The Rum Diary. Fear of getting old. Aged 22

When there’s a book and a film of the book or when there’s a film and a book of a film… I’m always confused. Bet you are too now. What I mean is… is it better to read the book first or see the film?

I just read The Rum Diary by Hunter S Thompson (pictured above) and now I don’t know whether I should see the film or not. Will it spoil the book? I think, in this case, I probably did right reading the book first because it’s seen as a bit of a minor classic and it’s unlikely that the movie will achieve classic status (although I haven’t seen any reviews yet so it could be a masterpiece for all I know). On the other hand, no-one would recommend reading one of those cheesy ‘books of the movie’ before seeing a screen classic. So which should come first?

The Rum Diary involves a journalist named Paul Kemp, who moves from New York to work for a major newspaper in San Juan,Puerto Rico. Set in the late 1950s, it is a tangled story of jealousy, treachery and violent aloholic lust among the Americans who staff the newspaper. The book is written in the kind of everyday language of a diary and so is a quick and easy read in that sense but its subject matter is anything but. There’s a lot about the fear of growing old, climbing the greasy career pole and drinking (there’s a lot and I mean A LOT of drinking). It’s interesting to read the parts about the fear of getting old because Thompson was only 22 when he wrote this book and it was evidently an issue for him even then. He actually committed suicide in 2005 at the age of 67.

I enjoyed the book and now I’m wondering how well the story will transfer to screen. Johnny Depp is playing the main part and was apparently a friend of Thompson’s so hopefully the movie will do justice to the novel.

Generally speaking I think it may be best to see things in the order of creation. If the book was written first, read it before you see the film and vice versa. I suppose seeing a terrible adaptation of a great book doesn’t actually spoil the original work but it does make for a irritating couple of hours at the pictures and every couple of hours counts when you’re getting old. Ask Hunter S Thompson.

HAS ANYONE SEEN THE RUM DIARY YET? IS IT ANY GOOD? DO YOU AGREE THAT IT’S BEST TO SEE FILMS/READ BOOKS IN THEIR ORDER OF CREATION?

Hereafter versus The Rite

Watched a couple of films this week; Hereafter and The Rite. Hereafter is the Clint Eastwood directed drama which, as I was watching it, I found myself impressed by. It is directed in such an unfussy, assured way which focusses completely on the characters. I love character-driven films and so this one really drew me in. Even the astonishing tsunami scene is done in a way which is never cheap or gratuitous; it’s just one part of the story of one character.

The three-way plot is woven together pretty well and even the depiction of England I didn’t find too stereotyped as we might have expected from Clint (for once everyone is not shown living in castles and employing butlers al la Four Weddings and a Funeral). Matt Damon and all of the cast is good so it should all come together to make a great film. But it does’t. It’s OK; engaging, well done and thoughtful but I came away feeling like there wasn’t much in the way of depth. In the end it’s just a love story; nothing wrong with love stories but this is quite a weak love story and it feels disappointing because, from the way the film starts, I thought we were going to get some kind of insight into the possibilities of an afterlife and how these possibilities affect the way we lead our lives. I mean it is called Hereafter after all!!!

Oddly, The Rite finished up having the most to say on spiritual matters! The plot concerns a young priest, doubting his faith, taking up exorcist duties under the guidance of grizzled old veteran Hopkins. Nothing about this film could be called subtle. The characters are overblown and melodramatic. Anthony Hopkins gives his usual superb performance but no-one else is particularly memorable. But at least the film says something; that faith often comes from sheer practical necessity, that you can’t believe in the devil without believing in God.

The exorcism scenes are effective without being too stomach-churning and the whole thing feels like a well worn but reliable pair of pants. There’s no surprises but the story is so well crafted that you just can’t help but enjoy it. I actually enjoyed both these films but I don’t think either of them would test anyone’s thinking muscle for too long.

Sssshhhhhh! It’s a Skoda!

My car exploded last week. To repair it would have cost £1000 plus. It was something called the cam belt apparently. I wouldn’t know a cam belt from a snake belt. The car (a Renault Megane or Renault Migraine as they’re often known) wasn’t worth a grand anyway so it had to be a write off. I have a brand new lease car on order from work but it won’t arrive for three months or more so I’ve had to buy a temporary vehicle. And there she is in the picture above. She is called Felicia and she’s a…… Skoda!

She is fifteen years old, has no power steering, manual window winders, no stereo and a hole in the roof where an aerial used to be. Turning the wheel is like lifting a bag of potatoes and she takes an hour every morning to de-mist. It’s going to be a long three months.