This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Just a bit off-topic (but just a bit)

Last weekend, I watched the supposedly last in a series of adventure movies starring Noah Wylie, Bob Newhart (yes, Bob Newhart in an adventure series) and Jane Curtin. Called The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice, it intrigued me because of (you guessed it!) the librarian angle. That and adventure are not often paired. Now, I had heard of the first movie when it began, missed it and had forgotten about it. I had no idea that there was now a series, though I fairly bounced with enthusiasm when I found out it was still around.

Well, I'm smitten. Not so very smitten that I don't see flaws, but bitten and smitten by the idea of a librarian with the derring-do of Flynn (Wylie's character) who is a bit nerdy but awfully capable of holding his own quite impressively in brain work and physical encounters. What an idea! And to think it saw the light of day as a television film. I can't imagine that is this day and age of gritty gore, where writers seem to sit around tables in passionate discussion about how they can bring disturbing images into their programs, that such a film could be a feature (i.e. cinema) film. That it was produced on TV, the haven of grit and gore, is unbelievable. As far as cinema is concerned, it doesn't seem to have the modern-day uber-adult quality required for that venue.

So it seems a bit anachronistic in that sense. But it was made. And, it was made three times at that. Somewhere out there someone seems to need some old-fashioned action-adventure-mystery. I can't vouch for the first two films as the Judas Chalice is all I've seen. But this third installment, despite its flaws - some might quibble with the revival of Cold War overtones (after all, why isn't it the Americans who seek the chalice's strength and rejuvenatory qualities?) - it seems so innocent.

Though there's blood and darkness, it's relatively sanitized and it's all done in such a fantastical context - truly it's a fantasy - that it does not have the same effect a crime drama has. It's the kind of film that used to be made and taken semi-seriously, enough that people were willing to suspend their disbelief for a while for the fun of the ride; nowadays, we're just too sophisticated, aren't we? We laugh at such childish things. We've internalized coolness so much, made it such a mainstay of our personalities that we don't even realize it. We don't see when it's rearing its ugly head and preventing us from betraying our other more realistic qualities. Isn't genuineness so much nicer?

Now, the Judas Chalice, at least, was a bit intense for younger viewers, a bit too scary and a bit too sexy at one point. It could use some tweaking to get its target demographic decided. But I like the mixture of the childlike and the grown-up, so I wouldn't want it to be made too slickly and strictly just for one personality type.

And, in smaller ways, making this movie charming was the retro clothing, Wylie's sense of humor, the thoughtful ending, the direction of Jonathan Frakes and simply just the aforementioned concept of a swashbuckling librarian. It's so seldom that a successful Hollywood star makes a throwback of a film like this that kudos go out to Wylie, though I have no idea if making a throwback was, indeed, his intention.

So, there it is, off topic a bit but still within the realm of bookishness. Now why hasn't a series of paperback adventures begun?

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