the lawyer writer

sometimes legal                     sometimes literary                     sometimes not

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


I have always had a love-hate relationship with Anthony Lane, and today I found out why. Many do say that his cocktail-breezy, faux Noel Coward ramblings are mostly an exercise in style over substance. And, as a person who takes film seriously, it's hard to read him sometimes, because he doesn't--not like a true fan does, anyway. He's too busy doing his little linguisitic gymnastics to really dig into why a film works or doesn't. But, despite all this, I absolutely love reading his film reviews, and I found the reason here in his review of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

"There will be two completely separate and, I might add, mutually hostile audiences for the resulting fim. One will be composed of 'Hitchhiker' fans, millions strong, who will interpret every minute discrepancy between what they are watching onscreen and what they once read on the page as heresy punishable by law, or when possible, stoning. These people are lunatics, and I am one of them."

Simple. To the point, and it summarizes exactly why I like Anthony Lane: He may have gotten P.G. Wodehouse all wrong on occasion, and he just doesn't get Tarantino or Rodriguez, but underneath the ironic dandy hauteur is a Hitchhiker fan. And, as other Hitchhiker fans will agree, that is enough. If you don't know that the answer is, or that white lab mice are actually the smartest creatures on the planet (with dolphins running a close second, and humans the third), or if the gray Sundays don't, at least once, think of the long dark tea time of the soul then, alas, you are not one of us. Even if you see the movie, you won't get it. Actually, we don't get it anymore either--nobody gets it like a junior high schooler, because 1) that is when science fiction means the absolute most to you in your life and 2) you, er, haven't actually read the books since then, so you're not sure you remember why the misnamed Hitchhiker trilogy (there are four books) made such utter, cosmically and karmically sound sense. But it just did.

The movie? I'm curious. But Anthony Lane thinks it wasn't the same, and I think he knows what he's talking about.

(quiz: explain the title of this post)


Anonymous Keith Garner said...

I remember the original radio series from the end of the seventies. It was such a sensation in the way it conjoured up pictures with sound. ( Radio is perhaps the best medium for sci fi, as Orson Welles demonstrated.) It was said that the problem with TV series that followed shortly afterwards was that the pictures werent as good. Havent seen the new one yet.

42: the answer the ultimate question of course!

7:29 AM  
Anonymous daniel valdez said...

What's the question?

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Terry Jacks said...

DNA = Douglas Noel Adams
BTW - R U more or less creative with your blogs when you have a buzz? What's wrong with style pver substance? More often than not a piece is worth reading only for the style - just like some reLationships no??

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Five books, actually. Mostly Harmless came out in 1992 or so to make it a trilogy in five parts.

42 is the answer to the ultimate question, which we, as humans (and organic microchips in the largest computer ever built) are trying to figure out, while controlled by white mice.

Can't believe I remember all that from jr. high.

Anyway it's not really science fiction; or rather, no more than weapons of mass destruction ("Dent, Arthur Dent" - "Well then you'd better hurry or you will be late. As in the late Dent Arthur Dent").

Ah, my words hang in the air in very much the same way that bricks don't.

Your boss, Musketeer

12:07 PM  

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