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Curt McGirt

Better Movies Than Novels

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18 hours ago, J.H. said:

We've gone this long and no one has mentioned how The Outlaw Josey Wales is so much better than "The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales"/"Gone To Texas"

James

My favourite western and I never knew it was a book!

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23 hours ago, J.T. said:

Eh, the Book of Exodus is pretty fascinating.  I don't think that The Ten Commandments is better than that.

Fair enough. I'll confess I was talking out of my ass for the sake of a joke - I haven't read much of the Bible beyond the Four Gospels. Heck, I can't remember for certain whether I've seen Ten Commandments either.

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2 minutes ago, tbarrie said:

Fair enough. I'll confess I was talking out of my ass for the sake of a joke - I haven't read much of the Bible beyond the Four Gospels. Heck, I can't remember for certain whether I've seen Ten Commandments either.

Oh, I knew you were joking and that it was all in good fun.  Why is my quasi-sarcasm so difficult to detect?

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No worries. My follow-up post was just a semi-apology that I don't know the Bible well enough to keep the joke going.

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18 minutes ago, tbarrie said:

No worries. My follow-up post was just a semi-apology that I don't know the Bible well enough to keep the joke going.

Be thankful that you were not born into the Bible-thumping Southern Baptist culture.  I am thankful for the Biblical acumen I have developed over the years, but the tyrannical dogma had me hating the idea of going to regular service for a long time.

I am much happier at the non-denominational church I now attend.  More attending to my immortal soul and less judgment of me as a person.

And Sunday service lets out early enough for me to watch football.  Bonus.

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Since we're sharing, I was raised Catholic myself, but became an atheist in my early teens when I realized how shaky the tangible evidence for this whole "God" thing is. As I age, though, I've come to have more appreciation for the core values of Christianity (as opposed to the repressive nonsense that's become attached to it in so many people's minds). I can't really call myself a Christian, though, because that word means you believe this one dude who lived a couple of thousand years ago was LITERALLY GOD, and I suspect that would sound crazy to me even if I weren't an atheist. Maybe I'm a Jesusist? 

At any rate, giving the Bible a good read-through is on my to-do list, though I expect I'll skip the "begats" section. The Quran and other major religions' holy texts too.

 

Edited by tbarrie
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Can't believe Jaws and Psycho only get one post (and the same one, at that).

I submit: Universal's Frankenstein and Dracula films.  Frederick March's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Almost any of the Corman/Price Poe films.  Island of Lost Souls > Island of Dr. Moreau.  The Thing from Another World and The Thing.  And, Kurosawa's Throne of Blood.

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3 hours ago, nate said:

Can't believe Jaws and Psycho only get one post (and the same one, at that).

I did my best.

3 hours ago, nate said:

I submit: Universal's Frankenstein and Dracula films.

I respectfully disagree.  I am fond of the Universal Films Frankenstein movies, but they really did reduce Adam from a tortured creature that did not ask for the un-life he was given to a grunting, box-headed caricature of itself. 

Frankenstein is a fascinating novel and the fact that Mary Shelly started writing it when she was a teenager makes the book all the more astounding.

Dracula was a slow burn, but I give it credit for being a stealthily subversive book.  It was a novel ahead of its time.

3 hours ago, nate said:

Island of Lost Souls > Island of Dr. Moreau. 

I picked up The Island of Dr. Moreau thinking it would be as good as Island of Lost Souls. I was horribly mistaken.

3 hours ago, nate said:

The Thing from Another World and The Thing.  

John Carpenter's The Thing < Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr aka the novella. < The Thing From Another World.

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2 hours ago, J.T. said:

I respectfully disagree.  I am fond of the Universal Films Frankenstein movies, but they really did reduce Adam from a tortured creature that did not ask for the in-life he was given to a grunting, box-headed caricature of itself. 

Frankenstein is a fascinating novel and the fact that Mary Shelly started writing it when she was a teenager make the book all the more astounding.

Dracula was a slow burn, but I give it credit for being a stealthily subversive book.  It was a novel ahead of its time.

Second this. Dracula especially I think gets shorted, as Frankenstein is broadly understood to be a smart and important book. To the extent that people are willing to give Dracula literary attention, it's then usually only dismissed as a flimsy expression of the immigration and sexual anxiety of the age. But I think that misses badly. The story works really well as story if you're willing to ignore all the cultural baggage vampires have, and the epistolary format is handled as well as anyone has since. To your point about it being ahead of its time, Mina is consistently depicted as the most level-headed and competent protagonist, and the men are made to look foolish for excluding her. And while I know some find the prose flowery and lore hard to manage, both seem really charming and fun to me. I prefer "magic" (using that word broadly) that isn't wholly understood or explained, and the writing itself is just the right side of purple. It's also legitimately dramatic, eerie, and funny, when it wants to be. Very versatile. Overall it strikes me as a book that's been swallowed up by context and fame, when the text read as the text is still remarkably good.

