Editor's note: I wrote most of this on October 20th, but have yet to post it. Some of it's outdated (the book stuff), but the rest is all good. New one maybe next week!
Movies watched for the first time (non-theatrically) since last week:
* Battle Royale
Nick pushed me to read the book, and I did (you can read my thoughts on it in past States). Then he pushed for me to see the adaptation, even going so far (and being so kind) as to mail the DVD to me. Survey says...
I wonder if I'll ever like a movie more after reading the book first, or vice versa. I just don't think I'm wired that way. The only circumstance I can think that might fit such a scenario would be if I were to not like the first form of media, in which case I would most likely not wish to experience the second form. As it was, I enjoyed the book Battle. The filmed version is...ok.
In fact, it's probably better than that. It's an entertaining film, capturing the essence of the book just fine. Really, it would be a grand failure had they not, considering that the premise is so disarmingly simple. 42 students shipped to a remote island and forced to kill each other. Obviously, in a two-hour movie, you're not going to be able to give a lot of backstory or add much character to the characters - hell, the book was even terribly flat for a number of characters. The grand shame (and I know Nick agrees with me on this point) is that they failed to keep the one, true relationship and heart of the story (the bond former between Shuya and Shogo) intact. Shuya remains our protagonist, but he's mostly a vehicle for the events going on around him. Meanwhile, Shogo - while not as butchered as Nick would have you believe - is still a cool customer but is one whose role in the film has been drastically trimmed.
Meanwhile, just about every other character short of the "instructor" (who has been given a new identity and backstory) has been reduced to stereotype at best. Several players in the book might as well have not been in the film at all, their storylines so removed (Shinji). When I was reading the book, I was thinking that if I were to have made a film of it, I would have just cut the number of students to begin with (down to 24 or so) simply to avoid this problem. It's not as if there weren't several expendable ones.
In terms of the production itself, it's spotty. The location and setup of the island is remarkably similar to the book, though the exclusion of the four ships circling the island leads to questions about why the characters don't ponder swimming away (an option not afforded to them in literary form). The classical music that's used as accents to the more violent scenes is well-chosen and beautiful (Woo could learn a lesson) but the instrumental score itself is overbearing at times and downright annoying at others - I often thought I was watching a film from the 50s. The acting is as strong as can be expected from a film of this nature.
Most surprising to me was how un-violent the film turned out to be, given the source material. The book is rather explicit, not only in terms of volume (to be expected with 40-something deaths) but in the details of each. The movie, on the other hand, while it has its blood-spurting moments, is rather tame, especially considering what I expected from a Japanese film. I guess the exploitation of teens could only go so far.
Music I'm currently obsessed with:
As you might know, I had myself a little birthday over this past weekend. Amongst my booty, I finally got the soundtrack to Amelie. This of course means that I had to listen to it again, and this of course means that I have had "La Valse d'Amelie" stuck in my head on repeat for the last several days. Never, ever, ever gets old...
Book I'm currently reading:
* Per Jess (I believe), I'm reading David Baldacci's The Camel Club. It's a political conspiracy theory thriller (page turner) that I imagine will read similarly to a Dan Brown book, minus the puzzle aspect (I've not read a Baldacci novel before).
It's alright so far. I'm not engrossed with it, and am put off a bit by the occasions when Baldacci condescends his readers by doing something like writing "RPG" and then two sentences later explaining what that is (it's all done very unnaturally), but otherwise I imagine it'll be a breezy read.