“Kauf, Kauf…” (or: Malkovich Gaiden)

Mm. I’ve been kind of scared to watch Adaptation again. I’ve seen it two and a quarter times now — once in the theater, once at home, and the rest in French. The dub was strange.

The point is, I really liked it in the theater. It was one of the only movies that I’d seen which honestly impressed me on an intellectual level. I identified with it in a number of ways. I was, however, uncertain of how stable this might be.

It defeated me the first time. I enjoyed it the second time. Still, the movie isn’t exactly perfect. There are some qualities which are a little annoying — even though it accounts for them just fine. It wouldn’t be the same movie otherwise; it wouldn’t hold together in the same way.

I was afraid that my patience wouldn’t last through those bits and that the movie might start to fall apart, if I picked at it too much. I know that it doesn’t hold up for a lot of people — otherwise rather perceptive people — in a couple of specific places. Towards the end, especially.

Perhaps only in my vanity, I’d like to think that I more clearly understand what the movie is trying to do (and succeeding, as far as what it intends). Was I just tolerating those bits in favor of the larger structure? Did understanding them do me any real good? How about understanding that the movie sets itself up to allow me to watch it any old way that I like? To pick a level (if I wish) and stay with it? To ride it through to the end? Was I merely tricked into outsmarting myself?

The answer: I think, no. I’m watching it yet again. It’s paused right after the last “muffin” line. And… although this is early, it still works. I can project out from here. I think I’m appreciating it better each time. This film isn’t as fragile as I feared that it might be.

Further, it’s… oddly encouraging. Just as it’s depressing.

BONUS NOTE!

Try filtering The Matrix through Adaptation.

You can use the movie as a colander, you know. It’s fun!

Either Matrix will do. Your choice.

Note the bit about broken mirrors.

Choice is good.

The Wachowskis do indeed possess a certain flavour of genius.

I’m not sure if it’s a constructive kind, but it’s undeniably there.

“There are no easy answers”

Adaptation is a movie which it is impossible to say anything intelligent about. You can take that as you will.

Even saying that, I’m probably missing the point.

Nevertheless, I am thoroughly defeated. This is what films can be at the level to which no one ever seems to bother to take them.

I think once this comes out on DVD, I’ll have an interesting tool. Whenever I want a good gauge of how someone’s mind works, I’ll show him or her Adaptation. See what the conclusion is.

I don’t think I’ve had to work that hard in the act of watching a movie, for a very long time (if ever). After a certain point, I had to watch it three or four times at once with separate parts of my brain while simultaneously rewinding and reframing every other element, character, facet of the film from the first words, with every new sentence which was uttered.

And even in doing that, and in realizing that in trying to even find a level to watch it on, or find… anything to speak about, I am shown for the fool that I am — I am! By simply throwing my hands up and saying that the movie intentionally defies concrete understanding and revels in that fact, I’m still narrowing it down to a point which is so inherently ingrained in the movie’s fiber that that’s not it either.

So I’ll simply nod. I, personally, can’t hold this one. I’ll just admire it.

Now, how long will it take before videogames reach this level of art? Hmm…

Art and life really are synonymous, aren’t they? Can I ever birth such an immortal being? What’s the point of being here, if not? We are given such a limited chance, and all most people seem to have the ambition to do is to selfishly create more literal life. Life which will wither and wane and be forgotten. A hundred years, and no one will have the chance to know it. It will have no more to say.

I feel I have a responsibility to do more than that, with all of the resources I’m wasting merely by existing in the first place. But can I do it? Will I ever know if I have?

All right. I guess I can say that about the movie, without imposing myself upon it. Without suggesting that what I say is the movie, or its point (if it has any one in particular). If I make sure to make this distinction, I suppose I should be okay.

Unrelatedly, The Two Towers didn’t annoy me anywhere near as much on the instance of my second subjection to it. And I can’t get that damned Gollum’s Song, from the ending credits, out of my head of this moment. The flashbacks are still murder, though.

