Thursday, 2nd September '04
A Woman Who Would Steal Your Love When Your Love Was All You Had Wasn't Much Of A Woman.
So sometime in the course of my busy life I found time to watch (a bootleg DVD of) "Secret Window". So shoot me, please, for violating my New Year's Resolutions less than a month into the "New Year".
But here I am to do what Limin calls one of my "random reviews". I guess I review because I can't find a better way to release my creative energies when I don't have very much time to indulge in anything very creative myself. Oh, who am I kidding, I review because my insecure psyche and inherent critical nature needs an outlet to relieve itself. No, seriously lah (and I mean it this time), it's probably a combination of both the above, and then the desire to get write something and get my thoughts on a specific subject published somewhere. Maybe it's also because my dream job is what Jason Hahn (yes, him of 8days-Saffy-and-Amanda fame) currently has. Lawyer cum food reviewer cum comedic comment column (oh help, the alliteration is killing me) cum co-habitant of a house with two beautiful members of the opposite sex - which may not, from the sound of the comedic comment column, be as enticing as that phrase sounds.
Now, after that little bout of self-indulgence, where was I?
Yes, "Secret Window". An adaptation of a Stephen King novella better known to fans as "Secret Window, Secret Garden". And no, I'm not going to give you the story (who wants to be a spoiler?). I'm sure the synopsis is readily available somewhere on the world wide web, and frankly, it doesn't hold much of a twist in the ending. In fact, geez, I have never spotted a twist as quickly in my life - and I wasn't even looking for one.
But still, the following is designed for people who have seen the show already. Which means it was written for a grand total of... Qionghui. Haha.
I began with that title up there because I think it was the singular best written line in the whole movie / book (I know my review is going to get all tangled up between the two soon enough, so I might as well start now). Don't ask me why, though, it just rings so nicely and makes you believe its rather ridiculous message. It's a line that reflects perverse pyschotic logic... the kind that frightens you and causes you to sit up and empathize with the guy all the same. And while I'm into this talking to myself business (very in the vein of the movie I'm talking about, yeah?) I've just realised that I've explained why anyway.
So in terms of the plot, you know I think it isn't much. A very typical horror story, and very very VERY classically Steven King. It's like somewhere in the middle of "The Shining" (and the Smubs will recall with fear and dread - thought perhaps not in the way King intended - a night at Gnet's old place at the mercy of that woeful mini-series) and "Apt Pupil" (which was actually a good novella and, if Tzo's right, a good film too) King ran out of scary ideas, hybridised them with a little classic schizophrenia, and created Mort Rainey and John Shooter.
I don't know much about David Koepp and his directing prowess, but he directs (and I realised this at sometime through one of those behind the scenes DVD features) LIKE ME. I can't say that's necessarily a good or bad thing , but that just makes me all the more atuned to the strengths and weaknesses of his work.
In essence, his direction is microscopically innovative, experimental and exciting. Technically, the small scenes do their work. Especially the opening and closing scenes of the movie - the motel and the corn bits. They're sharp, leave a strong impression and create all the feelings of suspense and wonder you'd want from a movie of this genre.
However, the macro-management of the film as a whole fell to pieces. This movie was directed like that of a novice let loose in Hollywood with too much money and too many toys (i.e. what I would probably have done with Martyr if I had it all my way). Despite the merit of the individual scenes, the overall plot was left rather as a coincidence of all the fun he had with his little scenes. At times there were too many special effects (the dream sequences, the cracking house) were arbitrarily thrust into major spots, obscuring the more subtle, but highly symbolic imagery (the literal journey through the looking glass, the smashing of the mirror) that Koepp had the wisdom to include. At others, grossly overdone horror-genre gimmicks reared their ugly heads, the most glaring of which was when the word "SHOOTER" started to appear all over Mort's little cabin in the woods. Can someone say "REDRUM"? (You'd have to have seen "The Shining" to know what I mean.)
And then Koepp's decision to cut his original ending... where the camera pans beneath the corn field to show two rotting bodies - he found it too "tales from the crypt" and thought it was out of sync with the subtle, implied nature of the film in total. The one time he thinks about the macro-aspect, he gets it wrong. If there was ONE scene from the film that might make me not want to sleep that night, watching that scene in the director's cut was it. It was nasty, it was grim, it was one of those things that seared itself onto one's minds eye. It was good.
But don't let all that distract you from the brilliance of some of the shots... again, the motel scene was magic, and the various Morts talking to themselves were cleverly engineered. It's just that the finished product lacked a clear directorial vision, and if it wasn't for the experience of Johnny Depp and John Turturro in the leads and in particular Depp's vision for his character, this movie might have joined the Re:pro halls of fame.
And on that point, Johnny rocked the house. I loved the character and image development, the tiniest habits and nuances he gave Mort Rainey and the final shockingly well-performed character switch. He made it look effortless, and he made me invest in Mort - something really hard to do, given the rather insipid nature of that character. Watch the film for Depp, if nothing else at all. And that motel scene, of course.
As usual, now, I've said everything I wanted to, and don't know how to end it all. Argh. En Ying, out.
[5 photographs developed.]
I'm baaaaaaaack. *grin* Will try to get round to reading the mountains you must've written in my absence at some point. Blog update coming up when I have energy. And I'll see you in a couple of weeks! Fishiesfishiespitviperfishies. (just as a taster.) Hope you are well!
TZOOOOOOO!!!! PIT VIPERRRR!!!!
when are u coming back to singapore... u have to watch me and mel dance...
u know, i was wondering so much abt what as going on with u i almost called wenyuan.
i love johnny depp..and i like ur funny faces..i can so imagine u with those anal looking expressions *grin* and i'v ebeen on a DVD madnss lately..except most of the DVDs i watch are all romances.. *what's new* hehehe
planning to get to Singapore Saturday sometime. Is nice to know you may have been worried about me being bitten by a pit viper or eaten by a shark I'd LOVE to watch the dance performance, things in a bit of flux at the moment, may be going to Sabah (again) with Mum to help with GMS stuff. Not sure yet. Will try!
hahahaha. yeah, tzo, was startign to get worried ^^
*LOL* re the stuff for me, en *hahahahahahaha* i feel soooooo honoured. go johnny!! ^^V
*LOLOL* just went for a booo-ti-ful a capella performance. the lead vocal was a fantastic, mind-blowing singer. she should get a record O_O