Thursday, March 6, 2008

You're Kidding Me, Right? II


While I'm hungry and cranky, I'm going to dive into the Quimby Family Road debacle.
Here are the facts:
1. Emily read it first.
2. Charlotte read it second, and in the Portrait Gallery in January, asked if I wanted to read it.
3. Post-apocalyptic societies are so my thing. I want to know what other people think the End of the World will be like in the way most people wonder about Heaven/Hell. (Actually, I wonder what other people think about the After Life, I can't really prove that anyone wonders what other people think, especially when people are so locked into their own interpretation.)
4. Winifred read it before I did. Subsequently she sent a lot of e-mails. Here is an excerpt from an e-mail:
Who is the man in the yellow/gray slicker near the end of the book. Have we met him before?? I do not recall. I guess I cannot comment any further since KMH is going to read the book. I finished it Friday at work during a slow lull. One of the most enduring images in the book for me though is the finding of food jars in the abandoned farm house. I can see, smell, and hear the [FAMILY NAME] old farmhouse once it was abandoned.
4. I read it next. I liked it. It was grey, it was dark, it was cold, and it moved slowly. I liked that I was fearful that the next page would contain more cannibals, that this would be the last struggle. I liked that instead there was shelter, canned peaches, and an exploration into an unknown. There was constant misery, and the dialog was sparse, but it worked.
4. The King was not a fan. He wrote:
Well I finished reading The Road. I hated the book. I'm already depressed and this did not help whatsoever. Most depressing book I've ever read. Gave me no hope at all.
I tried to talk to The King about this, maybe get a little more, see if we could actively debate, but failed. He's not interested.
5. Charlotte and I feel kind of bad. Actually, I feel kind of bad, Charlotte is crushed by guilt and unenthused to recommend more books.
6. Seeing Charlotte last week, we discussed The Road before dinner. We had several unanswered questions about the cannibals. She posed the plot hole: how can a pregnant woman survive if she's eaten limb-from limb. If you harvest fetuses, isn't that a disappointing meat for end product? And, isn't that a lot of work to keep someone alive for the purpose of fetus-harvesting? Seems counterproductive. In the end I said I thought McCarthy was trying to just make the whole thing scary. Walking for miles endlessly in a nuclear holocaust is scary without raping, maiming, and exploiting women for plot devices, and we both ended the conversation kind of disgusted. So we talked about chicken and waffles instead.

I need to blurt this somewhere, and my regular blog doesn't want to hear it. You know why? Because they want "happy endings." Also I've been screaming about this abomination since I found out it starred Will Smith. That was more than a year before the movie was released. So, well...I guess it makes sense that they don't want to hear about it anymore. Never mind.

I am Legend did suck. It changed the ending, never mind the location/setting and general message. The best part about these movies, for me, is when everybody dies. Luckily for me, the blogosphere spared most of my pain by spoiling the cinematic release (make sure you check out Baldwin's commentary in the comments). Richard Matheson's I am Legend spawned an entire genre, so its lackluster ending was a disgraceful excuse for film. It did in fact, give us Night of the Living Dead.
Because Winifred hasn't seen Night of the Living Dead, I'll give it away as a means of explaining why I am so angry. Brother and sister Johnny and Barbara drive to rural Pennsylvania (note location and symbolism) to pay their respects to their father's grave. There's some action in the graveyard, and some action in the general area of the town, and eventually we realize the area is besieged by zombies. Mayhem ensues, until there is only one uninfected person, and in the last scene of the film (really, I'm spoiling the movie) he exits his hideout, only to be mistaken for a zombie and is shot dead. And then his corpse is burned with the zombies. It's completely horrifying, and Romero is saying more than oops, I killed the hero. (The character is African American, the film was released in 1968, and sci-fi/horror movies are never about the plot on the surface which is what makes it so awesome.) This film has a tragic ending, which is what should befit I am Legend. Just like last year's Halloween, I am Legend doesn't say anything about American society, and It Is Supposed To.

The film is poised for its DVD release, which includes an alternate ending. This is still a crapshoot:

Because this ending sucks too, and still doesn't say anything. AAAARGH.
Sigh. So much angst. Speaking of the Portrait Gallery, a few days after we went, Stephen Colbert had his portrait hung there.

Don't you feel a little less irritated with me, now? What if I told you Night of the Living Dead is tagged on IMDB as "Tragic Ending" and I've found a loot of movies tagged the same way? This is a goldmine, Quimby family. You may remember how much Winifred loves sad movies.

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