Subtle As A Thrown Brick

I went to see Wolverine with Jenni last night. It was disappointing. What irritated me the most was how the entire story was communicated through dialogue. How many times did they debate out loud whether or not he should let his animal nature take over?

They could just as easily have let him slaughter everyone in the place where they made him into Weapon X. Show him coming to with the blood of a general he respects on his hands, and let the scene and the acting tell of his struggle with the animal within rather than saying it out loud half a dozen times.


Instead not one innocent dies at his hand the entire movie. Evil people and faceless henchman die, and his struggle with his nature makes no sense. Who gives a shit about his rage if all the beast inside him does is kill bad guys?

It was emotional baby food aimed at fourteen year-olds and uninterested in challenging them at all to understand what was going on. I’m enough of a curmudgeon that I still believe a movie can be both exciting, fantastic, and subtle. It reminded me of something John says in A Prayer for Owen Meany:

[T]he theater is a great emphasizer — especially to young people, who have no great experience in life by which they might judge the experiences they encounter in literature; and who have no great confidence in language, neither in using it nor in hearing it. The theater … dramatizes both the experience and the confidence in language that young people — such as our students — lack. Students of the age of … mine, have no great feeling — for example — for wit; wit simply passes them by, or else they take it to be an elderly form of snobbery, a mere showing off with the language that they use (at best) tentatively. Wit isn’t tentative; therefore, neither is it young. Wit is one of many aspects of life and literature that is far easier to recognize onstage than in a book. My students are always missing the wit in what they read, or else they do not trust it; onstage, even an amateur actor can make anyone see what wit is. …

How hard it is — without the showplace of the stage — to teach wit to teenagers. I despair that another fall is almost upon me and once again I shall strive to make my Grade Ten girls notice something in Wuthering Heights besides every little detail about Catherine and Heathcliff — the story, the story; it is all they are interested in! …

Is Mordecai Richler too witty for eleventh-grade girls? It would appear so. Oh yes, they think The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is ‘funny’; but they miss half the humor! You know that description of the middle-class Jewish resort? It’s always description that they miss; I swear, they think it’s unimportant. They want dialogue, they want action; but there’s so much writing in the description! ‘There were still some pockets of Gentile resistance, it’s true. Neither of the two hotels that were still in their hands admitted Jews but that, like the British raj who still lingered on the Malabar Coast, was not so discomforting as it was touchingly defiant.’ Every year I watch their faces when I read to them — they don’t bat an eye!

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