Sunday, May 01, 2005

A word on the number 42.

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign of the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.’”

-- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy



Fucking hell, no.

We all see movies. Yes. Yes we do. It’s something of a common occurrence for me, and many others of the same inclination to spend some of our hard-won time being those dear people sitting out there in the dark. It’s something that I spend a great deal of my time doing. Why?

This time, I actually know. At least in some way, I know it, as I click this window closed to see the image of Toshiro Mifune snarling back at me, his teeth locked in an immortal sneer/grin that will outlast us all. It’s an image from the greatest film ever made, and it is most certainly one that fills me with a joy that grabs me by the scrotum and says “How ya doin?” in a shockingly appropriate manner. Yes.

That’s why we do it. That’s why we sit there, in the theater, in our living room, in our favorite chair with a laptop beaming light that will eventually ruin our precious eyes. We do it because it feels good damn it, it feels good for those brilliant works of film to nudge us, to tickle us, to punch us, and to churn us in all the ways that it can.

All the ways that it should.

But sometimes…no. Not yet.

Not yet because film isn’t the only thing. There are so many things, so many bits of light and paper and cardboard and glass and plastic and whatever that invades the spectrum of our feeble craniums to make us move beyond whatever it is that we do, whether we want it to or not. To have or have not? Good movie. What?


We also have books. We have those spinning marvels of words grafted onto wood pulp, the ones that we know shouldn’t be so bloody perfect, so fucking moving, but they manage to be anyway. The words of Haruki Murakami, which manage to make the seemingly mundane aspects of life throb with quiet menace, the unnatural going unnoticed in the background, spinning around our lives. The words of Richard Miller, satirical and weighty, bludgeoning us awake and making us look straight down at our own defecate.

And the words of a certain man. A loved by millions, a man who never wanted anything more than to listen to a group of four boys from Liverpool, a man who could always make us laugh.

Douglas Adams, rest in peace. Dead at 49.

No. Yes.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was certainly the most famous book that Adams ever wrote. His best? No. His favorite? No. My favorite? No.

But it was beloved nonetheless.

Which finally makes it time to discuss the film that has been made from its humble pages. The film that has finally been made after 20 years of slogging through the Hollywood marshes, demanding to be seen in the one form which it had yet to conquer.

A film that has decimated me in a horrible manner that I never would have thought possible for something like it to do. My friends and enemies, this movie is fucking terrible.

The jokes that Douglas Adams had crafted so carefully and lovingly are gone, replaced with a haphazard mash of slapstick and 4th grade puns. The characters which had been known by so many are gone, reduced to Hollywood caricatures of what some moron thinks the people want.

The humor is gone.

And we’re left alone with an empty shell, something which I sit here and mourn while listening to the breathtaking sounds of Joe Kramer’s “Way of the Gun” soundtrack.

In a time where we are given the gift of something like Sin City, such a shell hurts all the more. Sin City, whether you thought it worked or not, whether or not you thought it was too violent, whether or not you preferred the was there. It was Sin City, up on the screen. It was us feeling Sympathy for the ultimate Mr. Vengeance, played to perfection by Mickey Rourke. It was indeed something to see.

I hadn’t been expecting much of this movie, not after what I had heard beforehand. But like the geek that I am, I still held on to a tiny nugget of hope, still wishing for it to shine like I had always wanted it to. I sang my own quiet songs to myself as I went to the theater with my very best friend, the two of us quivering with fear at what we were about to witness. We knew it wouldn’t be good. We mainly went to see the Serenity trailer, like the gorramn nerd browncoats that we are. But by the power of cheese, we had no idea that it could be that bad. That it could hurt so fucking much.

I watched them try to turn Trillian into Fenchurch and bashed my head into my knee. I watched Mos Def exhibit none of Ford Prefect’s exuberance and cringed.

I watched the movie end with a title card stating simply “For Douglas” and practically had a seizure. In other words? If you've read the book, this movie is a travesty that was a waste of 20 years of waiting. If you haven't read the book, it's a movie that's confusing as hell and boring as shit. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a knife in the heart, and a shot of acid in the eye.

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to a cellar.”

-- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (film)

There you have it. A pitiful shell of what it once was.



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