13 October 2002

Sex and death

I spent most of the day scanning. I have finally finished digitizing the last of the APS cassettes. It was the same painful process of mounting each one in a slide mount with a makeshift plastic spacer cut from a T pass, scanning, removing the spacer, and storing the slide away just in case. Now all I need to do is get Nikon to give me the refund they promised me back in July for the non-working APS adaptor, and I can put the whole sorry episode behind me.

Then I watched Final Destination. What can I say? I just can’t resist a good film about death. Or even a somewhat cheesy film about death. It’s a shame, the concept is fine, the execution is at times surreal and humorous, there’s an adequate amount of tension… yet they couldn’t help putting in clichés so old that you could fill in the basic plot structure within the first fifteen minutes.

The most interesting part of the DVD was the bonus material. Along with the deleted scenes was a short documentary detailing how test screenings were used to tailor the movie to an audience. The film makers are quite blunt in admitting that their single goal was to entertain as many people as possible in their target demographic—teenage and early-20s horror movie fans. The ending was changed utterly, the original message of the movie was deleted. They describe the process as dumbing down the movie, albeit not with that precise phrase… still, that’s bravery.

More interesting still, though, is that this is a rare example of a film I feel was improved by being hacked about to please test screenings. No spoilers for the new ending, but the old one was a ghastly piece of sentimental preaching that said that we could all cheat death by having babies and bringing new life into the world. What a load of crap. And it said it with the subtlety of a brick to the forehead. The filmmakers thought the audience didn’t like it because it was too downbeat and cerebral; it seems it didn’t occur to them, or didn’t appear on the feedback cards, that maybe nobody liked it because it was bullshit wrapped in saccharine, a combination that can make even a teen audience gag.

Still, in the end they got their audience-pleaser, and I think it was better for the edits artistically speaking, so everyone should be happy, yes?

After the movie, the evening was still young. I decided that since sara was away doing things unspecified with persons unknown, it was an appropriate time to watch Eyes Wide Shut. Finally.

I realize that as a Kubrick fan, it’s pretty shocking that it’s taken me so long. My excuse is that I refused to watch the censored version, and it took me a while to track down an uncensored DVD at a reasonable price. (For the record, the best option for US viewers is to get the region 3 DVD from Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore or China. It’s NTSC, with all the features of the US release, soundtrack in English with optional subtitles.)

I don’t think I’m prepared to say too much about it after only one viewing. It wasn’t as strange and disturbing as I was expecting, but I think that’s because my weirdness meter is calibrated for David Lynch. My initial reading of the movie is that the whole thing is a lengthy metaphorical statement on the value of love and trust and the dangers (physical and also spiritual) of empty, meaningless sex.

Not that that makes sleeping alone tonight any more enjoyable.

© mathew 2017