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[personal profile] greygirlbeast
On Monday, I learned that "As Red As Red" has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, as has the anthology in which it was published, Ellen Datlow's Haunted Legends (Tor).

---

No work yesterday, aside from email. No good excuse. The words were in my head, and the deadlines are pressing in about me. Still, I fucked off to nowhere in particular. Spooky got back from the mechanic (the bill was bad, but less than expected, and we're pretending that faulty crankshaft will last forever), and I realized that I'd not left the house since Sunday. So, I tagged along while Spooky ran assorted errands. For a while, the sun was warm on my face, and there were the first hints of green, and, here and there, blooming things. All traces of motivation and enthusiasm, enthusiasm for anything at all, faded from me. I dozed in the van. I looked through the windows at the shadows along Benefit Street. I ate a handful of jelly beans. On the way home, we stopped at Acme Video (but I'm coming to that).

---

Last night, we watched Let Me In, Matt Reeves' remake of Tomas Alfredson's Låt den rätte komma in, which, of course, was adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel of the same title. I avoided Reeves' film in the theater, which seemed like the best course of action. I couldn't see the point of it. Even if Reeves' film turned out good, he was still remaking a very new and very excellent film. An endeavor which would be, at best, pointless. And then I learned that the issue of Eli's gender was being removed from the script, which goes a long way towards gutting the story. Eli becomes Abby, and Abby's just a "girl," and all ambiguity is removed. To make things worse, I happened across an interview with Reeves (which I tried to find again, and have been unable to*) in which he was very open about his beliefs that these changes were necessary for the story to be appreciated by an American audience. So, no. I didn't go see it.

I also swore I wouldn't see the DVD.

Regardless, last night, we watched Matt Reeves' film. I tried very hard to judge this film only on its own merits, not relative to Alfredson's. And I failed. But then so does Matt Reeves. Spooky and I often happen upon interesting indie horror films that we'd never heard of, and which turn out to be quite good. Had it not been for the masterful Låt den rätte komma in, Reeves' film might have struck us that way. A pretty good little coming-of-age vampire story. I might even have applauded its grittiness and willingness to take child characters places lots of filmmakers wouldn't have. Instead, Let Me In came across as rushed and disjointed. Even dull. We both actually almost fell asleep.

There are places where the film is a shot-by-shot remake of Låt den rätte komma in, which, again, makes judging it on its own merits difficult. And what was all that business with "Owen's" mother being a religious maniac? I thought, oh...okay...she'll be the one "Abby" bites, the one who lives, then dies in the hospital-room conflagration, having learned she's become the thing she professes to hate, and hey, okay, that might be kind of interesting. But no. Nothing of the sort. Chloe Moretz, who entirely won me over in Kick Ass, radiated nothing of the quiet, innocent threat we saw from Lina Leandersson. And that kid who played "Owen" is about as interesting to watch as a bowl of Cream of Wheat. Is this actually the same actor who appeared in The Road? It's hard to fucking believe. Also, sure, there are more special effects in Reeves' film. Because that's what Americans do. So what?

Verdict: Let Me In is a very mediocre little horror film, if you've never seen Låt den rätte komma in, and if you can set aside the homophobic/transphobic politics that turned Eli into "Abby." But if you passionately love the Swedish film, as did I, and if you expect anything like its depth and Alfredson's marvelous study of mood and atmosphere and character, you're up shit creek. A very shallow shit creek. My advice would be to watch Låt den rätte komma in. It's actually a good film and worthy of your time and attention. To call Matt Reeves' remake unnecessary is a gross understatement.

I never go into a film with the intention of hating it. You know, watching (or reading) something just to earn the rights to kvetch. And I should have kept my promise and avoided this remake.

---

I've ended the keyboard auction. I realize now that I made the incredibly dumb mistake of putting it up just as taxes are due. Maybe I'll list it again in a month or two. My thanks to everyone who looked in, though, and everyone who spread the word.

---

Aside from the film, not much to last night but Rift. Selwyn made Level 26. I genuinely wish that MMORPGs would offer you the opportunity to tell whining, cowering townspeople to butch up and take care of their own problems or shut the fuck up. It could add a whole new set of stats. Another sort of reputation rating or something. I often have that reaction, and I was having it a lot last night, as the people of Granite Falls (Telara's answer to Deadwood, I think) asked me to do this and then that menial task. For example, the nurse who was too squeamish to take blood. Um...okay. The Ascendant are these super beings, essentially demigods, and we spend a significant amount of our time searching out lost lockets for mourning widows and putting meat in the tables of people apparently too lazy or incompetent to do it for themselves. Yeah, that makes sense.

---

And now...well...we'll see.

* I intend to continue looking for it, though.

