A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on
John F. Kennedy
I saw it in Thai, without subtitles. Since I've only been to Thailand twice, make that once, the other time I only went to Bangkok. Bangkok isn't Thailand any more than Tijuana and Juarez are Mexico. So I've really only been to Thailand once and that time with a native translator so there was never any need or urge to learn any Thai at all.
But I watched "Ong Bak 3" and I may not have gotten some subtle nuances but I sure followed the story, followed it well enough to gasp and holler at all the right spots too.
You might remember I was vaguely dissatisfied with Ong Bak 2. Number 3 makes it apparent why. These are not two films but one epic film. A three hour story that got chopped in half, chopped into mouth sized bits. Taken together its a film that just falls short of magnificent. They don't jell as two separate stories but as one tale of a man's transformation from prince, to slave to pirate to saint it's ambitious beyond the talent of Jaa as director. Don't mistake that I do not think that Jaa is seriously talented as a director. He made a comprehensible, enthralling story in a language that might have been gibberish for all I knew. The story he tells is big and has thwarted numerous directors and writers before him. The closest to his theme is, shockingly, Alejandro Jodowrosky's obnoxious "El Topo".
"Ong Bak" attempts much and delivers much. It's a solid noble film that is easy to believe in. It should be seen. This isn't some tired little story about a guy and girl who do something that doesn't mean a damn thing while it tries to be funny. This is a movie. It entertains and tries to lead us someplace different in our lives and tries to show us a new corner of the world our time and confusion has forced us to ignore. Its a big plan.
I;m a Jim Thompson fan. Only problem is that Thompson, due to money mostly, seldom put together great books. There are great starts, great sections and sometimes great endings but it wasn't often he put together a masterpiece. His most solid book was probably "The Getaway" and his masterpiece is probably, "The Killer Inside Me".
"The Killer Inside Me" is about Lou, an affable, good looking, innocuous appearing dummy. Except Lou is nothing like the adaptive persona he's adopted. He's a sociopath, bright, cunning and evil. He's still likable and part of the books tension comes from wanting Lou to succeed in all the vicious things he does.
Lou probably would have lived out his life rejoicing in his small cruelties, concealing his insanity but a hooker moves to town. Lou discovers she's a submissive and loves to play sex scenes with his dom reality.
They concoct a scheme to escape the small town and to be able to go someplace where they can go live together and be happy. Except the girl forgets Lou is happy and he allows her to plan and works her plan into his plan of violent revenge and homicidal ecstasy.
Lou becomes a calm and calculating serial killer. He delights in watching others attempt to discover his evil. He enjoys planning around it and succeeding. He appears he deserves to keep murdering people.
Now there's a new movie based on the book. It;s really poor. The problems start with the casting. Casey Affleck is just the wrong type. It needed someone bright and buoyant. Even Ashton Krutcher would have been a better choice. Affleck does fine with the broody stuff but is worthless at the good ol' boy end of things. The result is a thin performance devoid of any emotional patois.
But Affleck seems like a genius compared to the befuddled performance of Jessica Alba. How can I say this - playing the little sub whore Alba generates absolutely no heat. I remember having to see a high school play of "Death of a Salesman" where the kid stuck playing Willie Loman thought the way to show weariness was to read his lines as fast and monotonously as possible. Alba is horrible. She's playing a hooker, a fetishist. She has at least 3 sex scenes and she is just nothing but dull and boring.
The rest of the cast is good but with the two leads so abysmal and wrong headed they have no current to swim with or against.
The movie follows the book near exactly but it has, seemingly, no comprehension of what the book was about. They are just bits and skits. There's no emotion, no heat, no stink of the dust of West Texas. It's like a Disney version of the Kama Sutra or something. What a failure and these jerks will probably blame Jim Thompson's source material instead of their own bumbling incompetence.
I still love my nook. The Kindle is lighter, easier to hold and navigate. The nook touchscreen looks moderately cool but is a pain in the neck to work and a monstrous drain on the battery. Also the Kindle whispersync works while syncing the nook is a chore. But I love it. It lets me read.
With the Kindle 3 promised and B&N's future looking well, unpredictable, you can get nooks on ebay, brand new, for under $50!
The advantages of e-readers are pretty obvious. Still my favorite is carrying around the 3 books I'm currently reading and changing the fonts and font sizes when appropriate.
Presently the most interesting thing I'm reading is "Through a Dog's Eyes" by Jennifer Arnold.
Arnold has cred because she founded and trains service dogs for Canine Assistance. Doesn't make her a good writer though. This book is a mess but no more so than 90% of the books I read about dogs.
She tries to be thorough but it comes across like a high school student trying to compose a Doctoral thesis. But the facts are interesting and her observations are valuable enough to make the slog worthwhile. I have to agree that my training and basis for my love of dogs is her old fashioned method that has been burnished and altered by my respect and general fondness for dogs. She has valid points that I discover I'm already incorporating in my doggie relationships.
With as much love as I have for lists I'm surprised to discover I've never written up a list of my top ten fave books!
- The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen - Sort of figures that this is one book that would not translate to an ebook reader as it uses typography to delineate some of its more astonishing images both on the page and in your head.
- The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler - This was a rough call as Chandler's "Farewell My Lovely" could fit here just as well. Moose Malloy and Phillip Marlowe are two of the greatest characters in fiction in a great story. "Goodbye" is the better more ambitious book though. Terry Lennox is no slouch as a character either.
- Hector Berlioz Autobiography - A life of music. Skillful and full of rhythms. Its a madman's descent into crushed dreams and genius.
- The Whole Earth Catalog edited by Stewart Brand - A catalog of tools, most of them books. A lot of toys and implements to take us into the future. And there was this grotty little novel onin the corner of each page. The future it was trying to build never happened. Shame really.
- The Complete Works of William Blake - You need the edition with plates and artwork. I even like to muddle through the prophetic poems and try and separate the poetry from the Swedenborganiasm.
- Alice in Wonderland - By Lewis Carroll - Another book that doesn't really work on an ereader. Its still brilliant.
- Ironweed by William Kennedy - Baseball, bums and music. A heart stopping examination of death and the thinness of life.
- Deus Irae by Philip K Dick and Roger Zelzaney - Perhaps the bleakest view of life after the apocalypse. It has no joy except the small joys that we find when we're not prepared to let despondency rule the day.
- Happy Birthday of Death by Gregory Corso - He used to read his poems to bongo music and thus created, single handed, a stereotype and a cliche. His stuff is solid.
- Naked Lunch by William Burroughs - Read this first in high school. For a while the entire football team and baseball team were doing impromptu skits quoting pages of the book. Crazy and cool.
For me; I've been sick. Don't understand it. Wild stabbing pains, my joints all feel sprained, lots of chest pain. Don't get it. Cardiologist on Wednesday.