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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events


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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events doesn't come out for a couple months yet, but I figure I should get started on the books, just so I know what I'm talking about when I review it -- and besides, it's way past time for me to take a look at what else the kids are reading these days besides the Harry Potter books.

So ... I know that the film is based on three particular books (which I assume are the FIRST three books, but I could be wrong about that) ... and I know that the film stars Jim Carrey and is directed by Brad Silberling (who has done lots and lots of TV work, but whose only feature films so far are the live-action cartoon Casper, the Wim Wenders remake City of Angels and the Jake Gyllenhaal - Dustin Hoffman - Susan Sarandon grief-fest Moonlight Mile) ... but that's about it.

One e-pal tells me that the first four books were written under one contract, and then the publisher got the author to write another nine ... and this prompted the author to introduce a "mystery" to the storyline, which my e-pal says also introduced an element of "hope" to the books because, well, if there's a mystery, then that means it can be solved, right? Apparently the original books were somehow incorporated into this mystery, too, and my e-pal wonders if the film will allude to any of that.

Anyway, I've put holds on the three books in question at the library, and I plan to read them soon. Having seen the trailer for the film, I suspect the film has been overpowered somewhat by the Jim Carrey persona (Cable Guy comes to mind, of all things), but we'll see.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I read the first book in the series, and it was a hoot. Jim Carrey in the role of Orloff will undoubtedly expand his part, but I can certainly see him in the role, and after seeing the trailer, he LOOKS the part quite a bit.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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  • 4 weeks later...

There's a new trailer online. It doesn't add much to past trailers, except for some narration by Jude Law as Lemony Snicket, and a brief shot of Meryl Streep (whom I didn't know was in the film).

May I suggest watching this in the "Loathsome Large" format?

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

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I must jump in here and say that the Series... is my second favorite series of children's books (right after Harry Potter). biggrin.gif These books are incredible- lots of wit and irony, along with sly vocabulary and literature lessons.

One e-pal tells me that the first four books were written under one contract, and then the publisher got the author to write another nine ... and this prompted the author to introduce a "mystery" to the storyline, which my e-pal says also introduced an element of "hope" to the books because, well, if there's a mystery, then that means it can be solved, right? Apparently the original books were somehow incorporated into this mystery, too, and my e-pal wonders if the film will allude to any of that.

I was not aware of the above, but it toally makes sense. By the time you get to the fourth book, they may begin to feel a little tiresome - like formula writing. But when the "mystery/subplot" is introduced (which actually involves the persona of Lemony Snickett- the author), it adds a whole new element to the series.

I am looking forward to this movie very much- the trailers seem to stay true to the essence of the story and characters, although I really feel the Series... is best done in the written format. So much of the entertaining portion of the book is in the narration... we'll see how Jude Law & the scriptwriters handle that. ermm.gif

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The writer of those books is, dare I suggest it, a genius. His books are short and very accessible to young audiences, but they're also very sophisticated pieces of writing. The end result is that it's the kind of book that a child can read (or have read to them), enjoy, and also learn to appreciate subtle humor.

It's very difficult for me NOT to like a book that says "I'd love to tell you this book has a happy ending, but it doesn't. Perhaps you should put down the book right now and PRETEND it ends happily. I, however, must resign myself to continue recording this tale of misery and woe."

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It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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As it happens, I just finished reading the first book, The Bad Beginning, this evening. Liked it. It has some nice, clever lines, and a few wickedly funny asides that just might go over the kids' heads and make the adults chuckle. It also has the air of something vaguely educational -- the way the narrator keeps interrupting to explain, humorously, what certain words mean.

Not sure I can picture Jim Carrey as Count Olaf, though.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 month later...

Just a note to say that I have just finished reading Book the Sixth in the series, and I hope to be fully caught up by the time the film comes out three weeks from now. (There are eleven books altogether, plus an "unauthorized autobiography" of Snicket himself.)

I am especially intrigued by a stunning revelation near the end of Book the Sixth (AKA The Ersatz Elevator) which takes us back to the event which set the plot in motion at the very beginning. I wonder if the film will incorporate this into its depiction of that event.

I also wonder whether it will be even remotely possible to make proper sequels to the film, based on the other books. Each of the Harry Potter books takes place over the course of an entire year, and the films are being made more-or-less back-to-back, so the actors don't age all THAT much more quickly than their characters. But the Lemony Snicket books all seem to take place in a much more compressed span of time, and even if EVERY film were to be based on three books, it would still take at least three years to complete the series IF they were producing one new movie every year -- and if any sequel is already being filmed, I have not heard of it.