Postscript: My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] readingthedark who appears to have found the interview I'm remembering: "Hammer Film's Simon Oakes Promises Scary, Accessible 'Let Me In'". But I may also have read this, which [livejournal.com profile] sovay tracked down: "Matt Reeves Interview LMI DVD,Talks About Abby's Gender." Both contain equally offensive and idiotic comments.

Date: 2011-04-15 05:50 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
From: [personal profile] sovay
On Monday, I learned that "As Red As Red" has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, as has the anthology in which it was published, Ellen Datlow's Haunted Legends (Tor).

Congratulations.

Date: 2011-04-15 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingthedark.livejournal.com
Congratulations, again, on the Jackson nomination.

The producer Simon Oakes gave an interview where he spoke of how the remake's goal was to be more accessible. That might be what you were looking for: http://blog.moviefone.com/2010/03/10/hammer-films-simon-oakes-promises-scary-accessible-let-me-in/

Date: 2011-04-15 06:04 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
From: [personal profile] sovay
The producer Simon Oakes gave an interview where he spoke of how the remake's goal was to be more accessible.

The director also seems to have thought the original implications of Eli's gender would pull the audience right out of the story: "But that story point, as it was used in the first film, and as much as I love that movie, I didn't understand what that point was . . . So what I did was, I didn't do that shot, because I didn't want that moment to be some strange, left-field moment like 'What is that?'"

Date: 2011-04-15 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingthedark.livejournal.com
Yep. Which easily translates, in this case, into both a producer and the director saying: "There were several subtle yet crucial components that made the original brilliant. We were too dumb to make sense of such things so we decided to remove those in an effort to get rich."

(I had higher hopes for Let Me In than most people did and could even see why changing the title was a very good idea even thought the original title was more effective--but I found the film unwatchable, lasting eight to ten minutes before fastforwarding to the final scene, which they also failed to make work, even though they reused most of the original's material. Sauna further reminded me that Hollywood's methods and the intentions of dark films are quite at odds at this point. In a world where Del Toro, Cameron, and Cruise cannot get "At the Mountains of Madness" funded without the addition of a love interest, there will be scary thrillers and scary action movies, but there won't be well-made scary films...)

Date: 2011-04-15 07:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Sauna further reminded me that Hollywood's methods and the intentions of dark films are quite at odds at this point. In a world where Del Toro, Cameron, and Cruise cannot get "At the Mountains of Madness" funded without the addition of a love interest, there will be scary thrillers and scary action movies, but there won't be well-made scary films...)

Yes. Exactly.

Date: 2011-04-15 07:13 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
From: [personal profile] sovay
"There were several subtle yet crucial components that made the original brilliant. We were too dumb to make sense of such things so we decided to remove those in an effort to get rich."

I remember when I saw Let the Right One In in theaters: and not a single critic I read before or afterward mentioned the gender issues. I thought, okay, maybe some of them regard that point as a spoiler. Then I realized they had somehow, despite that beautiful flicker of a scene, despite Lina Leandersson's performance and Eli's quietly insisted "I'm not a girl," managed to miss it completely. And I despaired again of humanity.

I had higher hopes for Let Me In than most people did and could even see why changing the title was a very good idea even thought the original title was more effective--but I found the film unwatchable

And evidently a waste of Richard Jenkins, whom I quite like.

lasting eight to ten minutes before fastforwarding to the final scene, which they also failed to make work, even though they reused most of the original's material.

So was it, in fact, a new adaptation from the book, or just a superficially disguised, badly handled remake of the original film?

In a world where Del Toro, Cameron, and Cruise cannot get "At the Mountains of Madness" funded without the addition of a love interest,

Wait, what? Seriously?

Date: 2011-04-15 07:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingthedark.livejournal.com
Let's see:

I wish I could dispair again of humanity. Somewhen, it became the default setting.

It would be one thing to waste Richard Jenkins. They wasted celluloid itself. (Or cellulose acetate or polyester, but the concept holds.)

I doubt they read the novel or any other books in the making of this version.

At the Mountains of Madness despite being a project that Del Toro has tried very hard to bring about, is once again highly unlikely to move forward. There are debates, but the gist is that no one would give him money to make the kind of movie he wanted to make. To me, the primary issue is the caliber of the reputations he got on board and the type of story he wanted to tell. I would argue that producers are not as to blame as the general public. Of course producers want to make lots of money. It's their day job and few have any interest in making art...but the fact that Let Me In sold twice as many tickets as Let the Right One In is an indictment, in my eyes, of theatergoers and not producers. [Please see both and above.]

The truth? I want movies about despair. Lots of them. It helps me feel like I'm not the only one on the right track with this whole thing.

Date: 2011-04-15 07:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingthedark.livejournal.com
"Please see both 'despair' and 'humanity' above" got eaten.

