Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

Cocks and Spells

So behave.

This title card appears at the beginning of 1948's The Woman in White, a Warner Brothers production of a Victorian novel where the only actor with an English accent plays an Italian Count. But I loved the movie--both for being a bit silly and for being genuinely effective at times.

It's a pleasure to look at, creating an environment of huge, shadowy fantasy Victorian houses peopled with beautiful women in gorgeous, slightly strange clothes. Gig Young, as the romantic male lead, isn't actually in the movie very much, which is well, since he's extremely stiff and ineffective. Top billing went to Alexis Smith, and she probably does get most of the screen time, is pretty and effective enough, but the brightest parts of the film are definitely Eleanor Parker and Sydney Greenstreet.

Greenstreet is the impressively sinister, manipulative Count Fosco, who considers himself above murdering people and yet somehow seems the more evil for his complicated machinations spanning years to manipulate people to horrible fates for his own profit and comfort. Parker's really amazing in two roles--the naive heiress, Laura, and her possibly crazy cousin Anne, the woman in white, who's kept hidden away in an asylum by the Count. In my favourite scene, the Count apparently hypnotises Laura into believing she's Anne. It's carried off with such a lovely spookiness.

With breakfast to-day, I read the new Sirenia Digest, which featured a vignette and a story. The vignette, "UNTITLED 35", is another nice description of a beautiful, bizarre sea creature. The story, "FIGUREHEAD", was far more interesting and caused me to ask a lot of questions. The narrator is rather conversational, offering opinions and suggestions to the reader, and I'm not sure it's meant to be a narrator Caitlin agrees with. There's a slight joke to the fact that the narrator takes pains in telling us the villain is not really "evil", usually after he's done something that seems really, well, evil. I'm not really sure why the narrator doesn't want us making up our own minds on the subject.

The story involves this not-evil guy coercing a dryad into having sex with him--the narrator seems to blame this at least partly on how irresistible the dryad is. Which I guess means this story wouldn't work as a movie--it's hard to imagine bark-like skin and tree sap for lube being irresistible, but all right. This "blame the victim" bit seems to speak to the narrator's dodgy character--I couldn't help thinking of the line from Tori Amos' "Me and a Gun", "Yes I wore a slinky red thing, does that mean I should spread?" Which in turn reminded me that Tori Amos appears as a tree in Neil Gaiman's Stardust. And a wood-nymph, who ran afoul of a man who didn't respect boundaries. Actually, now that I think about it, very similar to "FIGUREHEAD", though in Stardust there's nothing about how Amos' hotness was partly to blame for the behaviour of the prince.

Looking over that part of Stardust just now I'm reminded of how the book is so enormously better than the movie. I remember reading Gaiman's blog while the movie was being made and him talking about how director Matthew Vaughn was making changes, making Gaiman understand what works in a book isn't necessarily what works in a movie. Sometimes I think that's true (like when a dryad is supposed to be sexy), but I suspect a much more faithful adaptation would have made an enormously better movie.

Anyway, on the subject of guys thinking with their dicks, I can't believe this Anthony Weiner scandal. I mean, down to his very name--it's like a fairy tale about Dicky Penisworth shocking everyone by taking his cock out at the opera. Why, why, why are guys sending girls pictures of their dicks? When did they start thinking it was a good idea to send girls pictures of their faces, let alone their johnsons? What the fuck? It was great how Benjy from The Howard Stern Show pranked that guy's press conference, though. Not as funny as he usually is, but still, nicely done.

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