Muse by Craig Ranapia

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Muse: The High Aesthetic Line

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  • Tim Michie,

    Great Craig. I've been spotting your byline with comments on some international sites I visit (but don't comment) and am happy to read your unexpurgated opinion any day.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Ngaire BookieMonster,

    ZOMG Bea Arthur was in it!!

    And Jefferson Starship! And Carrie Fisher sings! It's just...I can't even describe it, you have to watch it.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    OK so I watched the tv adaptation of Nights in the Gardens of Spain, and was really underwhelmed. It was so sentimental and plodding.

    As I remember the book, David's secret life is very complicated and crowded, with his anonymous sexual partners, his romantic attachments, his ex-lovers, his acquaintances and friends.

    What with all that complexity, plus his feelings of guilt, fear, and self-loathing, it's no wonder he idealises the "simplicity" of his life with his wife and children. His "galleon of fairy princesses" is his pathetic fantasy, not the mawkish reality.

    The sanitised tv version loses the edginess and the emotional power the book had. And it makes David/Kawa a type, not a person in his own right. If he'd been allowed to be complex and flawed, the story could have been engaging and electric.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The sanitised tv version loses the edginess and the emotional power the book had.

    First, a little disclosure is in order. I'm casually acquainted with Kate McDermott(who I've invited to write a guest post in response to various reviews that have attacked her harshly and directly), and anyone who followed the comments on Jolisa's Trowenna Sea-related posts knows my utter contempt for Ihimaera.

    But I've actually re-read the novel, and "sentimental and plodding" (as well as astoundingly badly-written) is a nice way to describe it. What little interest the book retains is sociological rather than literary -- unless you tastes run to unintentionally hilarious camp. Our Humble Narrator can't even get his cock sucked by a stranger in a fuck club without an orgasm of piss-elegant foofy fa-fa.

    Some folks are carrying on like Kate took Schindler's List and turned it into 'Springtime for Hitler' If only it was that simple.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Andre,

    Are you Sidious?, Revenge of the Sith wasn’t puerile – it would have been more authentic had Ratzinger got the gig – but otherwise it was a blast.

    With the census I declare my religion as Jedi and my occupation as spaceman.

    It may be that the other 33,000 were off the planet - I don't detect anything sinister or any disruption with the force.

    I do note that Key & English seem to lean heavily on the dark side.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Nom de grrrr?...
    Good to see that the recycling ethic is strong at Public Address - Muse being previously used here as part of the title of Chad Taylor's PA Blog Muse Lounge back in the early years of the 21st century, sadly now gone from PA - but vestigial traces still remain within the PA system.
    - just sayin'...

    Happily Chad is still blogging at Marginalia.

    Perhaps you could append the relevant Muse(s) to each post - so this Star Wars one might encompass Melpomene (Tragedy), Urania (Astronomy) with elements of Thalia (Comedy) and Clio (History) - leaving 5 on the bench...

    ...otherwise alternative blog names
    you might use are:
    Ponder - as in pondering to the masses...
    Mews - as in calling all Cats!
    or
    Mews as in Charing Cross...
    ...have fun with this Augean clearing house!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Cultural cringe or cultural gringe?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, I'm not trying to attack anyone involved with the adaptation of Nights in the Gardens of Spain. And I must confess it's many years since I read the book, and I might see it differently on re-reading. I'm just giving my honest response.

    You seem to think it's OK to lambast Ihimaera, but not Kate McDermott? Personally I don't want to attack either one, just to discuss my impressions and compare them with other people's. If it's not OK to criticise, then praise becomes meaningless.

    I also recognise that television, like film and theatre, is a collaborative process, and I wouldn't hold a screenwriter responsible for the success or failure of the product. And a feature-length production is never long enough to do a novel justice, as so much has to be left out. As I said above, elements that were essential to the story were lost, IMO.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    As one who saw only the (disappointing) telemovie and hasn't read the book, I'd be interested in knowing what was gained and what was lost in making the film's protagonist Maori not Pakeha. In doing so, it seemed the film was biting off more than it could chew, but that was just my guess.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Well I, for one, loved the book so much that when you said the TV film was trash, I didn't watch it. I love Ihimaera's writing, and whilst everyone is entitled to their opinion, Craig, do you not think you're being just a wee bit harsh on him? I'm no literary or intellectual giant, but you surely must admit that The Matriarch was merit worthy?

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to recordari,

    cultural grins... :- )

    or did you mean Grinch? ;- (

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    "I do note that Key & English seem to lean heavily on the dark side."

    The beehive does occasionally resemble a death star.
    I wonder what the star wars equivalent of driving a tractor up the front steps on behalf of wealthy farmers is?
    Does Darth's number two have a primary residence on Tattoine or Coruscant but collects a benefit from living on the Death Star?
    If the MP's of the Maori Party were in Star Wars whose side would they be on? Would they join the Galactic Empire and kick Hone out for complaining about the results?

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lilith __,

    You seem to think it's OK to lambast Ihimaera, but not Kate McDermott?

    Well, yes because so much of what doesn't work on screen is lifted straight from the book (the adorable moppet with the sodding fairy wand, our Humble Narrator's stalkerish tendencies and tooth-grinding self-pity) and it doesn't really have a strong narrative spine to it.

    I'd be interested in knowing what was gained and what was lost in making the film's protagonist Maori not Pakeha.

    What Ihimaera himself says here is interesting.

