Saturday, May 22, 2010

Finally, part II

Linked at Sarah Weinman, novelist Lev Grossman's list of complaints about Steig Larsson...

Now, I like Larsson as much as the next guy, but if you hadn't noticed this, you're not really paying attention (This is one reason why the game of 'casting' the role has its revealing side...):

As for Salander, his putatively strong female protagonist, she is a creepy man’s fantasy — a smart woman with a girl’s barely pubescent body who loves having it off with older men from whom she demands no affection in return.

10 comments:

Generic said...

There some truth in that, of course. But the casting question then becomes, do you attempt to carry that over to the film as an integral part of how the story works on people (the Ellen Page option) or attempt to push the other way (the Noomi Repace option)? I know, I know: Tulk don't play that.

Occurs to me that people who think that these thought experiments about movies in the works are only slightly less declasse than speculating about the sex lives of soap stars are missing the point. It's actually a form of vicarious moviemaking, thus very popular in "this town" (the one you moved away from) among people who will make way more vicarious movies in their lifetimes than real ones.

Tulkinghorn said...

I think you've got it there -- for good or bad. It's new grounds for further discussion when I get over my relief at NOT being empaneled for jury duty.

Generic said...

The other side of the Salander coin is that her vulnerability is one of the things that makes the books so viscerally satisfying when the worm turns. Not unrelated to the moments in old Sammo Hung movies when some jerk makes the mistake of calling him "fatty." SL may push the vulnerability bit so far that it becomes creepy, but it's not a novel move for a suspense writer. In other words, more a matter of ineptitude than malign impulses, IMHO.

Tulkinghorn said...

The covers of pulp magazines: barely clad women tied up and soon to be ravished in unthinkable ways by aliens with tentacles....

They were, of course, rescued -- but my bet has always been that the inner nerd sees himself more as the alien than as the rescuer.

It is to the modern taste to place the rescuer and the victim in the same body (for marketing reasons as much as anything else). Don't be fooled, though when you do your virtual casting. Do you see (virtually, of course) your star with a sledgehammer on a motorcycle or tied up and naked?

Generic said...

My mental image of Salander as I imagined her in the first scene in the security company office: I fell for her snotty attitude. I respect Larsson for feeling the same way, for never asking her to make nice. So the key thing for me is her uncopmpromising beligerance. If the actress can get that right, the movie has a good chance of working. Without it, there's not hope, no matter how much she superficially resembles the character as described. Fans who refer back to the quite effective "Hard Candy" have convinced me Page could handle it, if that's the way they decide to go.

I think you're right about some nerds but not all. Rescuing the girl and having her fall into your arms in gratitude is pretty universal.

Tulkinghorn said...

Any actress without the chops to be belligerent should find another way to make a living -- or at least not ask me to spend more than about a second of the only live I have thinking about her.

Which reminds me of a question:

Other than tradition and the need to multiply awards, is there any reason to segregate the best actor awards by sex?

Put another way:

Is the enterprise of acting so different when done by men and women that comparisons are impossible?

Generic said...

1. Now you're just arguing to argue. You know what I mean.

2. Might be worth it, just to watch Russell Crowe's reaction the first time he's beaten by Meryl Streep. But...

Do you mean to cut the total number of acting awards in half? And what happens the first time only one out of the five (or two out of ten) is female?

Tulkinghorn said...

That's what "other than ... the need to multiply awards" was kind of getting at.

As for potential P.C. objections about bias... Not so clear how it would fall -- as a matter of fact, my guess would be more women than men.

Besides, I've had the conversation about society's capitulation to P.C. before. What I would really look forward to would be the controversy aroused by 10 contenders for one acting award, male and female (Or perhaps, and this would probably be more boring, the system used in the UK for one of the book awards -- winners separate categories for fiction, non-fiction, children's, poetry, the usual -- followed in a couple of weeks by a single 'book of the year' winner from among the division winners.

I understand that the Oscar industry -- than which nothing bores me more -- wouldn't and couldn't stand for it.

Still, it would be a spot of fun in an otherwise drab industry.

Generic said...

God, Oscar talk. The one thing I thought I'd never see here.

Generic said...

The other important point about casting is that a character's appearance n a novel is something the author actually has to keep mentioning if it's important. Barring that we tend to forget about it, or even to revise their appearance in our minds to fit our sense of their personalities. Obviously in movies it's much harder to create a character whose stature and appearance matter in some sequences but not in others. The novel's Salander is rather like the Tardis: bigger on the inside. That would be a neat trick to pull off in a movie.