Linkage: Interview with GDT, 2 movies, and a book

This week, all I have is a quick list of links and recommendations for you:

In a scene of passion, some DNA is left behind. --Guillermo del Toro

Over the weekend, I stumbled upon and read an epic five part interview with Guillermo del Toro. The interview was an act of passion and del Toro left his DNA all over the screen. He talked about movies and creativity and just about everything. Anything I write would be redundant, so just go read the interview.

I watched two movies: Timecrimes [Spanish title: Los Cronocrímenes] and Let the Right One In [Swedish title: Låt den rätte komma in]. I talk very briefly about Timecrimes here, because it is a hard movie to discuss without giving away some of the best parts.

Let the Right One In is one of the best vampire movies that I've seen since Near Dark, which is one of my all-time favorite vampire movies.

I put off watching Let the Right One In for a long time, because I thought it might be too young adultish for my tastes, but the movie surprised and pleased me. Let the Right One In is that magic combination of plot, characterization, and mood that makes the perfect horror movie. What you don't see is far more frightening than what you do see.

So if you're looking to get away from the latest Hollywood remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 58 in 3-D with real blood ... something ... something ... something ... watch Let the Right One In.

I have a nonfiction book recommendation for you, in case you're looking for a brand new take on the Crusades, check out The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf. It reads like a novel and gives you an entirely different perspective on the Crusades.

From the blurb:

European and Arab versions of the Crusades have little in common. What the West remembers as an epic effort to reconquer the Holy Land is portrayed here as a brutal, destructive, unprovoked invasion by barbarian hordes.

When, under Saladin, a powerful Muslim army--inspired by prophets and poets--defeated the Crusaders, it was the greatest victory ever won by a non-European society against the West. The Arab version of the Crusades is a heroic story of how the Muslims overcame their rivalries and united long enough to win a holy war.

And I know all this makes it look like I'm slacking, but the good news is that I'm almost 9,000 words into In Midnight's Silence and the story is trotting along nicely.

So there.

What are you up to?

Peter Jackson’s version of The Hobbit, or True Confessions

Where Teresa once more says what she really thinks while risking the wrath of fandom everywhere, but for what it is worth …

I’m just not that into Peter Jackson as a filmmaker, and after some of the early reviews of Jackson’s version of The Hobbit, I’m even less into his work. It’s not that Jackson is incompetent as a director or filmmaker. Quite the opposite, his films are high on technique and innovation, which is what these early reviews extol. Kudos are given to 48 frames per second, but the story is described as bloated and “stretched thin.”

Don’t get me wrong. When Jackson brought The Lord of the Rings to film, I loved it, I really did. He shot some very poignant, lovely scenes that I still remember, and he spoon-fed the story to me so that my brain wasn’t cramping about genealogies and impossible-to-pronounce names. Even so, when I watched The Lord of the Rings, I realized that story was secondary to technique for Jackson. The emphasis was on the beauty of the settings, and not just with hobbits and elves, even the darker scenes with the orcs and Sauron were stylistically appealing.

And therein lies my particular difficulty with Jackson’s work—he is all about technique and The Hobbit, out of all of Tolkien’s works, is all about story. That was why I was so crushed to see Guillermo del Toro leave the project. Del Toro has an intimate grasp of story-structure and knows how to weave technique and story to bring a visually stunning and coherent piece of work to the screen.

Whereas Jackson brings us a lot of pretty eye candy, which can be nice, but like all sugary things, tends to rot the brain. Jackson is innovative in his art and I know he’ll bring new things to the films that he’s created; however, flash and glamor and 48 frames per second isn’t why I watch movies. I’m there for the story.

And while we’re into heresies, I’m just not that into Tolkien either.


I said it.

The Fellowship of the Ring held my attention, The Two Towers sent me into a coma, and I skipped the first two-thirds of The Return of the King just so I could get to the end. Out of all of his novels, I loved The Hobbit the best, primarily because it was so unpretentious. The themes were simple, and as I became older and developed a better understanding of what led Tolkien to write The Hobbit, I loved the story even more.

Hence, I’ll be skipping The Hobbit, and The Hobbit II, and The Hobbit III ... The Hobbit XX ... The Hobbit LXXXI ...

why I would like Guillermo del Toro to read Miserere

Hey. Magan said I could pick ANYBODY.

The one question blog tour continues today with Magan at The Punching Bag Fights Back where I tell you why I would like for Guillermo del Toro to read MISERERE: AN AUTUMN TALE. I also talk a little bit about the monsters in MISERERE.

I love del Toro’s works, especially Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone. He placed so many layers in those movies, so many small touches that most people would miss. In Labyrinth, I loved the way ...

And if you haven't already entered your flash fiction in our contest, go here and check out the rules.

Guillermo del Toro and Lovecraft's Madness

At the Mountains of Madness, Guillermo del Toro's dream project for a movie based on H.P. Lovecraft's novella by the same title has been axed by Universal. It seems that del Toro refused to create a PG-13 version of the movie. You can read the official statement here.

Universal wanted del Toro to create something along the lines of Avatar. I suppose Universal imagined eight foot cut-outs of the Old Ones and Shoggoths in Walmart, a line of toys (stuffed blind penguins, anyone?), and possibly other marketing ventures based on the movie.

Just for Universal's information: I quit watching PG-13 horror movies because they are so tepid. There is nothing wrong with PG-13 movies, people enjoy them, and they should have as much variety as the rest of us.

My issue isn't with PG-13 movies. My problem is this: if it is not a PG-13 cash cow with multiple merchandising options, nobody wants to touch the film.

I feel like a sadly neglected demographic in Universal's sugar-coated world of PG-13 franchises, because they aren't making genre movies for adults anymore. Being a grown-up means your movie selection is narrowed down to Avatarish science fiction that relies on glitz and special effects over genuine storytelling, or "horror" films that base their entire premise on how many gallons of fake blood can be spilled across the screen in ninety minutes.

So I can see why Universal cringed at del Toro's vision for At the Mountains of Madness. Tweens and TwilightMOMs do not read Lovecraft. The story doesn't sport a cast of angst-filled teenagers mooning over one another. None of the characters are cute or loveable or would look good on a Burger King glass.

Lovecraft's stories were about mood and metaphor; two aspects of storytelling at which del Toro excels.

Since we're talking about dreams here: If I had my dream, del Toro would go back to El Deseo SA and make more movies like Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone.

Dark films with soul. Horror with meaning behind the dread and a thin line of hope intertwined in the story. Movies that make me think about the images and the characters long after the film stops rolling. I miss seeing movies like that.

But hey, I'm a grown-up.

Maybe Universal will make a movie for grown-ups someday.

I'll buy a stuffed blind penguin if they do.