Re-Watch: Cruel Intentions (1999)

Cruel Intentions
Director: Roger Kumble
Writer: Roger Kumble
Based on: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ epistolary novel
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Louise Fletcher, Joshua Jackson, Eric Mabius, Sean Patrick Thomas, Swoosie Kurtz, Christine Baranski, Tara Reid
Seen on: 7.2.2016
[This concludes my Dangerous Liaisons marathon. At least until I can get ahold of the other adaptations.]

Plot:
Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe) and Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) are step siblings, united in their love to manipulate and destroy the people around them, a skill they have so artfully mastered that their ploys don’t fall back on them. Both have a new project: Valmont is trying to seduce Annette Hargrove (Reese Whitherspoon), the new principal’s daughter, who is widely known for her chastity pledge and that before school starts. Kathryn, on the other hand, is looking for revenge on an ex-lover who just dumped her for the naive Cecile (Selma Blair). So she enlists Valmont’s help to completely corrupt Cecile.

I was 14 when Cruel Intentions came out, 15 by the time I saw it the first time and I think that it is one of the defining teen movies of my generation. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good film, though it definitely does have its strengths, but it is very hard to view it separately from its influence.

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The Zahir (Paulo Coelho)

When I was 16, 17 years old, Paulo Coelho became one of my favourite writers because of The Alchemist. I was in Brazil on a school exchange programme and trying to find my way through and my place in life and spirituality. It was the perfect book for this. I still like it a lot. I also very much like Veronika Decides To Die which I read about the same time.

Now, it’s been a while since I read one of his books, so when I started The Zahir last week, I didn’t really remember how he writes but the feeling I got from the books I read before. Which was always a rather reassuring, the-world-is-good and everything’s-gonna-be-fine feeling.

As you might guess after this introduction, The Zahir didn’t leave me with this feeling. Instead I felt surprised, angry and absolutely flabbergasted because of his pretentious statements and the general “I am so humble although I know so much” [which isn’t true, in case you didn’t guess] crap. Seriously, about every third sentence provoked a heartfelt “BULLSHIT!” on my part. [For a woman, sex is not the most lustful part in a relationship, it’s feeding the man and children. Fanaticism comes from the doubts that live in men’s souls. etc. etc.]

But I can live with statements I don’t agree with [otherwise I would live in pretty lonely world], especially in books and movies. Under two conditions: It fits the character and the story and it’s not praised as universal truth (unless again it fits the character to proclaim it so). [Those rules also apply to statements I agree with.]
Both were not the case here, I’m afraid.

This book changed two things in my life:

  1. Paulo Coelho will go off my favourite writer’s list.
  2. I will never be able to read The Alchemist or Veronika Decides To Die again because I’m afraid that they were written in the same style and I haven’t noticed because of my age and general position in life when I read them.

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By the way, there’s a movie coming up, based on Veronika Decides To Die with Sarah Michelle Gellar. Could be good. I don’t know. Maybe if they cut away the spirituality and concentrate on the story.

Movie News

There’s a new, German version of The Wave by Morton Rhue/Todd Strasser (Die Welle) coming to the movies. A book probably every child in school in Europe and the US had to read. Let’s see if that improves the popularity.

Christian Bale has a lot of interesting projects coming up – Killing Pablo (together with Javier Bardem), Public Enemies (together with Marion Cotillard, Johnny Depp and Giovanni Ribisi) and – I’m not sure what to think of that one – Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins.

Motherless Brooklyn will finally be out some time this year. Directed and written by as well as starring Edward Norton. Should be good.

Alice in Wonderland has a real revival – first there’s the Tim Burton version, then the Marilyn Manson version with Tilda Swinton and finally the Marcus Nispel version with Sarah Michelle Gellar. Will be interseting to compare them.

2008 is also a Chuck Palahniuk year – Invisible Monsters and Choke are being made into movies. Also, Bret Easton Ellis can rejoice: he gets The Informers, Lunar Park and The Frog King. And another one of my favourites – Irvine Welsh – gets The Meat Trade.

I bet I could find another hundred movies to come out this year I want to watch but I need to go to bed now.