(There is the added problem of hanging so much of the film's box-office appeal on a single star, Jim Carrey, whereas the primary focus of the Harry Potter movies is the relatively unknown kids, and the films can easily switch actors if need be -- indeed, they have already done so, replacing Richard Harris with Michael Gambon. I wonder what Carrey's contract says? I don't believe he has ever done a sequel before, apart from that Ace Ventura sequel, which was very early in his career.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Two-thirds of the way through Book the Seventh, The Vile Village, and loving it. In THIS book, the children are put in the care of an entire village -- ALL the townsfolk are their guardians, and ALL the townsfolk can make them do chores -- because "it takes a village to raise a child".

Meanwhile, I've noticed something about the trailers. Klaus does not seem to be wearing glasses in the film, which is a deviation from the books. (Can you imagine a Harry Potter movie in which Harry Potter does not wear glasses?) And I am trying to place that scene in the trailer where Count Olaf is stuck in a car on a railway track -- my memory ain't so good, admittedly, but I still find myself thinking that I can't recall any episode like that in the first three books. Does anyone with a better memory than mine remember if that is in the books?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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(There is the added problem of hanging so much of the film's box-office appeal on a single star, Jim Carrey, whereas the primary focus of the Harry Potter movies is the relatively unknown kids, and the films can easily switch actors if need be -- indeed, they have already done so, replacing Richard Harris with Michael Gambon.
Edited by Shantih

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Shantih wrote:

: How much more do we reckon Jude Law might be getting for voiceovers after the

: year he's just had . . .

One of his films would have to be a hit first, wouldn't it? wink.gif

Seriously, Sky Captain and Alfie were definite underperformers, big time, and Huckabees was ... well, that's difficult to say, given that it's sort of an independent film, and anyway, his role in that particular one is fairly small. I think his role in The Aviator is pretty small too, right? Looks like Closer is his last chance to prove himself this year as a "leading" man.

The other complicating factor with regard to Jude Law is the possibility that the "author", Lemony Snicket, may himself end up being a character in these stories. I don't want to give too many details away, but suffice to say that someone in Book the Sixth, The Ersatz Elevator, says something that seems to connect the events of the novels with the events of Snicket's life (which he frequently alludes to in the course of narrating the travails of the Baudelaire children); plus, a couple years ago, in addition to the regular Series of Unfortunate Events books, Snicket also wrote an Unauthorized Autobiography (which I have yet to read) ... so it would not surprise me at all if Snicket ended up being an actual CHARACTER in these stories.

If that were the case, then, um, they would have to hire someone to do more than just voice-overs for the follow-up films, right? I do know the trailer for the film shows Snicket in silhouette, but I cannot recall if it is Jude Law's profile or someone else's; anyway, if it's someone else's, then that may be ANOTHER complication.

BTW, what the heck is the "AFLAC duck"!?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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BTW, what the heck is the "AFLAC duck"!?

It's an American health insurance company. They run commercials here in the states. People start talking about their health insurance needs, and this duck appears and keeps quacking "AFLAC!!" (Pronouced AFF-lack) Of course, the people ignore the duck, but they suddenly get the idea in their own minds to call Aflac for their health insurance needs.

(Of course, Ben Affleck has made a joke out of this before.)

Do they actually refer to the Aflac duck in the books, Peter? If so, that would place the series in a modern-day period time, not the rather esoteric early to mid 20th century look the movie appears to have. I've never read any of the Snicket books, so I have no clue as to the particualr time period presented within the narrative.

Edited by Clint M
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Clint M wrote:

: Do they actually refer to the Aflac duck in the books, Peter?

Nope. I can't think of ANY corporate mascots or logos or whathaveyou mentioned in the books, come to think of it. They're more "timeless" than the Harry Potter books, that way.

: If so, that would place the series in a modern-day period time, not the rather

: esoteric early to mid 20th century look the movie appears to have.

