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Author Topic: Stephen King on 'Mystic River,' 'GBU'  (Read 7831 times)
MC
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« on: November 12, 2003, 08:38:10 AM »

Best-selling author Stephen King has been contributing occasional columns to Entertainment Weekly. Below is an excerpt from his latest column in the Nov. 14 issue of EW:

Quote
Do Movies Matter? (Part 1)
By Stephen King


Of course movies matter. But, you might ask, do they really matter? Do they matter the way great books do, or great plays like King Lear? This ephemeral medium that you can look right through, and that burns in an instant if you touch a match to it? That rots away in 30 years if not carefully cosseted and cared for? That happens before you in a constant now, and allows for no going back or stopping to think, and that is -- unlike stage plays -- always exactly the same?

My answer is you bet your sweet round fanny.

Oh, not all of them matter. Not even many. I've kept a movie log since 1994, and I can remember almost nothing about 95 percent of the films in it ... Yet 50 years later I can still remember the sense of dismay I felt when Bambi's mother was killed ... I remember laughing so hard I wet my pants the first time I saw a Little Rascals short ... I remember my first screen crush -- not Annette Funicello twisting on the beach with Frankie Avalon, but Kim Novak and William Holden in Picnic ... I remember The Hustler, with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason, the first movie without monsters, shooting or slapstick comedy to entirely fill my mind and heart...

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a film I've written about too often to rehash here; suffice it to say I was astounded by the sheer size of things, and by the outrageous tricks of pacing that Sergione Leone tried...and pulled off, more often that not.

Night of the Living Dead has been around so long that it's become the cinematic equivalent of a knock-knock joke, but I still remember the pure horror I felt the first time I saw it ... I've never in my life been more frightened in a movie theater.

These life-chaning movie experiences became less frequent as I grew older, and for a while I had an idea that Billy Bob Thorton's brilliant parable Sling Blade might be the last time I'd ever have one. Then came Clint Eastwood's Mystic River, which is one of the best three or four films I've seen in the last 30 years.

It's Mystic River and Kill Bill I want to write about next time.
By then those of you who want to see these films will have done so, and I won't need to listen to a lot of childish natter about "spoilers" (How I've come to hate that whining word.) Each is remarkable in its own way, and one is a classic. We'll get to the reasons anon; for now, here's a list of good films I've seen during the last 15 years. I've put an asterisk beside two -- just two, mind you. These are the great ones -- for me, at least.

The Usual Suspects ... Fargo ... There's Something About Mary ... *Sling Blade ... Frequency ... The Matrix ... Stir of Echoes ... American Beauty ... Wonder Boys ... The Sixth Sense ... High Fidelity ... L.I.E. ... In The Bedroom ... Cinema Paradiso ... Iris ... *Mystic River.

Chew on those, and we'll finish  our discussion of why movies matter next time, okay?

Part 2 of this column will appear in issue #739 (Nov. 28)

I'll keep an eye out for the follow-up piece and post it here when it runs.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2003, 08:40:46 AM by MC » Logged
AKA23
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2003, 03:59:07 PM »

Thanks for posting this, MC. I'll be interested to read the second part. Honestly, I think this article is a gross overstatement. Mystic River one of the best films in 30 years of filmmaking? I don't know about that one.
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Concorde
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2003, 04:09:18 PM »

 ??? I wonder if King has ever seen THE BIG LEBOWSKI or L.A. CONFIDENTIAL...both of which certainly would rank high in my list of Best Films of the Last 15 Years....
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Doug
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2003, 10:01:34 PM »

I know King can be the master of hyperbole, but still that is an impressive endorsement.  
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MC
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2003, 09:43:57 AM »

Honestly, I think this article is a gross overstatement. Mystic River one of the best films in 30 years of filmmaking? I don't know about that one.

I don't know about it either, but it's worth at least noting that the NY Times called Penn's performance one of the best in the last 50 years, and Film Comment described Mystic River's final 20 minutes as scarier than anything in Kubrick's filmography.

