Monday, July 27, 2009

More Monday Movies

It's been a lovely stormy morning, so of course I am utterly blissful. I'm also tempted to nap because this is perfect sleeping weather. Fortunately, it's also good reading weather, and I'm still doing tons of research, so that means I can lie on the sofa and read all day and it counts as work. I suspect this is going to be one of those books where I read a ton in preparation, and only a tiny sliver of it will actually make it into the book directly. Otherwise, it will all be mindset and idea generation.

There wasn't much movie watching this weekend, so I don't have too many Monday movies. The "essential" on TCM was A Night at the Opera, and I had never seen a Marx Brothers movie, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'd only seen parodies and spoofs -- mostly the Bugs Bunny versions -- so I had an entirely wrong impression of what it would be like. I was picturing a lot of slapstick, stuff like people falling down and pies in the face. I was rather pleasantly surprised because it was actually very clever humor, building on timing and interaction. I laughed myself silly. Those were some amazingly talented men, especially when you throw in the musical talent that went with the comedy. I did initially have a little trouble figuring out what the plot was supposed to be, since the young Italian couple they were helping sounded so very all-American, and I didn't realize for a while that they were Italian and trying to get their big break in an American opera company. But nitpicking plot details of a Marx Brothers movie is probably a lost cause, and I've read that the movie initially had an opening that made it clearer that it started in Italy, but that was cut and the Italian stuff was downplayed during WWII, and that cut footage has been lost. I was also a little surprised at how appealing I found Groucho. Take away the exaggerated "character" features, and it seems like he was actually a rather attractive man, and add the wit and sense of humor, and he was even kind of sexy.

Sunday afternoon as background noise while I was reading (and while my neighbor's dog was yapping its little head off, so I needed noise to drown it out), I watched The Promotion on HBO. It's the story of an assistant manager of a grocery store who sees the opening of a new store in the chain as his chance to become a full manager, which will change his life, giving him more status and the money to buy a house with his wife. He seems to be a shoo-in, until a new guy transfers in, and they start competing for the promotion. It was billed as a comedy, but I didn't find it very funny. The humor was based on cringe-inducing, humiliating situations and a lot of meanness, which I don't think is very funny. I don't think I laughed once. I'm more a fan of the "laughing with" kind of humor, and this was very much "laughing at" humor. However, the fact that I found it so painful was a sign that the characters were vivid and relatable. I really found myself caring about the outcome, and it's possible I might enjoy it more if I watched it again, knowing how it would work out, so I could relax and not worry so much about the main character. I think I'd classify it more as "quirky drama" than as a comedy, and it's probably a better film when you approach it with that expectation. The cast was fairly high-level for such a low-level film, and although I love Jenna Fischer, I'd really like to see her bust out of that "supportive, low-key girlfriend/wife" typecasting. I'd love to see her playing someone really outgoing and vivacious or maybe even a raging bitch and getting to be the leading lady instead of the wife/girlfriend.

Now, to answer a question raised by a post last week, when I said you'd do more good asking the publishers about more books instead of me, since I can't do anything about it (believe me, I'd love them to do more books, so if I had any control over the situation, they'd be out there). Snail mail is usually more effective than e-mail because it takes time and thought instead of just dashing off an e-mail that's likely to end up in an in-box that's never checked. For US and Canadian readers, you could contact Ballantine Books, 1745 Broadway, Floor 18, New York, NY 10019. If you really must use electronic media, they have a contact form on their web site (and they really must not want people to use it because it's buried several layers into their web site). If you want to wonder why these books aren't published as fantasy, I did find an e-mail address for Del Rey (that publisher's fantasy imprint, where my books really should belong instead of being stuck among all the literary fiction and book club books): For the non US editions, I suppose you could Google the publisher name to look for contact info. I don't have direct contact with those publishers and my language skills aren't up to finding contact info on their web sites. Be polite, and don't mention that I'm the one who asked you to write. It looks better if it's spontaneous.

No comments: