Sat, Jan 08, 2000

: Clockwatchers

Author: Jill Sprecher and Karen Sprecher

Director: Jill Sprecher

TV Guide called this a comedy, which I find strange, as it’s not supposed to be funny. It’s amusing, but not laugh-out-loud. It was interesting. It’s about four young women who work one rung below the bottom one on the corporate ladder: they are temps. The film pokes fun at office politics and the corporate battle to get noticed. It’s a light movie, not a biting satire like you might expect. Enjoyable. What I liked best was the casting: the four workers have distinct but believable personalities — no glamor roles here.

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: Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel) and Robert Towne

Director: Hugh Hudson

As a huge ERB fan, I’ve wanted to see this movie for years. Of course I was hesitant, as I’ve been disappointed at all Tarzan adoptations so far. This one’s supposed to be the truest, but I wasn’t that impressed. Yes, it was better from a technical perspective (but even there there were minor mistakes like Tarzan, learning to speak, muttering “razor” perfectly on the first try). Mostly this movie suffered from two faults: it was boring; there was essentially no “Tarzan action” like you’d expect, and it had a serious misinterpretation of Burroughs. In ERB’s books, Tarzan, a.k.a. Lord Greystoke, was as comfortable in a suit as in a loincloth — the whole point was he could live in either world (but chose to live in the wild). He simply was a superior man all around. In this movie, however, they made Tarzan out to be a wildman who could never be comfortable in society. Essentially that was the central conflict of the film, so I can see why they did that, but that was not ERB’s intent for the character. The key to Tarzan for me (and how I relate to him) is that he is not truly a part of either civilization or the wild. He is something of both worlds but does not belong to either. He is man, not ape, yet he lives with apes. He is man, and lives with men, yet he is not man. When he is with men he feels the calling of the wild. When he is in the wild, he feels the calling of civilization (not strongly, but it is there). That, for me, was the genius of ERB. Tarzan was ultimate alien. That’s how I relate to him. Growing up in West Africa and the United States, I never felt a part of either world: I was a tourist in either location. So you can see that I was disappointed by this adaptation, which took out what I consider the most important part of Tarzan’s character! (The elimination of this aspect of Tarzan also eliminated the reason for Tarzan to leave the wild and explore his history in the first place. The film gives no clear reason as to what motivates Tarzan to the jungle.)

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