Monday, April 28, 2008

Jane's Forbidden Book Kingdom

Over the weekend, D and I saw two movies from opposite ends of the genre spectrum: The Forbidden Kingdom (in a theatre) and The Jane Austen Book Club (on DVD). Both were enjoyable, for different reasons.

Kingdom is all archetypes and broad strokes, with plot points telegraphed hours in advance, sometimes immediately upon a character's introduction. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since the story is based on Chinese legends*, and myths are sometimes built upon knowing what's coming, but it is all very silly. Good clean family fun, though, and you know what you're going to get within the first fifteen minutes.

Book Club, on the other hand, is all about the specifics of its characters and the precise mechanics of their relationships. The only story that didn't quite ring true was Prudie's. I haven't read the book yet, but D says Prudie comes off as much more sympathetic on the page; in the movie, her husband doesn't seem like such a villain, and their final reconciliation is a little bit too tidy.

But any show which advocates Ursula LeGuin's novels (and science fiction in general) is totally worth supporting. I firmly believe the world would be a better place if more women read science fiction and learned kung fu.

* Aside: When I was younger and on a serious Star Wars kick, my parents told me repeatedly (in a manner that would have made Pavel Chekov proud) how the whole Jedi mythos was ripped off from centuries-old Chinese Wu Xia novels. They were partly correct; culturally, George Lucas stole more from Japanese Samurai history, but many of the supernatural elements ("These aren't the droids you're looking for") are derived from Qi Gong. I suspect they were trying to get me in touch with my ethnic heritage or something. Didn't really work. It's tough for anything to compete with lightsabers, you know?

~CKL
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