Yeah. There ARE helicopters and things, so it's not set THAT early in the century; and come to think of it, Book the Fifth, The Austere Academy, features a snobby school principal who says there is no way Count Olaf could infiltrate their school because the school has a very "advanced" computer that has been told to keep him out, so the stories WOULD have to take place at some point in the past couple of decades. But the children never use computers themselves -- Klaus loves to read BOOKS, and the things that Violet invents are always quite MECHANICAL -- so the books do have, for the most part, a rather antiquated kind of sensibility. Certainly the way Snicket keeps referring to himself being chased around by villagers with torches, or chained inside a cell somewhere, brings to mind older stories and environments, like, I dunno, the villagers that hunt down Frankenstein's monster.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Whew. Just finished reading The Slippery Slope, Book the Tenth in the 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' series; I also read Lemony Snicket's Unauthorized Autobiography between the eighth and ninth books because that was the sequence in which they were all published. The Grim Grotto, Book the Eleventh, came out two months ago, but there's a huge waiting list at the library for that one (I am presently 73rd in line).

I'm finding these books incredibly entertaining, especially as the various clues are all beginning to connect with one another and the mystery seems to be nearing its conclusion. The author does make allusions to some pretty "mature" writers and subjects, though -- the tenth book ends with a quote from Algernon Charles Swinburne, who "was widely regarded as a very good poet, although some people think his writings about religion were a little too mean-spirited" (FWIW, Wikipedia says of this poet, "His poetry was highly controversial in its day, much of it containing recurring themes of sadomasochism, death-wish, lesbianism and anti-Christian sentiments"), and a significant plot point turns on Klaus's recollection of a passage from Nietzsche, who is not named explicitly in the book, but I recognize the reference to people looking into an abyss and having the abyss look back into them.

Of course, there are OTHER morbid references built into the fabric of these stories, too -- the Baudelaire children, who are subjected to so many "unfortunate events" partly owing to the bungling of a certain Mr. Poe, seem to owe their surname to a French poet, Charles Baudelaire, who was known "for his highly controversial, and often dark poetry, as well as his translation of the tales of Edgar Allan Poe". What's more, "Baudelaire's life was filled with drama and strife, from financial disaster to being prosecuted for obscenity and blasphemy. . . . Baudelaire's continuing extravagance exhausted half his fortune in two years, and he also fell prey to cheats and moneylenders, thus laying the foundation for an accumulation of debt that would cripple him for the rest of his life. In September 1844 his family imposed on him a legal arrangement that restricted his access to his inheritance and effectively made of him a legal minor." That's a rather interesting detail, since the Baudelaires in these stories ARE legal minors, and the reason Count Olaf keeps trying to capture and/or kill them is to steal the great fortune they have inherited, but to which they do not yet have legal access.

Someone else pointed out to me that the second and third children, Klaus and Sunny, seem to be named after the von Bulows (i.e. the very wealthy couple, of which he was accused of putting her into a coma, as portrayed in the Oscar-winning Reversal of Fortune).

Two books also make brief, scant reference to a Cathedral of the Alleged Virgin, which I could have done without. So, readers of a religious bent, beware.

But I do like the books overall ... and I'm not really sure HOW the film can do justice to them.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I will say that, even though I never pictured Jim Carrey as Count Olaf, in the trailers, he makes me laugh OUT LOUD every time.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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Clint M wrote:

: Do they actually refer to the Aflac duck in the books, Peter?

Nope.  I can't think of ANY corporate mascots or logos or whathaveyou mentioned in the books, come to think of it.  They're more "timeless" than the Harry Potter books, that way.

Just out of curiosity which "corporate mascots or logos or whathaveyou" are mentioned in the Hary Potter books, because I've read them all and I can't remember any (granted it's been a couple years since I've read them all), but I didn't feel there was anything that took away from the timeless aspect of the Potter series?

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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I believe there is a reference in one of the books to Harry Potter (or possibly his cousin Dudley) playing a Nintendo or some such game machine, but I can't remember exactly. My books are all at the fianc

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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There were two screenings in Seattle today: Snicket and Spanglish. I skipped 'em both in order to go Christmas shopping for Anne.

Did anybody else attend screenings in your own town? Any feedback? I'm guessing that I missed out on something worthwhile in both cases, but considering my successful Christmas strategizing for Anne, I'm not complaining about my choice. She's gonna be a happy girl.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

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There was a screening of Spanglish open to the public last night, but I had a Christmas party to attend. (TWO parties, actually, but I had to choose between them.)

I'm dashing off to see Lemony Snicket in a moment, but first I just wanted to post a thought that just occurred to me -- a connection I just made. It begins with an e-mail I just sent to my sister:

I really like some of the social satire in these books.
The Vile Village
takes aim at the socialistic implications of that whole "it takes a village to raise a child" idea, by having *all* the villagers act as the guardians for the children, and
The Hostile Hospital
takes place in a facility where people say repeatedly that the most important thing done in the hospital is ... paperwork!
The Austere Academy
also mocks the idea that "advanced computers" can magically accomplish whatever you like, simply because they are called "advanced".

