Friday, December 28, 2007

More books, more films

Two more films from books that I saw last night, and just a brief comment about each. "The Kite Runner" is well worth seeing, if only for the glorious cinematography. The book, by Khaled Hosseini, I've not read, but was an international bestseller - one of that new breed of one off books that seem to hit a chord everywhere. What's interesting about the story, as its portrayed in the film at least, is how if a writer tried to do a similar story in the contemporary west would be deemed melodramatic. Perhaps it inevitable that in writing about a part of the world in turmoil - I watched this film about Afghanistan, with many scenes set in Pakistan, merely hours after Benazir Bhutto's murder - you have to focus on a small human story. Like "Atonement" its a story about a child getting things wrong, and dealing with the consequences much later. Its positively Dickensian in its coincidences and sentimentality - so perhaps an acquired taste.

"Control" on the other hand seems to have been with me all my life - Joy Division were the turning point in my musical education, though Ian Curtis was already dead (aged 23), and though a "cult", apart from "Love will Tear us Apart" they were unknown to the mainstream. That small discography of theres has grown in stature ever since. "Control" has deservedly won awards, but its as small a film as you might imagine - a film about divorce, and epilepsy (its from Deborah Curtis's memoir, at least partially) as well as music. It does that rare thing, makes some sense of a suicide; and you never feel that it is the "doomed" Ian Curtis of legend, but a young man struggling with problems he feels are insurmountable. The lyrics, carefully applied across the films, come across as poems of the soul, relating to real events rather than some adolescent doom-mongering. There have now been 3 films (this, 24 Hour Party People and the recently released Joy Division documentary) about this story, as well as numerous books. Each has to recreate the classic scenes - The Sex Pistols at the Free Trade Hall, the appearance on "So it Goes" - as imitations, and make up the rest, so little footage of the band survives - and with the dead all around Joy Division: Martin Hannett, Rob Gretton and now Tony Wilson, these also have to be imitations.

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