Hey, it's Monday! Hope everyone had a good weekend. (Ed. note: Is it just me or does it seem like I'm always writing that?) Went up to the in-laws on Friday night and ate of the fine and bounteous cuisine that is Golden Corral. We stayed over that night so Peggy could help her mother out with the yard sale she was having the following morning, and during that time I slept in, though fitfully, and watched the first two-thirds of "An American President".
Afterwards, we drove out to my folks' house in Oxford. My parents recently made a donation to the local fire department and, in return, received a free photography session and, from this, a free 10X14 print. Since we couldn't get all the family members out to the fire house at the same time to have our picture taken, dad had his picture taken with "the girls": my parents' two burly Keeshonds, Sophie and Matty. (You've read tales of their exploits before.) Peggy and I went with dad to the fire house and helped with the dogs until the photographer was ready to take the picture. There was much detangling of leashes and picking up of elephantine dog craps while we waited. When we made it into the room where the photographer had his lights set up, the photographer quickly moved a plywood table in front of the omnipresent dappled-blue backdrop, and covered the table with a black blanket covered in a Crystal Gale wig's worth of dog hair. He let us know that the dog-scented blanket made getting the dogs to jump up onto the table that much easier. I don't know whether that's true or not, but whether out of a physical need to be near my father at all times or out of a need to smell all the other dog smells, Sophie and Matty did jump up onto the table without much coaxing.
The photographer had my father sit on the table in between the two dogs and then stepped back behind the tripod-mounted camera and started to knock on the doorjamb beside the upturned flash-diffusing umbrella and exclaimed in a breathless voice, "Who's there? Who's there?". The dogs barked in agitation, but this wasn't enough for our photographer. He began to waggle a red Stimpy stuffed toy over his head and make anticipatory noises that implied something fun and possibly edible was about to happen. His motive in doing all this was, of course, to get the dogs to appear attentive and alive in the photos, and it worked. Another consequence of riling the dogs up, however, was that more than half of the photos the guy took will undoubtedly feature two adorable and hairy dogs gone inexplicably batshit crazy. Not sitting anymore but on all fours now, snouts open in mid-attack bark, wild, starey eyes fixed on their plushie prey, specks of spittle skewered on the ends their black muzzle hairs; in other words they looked vicious as starving pit bulls, and what will probably make the photos even more hilarious is the fact that my smiling dad is seated between them, clearly oblivious to the danger these feral and furious dogs pose. I'm looking forward to seeing how they turn out. If it's as funny as I think it'll be, I'll post it up.
Anyway. The following day we saw the long-anticipated "The Prestige". I read Christopher Priest's novel of the same name not too long ago and I'm glad I did. I happen to prefer the ending in the novel to the ending of the film, but was just as impressed with how the Nolans pulled it off. "The Prestige" represented a film-going first for me. Every now and again I'll read the novel an upcoming film is based on before I go see the thing. Working out how the screenwriters adapted a particularly tricky novel is often part of the fun, (and they don't get much trickier than "The Prestige"), but this was the first time I've seen a filmed adaptation that was neither better nor worse than the source material. That sounds like I'm saying the film version was just so-so, but I'm not. The fact is they're both brilliant. It was as though some third party storyteller told the same basic story to both Priest and the two Nolan brothers, and each came up with a brilliant version of that central story in different mediums. They differ in many ways, both trivial and substantive, but the differences Christopher and Jonathan Nolan come up with for the film are not intended as "improvements" on the original, but rather necessary adjustments made to tailor the novel into a two and a half hour film, and all that entails, and those adjustments are brilliant. Both the novel and the film are exceptional entertainments, each one whip smart and twisty in its own way. To my mind, this was the best possible adaptation of the novel: Priest's book doesn't neatly lend itself to adaptation. I'd talk more about it's plot, but as other reviewers have noted, it's very difficult to talk about without giving something away, so I'll just say go see it. If there's a whit of fairness in Hollywood, this will be nominated for a slew of awards (at the very least Best Adapted screenplay). Just a few weeks short of November, this is easily one of the best films of the year. I hope everyone with a few hours to spare gets a chance to see the film during its run, but I also think everyone should run out and grab up a copy of Priest's novel too. Knowledge of one doesn't preclude enjoyment of the other. The book's just as fun as the movie and lasts longer, too.
Well it's midnight now, officially Tuesday, but here's the Monday posting.