Friday, 24 September 2010

About A Boy

I first watched the film years ago, and recently I tried watching it again. The DVD refused to play past track 12 (Where Marcus meets Will's girlfriend's son). I don't know why, since it has no scratches or dirt, but there you go.  I thought about it, and remembered that it was a book, so instead of watching it, I chose to buy the book and read it instead; I'd heard good things about it.

And they were true: it's funny, insightful and it is an interesting study on the relationships between a mature youth and an immature adult. I have to say that on reading, I repeatedly said to myself "Good lord, Hugh Grant was perfect". I'm sorry, Hugh Grant, if you're googling yourself and read this, but you come across as a bit of a tool, like Will.

I think it also quite cleverly critiques the strange trivialities of life and death per individual: the affect one person has upon the world, and how great the effect spreads depending on who that person is. For a mother to commit suicide is sad, and could leave a lost individual growing up blaming himself, but that is a contained fallout. For a world-famous and influential musician to commit suicide produces all sorts of wide-spread grief, as people either lash out or join in the thousands with candle vigils. Attitudes to death vary, too, and even attitudes to suicide as people attempt to deal with the idea in their own way, be it watching a comedy where suicide is treated lightly, or avoiding such and being disgusted at the idea of death being taken so lightly.

What the book is about is in some ways hard to explain, but also somehow stupidly simple: the life of a boy. But it's not exactly one boy that is the focus - it is the 30-something boy prancing about and teaching a 12 year old boy how to behave and look like an actual boy. Together they experience their first love and romance. They are both loners, if for different reasons, and they both are linked by what they perceive to be the selfish, if failed good intentions of a mother.

The dynamic too, between Marcus and Will, as each teaches the other about life and attitudes towards it is quite fun, tragic and interesting.

In comparison to the film, I can't say that there is a terribly large difference. Ellie, the grunge girl that Marcus gets a crush on at school is far more developed a character in the book. You see her family background, her passions and uncontrollable behaviour. You see more of Marcus's father and his inadequacies. The incident at school where Marcus sings at the talent show is fabricated by the film makers.
As I said, Hugh Grant, in my opinion, was excellently cast - and largely down to the fact that he wasn't allowed to play his trademark bumbling twittering ''floppy'' (as my French teacher called it) character. He became the narcissistic sloth that is Will, and certainly one that is perhaps a little in keeping with his later tabloid images.

Toni Collette is fantastic as depressed mum who's completely clueless about the needs of his growing and unhappy son. She is able to also step into the shoes as Will's mum and conscience as she forces him to take responsibility for his strange roll in Marcus's life as adopted father figure. If indeed, ''father figure'' is quite the appropriate term, here, which I don't think it is.

I was delighted to discover as I read the book just how much of it was used in the film - I can't completely vouch for the latter half of the film, as the dvd failed to play, but for the first part, it is certainly Nick Hornby's sardonic writing that is central to the film, with the small edits or additions by the film crew, creating a really rather good film.

Whilst Hugh Grant's voice and face is the last thing I'd want to imagine when reading, for example, Sense and Sensability, when reading About A Boy I was surprised to find that I found that the on-screen Will was the same as the book Will, and the same went for all the other characters, completely.

Of course, I prefer the book, ultimately, and I thought the end of the book was better than the end of the film, but as far as book-to-films go, this one was a successful one.

"'Once upon a time' is timeless" Entry II

This is the second set of the 'Once Upon A Time' series that I've been reading. See here for others of this series.

Beauty and the Beast revisited. I have read many versions of this story, what with it being one of my favourites, and unfortunately, whilst this is perhaps more interesting, it isn't the best I've read. It's perhaps too short, or too rushed or too ambitious, but I didn't feel the same fulfilment as with, for example, Beauty or Rose Daughter (both by Robin McKinley).
Belle is a wood carver, and a thoroughly skilled one at that. Her mother is still alive, and she thinks her two sisters are lovelier than she is - same old story. There is more psychology, though, as she, being the youngest, accidentally stands between her two sisters and becomes invisible to visitors. The reason she has to go to the beast is not for a stole rose, but for a gift from a mythical tree which happens to grow in the beast's garden; she must carve her heart's wish in the wood, but until the very last minute, she is unable to see what is painfully obvious to the reader, the beast, and even the lake. Yes, the lake knows that inside she loves the beast. Still it's a nice read in a summer's afternoon.

I've never read an adaptation of Rumpelstilzchen, so this was fresher for me, than Belle ever could be. Set in America during the 1800s potato famine, the O'Malley family seek their fortune, with varying luck. Bridget, or as she becomes known, Bertie, attracts the attentions of an incredibly talented tailor, who helps her out of love when her father's big stupid mouth lands her family's jobs in jeopardy: make breathtaking dresses in 4 days or else be fired. With hardly any money, and a very sick toddler to care for, Bridget has no choice but to go along with the ruse that she is as skilled a seamstress as people believe her to be. However there is a twist, as the bargain is fulfilled, and she discovers the real name of the mysterious ''Ray'' who had helped her in her time of need. It is not as grim as the Grimm Brothers originally wrote it, but it attacks the social structures of the day (the deplorable working conditions of people in cloth factories and the textiles industry) with the old theme of The American Dream. It's enjoyable and not too overtly faery tale in its telling. The way that the name Rumpelstilzchen is not as you would expect, and I said aloud 'ah hah' when it was revealed on the final page.

