works. Currently IMDb lists it for 2020, but that must be when production begins rather than an airdate, because all the news stories that reference it are "It's not dead!" ones. (I'm giving this fandom a tag in the hope that we will end up with a TV series worth discussing, and because it would be fun to re-read the books and talk about them.) Anyway, TDT is clearly a book series that is made for TV rather than film: like Game of Thrones before it, it needs and deserves time to spread out and appreciate its expansive world, deep charactersation and accumulation of lore, much of which echoes Stephen King's other work. Also, I think that the appeal of his writing lies very much in his style: he can be breathtakingly crude, colloquial in a way that rings true, and touching, sometimes all on the same page. Tone is a hard thing to translate to the screen when long passages of the books have Roland alone, but I believe it can be done.

The film is trying, in both senses. Idris Elba is a good choice for Roland; he's a man who can convey a wearying personal history with a look. But what we get of that history is so slim that even the litany of gunslingers, though moving in the books, rings as cheesy here when used to tie together the fact that our two barely-known protagonists have shit to work through re: their dead fathers. Though I have to say that even as a fan of the books who weirdly enjoyed that aspect of the books, it's also a very unfortunate cultural moment for an American film to have a man handing a boy a gun and telling him that working with it will make him feel better. A lot of emotional work has to be done by that scene, and the one where Roland comforts Jake about his mother's violent death. Otherwise, it all feels like it's on fast-forward. We don't get any visceral sense of why we should care about the Tower - yes, we're told our world is threatened along with the multiverse, but they tell us that in every other SFF film.

A TV series will have the chance to let the story breathe, and above all to develop the sense of Roland's absolute obsession with the Tower, and the sense of looming existential threat. It can slowly unfold the sense of a world that has "moved on"; a post-apocalyptic society grinding to a halt, where everyone has some degree of radiation poisoning (one enigmatic hint the film didn't have time to explore), where scarcity is absolute. The film shows Roland with a belt full of bullets, but part of the genius of the books was to make every bullet count, because it has been scavenged for, and because firing it now will mean not having it later, and having no way of knowing when or if there'll be more. And that's why Roland can be so staggered by simple things like Coca Cola, or aspirin; his body has never known refined sugar or modern medicine.

I think that shows like Preacher, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones all have qualities of atmosphere, tone, worldbuilding and production values that would make for a really good adaptation of The Dark Tower. It doesn't have to be identical to the books, but it does need to import what made them compelling.
EDIT: This has been sitting in my drafts for days; I meant to have a proper update on Monday but I'm very scattered right now as I wasn't well for a couple of days. So meanwhile, here's this:

I'm trying to resist my curatorial urges because I can't possibly document everything, but I am going to keep listing the posts I find most interesting/useful:

- [personal profile] greywash summarised the history of Strikethrough on LiveJournal, and its similarities to the current situation, extremely well, and explored what we need in our long-term fandom solution, which may not be DW or Pillowfort or anything that exists... yet.
- [personal profile] pangodillo made a post, alluded to in the one above, about what DW lacks, particularly for people used to Tumblr or to whom a comment box is kind of intimidating
- [personal profile] snickfic made the No-Frills Multifandom Friending Meme
- [personal profile] angelofthenorth made a non-fandom friending meme
- [personal profile] staranise posted Basic Dreamwidth for Tumblr users, which is a wonderfully concise guide to the basics - the sort of stuff old-school LJ/DW people may not even realise is unintuitive about DW when you've been used to Tumblr.
- [personal profile] conuly rounded up many how-to links and resources, and importantly has figured out how to follow your friends' Tumblr posts from Dreamwidth
- [profile] niqaely tells us how to cross-post from Instagram to Dreamwidth
[personal profile] kore tells us how to filter out tags on your Reading page

Special thanks to [personal profile] umadoshi who alerted me to several of these!
Hey, Dreamwidth community mods: turns out DW supports a community guidelines entry: you can specify an URL where your comm rules are, and ensure that the URL is shown to people on joining! I know that on [community profile] vc_media we've been concerned for a while that going to the profile to find out what's what isn't at all intuitive to people who've never been on LiveJournal/Dreamwidth before. I'm creating a sticky post at the moment, but being able to display it to new members is particularly useful.

