Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How Did He Ever Write a Post About Lolita?

Well, Peggy's back from China finally. Her plane arrived from JFK airport at 10:38PM after her first plane, slated to arrive at 6PM, broke down and everyone had to change planes. But she's back and I am glad to have her home.

Like I mentioned in yesterday's obviously riveting post, I finished reading Lolita over the weekend, and so this morning I took advantage of the fact that I own the "Stanley Kubrick Collection" on DVD, and popped Lolita into the ole DVD player. I hadn't remembered that Nabokov himself had adapted his book for the screen, which might help explain why the movie is so faithful to his book. Anyway, it's a great movie, (it's Kubrick after all) but I thought that, after having read the book, they ought to have cast someone a little more classically handsome than James Mason in the role of Humbert Humbert. In the book, Humbert, who narrates the thing himself (and is often unreliable as such), believes himself to be fantastically good-looking, which I think he kind of has to be to make Lolita's mutual interest in him plausible. As it is, I never really bought the idea that any cute 14-year old girl's really going to have the hots for frickin' Captain Nemo. Maybe they just had a hard time finding big names willing to play a 40-something pedophile. Also, the stuff with Peter Sellers as Clare Quilty is entertaining because he's such a livewire act in this, but his frenetic, seemingly off-the-cuff delivery style doesn't really jibe with the rest of the movie and kind of feels more like Kubrick and the execs both thought, "Peter's funny, let's just let him go and do his thing." Works in Dr. Strangelove, works less well in this movie. Also, I was doing my James Mason impression again after watching it again, and I may have lost the knack. Which is sad.

Anyway, it is past midnight and so this blog is officially late. But I'm going to make it unofficial by changing the time of the post artificially. So now it is ON-TIME. I win.

Last Note: If you want to read about whatever happened to Sue Lyon, who played Lolita, click here. It's pretty fascinating, and short.


Anonymous said...

Harry Belofonte is the man! Fuck Tim Russert that partisan corporate hack!

Who cares that his career is over! The man worked with MLK for fucksakes.

Now with Alito getting the nomination, we can kiss our liberties good by. Facism is here ladies and gentlemen and I am moving to Europe. Not before I make A CRIME FOR CHARLIE.


blankfist said...

Papa OUT... of his mind.

Oh yeah, and Waterworld hat.


Concede defeat, Crane...

Do it....

Do it now....

Waterworl hat.

Back me up, Speck... you dirty Nathan lover.

blankfist said...


Fried Pepperoni said...

Is that a link to that damn peanut butter jelly song? I was singing that shit last night, I don't need anymore help getting it stuck in my head, thanks.

(Oh and Crane, maybe you should just concede defeat so Heath will shut up and stop saying the W word.)

Let's get on topic: LOLITA is amazing. Probably my favorite book these days. What I loved about it was how funny it was. I had really picked up on the humor of Humbert from the first time I saw Kubrick's film and if Mason is miscast, I'd say it's more because of this than due to his looks. I like that he's not uber-handsome and I like the fact that we question whether or not Lolita is earnestly physically attracted to him or just attracted to the idea of him - if she's indeed attracted to him at all! Mostly, I felt like she was just a typical teenager eager to get away from home and experience SOMEthing, even if it isn't ideal. Plus, as soon as she gives in to Humbert, she own's his ass. If the role went to a more attractive figure, then I think you would've lost some of what makes Lolita herself complex. If she was foolhearted in love with him, then the story would be much more uncomfortable and dark I think - she would have much less power. As is, Humbert is kind of a fool who THINKS he's in control, but actually controls next to nothing. He can't control his appetite for flesh (mmm...) for the lil' girls (what was the term he uses to describe them in the novel???) and that ultimately is his downfall.

As for Sellers, I'm more with you on this front. His character sticks out as a rather unbelievable oddball. But then again, his drunken monologue at the ping pong table is just incredible, don't you think? I like to mimic his line when he's reading Humbert's letter in a phony cowbody drawl - "Because you took-uh...Say, that's a durling little gun you got there." Love it. The opening is almost a disconnected short film, but it's a great performance even if it's not really servicing the film as a whole.