    "The most exciting thing for me was that in the book the main character is European and he is supposed to be an 'everyman' character, but with this particular treatment, because it was to be made by Māori creatives, I had to completely turn my head around and to actually recognise for myself that unfortunately I was going to have to come out twice. Once in the guise of a Pākehā character and then turn that character around and make him into the Māori character that he was supposed to be in the very beginning," he says.

    "So that was quite a shock to me because I had always tried to hide, to say 'this is a book that could be about 'everyman', this is not a specific story'. So it is now actually nearer to the truth than I would like to admit.

    Ihimaera says rather than being a gay coming out story, or a gay love story, it's become a very strong story about a whole group of people who are encountering a particular issue – "one man doesn't realise what is going to happen when he decides to turn his life around and become somebody else. And by him becoming somebody else, everybody close to him cops the fallout."

    It still doesn't work. An interesting compare and contrast is Russell T. Davies' Bob and Rose, which is a rather nice (and much under-rated) series about a gay man who falls in love with a woman and the shit hits ever conceivable fan. Don't think it's a spoiler to say there's a happy ending, but there's also a lot of emotional truth and complexity along the way. The ending felt earned.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • David Herkt,

    Hi Craig. Personally I'm waiting for your Nights In The Gardens of Spain review. Apart from the 'work in itself', the good and the bad of it, I think it marks an interesting point in New Zealand cultural (and maybe media) politics... Roll on Wednesday!

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Boganette,

    YAY! So great to see you blogging Craig. I'm another squeeing fan girl leaping around in your corner.

    I haven't ever seen Star Wars. It just never happened. I know, maybe that is a tiny bit weird.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2010 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Crikey. So gringe doesn't mean peevish and petulant, as I thought?

    Didn't know I could speak Savoyard.

    Just stick with Grinch. Probably safest.

    ETA: This was in reference to the post now on CT's blog, rather than yours. FWIW.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    It’s really, really easy to underestimate how important good actors are to a film or TV program’s success; the writing is important, but really good actors can take a basically mediocre script beyond itself.

    Please don't underestimate the importance of a really good director. Actors, even really, really good ones, who have been given no direction, or, as I suspect happens often, have no faith/trust in the director, will give their best, but it will not be a patch on what a good director can get them, by virtue of their being able to trust her/him, to take risks and be bloody marvellous as a result.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    And, Craig, I look forward to your "Muse"!

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Except for that one part where Yoda kicked some ass. I'll give you that.)

    I think that was what annoyed (horrified) me most about the prequels. Just when I was building up a good head of loathing, Lucas would whip out a bit of imagery, or design, or short sequence that would really....just... work, and which was recognisably Star Wars. And then he would immediately spoil it by cutting to something so utterly horrible it burned my brain. For example, the excellent Darth Maul/Jedi Lightsabre fight in Ep 1 was frequently intercut with Jar Jar fucking Binks saying or doing something utterly, teeth-grindingly annoying.

    It was rather like one of those horror films where the hapless, traumatised victim crawls, sobbing and screaming towards the lit doorway from the darkened room, finally daring to hope that their ordeal is over. And just as they think they've escaped, some horrible unseen...thing...grabs their legs and whips them back into the darkness.

    And belatedly: Craig - about flippin' time. Look forward to reading more from you.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Just when I was building up a good head of loathing, Lucas would whip out a bit of imagery, or design, or short sequence that would really....just... work, and which was recognisably Star Wars.

    Yup, the action sequences were still very well done. I don't think anyone's really captured the "titanic space battle" quite so well as Lucas.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Curious, Rotten Tomatoes agreed with my ordering of the merits of the films. From Wikipedia:

    Film review site Rotten Tomatoes calculated an approval rating of 80% based on 250 reviews, making it the highest rated out of the prequel trilogy and the third highest-rated film of the entire Star Wars saga: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Return of the Jedi are rated 62%, 66%, and 78% respectively, while A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back are rated 94% and 97% respectively

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yup, the action sequences were still very well done. I don't think anyone's really captured the "titanic space battle" quite so well as Lucas.

    I recall some impressive moments in Starship Troopers but otherwise, yeah, he does do that stuff very very well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Jacqui Dunn,

    Please don't underestimate the importance of a really good director. Actors, even really, really good ones, who have been given no direction, or, as I suspect happens often, have no faith/trust in the director, will give their best, but it will not be a patch on what a good director can get them, by virtue of their being able to trust her/him, to take risks and be bloody marvellous as a result.

    I do agree. Film is a fascinatingly collaborative process, where a lot of people have to do their jobs right for it to work; in some ways it's unfair to compare it directly to text, where there's usually only one or two people involved (to the same extent) and a lot fewer ways for it to go wrong.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Please don’t underestimate the importance of a really good director. Actors, even really, really good ones, who have been given no direction, or, as I suspect happens often, have no faith/trust in the director, will give their best, but it will not be a patch on what a good director can get them, by virtue of their being able to trust her/him, to take risks and be bloody marvellous as a result.

    Up to a point – on my DVD of Alien, Sigourney Weaver made a rather interesting observation about what was her first big film. She wasn’t the only actor who felt, shall we say, rather neglected by Ridley Scott who, to put it mildly, didn’t have the time or temperament to feed actors their motivation. But his response to her having a bitch was fascinating (and I’m paraphrasing): “What can I tell you about acting? I’ve hired you because you know what you’re doing. I’ll rein you in if you’re too far off what I need, but I trust you.” (Or as Stanley Kubrick reportedly once told an actor - "I can't tell you what I want, but that wasn't it.") Of course, there’s many actors who can’t bear that but others do.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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