Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Darth Vader is possibly the only villain with a presence so big that he's been the subject of six blockbuster movies.
Star Wars is the story of a great warrior who has succumbed to evil finding a measure of redemption.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
“He’s – I don’t know, I look at him and I think he’s evil. But that isn’t right, exactly, I don’t think he’s evil. I mean, I don’t think he’d ever be cruel or anything like that, for the fun of it…He wouldn’t hurt Pam but he wouldn’t care about her either. If something bad happened to her, he wouldn’t be pleased by it but he wouldn’t try to do anything to help her…” The Green Eagle Score (Stark 1967: 51).
After having read all but one of the Parker series, and I’m simply waiting for that motherfucker (Butcher’s Moon) to finally be re-published, the above may well be the perfect description of Stark’s iconic character. I first came across Parker, renamed Walker and perfectly portrayed by Lee Marvin, in Boorman’s awesome Point Blank (1967). This led to me The Hunter (1962), re-titled Point Blank for a time, the novel on which it was based and then any of the series that I could get my hands on. Amen to public libraries.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve been in up to 25 second hand book shops across Australia and New Zealand looking for any of Stark’s masterly series. All I ever managed to find was The Hunter (in a 2nd hand bookstore in Hawthorn), retitled Payback after Brian Helgeland’s foolish remake (more on that later), and Flashfire (in a 2nd hand bookshop in New Zealand). So thank fucking Christ for University of Chicago Press who a year or two back decided it was time to re-print the series.
I’d met many people who’d heard of Parker and wanted to read Stark’s series but didn’t share my zeal (or is that obsession) with scouring second book stores. I’m now pleased to say I’ve at least a few friends who have purchased books in the series and can discuss what they make of Stark’s structure (seemingly the same, and yet the novels are always so different), Parker himself and the whole attitude of the novels. So what is Parker? Villain or anti-hero? I tend to the latter in as much he’s a cold professional who doesn’t give a shit about anything but the job, rather than a sadistic or tragic murderer. The rare times he has to be ‘civil’ or ‘friendly’ – I can’t say I ever recall Stark giving him a scene where he had to be ‘charming’ – are done through gritted teeth and simply elevate the respect I have for his disdain for all the bullshit that operates on the surface of ‘polite’ society. Some have even described Parker as the ‘non-hero’ and I’m willing to accept that as well.
So if you haven’t read any of Stark’s Parker series heed Lawrence Block’s comment: “Forget all that crap you’ve been telling yourself about War and Peace and Proust – these are the books you’ll want on that desert island.”
Now briefly to Helgeland’s film version of The Hunter. From memory it aint the travesty it could have been but it does smack of yet another remake of a great film that needn’t have happened. There are some who argue it’s more literal than Boorman’s version and hence a worthy adaptation of the novel. Even it we grant that, there are no actors of Gibson’s generation, or the current younger crop who can match Marvin’s portrayal – and at the end of the day, the books and the films are about the character more than the mechanics of the plot. The film also throws in unnecessary elements such as Gibson's voice over and deviations from the novel that seem mere excuses to throw in gratuitous violence.