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Short Stories and Which Blair is Best

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Mark Kermode | 19:02 UK time, Friday, 8 July 2011

In recent posts I've asked you which short stories have made great films (and lousy ones) also which Linda Blair films are best. Here I give some of your best responses an airing.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Woo and indeed hoo Mark acknowledged one of my comments, now all I need is for Simon to read one of my many e-mails on the Friday show and I can die a happy man.

  • Comment number 2.

    Don't Look Now is a great film based on a short story.

  • Comment number 3.

    Dr K

    Firstly thank you for mentioning my post about the Linda Blair/S club 7 tv show, and kudos for being man enough to admit to watching it.

    Secondly, I was very interesting to hear about your thoughts on A.I.. There are many films that I've disliked first time round but developed an appreciation for after a second viewing (the Social Network being a recent example).
    I'd be interested in seeing a blogpost about other films that you've changed your opinion on, your initial views on Blue Velvet have been well documented and I'd like to hear what other films you felt you 'got it wrong' about first time.

    Who knows, maybe The Big Lebowski will end up on this list?

  • Comment number 4.

    It was indeed very interesting to hear about 'A.I' (which is being released onto blu ray shortly). I rather view it as a pivotal film in Spielberg's career... I think he has really tried hard to cap his sentimental touches in films since he made that one. When I first watched it, I had some issues with Jude Law's performance, but quite liked the film.

    I actually disliked 'Taxi Driver' when I first saw it, Full Metal Jackson... I cannot understand how I failed to appreciate it. I finally watched it again because it was the last film my hero Bernard Herrmann scored... and I adore it now. I cannot understand how I didn't appreciate it that first time.

  • Comment number 5.

    'A.I.' released onto Blu Ray... 18th July 2011.

  • Comment number 6.

    AI: Stephen Spielberg does Kubrick more depressingly than even Kubrick could do. It is a great film. Just soul crushingly sad.

    And I don't know how having brown-nosing yesfans can be "delightful", but I'll take your word for it. I do think I made you chuckle a little with my comments about Linda Blair, so today was a great day. I also won a contest involving comic book artist/toy company and sports team owner Todd McFarlane, so I'm either off to buy that annual lottery ticket or face the karmic backlash that will surely be headed my way.

  • Comment number 7.

    Really enjoyed the show yesterday and especially your review of the new Jean-Luc Godard film. Film criticism at its best (and funniest)

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm so, so glad about your A.I. comments. I absolutely loved that movie from day one and could not possibly understand why it wasn't appreciated the way it should. I've been waiting ever since for the world to catch up. It seems my dream is coming true at last.

  • Comment number 9.

    Which Blair is best? I'd have to say Linda, followed by Lionel......with Tony a LONG way down the list.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think you should stand, hold your head up and tell us the truth Mark.

    If it helps, you can repeat after me:
    "I am obsessed"

  • Comment number 11.

    And no-one mentioned Terminator. In either short story category!

  • Comment number 12.

    Off Topic; it's over half way through the year now Mark, how about your favourite films so far to see what I need to catch up on. Cheers.

  • Comment number 13.

    I too would like to hear your review of the year so far, that way i can support the deserving films in the cinemas, rather than getting to December and "saying did'nt see that, never even heard of that" and we can point out why your wrong.

  • Comment number 14.

    I still think that, despite a valiant effort and some very decent elements to it, A.I. remains an artistic failure. Putting aside for a moment that I think the "blue fairy" metaphor was taken well beyond where it ought to have been carried ("Yes Spielberg,it's a little robot who only wants to be real boy.. yes Spielberg, it IS similar to Pinocchio. Yes, yes, we GET IT! The BLUE FAIRY is from PINOCCHIO! Enough!" ...and so on) the acting was well done and he managed to keep the atmosphere suitably dark and sombre throughout most of the film (most of it).

    But even for you Mark, surely there's no escaping the buttock-clenching awfulness of the last 20 minutes, which positively screams 'test audience-driven' (although surely Spielberg is presumably too powerful to lack creative control at this stage in his career?)

    If he'd finished the film at the point where it feels like a natural conclusion, it'd have been at least a half-decent, intelligent SF film...As it stands, nope I'm afraid it's bobbins.

  • Comment number 15.

    Also... "Wot no Philip K. Dick?". I did mention him (much later) but a number of commenters mentioned him - surely worth a note in this topic?

  • Comment number 16.