It is also interesting to note that, as the books become less and less about the Olaf-in-disguise formula and more and more about the Baudelaires solving a mystery, there is a change in how the end-papers are done. The end-papers to all the books include a cameo portrait of the three children at the top, and a cameo portrait of Count Olaf at the bottom. The first book shows Olaf in his natural state, and Books 2 to 7 show Olaf in whatever disguise he is wearing in that book. Book 8, interestingly, does not show Olaf per se, but rather, it shows a speaker designed to look like an angry face -- because Olaf himself, rather than adopt a disguise in that story, simply barks orders over the hospital's speakers.

However, in Books 9 and 10, it is the *children* who adopt disguises as they follow Olaf and try to get to the heart of the mystery (although this is a bit of a stretch in Book 10, since the children spend most of the book far away from Olaf and only have to hide their faces when they meet him at the very end). So in the end-papers to *those* books, Olaf is his normal self, and it is the *children* who look a little different. And one of the things the children have to wrestle with, as they follow Olaf and imitate his tactics, is the possibility that they are becoming "villainous" too -- and so far, the books are handling this theme well.

It occurs to me that there is a connection between these two things -- between the emphasis on "disguises", on the one hand, and the kinds of things that the books mock, on the other hand -- things which often involve the way adults deceive themselves, intentionally or unintentionally, by declaring that computers are "advanced" or by taking people's business cards and nameplates at face value or by trusting in aphorisms or by thinking that doing a lot of paperwork is more important than what the paperwork is actually supposed to be referring to.

This distinction between the surface appearance of a thing, and the actual substance of a thing, is implicit also in the way the author keeps explaining what he means by a word he has just used, or in the way that Sunny keeps saying things that are unintelligible to everybody but her siblings. (Actually, those Sunny quotes are sometimes even deeper than she or the siblings recognize -- and deeper than many of these books' young readers would recognize, I'd wager. Typically, Sunny will say a single word, and then the author will translate it for us, turning that word into a full sentence -- and at one point, she makes a comment about a villainous character who doesn't seem to be either male or female, and the word she uses is "Orlando!" So what might seem like a random word on the surface, to the books' young readers, will be a coded literary allusion, to the adults.)

Anyway, I'm going to have to ponder this some more. And I wonder whether the film will preserve any of this. Oh well, time to go find out!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
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Saw it. Still processing it.

The film really DOES skim through the stories very, very quickly -- if, as Michael Ondaatje says, the trick of adapting a novel into a screenplay is to find the short story WITHIN the novel, then you do have to sympathize with the writer who was given three short novels and told to find a single short story within THOSE. The solution, apparently, was to stick the 2nd and 3rd books into the middle of the 1st book.

I can see how this works, insofar as the film begins and ends on a similar note, which I suppose is more satisfying, dramatically, than if the film had shifted its setting or premise altogether every half-hour and had ended after an arbitrary number of changes without tying everything together again. But to make this new story structure work, they have to introduce some rather awkward developments into the plot. (Mr. Poe, for example -- another nice small comic turn for Timothy Spall, BTW -- might be an idiot in the books, but is he such an idiot that he would give the Baudelaires BACK to Count Olaf for a spell? For that matter, why does Count Olaf, who so enjoys immersing himself into his various "characters", abandon his disguise at a crucial point in the 3rd story? There is no good INTERNAL reason for these characters to do these things, it just helps the writers to re-mix the plot.)

The film starts on a strong-enough note, and strikes just the right introductory tone, while giving the story's narration a more cinematic spin -- just as the Snicket of the books keeps telling us to put the books down and go read something else instead, Jude Law's voice-over includes such choice lines as, "This is an excellent opportunity to walk out of the theatre, living room or airplane where this film is being shown." That line is PERFECTLY Snicket-y, but it's something you could never see in the books. So, kudos to the writer(s) for being at least somewhat true to the spirit of the books.

The film also introduces some elements that I don't recall at all from the books (such as a symbolic spyglass that apparently links the Baudelaires' parents to certain other grown-up characters) while also inserting some elements into these early stories that don't come up in the books until the later installments (such as

the initials V.F.D. -- look close, and you'll see them next to Papa Baudelaire's spyglass -- and if I'm not mistaken, the entrance to the Curdled Cave resembles the V.F.D. logo as seen in the "unauthorized autobiography"

). In addition, the film introduces one or two other elements that give this film perhaps a bit too much closure -- I find myself thinking back to the two versions of the Twin Peaks pilot episode, and how the theatrical version ends in a way that contradicts what was revealed in later episodes of the TV series.

