Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Little Less Conversation?

I’ve always loved the story of Jane Eyre. From the first time I read the Charlotte Bronte classic, I have delighted in watching the various big and small screen adaptations of this feminist work. Perhaps what makes the recent adaptation work is the relative faithfulness to the original text. The strength of Bronte’s words haven’t been diluted or dumbed down for an audience that demands instant gratification.

One of the debates on the Hollywood Reporter concerns the lack of decent dialogue in the recent comic book adaptation, Thor. The argument is that actors have little to rely upon when it comes to good dialogue, and even suggest that there is a trend developing.

Of course what determines ‘good’ dialogue is a matter of subjectivity.
The “You complete me” speech from Jerry Maguire was sentimental saccharine. Yet “Show me the money” has taken its place in modern day culture.

Watching Easy Virtue, the speed of the wit left the full audience I sat in less than amused. Sure they laughed at the obvious gags, but the zingers that uttered between Kristin Scott Thomas and Colin Firth flew straight over the audience’s heads. Have we grown used to dialogue that points and tells rather than shows the tension between characters?

The films that top the box office charts are those that tend towards the bigger, better, faster, more type of film. With that comes less of the yadda-yadda. Dialogue is more of a pointer to the plot. Or to express irritation/anger/vengeance – take your pick.

And though there’s always room for well-placed swearing – the opening sequence of Four Weddings and a Funeral, John McClane’s yippie-kay-yay in Die Hard – dropping f-bombs like confetti is not artful dialogue. It looks like it sounds. Someone in dire need of better vocabulary.

The Expendables is a case in point. Mind you. Not sure when grunting become dialogue.
One of the modern masters of dialogue has to be Quentin Tarantino. Take Jules and Vincent’s conversation about the royale with cheese in Pulp Fiction. Or the ambling conversation of the four girls as they head out on their road trip in Death Proof. Even the Superman speech from Kill Bill 2.

Conversation as she is spoke.

Meanwhile I brace myself for the string of films based on comic books, novels, non-fiction works and other films rolling out.

Will there be good old fashioned bantering? Witty retorts? Or are we going to be laboured with schmaltz, expletives and grunts?

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