Two Roads, QT, George, and some Werewolves

Posted by Lou. The time is 2.30pm here in London, UK.

Quelle horreur! Neither Bel nor I have posted in 11 whole days! Lucky I've seen a few films, read a few books, and seen a couple of musicals in that time... okay I'll spare you the musicals...


The Road... and The Road. Read the book... then went to the film. The book is brilliant - Cormac McCarthy centres his story on a father and young son, trying to survive in a barren apocalyptic future. The intimacy of the story is all the more engaging for the simple and identifiable nature of this apocalyptic world: no zombies, techno-wars, or aliens - just dead trees, highways, and the occasional shell of a contemporary American city.

The story becomes even more human in the film, with Viggo Mortensen injecting the character of The Man with startling tenderness - further engaging the audience's emotions with their quest to survive. He is absolutely perfect casting: the sort of guy you think would survive the apocalypse and find a way to live without losing his humanity. And my visual imagination was once more shown up by a filmmaker, with the gray dead landscapes and cityscapes far exceeding my ability to envision such devastation.

Both highly recommended, though I will caution that I personally found that reading and watching very closely together detracted from the impact of the film.


Inglourious Basterds. Some really great stuff in there - iconic character performances (I refer to a couple of the Nazis, NOT Brad Pitt's horrific southerner), stunning imagery, the sort of magnificent dialogue that only QT can do, superb moments of tension surrounding the ultra-violence - but. Well. I couldn't switch off that this is a film set amidst the Holocaust. That dehumanises all members of the German army in a way that - as better commentators on the subject have put it - turns Jews into Nazis. All done by a non-Jewish, non-German filmmaker. Primarily to advance his own sense of ego and cinema. Maybe one day I'll view it differently, but for now there is a lingering feeling of discomfort that overrides the brilliance. But I still love QT so I guess didn't find it too objectionable. Maybe.


I started reading Michael Chabon's Werewolves in Their Youth a long time ago, but set it down partway into the second chapter (I guess not such a great advertisement for it), only recently remembering about it. I finished that chapter, got onto the next one, and thought "there's something funny about this". Happened to glance at the back cover and realised... ooops. It was a set of short stories. Not a novel. Now that is why the characters seemed to have nothing to do with each other and I just couldn't get into the story...

I'm not hot on short stories - it's not a genre I love, and it's a genre I only just know enough about to know that I don't know enough to judge short stories. But this collection had enough Chabon magic to keep me engaged, and is actually gosh-darned interesting for how much it drips with his real-life. You just know reading this that it was written by a man going through the experience of Becoming A Father.

Most interestingly for me was the running thematic of vaginas - implying the discovery by a heterosexual man of a vagina other than the sexual vagina: the vagina as a bearer of life, and the completely asexual vagina of a child. (Ugh, that sounds so wrong written like that - I guess that exposes the certain amount of bravery it takes to write a short story that broaches the subject. I can assure you it's not in any way whatsoever creepily done.) I'd never really thought of what that must be like for the guys who - until fatherhood - only know the vagina as something they want to fuck.


George. Oh we love George. He's so immaculate. So pristine. Perfect. I just think he and I would be so good together, living in his villa on Lake Como and discussing news, politics and literature over cappuccinos and croissants while the water laps gently against the terrace.

Okay I just needed to get that out of my system.

In describing Up in the Air the thing that comes first to mind is that it's a film for grown-ups: it's about grown-up relationships and grown-up lives. It is a very smart, sleek and contemporary film - but far from being "important" or "serious" it is actually quite frivolous with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. George is a guy who spends his life in the air, flying from city to city to fire people. He meets a woman with a similarly transient life, and also finds himself lumped with an ambitious young graduate to show the ropes.

While yes, this is another film about a middle-aged guy, the female characters are actually brilliantly unconventional and remain unjudged for career, sex or life decisions. I guess you could say that the dialogue and story explores ideas of how relationships should or could be in a way that judges neither tradition nor departures from. Another plus is that it provides another showcase for Our Melanie Lynskey's ability to be the character everyone wants to give a hug. And at the centre of it all it showcases George at his best doing what he does best.

Aside: I'm really, really curious as to how much of the film was funded via corporate partners, with the loyalty programmes of companies such as American Airlines, Hertz and Hilton getting extensive screentime. Clever, and very, very savvy in the current film climate.

2 thoughts on “Two Roads, QT, George, and some Werewolves”

  1. Haha I also have been sucked in before by the 'Second Chapter Tangent' evils of a short story collection... heh heh hee...

    Have you read any other Cormac McCarthy? Did The Road make you want to?? He also did No Country For Old Men, right?