A farmer girl by chance becomes the saviour of her country's prince, returning home after year's journey around the world inviting the most delicate princesses he could find to take part in a competition to be his wife. As is typical of a short Boy Meets Girl book, they're completely in love straight away. Violet finds out she is a viable candidate and must endure seemingly demeaning tests set by Prince Richard's parents. The tests are daft but with a deeper meaning, and it's quite enjoyable reading the gossip between princesses that Violet befriends in the process. The traditional ending occurs, but there is a twist, and so of course, everybody that you wish to lives happily ever after.
I quite enjoyed this one. I could really truly feel sorry for Richard, in the face of his parents seeming frivolities, but of course it'd would have been naive to think they were being cruel and unfeeling towards the ideal bride and their son.

This is an adaptation of 'The Frog Prince'. Set in German-occupied Belgium in WW1, Emma rescues an American fighting for the English army hiding in her well after a chlorine gas attack. For him, at least, it's love at first site, but what with the chlorine gas damage, he's less good looking or appealing to dream of kissing in the first place. After striking a deal to be his friend if he rescues her locket from the well, their fate becomes tied together, if only to honour the deal. There are elements of Louisiana witch doctoring, (that's where he's from, and he is of royal decent in the magical world), which makes me wonder if perhaps that is where Disney got their idea a bit, with The Princess and the Frog and voodoo doctors. Or not, who knows? The plot is a bit generic for war-time theme wise, but it's still rather enjoyable. I'm not altogether convinced he looked *that* much like a frog, when ill, but he's got an affinity for swimming, so let's leave it at that.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

One chat up line I'd NOT want to hear...

"Lady, oh, lady, can I take you home? There's just so much we could do. I could take you all around the whole wide world before the evening's through."

Why? Because apart from the corniness of it, I'd hear it purely in Gene Simmons's voice, and I'd know that you were a 1970s fanatic.

The Huddy Saga Begins

Season 7 of House was aired on Monday night, and I've finally just watched it on a streaming site. I don't know whether this will set the tone for the rest of the series: I hope not, cause at the moment watching a relationship between two of my favourite television characters spiral down and crashing into the earth, spewing debris and crap everywhere is the last thing I want to watch. Then again, right now, I don't want to see them do amazingly well either, no matter how much it might restore a feeling of hope to this poor, sardonic brain of mine.

It begins with a very brief recap of the last 15 minutes of the season 6 finale, and then carries it on, fulfilling the imagined trysts in the heads of the hoard of "Huddy" fantasists everywhere (no, I'm not one of them).

Whilst House machinates a day off for the two love birds, the hospital just about copes without them. Their patient is the hospital's only available neurosurgeon (helpful), and once again we see that nothing is private as the team badger 13 for details of her requested leave, after reading the letter she'd left for House on his desk. They even break into her locker, they're *that* interested. Not to give too many spoilers (not a lot really happens in this episode, really, aside from a comic-relief visit from Wilson), but the highlight for me was finding out that she'd one-up'd her meddling colleagues, however touching some of their offers of help and company had been.

So, will the House-Cuddy relationship last? The way House was babbling on toward the end, it looked as though the answer was an outright 'no'.
That and Hugh Laurie also warned Huddy fans to 'buckle up for the ride'. Personally, I wanted to beat him across the head with his lampshade or his sword or something, because the stuff he was saying pretty much mirrored any speech given by any guy who's not sure about anything. 

For those that like watching artistically-handled romantic and obviously loving sex scenes, you're in for a treat.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

"They say that "Time assauges""

They say that "Time assuages" --
Time never did assuage --
An actual suffering strengthens
As Sinews do, with age --

Time is a Test of Trouble --
But not a Remedy --
If such it prove, it prove too
There was no Malady --  
- Emily Dickinson

Well, whilst I do agree, I still think of Time as the great divider and the great healer. Too bad I don't give Time enough thought or, well, enough time, when it's truly important to do so.

I've experienced a lot of change in my life - divorcing parents, moving country (a lot), new school, making friends, losing friends cause they moved, or we fell out, or cause they were just being jerks and I didn't let time sort that out, and now I'm experiencing a break up and the loss of the closest friend I've had in years. I've experienced a lot of death, and how 'time heals', or at least, lets you get used to being alive without those people and the gaps they leave behind, which are never quite filled, no matter how hard some might try.

I've always considered death the easier option to live with - unless it was sudden or a murder, I suppose - but for me, I watched that person die, over time, and I'll always have the knowledge that she didn't want to leave me behind. It's perhaps morbid or I've got my priorities completely wrong, in which case sue me, section me or disagree with me but I consider the loss of a person close to you worse if that person is alive and well and frankly chose to leave you behind.

Something I've learned over a short space of time is how important time is, and how you should work with it, and not against it - that'll make things worse and move faster than you want it to. But also how short it can be: it can be in a short space of time that you ruin something, or forget your wallet or miss your train.

