Wild Thing blues & my simple solution

Although I was leery of the new Where the Wild Things are movie by Spke Jonze, I have to admit I was disappointed to hear that the whole thing may be getting tossed.
I first heard this on Betsy Bird’s blog and, although she clearly liked the clip a lot better than I did, I had to agree with her that we were losing the chance for a magnificent movie.
Darkhorizons.com reported the news of the films possible demise and the possible cause:
A test screening late last year in Pasadena … young kids in the audience apparently began crying.
Maybe it’s time for someone to finally grant my wish: a movie like Fantasia, in which we get 8 to 10 different picture books — live action/animation, big budget/low budget, whatever the different directors want. This way we could see a picture book “come to life” without the need for 120 minutes of backstory/bathroom humor/cameo appearances/extra plot points.

Annoying Flashback

Since this has turned into an impromptu movie week, I’ve arranged an exclusive interview — through the mists of 20 years — with the 1988-version of Sam Riddleburger. (Sammy, actually, back then.)
 What, you mean you’ve never seen Buckaroo Banzai? Are you serious? I just can’t believe you’ve never seen Buckaroo Banzai. It’s like a parody of science fiction movies, but it’s one of those parodies that’s so good that you actually care about the plot, like The Lost Boys.
Oh, man, it is so funny. There’s this part where Buckaroo has this chemical formula written on his hand and he runs into this super-scientist and he holds up his hand and says, “what is this,” and the scientist says, “Why… it’s your hand, Buckaroo.” It’s hilarious.
I’ve noticed that some film critics never grow out of the “it’s hilarious” thing. Which is why one rents a movie under the understanding that it’s a “hilarious” or “roaringly funny” comedy and takes it home to discover a dark and depressing drama about angry English guys who want to open up a fish-and-chips truck, the gruesome story of a serial killer or maybe even a smashing good sci-fi parody with bits of wry absurdity which may be brilliant, but do not add up to hilarity (nor were they intended to).

Jim Carrey as Horton (who) Hears a Who

20th Century Fox's Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who

Pope pops Pullman

I’ve stayed away from Golden Compass posts for awhile lately, but wanted to point out this story about the Vatican hammering Pullman, the books, the movies and Dynomutt. (You have to read between the lines to get the Dynomutt part.)
Even though the Pope and I approach the books from different viewpoints, it’s interesting that we came to some of the same conclusions:
“… sad, cold and inhumane.”
“In Pullman’s world, hope simply does not exist …”
Since we’re back on the subject, let me share another thought with you.
Some people who have different interpretations of the book than I do talk about how uplifiting it is because it frees people from tyranny.
But I think one of the things that turned me off so much (SPOILER ALERT) is that at the very end of the books, Lyra is told what to do and where to go and who she can’t see anymore and that’s that. She seems to be anything but free.
However, if Pullman is really going to write a follow up series, then perhaps we will finally see Lyra get to do something of her own free will. (Hopefully this will include giving us a coherent exlanation of the trepanning.)

Golden Compass Polar Bear Action Figures engage in thoughtful discussion

Hey, instead of fighting, lets have a discussion, which may contain spoilers.
Okay, but then we have to fight some more.
Grrr, these books are about killing God!
No, they’re just about defeating a meaningless Authority, grr, thus liberating the human soul!
Says you! I call it deicide and, although I’m not much of a church-goer, I find it troubling that these books and movie are being marketed to kids.
Who says they’re marketed to kids?
Uh, duh, you’re a toy from the movie.
Oh yeah, but so what? Shouldn’t kids be introduced to more than one point of view?
I mean, what’s the difference between this book and John Lennon’s “Imagine?” They’re just asking you to “imagine” a world without a religius-based authority.
Maybe, but “Imagine” is a positive song with an uplifting message about the potential of the human condition. “Dark Materials” is purely negative, suggesting that the we’re all pawns in a nihilistic game with bad guys controlling both sides. Plus, it’s a major league downer.
Yeah, I cried when Lyra and Will couldn’t be together anymore.
Me, too.
sniff sniff
Hey, did you ever figure out that bit about the trepanning?
Me, neither.
But we rock!
Oh yeah, we are totally awesome! I mean we’re polar bears with armor who fight! Awesome!