Acting-wise, the children are adequate enough, but yeah, the real star of this show is Jim Carrey, who not only captures the dastardly hamminess of Count Olaf himself, but also gets to adopt a couple other personae -- and such VERY different personae -- as Olaf-in-disguise. In fact, watching Carrey work opposite Meryl Streep (who plays the paranoid, grammar-obsessed Aunt Josephine), one cannot help but wonder if Carrey is trying to out-Streep Streep in the faking-accents-convincingly department. There are moments where Carrey becomes a little TOO Carrey-ish -- and his reference to "Sanka" is, thankfully, the only other corporate reference I noticed apart from the gratuitous AFLAC duck bit -- but, truth be told, I can't think of a better actor working today for this role.

A further note on tone: One thing the film is missing, I think, is the ANXIETY of the books. Lemony Snicket frequently alludes to HIS OWN experiences being pursued, chased, sentenced to prison, condemned to die, etc., etc. -- Book 7 (The Vile Village) begins, "No matter who you are, no matter where you live, and no matter how many people are chasing you, what you don't read is often as important as what you do read," and Book 6 (The Ersatz Elevator) begins:

The book you are holding in your two hands right now -- assuming that you are, in fact, holding this book, and that you have only two hands -- is one of two books in the world that will show you the difference between the word "nervous" and the word "anxious". The other book, of course, is the dictionary, and if I were you I would read that book instead.

Like this book, the dictionary shows you that the word "nervous" means "worried about something" -- you might feel nervous, for instance, if you were served prune ice cream for dessert, because you would be worried that it would taste awful -- whereas the word "anxious" means "troubled by disturbing suspense," which you might feel if you were served a live alligator for dessert, because you would be troubled by the disturbing suspense about whether you would eat your dessert or it would eat you. But unlike this book, the dictionary also discusses words that are far more pleasant to contemplate. The world "bubble" is in the dictionary, for instance, as is the word "peacock," the word "vacation," and the words "the" "author's" "execution" "has" "been" "canceled," which make up a sentence that is always pleasant to hear. So if you were to read the dictionary, rather than this book, you could skip the parts about "nervous" and "anxious" and read about things that wouldn't keep you up all night long, weeping and tearing out your hair.

The playfully morbid anxiety evident in quotes like these is, dare I say, missing from the film in general, especially where Law's narration and Thomas Newman's score are concerned. (Yes, THAT Thomas Newman -- the guy who wrote those sensitive scores for American Beauty and Road to Perdition.)

I think this relative lack of anxiety -- and the more soft-spoken, sensitive tone struck by Newman and Law -- may be partly due to the fact that director Brad Silberling is more interested in grief and picking up the pieces after the loss of a loved one than he is in all that other stuff. Every single one of Silberling's feature films to date has been about death, I think, whether in forms cartoony (1995's Casper), sentimentally supernatural (1998's City of Angels) or dramatically semi-autobiographical (2002's Moonlight Mile), and he focuses more on those parts of the books that help him return to that theme.

Final comments (for now). Movie connections! One of Count Olaf's "actors" is played by Jane Adams, who co-starred with Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And while neither Christopher Guest nor Eugene Levy is on hand, no less than THREE of their regular cast members turn up here: Catherine O'Hara as Olaf's neighbour, Jennifer Coolidge as another of Olaf's actors, and, uh, someone whose name I do not know, but I'll look it up.

And then there is the surprise cameo by

Dustin Hoffman, who co-starred with Law in

I Heart Huckabees and co-starred with Streep in 1979's Kramer Vs. Kramer and previously starred in Silberling's Moonlight Mile

. This makes at least FOUR films that

Hoffman

has been in, or will be in, during the last few months of this year, along with

Huckabees,

Finding Neverland and Meet the Fockers

-- both this person and Don Cheadle (After the Sunset, Ocean's Twelve, Hotel Rwanda, The Assassination of Richard Nixon) seem to be giving Law a run for his money in the "most appearances at one time" sweepstakes!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Jude Law's voice-over includes such choice lines as, "This is an excellent opportunity to walk out of the theatre, living room or airplane where this film is being shown."  That line is PERFECTLY Snicket-y, but it's something you could never see in the books.

