Sundry Things

Thing the first:

I just returned from my first screening of The Two Towers, and while reactions to this film have been overwhelmingly positive, I have mixed feelings. One of the strengths of the first film was how closely it followed the book(s), with the possible exception of Tom Bombodil, who is a delightful character, but ultimately serves a function unnecessary to the film. At the same time, the actors were allowed to do their jobs, which is to create believable characters through, well, acting. The Two Towers does not follow the book quite so closely, particularly with the addition of the scenes with Liv Tyler. I think this is a good thing, because it humanizes the relationship (and its potential problems) between Aragorn and the Horse-Princess, and makes Aragorn’s moral dilemma quite sharp in our minds. We feel for these characters in ways the book does not allow us.

Sadly, the rest of the film distances us in ways the first did not. The first film was very human, very real, very much alive. This film is not. It seeks to be grandiose and full of fear and glory, and while it succeeds, it does so only to a point. Just like much of the book(s), it became simply an exercise in deus ex machina, which always struck me as rather sloppy on Tolkien’s part. I have always felt that deus ex machina is a tool for the weak writer, unless said writer happens to be penning an ancient Greek play. By the end I was sick of watching characters in hopeless situations being saved by extremely powerful coincidences (involving, for the most part, very powerful beings or many armed men).

I was extremely impressed by Peter Jackson’s sense for space and texture. I could see pores, dirty cuticles, dust, dirt, sweat, hair, grass, chips, scratches, tears; I could see everything, and it looked real. These didn’t look like actors in costume, they looked like people in the world. Likewise with distances: I didn’t once get the impression that there was a camera in the room with the actors. It seemed like the characters could touch all four walls, pick up all the props, touch all the statues… It was a real, three-dimensional world.

Thing the second:

Jim recently accepted a challenge to post 100 times in a single twenty-four hour period. He did it, and many parts of it were extremely amusing. But I think it’s a bad idea, and here’s why.

When I looked back at my daily blog before revamping it, at first all I thought of was how ugly it looked, and how inefficient it was. I was also ashamed at how infrequently I updated it. But the more I examined it, the more I realized that it wasn’t the number of times I updated that I was ashamed of, it was the quality of those updates. I had not taken the time to think about why I was posting, and I posted more about myself than about my interests, but worst of all, those posts about myself were not amusing, and did not speak to my audience.

How does this relate to Jim? Well, Jim is a great writer (he lacks self-confidence, but he has a clear voice and a clear mind, both of which make up for his lack of faith in his own abilities). But he’s a great writer because he takes the time to think about what he’s writing, and why he’s writing it (he often claims he doesn’t, but I think he’s lying). With his one-hundred posts in twenty-four hours project, he had to post an average of 4.16667 time per hour, which I don’t think gives him a lot of time to think about what he’s posting, or why he’s posting it. In other words, he can’t play to his strengths. It was an admirable experiment that had some interesting results, but ultimately I would rather wait a week for a new, well-thought out entry than have him post twice as often but with lesser quality (potentially: like I said, the experiment did yield some good things).

Of course I’d like to remind folks that experiment or no, Jim is one hell of a guy.

Thing the third:

Laura Trippi has moved to a new location. She bought a domain! You should go read her work at http://www.netvironments.org. She has also undertaken the monumental task of teaching me something about zWikis, but seeing as how she does that sort of thing for a living, I have high hopes.

August

Writer. Editor. Critic.

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