Golden Compass – Murder, he wrote?

Alright, folks, this is John Christopher Week, NOT Golden Compass week….

However, there’s been discussion in the comments of another post about what exactly happens at the end of Dark Materials.

Is the Authority really God or just and Angel? Does he die or is he murdered?

I say he’s God and he’s murdered. (Or at least a fatality in Lyra’s father’s war against him.)

Since no one else seems to agree with my interpretation, I’ll turn to Pullman himself to back me up.

Pullman: “My books are about killing God.” – as quoted in Wired Magazine’s Dec. 2007 article “Dark Material: Making a blockbuster about killing God is not as easy as pie”

By the way, the article goes on to say that the director is making the Magisterium “a vaguer entity, as much political as religious…”

I’m betting this means God doesn’t die onscreen in the movie. Perhaps this could be like the African Queen, where a Hollywood ending grealty improved on the author’s original ending.

John Christopher Week


At long last! It’s time to get started on John Christopher Week!I’ve been awfully excited about it — as you can tell from the banner I spent ages nitpicking over. (Yes, that’s me being abducted by the Tripod.)

Now I’m no expert on John Christopher, but I’ve read a lot of his books (both those for kids and those for adults) over the last 25 years and I’m mostly planning to share my excitement — and a few hairbrained ideas — with you.

If you don’t care to read farther, let me just leave you with this thought … these books are getting old, but they deserve to remain in print and on library shelves. They deserve librarians who can put them in the hands of bright kids. And they deserve to be read.

If you’ve never read one, “The White Mountains” is a great place to start.

That‘s where I got started, way back in the sixth grade…

We used to watch these programs in English class where someone would narrate a book excerpt while an illustrator drew a picture to go with it. You’d watch him drawing while you heard the story. No dramatizations or animations. (Anybody remember what this was?)

At the end of the show about the “The White Mountains” show there seemed to be a general consensus among the boys of the class that we should run to the library to try to be the first one to grab the book. Or perhaps I just assumed there would be.

Anyway, I’m not sure who got it. It wasn’t me.

But eventually, I found it back on the shelf and read it. It blew me away, of course. And the sequels were each fantastic, too. What a combination of a  great action story and a big idea served up so a kid can understand it.

As I read more Christopher books, that’s what I found again and again–  big ideas and great stories.

And there was something else, too, complicated relationships between the main characters. Perhaps it’s these that make the books so good. Actual substance under the action.

Well, that’s what we’re here to talk about this week — all three of these things and I hope to find other Christopher fans out there who will join in. Tune in tomorrow…..

Tripods – the movie

I’ve got a John Christopher week coming up, but I had to jump in and tell you about The Tripods movie, which I just learned about.


Book and BBC version

According to Aintitcool, the movie has been talked about for years, but at thetripods.org they noticed that IMDB now has it slated for 2009.

Of course, to a Christopher fan like myself, this is something to be viewed with trepidation. (Likewise fans of the BBC series may be on red alert, too.)

This is a tough one. It would be great to see these fantastic, wonderful books get a new boost and attract new readers.

As long as they don’t blow it. (Which I guess is what we say before every kidlit adaptation.)

And, really, I’m not sure why they can’t get it right. The toughest thing I can think of will be the depiction of the Masters. Can they be as awful on screen as they were in the books?

I wish there were more details out there. I’d like to know if they’re going to make series of movies or try to stuff it all into one. If they do that, we’ll probably end up with a series of action shots that lacks the human story that made Christopher’s book so great.

Also what about the prequel book? Surely, they’re not going to stuff four books into one movie!