Sunday, November 12, 2006

It's a funny sort of way

Last night, Nicole and I went to see Running With Scissors, a fantastic adaptation of Augusten Burroughs's memoir. After I let the film digest on the walk home, I went to the computer and, like the nerd that I am, searched for interviews with Burroughs to see what he thought of the film. This is what I found on the Book Standard website:

"I never was going to option Running With Scissors for film because I felt it would be too easy to make a really bad, cheesy movie out of it. But this person, Ryan Murphy, kept pestering me and my agent over and over again, so I finally decided to have lunch with him, just to explain to him why I was not going to option it. But he had an understanding of Running With Scissors that I felt only the author of the book could have. It was really remarkable how deeply he related to the book. And by the end of lunch, I had made a 180-degree turn in my feelings...When I saw it [the film], I was just absolutely blown away. On the one hand, it was like watching a home movie, where everyone is, like, gorgeous. But of the other hand, I was able to step back and disconnect emotionally from it and look at it just as a movie. And I was able to realize, this is so fucking cool. This is a great movie. In one minute, it's absolutely hysterical, in the next it's heartbreaking, in the next it's shocking and in the next, it's just weird. All through it, it maintains a real huge heart and it's not pretentious and it's not arty for the sake of being arty. Running With Scissors is amazing when I consider that it's Ryan Murphy's first movie. It's a triumph. I feel lucky to be associated with it."

First of all, I was shocked at the fact that he didn't want to option the book. Isn't that every author's dream? But he didn't see the money they were throwing at him, he saw the possibilities of what could go wrong. I think that most authors are really quick to jump on the Hollywood bandwagon and get their movie check without thinking about the what could possibly happen if they movie was actually made.

The comment about the movie being hysterical, heartbreaking, shocking, and weird all at the same time was right on point. Newbie authors hear time and time again, make sure yoconsistentonsistant tone throughout your work; don't have this violent gritty narrative throwthen thow a dash of humor in. It's jarring. But Burroughs mastered this in his novel, being able to maintain a sense of humor throughout, while conveying the underlying darkness and depression that was plaguing the characters. There were moments, in the theater, when half the audience was gasping and the other half was cracking up, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. When I'm reading a book or watching a movie and I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry, it speaks to the talent of the artist. Really, the events in the story were dark and depressing, but were told in such a humourous way, that I actually caught myself, "Wait, this 35 year old man is having a relationship with a fourteen year oThat's...that's not funny!" But would I go to see a film about pedophilia and mental illness? Probably not. It's too depressing. The humor allowed him to tell this heartbreaking tale in a way that would get people to pay attention, laugh, be entertained, while still receiving Burroughs's message.

If you haven't already, read the book and see the movie, you disappointed.

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