You can find the option in your comm's Account Settings page, in the Community tab.
Stolen from [personal profile] afrozenflower:

Comment with one of my fandoms and I'll tell you:

the character I least understand
interactions I enjoyed the most
the character who scares me the most
the character who is mostly like me
hottest looks character
one thing I dislike about my fave character
one thing I like about my hated character
a quote or scene that haunts me
a death that left me indifferent
a character I wish died but didn’t
my ship that never sailed
I read The Dark is Rising (the novel) a few years ago because it seemed right up my street: Christmas, folklore, mythology, Christmas-specific folklore and mythology... you get the idea. My feelings about it were mixed (see below) and I gave away my copy, which I later regretted, so I was happy when R turned up a slipcase with all five books in the sequence. This Christmas I decided to read them all in order, and while my feelings are still mixed, I enjoyed the series more than I'd expected to, and it's given me a lot to think about.

To start with the first two books... )

(no subject)

Jan. 8th, 2017 10:53 pm
cloudsinvenice: a bird peers through a gap in its wing feathers (birb)
Finally got around to seeing Macbeth (2015) and loved it. There are little things like the children singing to Duncan which don't add anything to the plot, and to the best of my recollection aren't in the play, but add enormously to it. It's very particular in its sense of location: not a specific place in Scotland, so much as the atmosphere and emotional sense of place. Actually, what it reminds me most of, in that way and in terms of the quality of the cinematography, is A Field in England.

Tried an episode of Taboo but it didn't grab either of us, but tomorrow I'll have to see the new episode of Sherlocl. Obviously I wasn't wild about last week's, but I am curious about what the writers are up to and I'd like to see if it's more engaging.
Bear in mind that I'm faintly hysterical, since the moment I got online to rant about the show I fell over this bizarre news story about the sinking of the Titanic, and I can no longer tell what's real and what is highly contrived clickbait-esque bollocks. In the context of seeing a new Sherlock episode, this is most unfortunate.

Anyway, Sherlock... )
Quiet week post-wise because country slipping (hurtling joyfully, truth be told) into fascism. Always awkward when that happens. Shitposting on my new Tumblr created for the purpose of alternately venting and cheering myself up will continue until morale improves. And we made major headway with the application this week, which has kept us sane.

Meanwhile, I started the annual push to keep The October Country running smoothly for the duration of autumn and particularly October, and as usual Now Winter Comes Slowly is quietly ramping up as well. I'm always fascinated by trying to get under the skin of what works and what doesn't on there - sometimes you can feel like you have your finger on its pulse, other times, it's a mystery why something does or does not appeal.

It's getting me into the Hallowe'en mood, anyway, as is the fact that in the last couple of days I've actually been able to smell that it's autumn, which is no small thing when you're nearly always congested...
This is amazing. In the course of only 14 posts, an innocent thread on how to join together two pieces of carpet descends into anger and recrimination...
What's going to die out in the next twenty years because the younger generations simply have no attachment to it?

I've been reading this Reddit thread on and off for the past 48 hours; towards the end it repeats a lot as more people just come in going, "cursive" or "cable TV" over and over, but the first, say, 10 subthreads are fascinating. I think my favourite is the wedding china one (I never knew what its historical significance was re: women's personal assets being untouchable in the event of a bankruptcy), but I like the thing about dining rooms too. Certainly, our dining room's dining function is a long way behind the fact that it's also a library whose table is good for working on and using for jigsaws...

The thing with high school reunions is interesting too: increasingly, the difficulty is not in keeping up with people from your past, but avoiding them online...
Found a nice new blog, Wyrd Britain, which is full of supernatural stuff and folk horror - specifically I was interested in the latest post, about The Witches and the Grinnygog. I'd thought I knew all of that sort of children's TV series made in Britain in the 80s, but apparently not. Watched it on YouTube and I don't think this one will be getting a DVD revival for the reasons the blogger points out, but it was an interesting curiosity.