I just flipped the light switch, in attempt to flush the toilet.

Tales of Derring-Do

As incorrect as DuckTales was, I’ve always thought the voice fellow they used made a good Scrooge — even though Rosa insists Scrooge shouldn’t really have any accent anymore. The voice just fits him better than most characters. Donald’s voice, for example; it’s fine for the screen-Donald, who, as they say, throws nuts at Chip ‘N Dale — but the comic book Duck, who has a personality, speaks like a normal human being? I have no clue what his voice would sound like.

I also do like the refined nephew voices in DuckTales. They sound “ducky” enough, but are more than normal-sounding, as well.

Actually, DT wasn’t too bad a show. It had a number of well-written episodes, and, hell, it tried. It’s virtually the only acknowledgement by Disney that Barks’ characters ever existed. Just the fact they altered so many things and got so much wrong really annoys me.

I also admit I do like Launchpad. He was basically added to take the place of the Donald role, but he’s an enjoyable character anyway.

What don’t rub me so well are:

  • Webby and “Mrs. Beakly”;
  • “Duckworth”
  • that young fellow named “Doofus”
  • the voice for Magica DeSpell — she’s supposed to be a vixen. Why does she sound like an old hag?
  • Their characterization of Glomgold as a Scotsman who lives in Duckburg rather than a Boer who lives in South Africa
  • Their dumbed-down and “modified” Beagle Boys, with their individual names and personalities (beyond the prunes and numbers)
  • The absence of Donald, he being the axis of the whole situation to begin with
  • The strange, gawky way they drew Gyro
  • The fact that Gyro’s little helper only appeared exactly twice in all the years of the show, in cameos, and that when he did appear they called him “little bulb.” Again, huh?
  • The fact that Gladstone, as major a character as he is, only appeared twice. (Perhaps in absence of his rival, Donald?) He had a brief cameo, which was cute — but when he appeared properly, they got his character all wrong.
  • The minimal acknowledgement of the Junior Woodchucks, and very un-woodchucklike behaviour on the part of the nephews
  • The unfortunate characterization, voice, and appearance they gave to Glittering Goldie.
  • the odd negative color-switch they gave to $crooge’s jersey.
  • The fact they permanently screwed things up by confusing Dewey and Louie, then insisting it had always been that way. (Rather than Huey=red; Dewey=blue and Louie=green, as it had usually tended to be (once colors had finally been settled upon), they made it Huey=red; Dewey=green and Louie=blue.)
  • The absence of the dry wit to Barks’s writing, either misinterpreting it and taking jokes seriously or just being sickly silly.

And yet: they did basically get Scrooge’s character right, which is amazing. Had they just stuck to Barks, the show could still be on now — the elements they removed could provide a virtually endless number of plot ideas, in a number of different genres — the “ten pager,” with Donald and the kids getting into trouble around town or chasing each other around or contesting against Gladstone or other day-to-day activities; the classic Scrooge adventure, which is basically all they used as inspiration; the Scrooge “ten pager,” which they did actually use on occasion, which deal with more daily, small troubles; the Donald adventure story; the Junior Woodchuck competition stories; the Gyro episode… I could go on.

The biggest error is probably their removal of Donald and Gladstone. Compared to their absence, the other changes are nothing. I guess they just didn’t think Donald would be intelligable enough for such a large role — or perhaps they didn’t want the wider public to be confused by the fact he has a personality. I think they just figured everyone else other than the nephews would be “new” characters to most of the viewing population, allowing them to mold the show however they liked.

Result, almost everyone I’ve met seems to think that Scrooge was created for DuckTales in 1986. A few correct them: no, he was the character created for Mickey’s Christmas Carol in 1980, remember? Then that just confuses the whole matter. Why would Disney use Ebenezer Scrooge as a major character and call him Donald’s uncle?