Sunday, January 15, 2006



t's 7 AM in the morning and I should go to asleep. School starts on Tuesday, however, and I want to milk every last minute of the break before I resign myself to the fact that I actually have to work. Procrastinator par excellence, M would say... if she spoke French, that is.

The other night, I was up late watching television, as usual. On TCM, they were showing Miyazaki Hayao films, and I decided to watch the last fifteen minutes of Laputa, Castle in the Sky. I had seen it before but found it curious since it was the first time I watched it dubbed in English. It was almost 1 AM when it ended and was thinking about going to bed when I realized that they were going to show Nausica of the Valley of the Winds followed by a repeat of Laputa, both in the original Japanese. I hadn't seen this in awhile and was again impressed. These are older films and so the animation is not as technically impressive as Mononoke Hime or Spirited Away, but the story and vision and imagination of Miyazaki is awesome--Man's greed destroys all, nature can heal itself if only man would stay out of the way. I truly enjoyed watching them again.

On Saturday, I went to see King Kong. It was a fast paced and enjoyable movie. My butt told me it was a bit too long--over three hours--although I must admit that it was a pretty quick three hours. *mild spoilers warning* There were a couple of scenes that were unnecessary, I think. The dinosaur stampede was exciting and the valley of insects was disgustingly fun, but both added little to the film except extra CG effects. Those two scenes alone would have shortened the film by 20 minutes. Perhaps most interesting to ponder was director, Peter Jackson's (Lord of the Rings) decision to retell the story by keeping it in its original setting, the 1930s. Often, remakes of older movies are modernized and relocated in an attempt to provide a more recognizable context for the viewer, War of the Worlds being the most recent example I can think of. I can't decide if Jackson was being "faithful" to the original or he was just being lazy. I mean, if he were to place King Kong in a contemporary setting, there would be too many things to account for. Kong would be easily captured with modern technology. Surely, titanium chains would have held a twenty-five foot gorilla better than the aluminum alloy used in the Alhambra theater. And in the finale, the skies over Manhattan would not have been filled with bi-planes shooting machine guns. Instead, if the goal was to kill the beast, a single Blackhawk attack helicopter with a couple of sparrow missiles would have done the trick. Indeed, they would have had to have made a completely different movie to place it in our contemporary times.

Casting was another thing. Most of the supporting actors were right on, but the lead characters left me unsure. Why Jack Black as the conniving film maker? I like him a lot, actually, but I'm not convinced he was perfect for the role of Carl Denham. And Naomi Watts was sorta right but then sorta not. She fit the bill of the sad, out-of-luck but good-looking girl of the depression era--in fact, the more I think about it, the more she seems perfect. But she also had to possess a knock-'em-dead kind of beauty that would capture Kong, much as Kong had captured her--as Black dead-panned at the end, "'Twas beauty that killed the beast." I'm pretty sure Black actually said "twas". *end spoilers* But I'm not a casting director, so who knows. It's ultimately personal taste.

So have you seen King Kong yet? And did you like it?

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