    The frustrating thing about AI is that when you describe the film it sounds really good. But watching it was just painful. Not seen it since at cinema, but it was so bad I was heckling and everybody else joined in. I accept it might be better upon 2nd viewing, but Im happy to not give it a 2nd chance.

    Can anyone help me put my finger on exactly whey the film went so badly wrong? its obvious it had its head up its own backside, but there must be more to it that made such a good concept a total failure.

  • Comment number 17.

    Off-topic but on the subject of Kubrick: I was staying in a hotel the other night before a job interview, and was kept awake by the unusually intrusive soundtrack of Eyes Wide Shut which was playing on late-night TV in the room next door. I turned on out of curiosity (having not seen the film for several years) and watched til the end (about 2am). Despite the fact that it's very slow, I fail to understand why Mark would hate it - perhaps another one for him to re-evaluate?

  • Comment number 18.

    Kubrick, Kubrick, Kubrick. Ye Gods, there are other filmmakers, y'know.
    This is about the SHORT STORY - not fanboys drooling over directors.
    I'm gonna call out Joyce's sublime The Dead, so masterfully and sympathetically brought to the screen by John Huston.
    And a special mention to George Langelaan's The Fly.

  • Comment number 19.

    The biggest problem with most short-story adaptations is the director or screenwriter trying to pad out the source material. I have no objections to such a practise, as long as the additions don't warp the initial narrative completely out of shape (Johnny Mnemonic for example).

    Others keep referring to Kubrick's AI (as re-imagined by Spielberg, hence the awful ending) which takes more than a few liberties with Aldiss' Super-toys Last All Summer Long. It's a good example of a reasonable film using a badly-warped version of a short story. Total Recall (is it really being remade? Why?), from We Can Remember it for You Wholesale, is a good example of any of the Philip K Dick adaptations that have done little justice to the original (Screamers from Second Variety is a much better attempt).

    I've always had a problem with book adaptations in general, few directors do the source material justice. And I think many perceive short stories as a lesser literary form even more amenable to their personal revisions.

  • Comment number 20.

    As an aside to the main thread, but following on from Joel Cooney's comment about natural conclusions in a film, here's a thought and a question:

    I always used to stop my VHS copy of Blade Runner, the 'original' version, when the lift door's closed (if you know the film you'll know to when I'm referring) as that always seemed to be the logical end of the film. I found out later that it was - the final scene being an out-take from another film added after a test-screening showed the audience wanted a happier ending (well go and watch Bambi then...).

    Does anyone else have examples of films that go beyond their logical or philosophical ending? I always thought it was director's not knowing when to stop (Thin Red Line anyone) but maybe test audiences are to blame! I'd be interested to hear Dr K's opinion on test audiences in general - good or bad idea?

  • Comment number 21.

    In reference to Ironspider's comments, I think Total Recall is a decent film and one of the better Philip K. Dick adaptations, which isn't to say it sticks to the story or some such, but that it gets his flavour. It's mischievous, plays gleefully with reality up until the very last frame, and has a tongue-in-cheek humour, which most PKD adaptations simply jettison altogether - a shame, because Dick's a funny writer. Minority Report is an interesting, if Hollywoodized, adaptation of one of his short stories.

    Films going beyond their logical endings: perhaps this is the grouch in me who yearns for existentialist misery, but I used to think Sideways should have ended after Miles finds out some distressing news from his wife and goes to drown his sorrows with his most precious bottle of wine. Perfect bleakness!

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi there,

    I have just been reading James and the Giant Peach to my 20 month old daughter and remembered how much I enjoyed the 1996 Stop motion animation film directed by Henry Selick, but hated the Wes Anderson version of The fantastic Mr. Fox. While I'm on the subject of Roald Dahl I absolutely loved Gene Wilder's darker version of Willy Wonka and prefer it to Johnny Depps child like character in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

  • Comment number 23.

    Candyman is a great short story that stretched well to feature length. Racking my brain for others... Minority report. Also worth a read.

  • Comment number 24.


    Just tried to post but somehow it didn't make it. Hope this one gets through. You said:

    "I always used to stop my VHS copy of Blade Runner, the 'original' version, when the lift door's closed"

    I answered, It's quite a common experience.

    You asked:

    Does anyone else have examples of films that go beyond their logical or philosophical ending?

    I answered, The Hitcher is the perfect example. If it had ended about 14 minutes earlier, it would have been magnificent.


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