Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

Qui critices criticebant - who criticises the critics?

Decisions, decisions. Do I start watching my haul from the Library - la Jetee, M and Do the Right thing?

Or do I continue with my self appointed Batman marathon? Tomorrow, I'm watching the Dark Knight Returns on a midnight IMAX. Last weekend, I watched Tim Burton's Batman - more on that below. This weekend, I hope to watch the "best" of the set, Batman Returns. And then if I'm feeling brave, Batma and Robin, the film everybody's talking about. At least, the film everybody's talking about when I declare Batman Forever is the worst film ever made (quote: " haven't seen Batman and Robin then?"). Jesu, films can be worse?! In any case, I intend to bravely find out.

Yes indeed, I'm having a great time taking advantage of my local movie resources now I am at la University. Item one is the Maughn Library - mostly yer Hitchcocks and Wellses, though I did find Lost Boys there this morning, so I'm happy. Only problem is most of the films are one day loan - and living 90 minutes away means there's no sensible way to take out a film, watch it and return it (yes, they can be watched in the library, but there's no atmosphere and the reflections are dire...). Many films are on short loan -you can borrow them for three hours maximum, which is hilarious as a few of them actually take longer than that to watch.

Item 2 is the video library back at our hall of residence, and boy is that funny - a dumping ground for all the subpar Hollywood tat of the last ten years; a cross section of Hell's video rental. Striptease, Dungeons and Dragons, Drunken Master 4, Air Force One, and as noted above, all four of the Burton(ish) Batmans. There's the odd gem, but to be honest I'm having more fun indulging my love for the high budget terrible.

Not that Batman was terrible, of course. It was really very effective in places - Bruce Wayne himself was adorable, though I hope he's not going to find true love in every movie, because that'll just get too tedious.

Finally, in answer to the question on everyone's lips - "Is Watchmnen unfilmable?", I would like to add that nothing is unfilmable. They managed to condense L.A. Confidential, one of the most plot-rich books you'll ever read, without losing any of its charm and often, seemingly, without losing any of the subplots either (they cut hundreds, but on the whole all the details you'll remember will be there).

They also made Lord of the Rings. This is because someone sat down and realised no, you do not have to film every single appendix - we just let people know they're there.It made it a far richer film experience, because the audience could feel there was far more to the film than beyond the four walls.

Watchmen is one of the most cinematic things I've ever read. You've got to do what they did to the two examples above, and try and make the best film possible. The basic plot - "Rorshach's quest for the mask-killer, and what he finds there" - is very simple indeed. Don't ignore the complexities, but you really can't include everything. Something that instantly springs to mind is the subplot with the newsseller/Tales from the Black Rock comic. Ultimately, this is very important in the shock factor of the ending, but it's secondary to the main plot. Things will have to go - this is what we call adaptation, if you're not Age of Innocence - but that's what turning it into a film is all about, and stick with the comic if you can't handle that. The Minutemen will be as the Silmarillion is to Lord of the Rings - every now and then someone will say "Luthien", or "Turin", but it doesn't matter if we don't exactly understand the detail - to hear it is to infer a world richer than the one we are seeing. I'm thinking the Comedian-Laurie story will go entirely, except for nods only the knowing will get.

Cutting was never the problem for me. There's no reason why movie-Frodo didn't go to see Tom Bombadil, we just didn't see it. It's changing the plot and changing the tone which galls with me, and Mr Snyder has already admirably proved he's not going to let this happen with Watchmen. He fought the studios, set it in the 80s and dear sweet Orson Welles, he didn't let them change the ending. Goodness knows who thought that was a good idea...

So, onto the article that's got me angry:

He makes a lot of claims for the comic medium over film, many of which are terribly false. Yes, comics have a way with the passage of time, but that doesn't mean film doesn't also. Yes, you can load comic panels with detail, but sometimes it's a) overdoing it, b) distracts from the flow and c) films also do this. American Beauty comes to mind as a film where someone has thought about the contents of every frame - or the circular pan to Fur Elise in Elephant around the boy's room, letting the audience infer detail for a good two minutes about the character. Comics are not necessarily better for being as long as the author wants them to be - Watchmen is perfect, but it's easy to cry indulgence on anyone writing spinoffs, preludes, et al. He lists all the things that comics can do - like having a completely simmetrical issue. But they can't, say, contrast the action onscreen with the choice of music - Don't Stop Me Now, Stuck in the Middle with You, Singing in the Rain. These are things that film can do, which you can't. Now which innovation is better? Answer: neither. They're just different. Is film worse for having music and other tricks at its disposal? Sure, artists have to work harder, but maybe this proves that film is a better medium? In answer to that, many filmmakers reject such flashy techniques anyway - we have a whole range from fullblown showy onslaughts to tiny handheld affairs which might as well be comic books. La Jetee is entirely pictures. And no character development in movies? Don't make me laugh. The faculties of voice mean that a character can be established with a single line - what about Mink in Miller's Crossing, who gets a single scene, yet already you know who he is?

Methinks the best way to defend your chosen medium is not by bashing another. Because films are equal to comics, and they're both equal to audio plays, or ballets, or live theatre - no medium superscedes, not when you're dealing with artists at the top of their game. As it turns out, I'm writing a comic at the moment, and I've been trying to do a "violent scene + chirpy music" scene in a medium which requires only images, and succeeding to boot, so it is possible.

And to return to Watchmen, I don't think the comic vs film analogy is fair, because it borrows so liberally from film. Many scenes are basically cross-cut with another. Or a sequence of panels is used to suggest a pan, or zoom out. One could basically use it as a storyboard. I'd also mention those five massive panels towards the end, which I will be very disappointed if they aren't accompanied by total silence - because the thing that really impressed me about that part of the comic was the fact that they'd managed to draw complete, dead silence.

The point is, if someone does it properly, Watchmen can be made - and like LOTR or L.A. Confidential, made in such a way that you don't entirely notice or miss what's gone. This comic actually made me cry with shock. Lets hoping the movie manages too...


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