Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"The Woodsman"

I saw a movie tonight that did what every good movie does: It made me think.

I recall reading a review for The Woodsman when it first came out last year. The reviewer liked it but, because the content was so touchy, predicted it wouldn't do big business in the box office. The reviewer was right. I never heard anything about it since but tucked it away in the back of my head as something I'd like to see sometime.

I'll do my best to not reveal any major plot points or give anything away, so continue reading with no fear of spoilers.

Kevin Bacon stars as Walter, a man returning to society after spending some time away. Walter was a bad man and did bad things. He's haunted by his past and his actions. He knows what he did was wrong and wants desperately to change as he tries to fit back in. More than once he asks his analyst, pleads, "When will I be normal."

Unlike many movies, Walter doesn't (and can't) change overnight. Walter struggles against temptations that are right outside his front door...literally. He wants to change...he really does. It's hard to sympathize with Walter too much, however, because we know what he's done in the past and his crime is indeed a horrible one. Is it right to empathize with someone who's done something so wrong? If someone commits what can very easily be considered an unforgivable sin, does it make you just as bad as the criminal if you forgive him? Should we really forgive those who trespass against us? Can we?

At one point in the film Walter finds himself giving in...we see him giving in...and I found myself pulling for him, hoping that he wouldn't do it...I really wanted Walter to stay strong and found myself getting angry at the fact that Walter was failing. Again. And then, at the last possible second there is a revelation that changes the direction and flow. It's not one of those twists-for-sake-of-a-twist that is so popular in movies now but a moment of clarity for Walter that may not have come if he wasn't tested.

I'm not trying to annoy you with my vague details, but one of the things I liked so much about the film was that I knew very little about it going in, so I never knew what to expect or what was coming next. I will say this: One doesn't walk away from the film with the false idea that every bad person will change their ways. But it hints at the fact that they can.


Friday, October 12, 2007

In the Air

I walked outside this morning and could smell it. For the first time this year, it smells like fall. There's nothing like it and it's amazing. I can't quite put my finger on what it is exactly; it's a little cooler, the air is crisp, and it makes me think of long-sleeved sweatshirts and high school football games. It makes me want to go on a Goonie adventure or sit under a tree with a notebook.

In reality I probably won't do either one, but I still like the feeling it brings.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

All Blech, No Bite (Yet)

As regular readers of my blog know, a couple of weeks ago there was a huge book sale put on by the Lancaster Public Library and I took full advantage. I've already read and finished one of my finds (The Mothman Prophecies) and was excited to begin my next book. I am halfway through Peter Benchley's Jaws.

The film version of the book came out in (I believe) 1975 and I blame it for my fear of sharks that is still with me to this day. I'd love to go scuba diving someday but know that in the back of my mind, no matter how beautiful the underwater scenery, I am going to be thinking shark, shark, look for the sharks, shark, shark, they're sneaky, they want to eat you, shark, shark, shark.

And part of the fun of watching shark movies and "Shark Week" is facing that fear (kind of but not really) and learning more about it, getting that little adrenaline rush that comes with a good scare. Needless to say I was excited to begin Jaws. I wondered if it would keep me up at night or if I would find myself going to the bathroom as quickly as possible (like I did when I was a kid) because I was sure a little tiny shark was going to find its way into the sewer, up the pipe, and chew my butt off.

Before I go any further, let me just say that I'm not finished with Jaws yet and so I realize I have no business complaining or criticizing. I can hear you now... "Finish the book before you complain about it!!!" I know, I know, I'm not ignorant of that fact and it's more than valid. I recognize that.

But until I finish it, I'm going to do a bit of griping.

There's hardly a shark in it so far. In fact, the shark has only appeared twice and only for a total of about 10 pages (hey everyone, look at me complaining about a book that came out 30 years I on the cutting edge or what?). Come on!! Scare me!!! Please!! Scare me!!

But that's not it. The story -- so far -- isn't about Chief Brody and his hunt for the shark that is terrorizing his community. It's about his wife, how unhappy she is, how bored she is, how miserable her life is, and how she ends up having an affair with Hooper, the shark expert (the Richard Dreyfus character in the movie).

What the freak is that???

This may be the first time that a movie was made based on a book, and the movie ended up being better. Not that they changed much or "Hollywood"-ed it, but they pretty much left out the whole affair scenario. And that's fine with me.

Maybe this blog ends up sounding ultra-conservative -- and I think most people who know me probably wouldn't categorize me as such -- but it's just not what I signed up for. I've never been a big fan of books or movies that have the characters fooling around on their significant others (American Beauty, The Last Kiss). That's probably the thing I feel the strongest personal conviction about and I'm sure the fact that I'm about to be married doesn't help much.

I don't know. I thought I was going to get a scary shark book and instead I ended up with some lame soap opera.

I'll let you know how it ends.

Two hours later

I finished it. The last fifty pages were exciting as the trio of men faced off against the shark. If only the rest of the book had been that way.

How Benchley resolves the whole Brody's-wife-has-an-affair-with-Hooper scenario is ridiculous. While Brody, Hooper, and Quint are on the boat chasing the shark, one of the other town characters pays a visit to Mrs Brody out of the blue and confesses his love for her. I'm still wondering where this came from. As a result of this almost-laughable-because-it-was-so-improbable plot twist, Mrs Brody decides that her life is perfect and fine and she loves her husband after all and her fling with Hooper was just sex and nothing else.

And I guess it's good she came to that conclusion because on the next page Hooper is eaten by the shark.

Convenient, huh? And by "convenient" I mean "retarded".