Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

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Sunday, before Intolerable Cruelty

So, 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen'...

What I find appalling is the arrogance of directors and screenwriters who take good material from a graphic novel and assume that, because they are movie people, they can make a better job of it.

I can see that some changes were inevitable - it is just about inconceivable that you could make a movie these days with Fu Manchu as the villain, because movies don't do ironic air quotes about period racism. And that is probably a good thing.

What is unforgivable is that Mina Harker, who in the comic is the moral centre of most of what goes on, is relegated to the sidelines; actually I don't care that they rewrote her as a vampire, rather than as someone who escaped vampirism by the skin of her, as it were, teeth. What is important is that Moore's Mina is as much a leader as Quartermain or Nemo, in some ways more, but you apparently cannot have that in Hollywood unless it is the point of the whole thing.

Nemo and the Nautilus were fine, just fine. The design owes a lot to Kevin O'Neill, but has neat touches of its own.

They decided to give Quartermain some rather tedious dead son issues instead of the substance abuse stuff which is Moore's terrible warning about those who let themselves be used by Empire. Can't have Sir Sean playing a junkie - think of the terrible message it sends out, and think about the fact that he would actually have to act. Something has gone very wrong with Connery - if you think about how good he was in 'The Man Who Would Be King', it becomes very sad.

The villains were crap and their plan ludicrous. You blow up Venice in order to get a bunch of skin and blood samples - how much wasted effort is that?

I also have a motivation problem with Dorian Gray. I can see how you can manipulate an indestructible mortal by stealing his one weakness, the picture that ages and becomes corrupt in his place. What I cannot see is that a completely amoral immortal would let you live afterwards, let alone conquer the world. This is one of the points in the plot that they never thought through.

Why have your secret fortress in Outer Mongolia? It is an awfully long way from anywhere, which OK lets you have a secret fortress there, but is awfully inconvenient when it comes to deploying your super-weapons. I know, picky picky; I also know the real reason - Mordor Envy.

I also did my biweekly trip to Lower Marsh and the second-hand classical CD stalls. It isn't just what you buy; it is the thrill of the chase, the thought that you might find something really wonderful and obscure. I once got a disc that had been withdrawn - McKechnie's 'Translucence', settings of poems by Derek Jarman that there was a row with the estate over - which means that there is music that I am one of the few people ever to have heard.

It's pretty good.

Last time I was down, I saw a disc that I didn't much like the look of - a capella arrangements of other music - and passed. One of the reasons I went down yesterday was that I had heard some of it on Radio 3 and realized I was wrong, very wrong. Luckily, I got there ahead of anyone else who had seen and discarded it, and then heard it. Gloat, gloat.

The thing I wanted it for - and the best thing on it - is the arrangement of the Adagietto from Mahler's 5. Now, they haven't just gone la-la-la; no, it is a deal more poncy than that. This is, as you will recall, the music used in Visconti's 'Death in Venice', partly because Mahler was one of the figures who fed into Thomas Mann's Aschenbach, the strait-laced older writer who stays in Venice and gets cholera as the result of an infatuation.

Of course, Mahler, unlike Mann, was straight, but there was another figure who fed into Aschenbach, the minor gay poet Platen. What the arrangement is is a setting of a poem, about Venice, by Platen; it sounds gorgeous, even more so when you listen to the words. I would like to be austere and only listen to great music in its original form but sometimes radical pretentious impurity is the way to go.

Oh, and the reason why you can't have gay Anglican bishops is, according to American evangelicals, because it provides Muslims with an excuse to massacre Christians. Or to be precise, another excuse - because those with a mind to massacre will find any difference, or indeed the policy of invading Islamic countries, a pretext. This is the most contemptible and stupid argument, but it offers a pretext for the moral high ground - oh, they whine, you're being selfish at the expense of African and Pakistani Christians who are going to die for your liberalism.

Whereas the reasons why an Islamic mob might butcher local Christians have remarkably little to do with gay bishops. Believing in the divinity of Christ always a good pretext for example and I don't see evangelicals proposing dropping that one.
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