It's just strange how life and time is - you could have met a love of your life, but it wasn't the right time, and so that particular ending never happened; that girl/boy you really liked and got to know, but moved away or wasn't ready for a relationship at that time.

I knew a person for about 3 years, without really knowing it. Somehow it feels as though that was a long time. He edged his way into my life, shy and quiet and awkward; and then somehow became a very important part of my life for 4 years, which feels like a horribly short amount of time. And then in no time at all, he was out of it again, in a whirlwind of emotion and confusion, making a couple of weeks feel like a completely inadequate amount of time to make final decisions or, possibly, mistakes.

People are constantly moving around us
I've had a best friend leave the country because her parents moved to the other end of the world. She flitted back into my life, on a random visit, but we'd already changed a lot since last seeing each other.
I suppose my kindergarten best friends feel the same - I left them behind, moving to England. But when you're 5, time doesn't seem to take long to pass at all and they become a fuzzy memory.
I've lost touch with a large-ish group of friends because at the time they weren't the right fit for me any more, and over time we'd all changed. We all were going to university anyway, so those gaps were going to be there sooner or later, but I found that I'd had the time to fill them with other things during the period where we weren't really talking.
I think about them occasionally, and wonder how individuals are doing. I even met them recently, and in some ways they've changed, but in other ways they haven't. I may speak the odd sentence to them now, but for people who, some of them, had been my closest friends for 10 years, it feels so trivial.

I've had people move in and out of my life - family friends, acquaintances, old class mates, relatives - but it's strange how cold life can feel. It is perfectly normal for people to slip in and out of your life, regardless of any change they might have made to it. However this feels wrong, in a sense: as though relationships with people don't really matter, when in fact they do - they contribute to the person you end up dying as, in a small way.

I'm not religious, or spiritual, and I don't think that there's fate or given paths that just cross and then merge or divide as planned. Even if I were, I think I'd still struggle to quite understand why people never really stay in one person's life forever in a capacity that befits the importance of that person.

With things like social networking online, there is little excuse now to not know what a person from your past has been up to - even if it's just from pictures of them with people that mean absolutely nothing to you.
You see what they're thinking, or doing, and in some sense that makes them a part of your life, but for someone that was once important to me, it doesn't feel right to suddenly realise that they have or will become just minor details on one particular internet page, and nothing more.

 Here's another from Ms Dickinson:

Time does go on --
I tell it gay to those who suffer now --
They shall survive --
There is a sun --
They don't believe it now --

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Evil hair dressers and a computer game that's all too real.

So I went to get my hair cut, and they'd redecorated Enigma, the place I usually get it done. I've got an appointment with Nat, the new girl, since my usual is the favourite amongst clientèle and she's fully booked.(¬_¬;)

I'm quite nervous about letting new hands mess with my hair - especially since that awful woman messed it up last time. But I took my seat and waited for her to start. When my hair was washed, she asked if I wanted a full make over, and I for some reason said yes.
It started with mascara and a scary scary way of curling eyelashes - they were normal looking eyelash curlers, but they were dipped in water that was sitting in a metal bowl on white-hot coals. I had to really struggle to keep my eyes open: I'm quite squeamish with things coming towards my eyes that I can't control, and this thing was boiling hot once dipped into the water. I had my eyelashes curled, then she produced some fake eyelashes - fortunately these were self adhesive, (I'm terrified by the idea of putting glue anywhere near my eyes) and she asked if I wanted them above or underneath my natural lashes. I said on top, cause then I could close my eyes whilst she did it. She also did eyeliner, and I ended up having thick black liner like this ->
Yes, I'd been given eyeliner similar to that of an Ancient Egyptian in a school play or film, with fake eyelashes. Wth. And black lipstick. I looked a fright. And they painted my nails whilst we waited for the hair dresser to be ready to do my hair. At this point I told Kate and Hannah that I *really* didn't want to go through with my hair being cut here, so they helped me to escape when it became clear I couldn't just leave now and pay for the make up doing.

Once escaped I got back home and took off my fake eyelashes, which peeled off in the same way as Madame Medusa's in The Rescuers, except of course I was left with my own mascarafied natural lashes, unlike this monster.

I went to meet my friend, Sam, and we were in a huge decadent marble hallway, by a sort of vortex. We couldn't go through the vortex, and we each had to choose a weapon, which would transport us to our destined destinations. He picked some badass double-handed war hammer, with an intricate handle, whilst I went for something slightly less badass. It was a bit tall for me, but Sam told me to just break the handle in two - I did, and it reformed its handle, so I just had a longsword. We spun the things in a circle over our heads, and were separated - transported to different places. I was really sad about this, but when I was dumped in the middle of nowhere, I kept walking along the path I'd been given. I came across this strange looking woman being jostled by a group of pigmen, (as in pig-like humanoids) and picked a fight with them to get them off her back. I killed two whilst the third went running off. I spoke the woman, who then said she'd help me if I helped her get to her son, who was held captive in the headquarters of these pigmen. We broke in, but then I woke up.