Although the very next line immediately missteps slightly by having Law say something like, "But, if you LIKE stories in which [unpleasant things happen], stay in your seat," which Lemony Snicket would never say. The thought that the Baudelaire orphans' unhappy tale might be ENJOYABLE to anyone would be quite disturbing to Mr. Snicket, who would have been much more likely to say something like "But if you would rather know the truth, however unpleasant it might be..."

Acting-wise, the children are adequate enough

I especially thought the girl who played Violet (our second oldest-sister heroine Violet of the season, but not a shrinking one this time!) was well cast. But why on earth didn't Klaus wear glasses -- ESPECIALLY since they're trying to tap into the Harry Potter vibe???

but yeah, the real star of this show is Jim Carrey, who not only captures the dastardly hamminess of Count Olaf himself

Carrey's Olaf did help me synthesize the personality of the Count, whom in the books I couldn't quite picture both as the cruelly sinister mastermind and the hammy actor he is. I wish that playing Olaf as Olaf, if you follow me, Carrey had dialed back the hamminess and gone more for straight menace and cruelty, but maybe I'm wrong. (But I see you DO refer to "moments where Carrey becomes a little TOO Carrey-ish" -- Suz and I found particularly that the T-rex scene rather took us out of the movie.)

Since I'm turning in my Register review first thing in the morning, Peter, I appreciate some of the book-film comparisons you make that go beyond my as-yet superficial reading of the series (and any other comments you make tonight might also be helpful in this regard!). So, question:

To what extent does the movie's connection of the Baudelaire parents themselves with the other adults in a mysterious-fire investigating club, and Count Olaf's arsonious looking-glass tower, reflect the books

?

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Also, approximately what percentage of reviews would you guess will be written in a stab at Snicket's style? That the production notes adopt this conceit (not all that well) makes me think mine won't be the only one by a long shot. But I don't think I can resist anyway.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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SDG wrote:

: Although the very next line immediately missteps slightly by having Law say

: something like, "But, if you LIKE stories in which [unpleasant things happen], stay

: in your seat," which Lemony Snicket would never say.

Oh, right, that WOULD be out of character. Hmmm. I must have been so busy jotting down the line about the "airplane" that I neglected to take notice of that bit.

: But why on earth didn't Klaus wear glasses -- ESPECIALLY since they're trying to

: tap into the Harry Potter vibe???

I think it was my sister who suggested that the filmmakers were consciously trying not to seem too imitative of Harry Potter. I could see that. But still.

: Carrey's Olaf did help me synthesize the personality of the Count, whom in the

: books I couldn't quite picture both as the cruelly sinister mastermind and the

: hammy actor he is.

Nicely put. (Just wondering, how many books have you read so far?)

: (But I see you DO refer to "moments where Carrey becomes a little TOO

: Carrey-ish" -- Suz and I found particularly that the T-rex scene rather took us

: out of the movie.)

More of a velociraptor scene, I would have thought, but yeah, Count Olaf and his associates are all about imitating PEOPLE, not ANIMALS -- whereas Jim Carrey is the sort of person who relishes his ability to imitate just about ANYthing (and his first major movie role was, of course, that of a "pet detective").

: So, question:

To what extent does the movie's connection of the Baudelaire

:

parents themselves with the other adults in a mysterious-fire investigating club,

:

and Count Olaf's arsonious looking-glass tower, reflect the books?

I don't believe the books have ever clearly spelled out

that it was Count Olaf who burned down the Baudelaire mansion

. In fact, in Book 10,

we meet two new villains who seem to be Olaf's bosses, or some such thing

; and since we never do return to that house that Count Olaf occupies in Book 1,

I would have to say that the arsoniousness of the tower is a pure invention of the film -- especially since Olaf and his associates go on to start a number of OTHER fires, WITHOUT anything like the tower, in later books

.

As for

the club that the Baudelaire parents belonged to

, this is one of those elements that the movie imports from the later books; in Book 6,

the Baudelaire children leave an apartment building by crawling through a tunnel ... which comes to an end right below where the Baudelaire mansion used to be

! I think there is also a rather strong hint, in Book 10, that

Mrs. Baudelaire might, in fact, be Lemony Snicket's sister

.

: Also, approximately what percentage of reviews would you guess will be written

: in a stab at Snicket's style? That the production notes adopt this conceit (not all

: that well) makes me think mine won't be the only one by a long shot.

Oh, I hadn't thought about that, but then, I haven't seen the production notes. Hmmm. Now I'm wondering if I should try that myself. ... Nah, it wouldn't feel natural, I don't think.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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