Wow. I said a lot. Sorry. Actually, I'm not that sorry because I know Crane's pretty much the only one who will bother reading all of this and at least it's on topic, crackas!

Fried Pepperoni said...

Oops. That should read "What I loved about it was how funny it was. I HADN'T really picked up on the humor of Humbert from..."

JudgeHolden said...

Humbert calls them nymphets, and girleens sometimes. Creepy.

And ISN'T it an amazing book? The very idea that mastered the novel form in TWO completely different languages is astounding. And it's not just that he learned English and was able to write in English very well, he mastered the language to such an extent that Lolita will live on forever not just for the content, but for his prose style. Updike is quoted on the back of the book saying, "Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically." And he does do that -- reading it it feels like he never uses the same word twice. It's fun to read something where an author has no interest in fashioning "lean" or "stark" prose, but just lets it rip and just writes whatever he writes, and does so beautifully. I feel nerdy for saying so, but it's true.

As for James Mason as Humbert -- I don't mean to suggest he's horribly miscast in the role, like, say Adrian Brody in King Kong, but just that if I had my druthers, I'd have had someone who had the classic good looks that Humbert's always attributing to himself. Cary Grant, I'd say, would have been damn good in the role aesthetically, but I don't know if he could have carried off the range of emotions necessary. Hard balance. And I had a different reaction this time to Sellers's cowboy riff -- awkward. Made me uncomfortable. Remember The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Danny Kaye? In that movie, the filmmakers filmed all of these scenes featuring Danny Kaye doing weird impressions of context-free characters and all sorts of things that had nothing to do with the plot just because audiences of the time thought he was hilarious. I felt that Kubrick was doing the same thing with Sellers in this, and in particular this weird moment where Quilty affects this weird Old-West voice.

Anyway. I also wanted to add that I do in fact love Waterworld. It may be the greatest film of all time. I got that Waterworld hat for $115.89 at Suncoast, and then made my folks fly me out to Texas to where Costner was shooting Tin Cup, and waited for hours next to the van Costner arrived in, and got him to sign my hat, "To Brian, You're Going to be the next Kevin Reynolds, With Grudging Respect, Stoically Given, Mariner." He used a black marker on what was, after all, a black hat, so no one could really see it, but it was there man. So yeah, I love Waterworld. There you go Heath. Your GoldenEye tactics prevail. Kudos.

nathan said...

Brian, I'm very disappointed that you gave in. He would have run out of steam.............eventually

JudgeHolden said...

Hinesy. Dude. Have you actually MET Heath?

blankfist said...

It's peanut butter jelly time. Peanut butter jelly time. Peanut butter jelly time. Now where you at? Now where you at? Now there you go! Now there you go!

[faster now]
Peanut butter Jelly. Peanut butter Jelly. Peanut butter Jelly. Peanut butter Jelly.

[even faster]
Peanut butter Jelly. Peanut butter Jelly. Peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat!

And that's not what I call admitting defeat, Crane. Not gonna accept that... Waterworld hat.

Anonymous said...

heath why does your arm twitch sometimes?

Peggy said...

For the record, if it matters, the WATERWORLD hat no longer resides with us. I'm not even sure if we donated; I believe we just through it away when we moved out here.

Sorry to disappoint, but tough.

blankfist said...

Who am I imitating?

"Pweggy frew away my pwescious widdle Waterwoild hat. I'm no longwer a man. Fight my bwattles for me Pweggy... Pwetty Pwease... [sob]"

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is way more boring than the food for thought crap. I just got my internet back and I don't care about waterworld, go on to something interesting. Please I am old and don't have alot of time to waste.


nathan said...

OH fuck...what a harrasshole.

But still, that made me laugh until my eyes teared up.

blankfist said...

Nathan, could you watch your mouth, please? Crane's mom hops on here. Sheeesh.

That's right, I'm talking cencorship.

JudgeHolden said...

By the way, the imitation of me in baby-talk was frickin' hilarious. Me and Peggy were reading it at the same time and we laughed and laughed. Good stuff, Heath.