Then, through the IMDb page for the series, I came across this Den of Geek article: Spooky and magical 80s kids' TV dramas which mentioned a few more that I'm unfamiliar with. There's also some interesting stuff suggested below it which will enchant anyone of the right age to remember Look and Read...
Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders by Gyles Brandreth - This was very satisfying and fun: essentially, if you want to hang out with Oscar Wilde and his friends and solve mysteries, this is the book (and series) for you. And who doesn't want to do that? I'll continue to read these as I spot secondhand copies.

Doctor Occult - Dave Louapre, Dan Sweetman (Vertigo Visions, 1/1) - I hadn't come across Doctor Occult before (appallingly, I still haven't finished reading The Books of Magic; if he's an an issue I have read then I don't recall him), but it turns out he's another old DC character like the Sandman who was resurrected in a new form by Neil Gaiman. Doctor Occult and his partner Rose Psychic are, in this incarnation, aspects of the same being, and when Rose disappears, the Doctor must find her in a world of subconscious desires.

So it's a metaphysical, psychosexual journey where the plot is more character-driven than an ongoing series would demand - in other words, the sort of thing that Vertigo Visions one-shots were made for. The real-world background stuff shows its age a little, in that the gender fluidity of Occult/Rose is counterpointed by a trans interviewee on a TV talk show in a way that's played for 'extreme' value (they're a preacher and have transitioned more than once).

Overall, the comic's typical of Vertigo's attempts to push boundaries in storytelling at the time, and if you love 90s-style pencilling and colouring, the art will certainly be your bag. There's also a hilariously pithy summing up of the characters' adventures up to that point inside the front cover, which makes me want to dig around in our collection to see where else they show up.

Reading next:

A handful of DP7 comics we found in a charity shop.
First off, there's another Friending Friendzy post here in case you're looking. Secondly, here's a post from back in July: Why Imzy doesn't have ads, and what we're doing instead which has some stuff I hadn't heard before. I'm not altogether convinced all these ideas will work, but it's interesting anyhow.

Finished recently:

Dance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice Age, by Björn Kurtén. The author is an expert on Ice Age fauna, so it's interesting to read speculation rooted in deep knowledge, and his afterword, along with Stephen Jay Gould's introduction, really add to it. Since the book is a few decades old, I'd imagine that much then-current information has been superseded by new discoveries (we often seem to hear that we've underestimated the Neandertals, for instance), but the characters, situations and world are compelling enough for this not to matter. But the best pleasure of this book is a piece of narrative boldness: a third of the way through, we switch to hear the story from the antagonist's point of view, before returning to the protagonist for the last third. The only real problem for me is that the ending feels very rushed, which is a pity after everything else has been so cleverly set up and allowed room to breathe.

Currently reading:

Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders, by Gyles Brandreth. I thought that what I'd previously read was the first in the series: actually this is the first, and that was the second. It doesn't matter, though if you're looking for the series in America you need to know that some of the titles have been changed for that market. Here's a nice interview with the author, too, in which he theorises that Wilde may have been the model for Mycroft Holmes.

Good Kings Bad Kings, by Susan Nussbaum. So far this is very good, though harrowing at points. I'm very glad it was recommended to me.

Reading next:

Something digital in a waiting room, probably.
I saw the movie! I'm just going to bullet point everything that comes to mind because coherent reviews are some way beyond me at this point.

spoilers spoiling for a fight )

ETA: Someone on FFA caught an interview with the writers. Again, SPOILERS:
I get asked about making these every year, so this time I thought I'd take pictures during the process and make a tutorial. This is probably more than you need to know (in the later stages it's not unlike working with pumpkin; there's just more resistance), but here's something to bookmark in case you make one next year or for some other festival with lanterns. And please post a picture if you do!

You'll that vegetable which goes by one of the above names, depending where you live, plus a good sturdy vegetable knife (whatever you use to cut carrots will work; they're of a similar density/brittleness) and a dessertspoon or tablespoon, and it helps a lot to have a craft/hobby/breakaway knife for the detail work.

'Aha! I see you've played Knifey Spoony before!' )

Happy Hallowe'en! :D


cloudsinvenice: a blue rubber stamp image of a coelocanth captioned "upwards onward" (Default)
"What can the cat-posters hope to gain?"

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