Godfather has already been mentioned, but it really is the right answer for this thread.

The only possibly controversial suggestions I'd add are Starship Troopers and No Country for Old Men. I like both books, but I think each film cleverly subverts and/or streamlines what works best.

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I think my biggest issue from reading Dracula all of once was how clearly it was a product of the publishing mores of the day: the pacing is so shoddy that even someone unfamiliar with serialization could spot it, and then, once things need to wrap up, they do so a little too quickly.  So.  Much.  Space. is spent on just figuring out what's wrong with Lucy that it never felt like there was enough material working below the surface of that, or parallel to it.  It's maybe the only positive thing I can say about Coppola's movie, for instance (since everything else about it is badly done, hamfisted, and laughably gauche - well, except for Tom Waits, but we knew that, because it's Tom Waits). The actual development of a story between Dracula and Mina at least keeps it from dragging too much and adds some needed dimension to the characters (even if that story is frequently hokey).

I suppose, on the other hand, you could make a strong case that the book works better largely because Dracula is a pure monster, and that softening his edges runs counter to the idea of the creature.

Oddly enough, I think the only vampire book I ever read that felt at all suspenseful was, I want to say, Jeanne Kalogridis' first book.  Covenant with the Vampire, Wikipedia says.  But even that was trading heavily on literally everyone's prior knowledge of the Big Bad lurking around the corner to ratchet up the tension.  Too bad the other two books were hot garbage.  

Reminds me I need to rewatch Herzog's Nosferatu.

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22 minutes ago, Contentious C said:

I think my biggest issue from reading Dracula all of once was how clearly it was a product of the publishing mores of the day: the pacing is so shoddy that even someone unfamiliar with serialization could spot it, and then, once things need to wrap up, they do so a little too quickly.  So.  Much.  Space. is spent on just figuring out what's wrong with Lucy that it never felt like there was enough material working below the surface of that, or parallel to it.  It's maybe the only positive thing I can say about Coppola's movie, for instance (since everything else about it is badly done, hamfisted, and laughably gauche - well, except for Tom Waits, but we knew that, because it's Tom Waits). The actual development of a story between Dracula and Mina at least keeps it from dragging too much and adds some needed dimension to the characters (even if that story is frequently hokey).

I suppose, on the other hand, you could make a strong case that the book works better largely because Dracula is a pure monster, and that softening his edges runs counter to the idea of the creature.

That's entirely fair. I think my most recent reading of it benefited from coming on the heels of Woman in White, which--though I love it--is about the most serial-seeming novel I've ever read, both in terms of the author re-telling the story over (and over and over) and clearly winging certain aspects of the plot. I also think the characters' ignorance, while frustrating (especially knowing what we now do about vampire folklore), is always justified in-character. Everyone is too confident in their dogma and too skeptical of other ways of knowing.

I think book Dracula works better for his strangeness in addition to his monstrosity. He is, rather famously, written to be quite ugly--rather than the debonair charmer pop culture has made him. But I find most effective that we only see him briefly and as told by others, and that secondhand sourcing adds to his already weird depiction. Is he actually talking about himself when he celebrates the victories (and justifies the retreats) of his ancestors? What exactly does he mean when he tells the vampire women (never called wives in the book) that he has known love in the past? What precisely can he do and what are his limits? We don't know any of that for sure. And how did he come to be this way in the first place? We have no idea. In the age of backstory-loaded villains, I find that refreshing.

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On ‎1‎/‎22‎/‎2019 at 1:46 PM, Beech27 said:

I think book Dracula works better for his strangeness in addition to his monstrosity. He is, rather famously, written to be quite ugly--rather than the debonair charmer pop culture has made him. 

I think that a lot of people who read the novel after watching a plethora of vampire movies (including Universal's Dracula) are disappointed to find out that Dracula's suave and debonair demeanor is only a façade as vampires are notorious shapeshifters. 

Dracula taking on a more charismatic veneer when he is in England and trying to seduce Mina and Lucy has more to do with him being an unnatural predator than it does with Dracula being attracted to the ladies. Glamour and seduction is how he ensnares his prey. 

He's not there just to dally with young women; he's there to feast on the blood of the living and create more vampires. 

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4 hours ago, nate said:

Universal's Frankenstein and Dracula films.

Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope. Both are incredible novels, and Dracula is painfully underrated by many in particular (apparently not here, which is nice to see).

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