Hollywood Is Stupid

Hollywood is too stupid. Now the phenomenally untalented Keira Knightley will get a chance to suck while trying to play Anna Karenina. It is as if she hadn’t made enough money slaughtering Pride & Prejudice and now has to supplement her income ridiculing a masterpiece of Russian literature. I have no idea what kind of an idiot makes these casting decisions. Not only is this woman an anorexic* (which makes her completely unsuited to playing this particular role) but she is also as non-Russian looking as one can get.

I believe that both Pride and Prejudice and Anna Karenina are pretty bad as works of literature go. But they are not as bad as to deserve Keira Knightley.

On Friday, I’m planning to drag myself to the movie theater for the first time in over a year and watch Cloud Atlas. Of course, it will mean that I’ll have to stare at the ugly and talentless Tom Hanks for almost 3 hours but I’m almost resigned to that. Good movies or even not completely horrible movies hardly ever come to our theater in Southern Illinois. We’ve had some idiotic anti-Obama documentary run here for months. And that was the only documentary our theater has offered in years. The only reason to watch Hollywood movies is for the special effects, and Cloud Atlas looks like it will have quite a few of them.

If you watched Cloud Atlas already and want to tell me it sucks, please don’t. I have very little motivation to go to the movies as it is. But if you want to tell me it is great, then please do. I don’t want this to become yet another failed plan to get myself to the movie theater.

* Anorexics were not considered beautiful in XIXth century Russia. This type of woman was:

This painting by Boris Kustodiev is titled “Beauty”

20 thoughts on “Hollywood Is Stupid”

  1. THANK YOU for saying that about Tom Hanks! I thought I was the only one who felt that way about him. He makes movies unwatchable for me! Incidententally, I feel the same way about Kiri Knightely. I saw the version of P and P that she starred in and regretted it immediately. I haven’t seen a movie with her since!


  2. I’m glad I’m not the only person who is ambivalent about the latest “Anna Karenina”, because it just seems to me, from what little I’ve read/seen about it, that none of the Russian context of the story is going to make it into the movie. Like, everyone involved is British and it just seems to me like it’s going to be another British Regency drama with snow and Russian names. Like, I’m even willing to bet there will be British accents. 🙂

    (And I liked the novel Anna Karenina but I think Anna herself is rather boring, much like Emma Bovary. I like the novel she’s in, but she herself is sort of like the inert fulcrum around whom other characters, and the story, revolves. Keira Knightley has said that she’s excited about winning the part of Anna Karenina, because she is such an interesting, complex character. I probably respect Keira Knightley more than you do, because I actually want to know what she sees in the character that I don’t!)


  3. Ugh. Kiera Knightly made the most ludicrous Elizabeth Bennet imaginable and I was shocked when she was cast as Anna Karenina. Not only can she not act, she is way too flat chested to play these roles!


  4. I have no opinion about the movies, but I really like the painting you posted. I wish big girls (like me) were still considered the standard of beauty. Oh well.


  5. “a masterpiece of Russian literature”

    “pretty bad as works of literature go”

    So which is it? I never read AK since my few encounters with Tolstoj were pretty grim and I thought I’d never get through it sane.

    I’ve never liked Knightley since ‘Love, actually’ was trying to sell her as somehow irresistible and I wasn’t buying. I found her very, very resistible with age inappropriate body language and a little rat mouth* (which has since been surgically altered I believe).

    And I know you don’t like the word, but this seems like a real example of ‘privilege’. Anglo-Americans get to do AK and are taken seriously and there’s a fair chance they’ll be able to sell it to the Russian market where it could inform and partially redefine popular Russian understanding of their ‘own’ literature.

    Could a Russian film company make a Russian language version of Pride and Prejudice and hope to sell it in other countries and be taken seriously**?

    I don’t know what you think of the Master and Margarita but the thought occurs to me that Hollywood could take a swing at it…..

    Maybe the Twilight couple (I have too much self respect to actually check how their names are spelled) as the title pair.

    Keven Spacey as Voland? or hell, why not Tom Hanks? or Morgan Freeman?

    Maybe the werewolf guy from twilight as Jesus? (who says he can’t be ripped?)

    Oh, and Margarita would be given a mass media feminist speech about being a strong, independent woman to Voland during Satan’s ball!

    Behemoth could be a CGI creation voiced by Eddie Murphy?

    The possiblities are are fascinating….

    * normally don’t criticize people’s appearance but a movie star, especially one being touted as beautiful, is fair game.

    ** I’m not sure if this was always the case, some years ago I remember seeing the French language film version of Lady Chatterly’s Lover in the US (it was pretty tame)


    1. This is a very good comment!

      I personally think that Tolstoy is a pretty sucky writer. The entire Russian literature suffers from an endless imitation of the French and the Brits with very few and rare exceptions. But for Russians, Tolstoy is an icon. Probably for lack of anything better.

      You are absolutely right about the cultural hegemony and redefining national literatures.

      The Russians created this hugely popular series based on Master and Margarita a few years ago. I hated it but most people loved it. I don’t think it will be possible to make a film version in the US because Margarita is supposed to spend the entire last part of the book completely naked. I have no idea how this can be sold to the American viewers. And dressing her would make the entire crucial and very long scene utterly incomprehensible.

      Also, the film-maker who would take on this project would have to possess a very profound knowledge of the Soviet reality. For instance, one has to know that Voland is supposed to stand for Stalin.


  6. What I find much worse is the casting decision for Bronsky. Come on! Seeing the trailer I could not believe that this is for real. It looks like a parody! Who could fall in love with that guy! Clearly this was not a woman doing the casting…. or one with a very strange taste. I liked the book but I will not go to see to movie because of this terrible decision.


  7. Skinny women weren’t popular in the US either until recently. When I was a kid my grandparents, who grew up during the First World War, were always calling me “skinny” and insisting I eat a lot of food (especially the fat from meat — “it will stick to your ribs” — I hated meat fat). I look at pictures of myself from then and while I wasn’t fat I wasn’t exactly bony.


  8. There’s a saying in American culture, I first heard it being used as “You know you’re Jewish if ______” but I’ve heard so many variations on it from just about every ethnic group, that I think it’s more a reflection of larger changing beauty tastes than any single cultural preference. It goes, “You know you’re _____ if your grandmother thinks you’re too skinny and your mom thinks you’re too fat.”
    Story of my life.


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