Date: 2011-04-15 09:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mastadge.livejournal.com
and not a single critic I read before or afterward mentioned the gender issues. I thought, okay, maybe some of them regard that point as a spoiler. Then I realized they had somehow, despite that beautiful flicker of a scene, despite Lina Leandersson's performance and Eli's quietly insisted "I'm not a girl," managed to miss it completely.

This. When I was trying to decide whether to see the remake, I asked friends who had seen it whether it had retained the gender issues of the original, only to have them reply, "What gender issues?" I couldn't believe that that simply hadn't registered to so many people.

Date: 2011-04-15 07:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Thanks for finding those, guys.

Date: 2011-04-15 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wolven.livejournal.com
Thank you for solidifying my choice not to see Reeves' remake. Your review reminds me almost eord-for-word of my reaction to the Americanization of the show 'Being Human' of which I couldn't stomach more than three episodesm

Date: 2011-04-15 07:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

You're welcome.

Date: 2011-04-15 07:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] papersteven.livejournal.com
Wondeful news. Congratulations.

Date: 2011-04-15 07:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] papersteven.livejournal.com
Oops. *Wonderful* news.

Date: 2011-04-15 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stsisyphus.livejournal.com
Congratulations on the nomination.

I saw Let Me In in the theaters, succumbing to a bit of bile fascination as to exactly how bad it was going to be. I wasn't entirely irritated with it, mostly because I could tell that Reeves knew how to shoot a movie with some decent visuals (the opening shot being what stands out). However, the result came out to be more of a period piece than much of anything else, with 1980s call-back moments sort of distracting from the core of the story. Chloe Moretz could have been replaced with anyone and made as much of an impression on me. I was similarly disappointed that one of my own favorite parts of Låt den rätte komma in (particularly many of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments) were left out in favor of Americanized CGI-enhanced monster moments. So yeah, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but I didn't tear my eyes out during it.


The Ascendant are these super beings, essentially demigods, and we spend a significant amount of our time searching out lost lockets for mourning widows and putting meat in the tables of people apparently too lazy or incompetent to do it for themselves.

Although I know it's just endemic to MMOs, I am getting tired of collecting bear asses (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TwentyBearAsses) of one stripe or another. I'm also wondering how many times I'm going to turn a corner and find Uriel Chuluun just hanging out.

Date: 2011-04-15 08:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spank-an-elf.livejournal.com
And that kid who played "Owen" is about as interesting to watch as a bowl of Cream of Wheat.

My laugh of the day. After seeing the original I held no immediate desire to see the remake because in truth I wasn't 100% in love with the original. Not sure why.

Congratulations on the nom!

Date: 2011-04-15 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashlyme.livejournal.com
I'll avoid the remake: thanks for warning us. I was on the point of reading the novel when Reeves' film came out, and then the backlash against shifting trans to cis followed; so I guess I can blame him for ruining the novel for me, as well.

How *the bloody hell* could you make Mountains with a love interest? I so wanted to see how del Toro would depict the Elder Things' history, too. The hints dropped in the mosaics (and the mirage) are what really disturbed me in the original.

Date: 2011-04-15 08:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I'll avoid the remake: thanks for warning us. I was on the point of reading the novel when Reeves' film came out, and then the backlash against shifting trans to cis followed; so I guess I can blame him for ruining the novel for me, as well.

Truthfully, though the novel gets deeper into the gender issues, I though the Swedish film was an improvement on the book, which was hardly more than a lurid horror novel.

How *the bloody hell* could you make Mountains with a love interest?

Lovecraft didn't write love interests. Hollywood cannot make Lovecraft stories into films, as we have seen.

Date: 2011-04-15 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashlyme.livejournal.com
Hmm. I don't usually favour films over novels, but I trust your opinion. (I've been curious, for instance, about the film of Something Wicked for years, but never seen it, because I love the book too much.) I'll give Alfredson a go. Ta.

Date: 2011-04-15 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

about the film of Something Wicked for years,

It has it's moments, but, overall, a disappointment.

Date: 2011-04-15 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashlyme.livejournal.com
Postscript to rant: well done on the Jackson nomination!

Date: 2011-04-15 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stsisyphus.livejournal.com
Did my comment get spammed out? Sorry, I got a spam comment today on my LJ and now I'm paranoid that I've gotten spambotted somehow.

Date: 2011-04-15 08:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Did my comment get spammed out? Sorry, I got a spam comment today on my LJ and now I'm paranoid that I've gotten spambotted somehow.

If so, I didn't get it here.

