Friday, June 11, 2010

The Road, Precious, Bright Shiny Morning

I haven't done any reviews of things I've read/watched in an extremely long time. I think since I was pregnant, which is pretty much two years ago? Where does the time GO, man? And women? Jeepers. Okay, first of all Brent and I rented The Road tonight (we also rented G-Force, a movie about four Guinea Pigs and a Mole who save the world from total destruction and enslavement, but I won't be doing a review on that one!!! Family Pizza Movie night, folks. Gotta love it!). Brent read The Road when he was at Polizei training, and I read it when we were in Hawaii two years ago. It was mind blowing good, very sparse prose that reminded me of Hemingway, and bleak settings that reminded me of MacDonald's 'Lillith', and apocalyptic plot that was a mixture of Atwood and Lord of the Flies.

And sadder than shit. I cried as much in this book as I did in Schindler's List. It was very good. I'm pretty sure most of you will be fairly familiar with the idea behind The Road because it's now a movie, as aforementioned. Tonight we watched it and both cried buckets; it's one you only want to watch if you have a steel bunker set up around your mental health, because it's so dark. But if you happen to be in a strong emotional space, it is a movie that is very engaging and worthwhile, and as art is invaluable in its expression and philosophical struggles. The film is beautiful to watch. Definitely don't watch it in the first few months after you give birth, though. It's far too dark to watch during a time when one's emotional and spiritual self yawns so wide open.
It's like any epic film dealing with humanity at its most visceral: hard to watch, but necessary to engage with.

Another film I saw recently was 'Precious.


Wow. Another must see film, so good. It was so, so good. This was also pretty dark, but with way more light in it than The Road. It's ultimately a triumph over darkness and abuse and profound poverty of spirit (and money), and shocking in its depravity at times. I fell in love with the main character about five minutes into the movie, though she had little to redeem herself at first. There was just some spark in her that pulled me in. MUST see.

I also finished another book last night called 'Bright Shiny Morning,' which is by the same author who wrote 'A Million Little Pieces,' a fantastic book that melts two incompatible genres by being semi autobiographical, and semi fictitious. He got some bad press for the melding of the two, but I never understood what the big fracking deal was: all non fiction fabricates some, and all fiction accurately portrays real life situations some...Why did anyone care? Oprah loved the book, but she sure cared that he mixed some fiction into his nonfiction, I tell you. Anyways, that book is amazing also, but yesterday's book 'Bright Shiny Morning' is, interestingly, ALSO a melding of the same two genres, but declares itself fiction. So I guess everyone will be more comfortable with it now. It's a book 'about' Los Angeles, but about the heart and soul of any urban setting: its inhabitants. It mixes lists and lists of facts about the history and present of different L.A. characteristics, like the origins and history of each freeway, gang activity, artistic regions of the city, natural disasters on record since the early 1800s, beaches, boulevards, suburbs, aqueduct and water purchasing, etc, etc, etc, with what seems like hundreds of deeply engaging characters and their stories. It is one of those complex books that weaves together many storylines and you could easily get lost as it jumps between them, but each subplot and character is so engaging that it draws you in anyways, and jogs your memory of who is who. The descriptions are so colourful. I loved this book so much I could hardly put it down to do my homework. Five thumbs up!


Rachel Clear said...

Great reviews!

I haven't read The Road, but we recently watched it, and you may or may not have seen my facebook post about it, but I HATED it. All four of us that watched it did. I couldn't get myself into it hardly at all, despite my emotions being on the fritz, because we found the boy in there to be more like a 2 year old and so annoying we could HARDLY STAND HIM. I think that we were all secretly hoping he wouldn't make it. Okay, it wasn't a secret. We were hoping that. And we've all been wanting to find out from someone who might know (like you?) but did that kid (in the book) have some sort of mental disorder or something that made him so incredibly odd and lame or did they just not cast his part very well? We weren't sure if we missed something there or what. The film, other than that kid, was incredible. But the poor little lad ruined it for us. I wish I'd read your review first because it might have helped to redeem it for me.

As for Precious... LOVED it. I just watched that this week. Man, that was darker than dark, but so good. That was one of the first films I've seen in a long time that I couldn't stop thinking about. Nearly a week later, I think about certain scenes all day long and just want to roll up into a ball and cry... and then snap out of it and change the freaking world. To think that there are people for whom THAT is their life is absolutely a killer to me.

Would you recommend reading The Road if one has already seen the film?

melissa said...

I am seriously perturbed at your review: not once did I think his behavior was inappropriate! I did see that you hated it, which gave me pause to rent it....but I had loved the book and been deeply moved by it, so I went for the movie anyways and really liked it. I'm sure my reading the book FIRST was helpful, because I already knew what would happen and how tragic his story was. It seriously did not occur to me that he was anything but normally traumatized by his horrific childhood full of death and hunger?!
Odd and lame? Mental disorder?
Afraid little boy!
Seriously, you cold hearted woman!!!
Sorry you hated it. I'd still recommend the book because I found it so good so it may redeem itself to you. The book is first person from the dad's perspective so maybe the boy doesn't play as prominent a role as in the movie?

Then again, you loved Bel Canto and I HATED it, so perhaps we just have different taste!!!! Lol!

As for Precious, I agree with you totally. It stuck in my head for a long time, too--it was so UNIQUE! And dark. It was horrifically interesting watching all the different KINDS of abuse a person can come up with...

Rachel Clear said...

Haha! So I thought and thought about this, and discussed it with everyone else who watched the film (all of whom also hated the kid) and we came up with this: if you didn't read the book, the kid was totally unbelievable. And here's why.

Any child of that age (we're guessing he was between 10 and 12?) who was BORN and RAISED during an apocolypse of that nature would have a good deal of fight or flight instint, common sense, etc., just based on knowing child psychology and studying other cultures where survival is a huge element of childhood.

This kid was CONSTANTLY whining and complaining, running off and putting himself and his dad in danger, screaming and freaking out when all he needed to do was be still, and acting, in general, like a toddler. It just made it to where we were yelling at the TV "Shut UP, kid!!" or "Are you kidding me with this?!" or "REALLY? You KNOW that you are surrounded by freaking cannibals, but you're going to run around yelping and howling in wide open spaces? REALLY?" He just pretty much made us want to silence him ourselves.


We've come to the conclusion that the book must have made him either A) younger, or B) less crazy, or C) more detail into his life so that you got an idea of why he was acting that way. It seems that EVERYONE I talk to that didn't read the book feels the same way about that darned kid, but you and my other one friend who read the book first, didn't feel that way.

We must have some different tastes on some things, for sure, but I'd still bet that on 7 things out of 10, we'd agree (when it comes to most topics). :)