videos for people who read books

For some inexplicable reason I haven’t been sleeping much this week. I have been sitting up in my reading chair until very very wee hours with kittens on what I laughingly call my lap watching stuff from my inordinately large video collection, (subliminally deciding which ones I will sell off first when the time comes to choose between them and food) And I figured I’d share. . . you know how much I like to share.

I am in the midst of HBO’s “Rome” (2005) season one. – which I can’t recommend anyone BUY as it costs about 70 bucks. But run right out and RENT it. Right now . . . . go ahead, I’ll wait. It’s fabulously vulgar and deliciously rich. Like flaming chocolate sauce over death by chocolate cake. The story you know: Caesar crosses the river, takes over the town, kicks Pompey’s ass, makes a baby with Cleopatra yatta yatta yatta….but the teleplay toggles between the “I Claudius” intrigue of the rich and oversexed and the lives of 2 legionary joe – ordinary blokes who keep finding themselves crossing paths with history. So if you like Lindsay Davis mysteries and Robert Graves novels you may like this. But be ready for blood, sacrifices, sex, nudity, violence and barbarism it’s just like regular TV. I can’t wait to watch it again.

Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) is probably the closest I have ever seen to a book literally on film. Written for the screen it is structured like a book, a picaresque tale of New York family of intellectual neurotics, with a narrator and ‘novel’ chapter markers. Part Wodehouse, part John Irving, part John Cheever – it’s one of the films that grows on you. I don’t think I liked it the 1st time, but I kept thinking about it for months later. I finally bought the damn thing, and watch it quite often. (for those that don’t GET rewatching films, it’s like rereading a book, you find comfort in hearing the same words and pictures over again)

I picked up Season one of “Slings and Arrows” (2003-2005) the Canadian TV show and enjoyed it tremendously. Think West Wing for the theater going crowd. For a the first couple of episodes I almost didn’t get that it was a comedy- cause I have MET these people. It follows the company of the fictional New Burbage Theater Festival in the equally fictional town of New Burbage. (yes lots of yummy Shakespeare in jokes) Especially the once prodigal actor now completely mad director Geoffrey Tenent who takes over as Artistic Director to wrest a production of Hamlet back from the front office corporate pirates. His mentor the previous artistic director and now haunting spirit (yes a ghost…well it IS Hamlet) is on hand to hold his hand and keep him constantly teetering back into full blown psychosis. Well worth watching. I can’t wait for the other 2 seasons to reach dvd.

“Veronica Mars” (2004)– you may know the name, but you are missing something REALLY good. (you are also missing something by not watching battlestar galactica too.) Veronica Mars is – well Chinatown meets Heathers, hmm that’s too vague . . . Nancy Drew Meets Philip Chandler. Heavy on the film noir. (put aside the whole ‘those actors’ are way too old for H.S. – do you know how much it costs to hire ‘real’ kids for a tv show?) This is not really a TV show you can watch in fits and spurts. It has through storylines and character development which SHOULD be watch from 1st to last. Veronica Mars works for her father’s detective agency, (trust me it’s believable) In season one the through mystery is the murder of her best friend party girl Lily Cain – the twists and turns of the case last all season with weekly mystery story lines and lots of character evolution. People you paint as bad in one episode become sympathetic as the weeks go on. Season two’s mystery involves a school bus crash and had a logical and terrific denoument I NEVER saw coming. It’s smart and literate and so not a waste of time.

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004-TV) with alarmingly tall Rupert Everett as the great detective (ya gotta admit he HAS the forehead for it). If the title sounds obscure to you, it’s because it’s an original Holmes story written for the smallscreen by Allan Cubitt who KNOWS his Doyle. Preceeded by the equally refereshing 2002 TV production of Hound of the Baskervilles with the delicious Richard Roxburgh in the role, the Case of the Silk Stocking surprised me. It took what we already knew of Doyle’s creations and extrapolated it, logically as well as creatively. The backbone of both films is Ian Hart’s John Watson and the relationship between a fully functional doctor/soldier Watson and the fully disfunctional, self destructive totally cerebral Holmes. (no offense to Nigel Bruce…but would YOU Want him to operate on YOU?) They have a contentious yet dependent relationship. Set AFTER the Victorian era, (remember guys in a Study in Scarlet 1881, Holmes is a grad student – YES I have read the books many times – I was a strange child) Holmes is al
one and at sea at Baker Street, spending his afternoons in the opium dens, and has to be coaxed into taking the case which is both completely lurid, (strangling teenage girls is rather distasteful) and totally in keeping with a modernist period tale. Doyle would never have written about fetishisms in the 19thc, but a modern writer looking back at that era can’t HELP but write about it. We also meet for the 1st time Mrs Watson, who is only alluded to in the books. In this film she is an American psychologist who meets Watson at a medical conference in Vienna, and so obviously fills Watson’s need for intellectual stimulation yet without Holmes’s neuroses. Watch for the scene where she and Holmes go head to head talking about . . . fetishes. Brilliant stuff.

Feel free to point out any mistakes in grammar or typing if you like
I will probably mock and ignore you.

j

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