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If I were Agatha Christie, I'd be rolling over in my grave.
After watching this inaccurate, insipid film, I've completely given up on these new Agatha Christie adaptions. "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" was not originally a Miss Marple mystery, and in countless other ways has been altered so drastically that it's hardly recognizable as the same story.
I understand that when transforming a novel to TV or film, characters, times, places and events need to be altered, collapsed, edited, etc. for the sake of time and pacing and so on. Fine, we all get that. But it seems as though "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" hasn't been altered for any logistical reasons; it's so far from the novel (which, by the way, is delightful) that they may as well have gotten rid of the last ties to the original plot and just called it a 'new' Agatha Christie mystery. It was successfully done with the Gershwins (in the form of "Crazy For You," calling it a 'new' Gershwin musical). However abysmal those new stories might be, it would probably infuriate infinitely fewer people if they just wrote new stories instead of destroying classics.
Ages ago my mother got me addicted to 'Tenko'-- both of us being fascinated with WWII, and the show being just wonderful, it was easy to regret missing an episode! I've been dying to find it on video or DVD, and though I haven't seen it in years, I remember it vividly.
I have nothing bad to say about the program in question, except of course that it is extremely depressing, though of course a show taking place in a prison camp could be nothing less. Beautifully acted and written, 'Tenko' was a sensitive and memorable program. What I loved about 'Tenko' was that it focused not only upon the daily strains and traumas of women in Japanese prison camps, but the writing also delved into their personal lives as well.
If you can get your hands on 'Tenko,' don't pass up the chance (and for God's sakes, tell me where to find a copy!).
A Child's Christmas in Wales (1987)
I remember watching this every Christmas as a kid with my family. When the cassette was misplaced, of course the tradition subsided, but last Christmas I found it, dusted it off, and my parents, brother and I gathered around.
It was just as I'd remembered it, and better.
Don McBrearty did a really beautiful job of bringing Dylan Thomas' poem to life, and very sensitively, I might add. There is nothing sappy or commercial about it, and the film adaption keeps the same tone as the poem.
Actors, costumes and sets are vibrant and alive. Nothing feels contrived, and you barely notice that the actors are acting-- it's as though you're there, having Christmas with the family. There is this wonderful sense of innocence and warmth to it, and has a feeling that continues to ressonate with you for a long time after watching it.
My favorite part has to be at the end, when at the end of an eventful Christmas day, the young Geraint (Jesse McBrearty) is saying goodnight, taking his time to embrace each family member, as they are all singing that Welsh air, "All Through The Night," and quietly goes upstairs as the sounds of his family follow him. It's quite possibly one of the most moving moments in film that I have experienced, and one to be carried with me.
I am delighted that the tradition of watching this at Christmas has resumed-- it was a part of my childhood, and now is a part of visiting my parents at Christmas. We are all a bit older, but can fall into that innocence and peacefulness for a while...
Pretty darn cool
My friend and I picked "Paperhouse" out of a random pile of movies on our weekly excursion to the Horror section-- neither of us had heard of it, but the blurb on the box was really promising. And the movie didn't disappoint, though I still probably wouldn't call it a horror movie exclusively.
11-year old Anna Madden draws a house, and visits it in her dreams. She is definitely asleep when she's seeing the house, but it's so real in a sense that it's almost like a completely separate reality. Which, in view of later events, doesn't seem like a far cry from the truth. Anyhow, she finds she can add to the house, its contents and its surroundings by simply adding to the picture.
While this is going on, Anna is getting increasingly more ill with a fever, and besides that is getting totally obsessed with the house and her drawing. On top of that, she and her mother are also dealing with her absent father; he has a job that takes him away for long stretches, though one gets the impression there's actually more to the story than that.
OK, so the drawing stuff sounds nice enough-- but frankly there's something really menacing about it. The dreamworld is eerily surreal -- the house, for instance, is just a grey block in the middle of a desolate field. The folks who made the movie did a great job of making us very uncomfortable with this alternate world/ongoing dream...
One of the things Anna adds to the house is a boy, Mark, who seems to be the same patient her doctor keeps talking about (I'm not giving that away, you know from the moment he appears that it's the same kid). In reality, Mark can't walk due to an illness; in Anna's drawing-world, he can't walk because she didn't draw him any legs. She blames herself for his real-life illness, and tries to rectify the situation, but... everything starts getting really weird. She even brings her absent father into the drawing, with disastrous results. The bits with the father are really terrifying.
I don't want to give anything away, so I'll stop there... There seems to be a lot going on in this film. I'm sure you'll have a ball analyzing this thing do death with your pals after you watch it-- Is it a simple a story as it seems, or are there actually layers of meaning? I don't know, but either way it's quite fascinating. There was a "Nightmare On Elm Street"-ish quality about it, in that at a certain point reality and dreams intersect. I love things like that.
My only complaint is that it feels like it COULD have ended many times, but didn't. I'm satisfied with the ending it had (some of you sensitive types might want to have Kleenex handy!), though it really could have a variety of conclusions. Anyway, it doesn't exactly feel drawn out once it's actually over, but while you're watching and it keeps fading back in, it's a little nerve wracking.
Still, "Paperhouse" is a really GOOD film. It's well done, and acting-- especially Charlotte Burke as Anna-- is top notch. Burke, who has never before or since appeared in a film, is a real gem. I don't know why she never went onto do anything else, but either way she's really convincing and enjoyable to watch.
"Paperhouse" isn't exactly a horror movie, it's sort of a fantasy/suspense/something else type of movie, with some definite horroresque moments-- but you can still watch it with your family and not be worried that your little brother or grandmother will get grossed out by blood splashing or something.
Give it a chance, you won't regret it! And maybe you should read the book, too...
The House That Dripped Blood (1971)
A great start,boring and confusing, and then silly.
Man... I was SO excited to see this movie, since it has a fantastic cast, and for the ridiculous reason that I always tend to like movies with 'the house of...' as the title. Anyhow, the whole movie was a complete mess. There's this guy who's talking about how there's something weird about this house that he's trying to rent out. But he doesn't say what it is. It's another one of these movies where the house, in one way or another, takes you over. That much we know; it's obvious, but as to how is unknown until the last three seconds where the house-renter/mouthpiece/etc comes onto the screen and sums up, in two lines, what's been happening for the past hour and a half..
The film starts out well enough, with an engaging story that could have been extended to fill the entire movie! Then another story starts, and another-- all these separate stories about folks who rent out the house, which get more dull and confusing (as to how they all relate) as they go on. I'd recommend it for the actors, but they've all been in better things. It's fun for a laugh (albeit a confusing one) if you're with other people, but if you're alone and have no one to giggle with, it won't be so fantastic. So don't say I didn't warn you...