Regardless, it's certainly a powerful statement on King's part, and hopefully it will bring even more attention to Mystic River and Eastwood.
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KC
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2003, 06:48:18 PM »

I note that King's list of "great ones" of the last 15 years does not include Unforgiven (to say nothing of A Perfect World or The Bridges of Madison County). Actually, I wonder if he's ever bothered to see an Eastwood film before. Considering what's on his list of "great ones," he probably wouldn't have cared for most of them, anyway.
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2003, 04:42:13 PM »

I think you're being a little harsh on Mr. King here, KC. He's given such a glowing review of Mystic River there's no need to attack him by saying that he's probably never seen another Clint film before.

I don't know where you said it, KC, but I remember reading that you didn't really care for American Beauty and on this point I really have got to say that I agree with you. I've seen the film a few times, and always find it overrated and really a very sad commentary on our society as a whole. I suppose that this was the main point, to show the depravity of a middle aged man disgustingly lusting after a little, inexperienced young girl, but I just found the whole thing to be unnecessary. I didn't see the masterpiece quality in this film to say the least, even though I understand the things that it was trying to get at.  

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right turn clyde
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2003, 04:26:29 PM »

"Depravity...Lusting...Girls" Thanks for the recommendation AKA. I'd never seen this film, but after your comments I borrowed a copy. I thought it was hilarious. I'd love to do a full review, but it's my daughters netball tournament tonight so must dash. Thanks again  ;)
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AKA23
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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2003, 09:42:55 PM »

"Depravity...Lusting...Girls" Thanks for the recommendation AKA. I'd never seen this film, but after your comments I borrowed a copy. I thought it was hilarious. I'd love to do a full review, but it's my daughters netball tournament tonight so must dash. Thanks again  ;)

HAHA..glad you enjoyed it Right Turn! I don't think the film was supposed to be hilarious..hehe...I am interested to hear your thoughts so perhaps you could post about them in the off topic forum at some point.
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MC
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« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2003, 08:30:30 AM »

Below is an excerpt from Stephen King's column in the Nov. 28 issue of Entertainment Weekly (the same one with Penn on the cover). [Warning: Some spoilers below.]

Quote
Do Movies Matter? (Part 2)
By Stephen King


...For a long time, I lost the distinction between movies that matter and movies that don't, which suggested a scary possibility: that movies in general had ceased to matter, at least to me. The possibility was scary because I've loved the cinema my whole life, and I hated the idea that I might be losing that love.

Then, in the course of a single week, I saw one movie that definitely mattered -- maybe the best movie I've seen in the last 30 years -- and one that didn't ; one that was, in fact, pretty blah.

The blah movie was Kill Bill...

Mystic River, on the other hand, hones our interest the old-fashioned way: by building character and telling an actual story. It begins in the mid-70s, when three boys (Sean, Dave and Jimmy) are approached by two men pretending to be cops. Determining Dave to be the easiest to separate from his playmates, the 'cops' put him in the back of their car and drive him away. For four days Dave is sexually abused by these human wolves. He finally escapes ... except no one really escapes such treatment, and Clint Eastwood (who directed) and Dennis Lehane (who wrote the book) both know it.

We jump ahead 25 years, to the day before Jimmy's teenage daughter is found murdered. What follows is a heart-wrenching tragedy culminating in the murder of an innocent man. With its razor-sharp script and strong performances (most of the kudos have gone to Sean Penn, but this is Kevin Bacon's best acting job), the movie is an absolute joy. You're never wondering if you should have gotten the small popcorn instead of the medium; you're never checking your watch. You're totally absorbed.

In Mystic River there are three murders instead of hundreds, and Eastwood shoots the one we see so it's mostly in shadows. There are no kung-fu death dances; the violence is ugly rather than beautiful and romantic.

Again, Kill Bill isn't a bad movie, just a tepid one. Ten years from now, you'll be hard put to remember what it was about or who was in it. Mystic River, on the other hand, will burn itself into your memory. Twenty years from now, you'll be able to recall Sean Penn's terrible cries of grief when he realizes his daughter is dead.

Maybe the point is this: The movies that matter (and the books, and the music) call out to us in their own voices -- voices that are sometimes low but always compelling. Movies are the highest popular art of our times, and art has the ability to change lives. That means that some movies matter, and the best matter a lot. Every time I go, I go with the highest of hopes, my ticket money in one hand and my heart in the other. Most times the movies turns out to be a stinker, but sometimes you find a real classic like The Way of the Gun, Billy Elliott, or Mystic River. When that happens, I can steal this year's World Series slogan and put it to even better use: I live for this.
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