Date: 2011-04-15 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stsisyphus.livejournal.com
Eh, my comment was mostly agreeing with you, congrats on the nomination. I actually saw Let Me In in the theatres because for some reason I couldn't pull myself away from the trainwreck. It wasn't nearly has bad as I thought it was going to be (I think Reeves knows how to make a film from a technical, photographic perspective), but most of it was just pretty lazy and some unwelcome distraction with being an 1980s period film.

Re: Rift - the reason I was so behind you and Spooky on quests the other night was that I had just gotten tired of the fetch/collection questing and was "oh hell no, not another freaking one". I'm also starting to wonder how often we'll run into Uriel Chulunn...

Date: 2011-04-15 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] humglum.livejournal.com

I'm also starting to wonder how often we'll run into Uriel Chulunn...

From what I can tell, a lot.

I really think, if I level my mage higher, I am going to do it primarily on rifts I do like that we have that option. But for my cleric, I'm sticking with the quests, even the ones I think are stupid. If only for the XP and occasional better armor.

Date: 2011-04-15 10:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stsisyphus.livejournal.com
I'm not much of a number cruncher by any means, but I'd have to see what the XP balance is between doing Rift and invasion events vs doing the quests with the quest completion bonus.

Date: 2011-04-15 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I'm also starting to wonder how often we'll run into Uriel Chulunn...

Lots. I like her. She's Unseen, too.

Date: 2011-04-15 10:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stsisyphus.livejournal.com
Lots. I like her. She's Unseen, too.

I just feel like the PC is being left one-step behind her. Of course, it's only 3 instances of seeing her (so far that I've found). I just might have been cranky.

Date: 2011-04-16 11:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jtglover.livejournal.com
Congrats on the nom!

Date: 2011-04-16 02:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ericmvan.livejournal.com
Spooky and I often happen upon interesting indie horror films that we'd never heard of, and which turn out to be quite good. Had it not been for the masterful Låt den rätte komma in, Reeves' film might have struck us that way. A pretty good little coming-of-age vampire story. I might even have applauded its grittiness and willingness to take child characters places lots of filmmakers wouldn't have.

I also tried to watch it as if I had never seen the original, and I'm pretty good at that kind of mental firewalling. I agree with most of your criticism of the remake (I liked the performances of the kids better than you did), but got to the place you thought you might have. I've got Let Me In ranked 36th among 2010 movies, which is a pretty solid ranking. (Let the Right One In was 4th in its year and is somewhere in the 90s in my all-time list.) My report (a sneak preview from my forthcoming film year in review):

I’m really glad I saw this remake, because it really helps to clarify the differences between a quite good movie and a great one.

The remake is nearly as visually impressive as the original; it has its own color palette (lots of dark gold) that makes no attempt to mimic the original. With the exception of the final sequence, the horror and suspense set pieces are as good or in many cases better than the original. The performances are excellent, including Richard Jenkins. In terms of depth, the boy (here Owen) witnesses quite a bit more of the vampire (here Abby, and as has been widely reported, unambiguously a girl) in action and is appalled and hence more overtly conflicted. The bullying sequences are really well done, and in fact the final one is probably more harrowing than anything in the original.

What is missing is reams of subtle character development, mostly of the boy, but also of the relationship. All we see of O’s fascination with violence is that he likes to pretend he’s Jason from Friday the 13th, which in this day and age can't be regraded as abnormal. Hence there’s absolutely no sense that he could be a future Columbine kid, and that's a crucial lapse. And in this version I feel like we are asked to accept the connection the kids make and their growing closer because, well, that’s what happens in movies. We are shown the standard amount of it, the normal movie shorthand, and asked to fill in the blanks. And of course making Abby a girl by birth removes a significant layer of complexity.

So Let Me In proves to be an extremely good genre movie. It’s a vampire movie with unusual thematic depth and somewhat more character development than is usual. What it isn’t is a magical hybrid between the troubled-teen coming-of-age story and genre horror. And it’s not as if they’ve shifted the balance; there’s simply less of the character work which in the original co-existed with the horror without lessening it to any degree.

The remake grossed $12M in this country versus $2M for the original and also outgrossed the original outside the US but only by a $10M to $9M margin. Given the marketing force behind the remake that suggests nothing was gained commercially by making the movie more conventional, which makes me glad.

It’s in DVD rentals that the original is clobbering the remake: on Netflix, the remake has 142,243 rankings averaging 3.5 while the original has 787,893 averaging 3.8. (On IMDB, the remake has 17,401 votes averaging 7.3, the original has 70,744 averaging 8.1, putting it #216 in their top 250.)

I wouldn’t entirely agree that this movie had no reason to exist: after Cloverfield it establishes Matt Reaves as one of the most promising young directors of genre material (based on his visual flair and skill with action and suspense set-pieces). I’ll be watching what he does next.

Date: 2011-04-17 04:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mizliz13.livejournal.com
Congrats on the nomination. Huzzah!

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