East of Eden

A few months ago I read East of Eden for the first time and loved it. I’ve been recommending it or giving it to lots of people since then and most of them have liked it too. A few people have suggested that I see the movie but having heard the movie is really just about the end of the book I decided to take a pass.

Then someone told me there was a mini-series of the story that was the whole ball of wax. Wendy and I sat down to start watching it last night (it’s more than 300 minutes long). It gets good reviews on Amazon and elsewhere so we had high hopes. It also had a pretty good cast. We made it through less than one disc. That’s how bad it was.

So what was bad about it? Let me run it down:

The actor playing Adam couldn’t have been worse if he’d meant to. There were several points when I laughed out loud. I don’t think it was meant to be funny though. It reminded me of a movie I like a lot (that is funny) – OSS 117: Lost in Rio. This terrific French spy spoof features Jean Dujardin as a wildly inappropriate yet surprisingly successful agent. Throughout the movie he dons absurd costumes. That was what Adam reminded me of – someone putting on silly costumes and barely able to contain themselves. Since Adam is one of the key characters it was a total problem.

The violence was super silly. There’s plenty of violence in East of Eden: wars, fights, attempted murders, etc. The violence in this version appeared to be choreographed by someone who cut their teeth staging fights in low-budget westerns. Swings miss their mark by miles as the actors tumble and grimace. They’re so bad they’re laughable. But . . . they’re not actually meant to be funny.

The production quality. Look, I realize that this wasn’t some big budget Hollywood blockbuster – but man, let me tell you – it looked like maybe some friends had done it over a weekend in their neighborhood. Just as low budget as you could wish for.

Lloyd Bridges. Sam Hamilton is another important character in East of Eden. Lloyd Bridges is the guy who chose the wrong day to quit smoking. Sam Hamilton (in my imagination) was a thoughtful man with a dry/wry sense of humor. Understated. Not a guffawing buffoon. This was the final straw and it was at this point that I turned it off.

There were things right with this version – Kate was terrific. The story was intact and that’s important. But seeing how far from the mark an intact story can be is a reminder of what makes a great novel great. It isn’t just the story – it’s the language that creates the space for the story to unfold and grants the freedom for the reader to fill in details. Movies take away that language and space and freedom. In some cases that’s not a big deal. In some cases it’s totally welcome and makes a story even more awesome. But it the case of East of Eden it was a disaster.

Read the book.

Is this the end?

For weeks I haven’t been able to get my flash off my camera. One of the pins doesn’t seem to be retracting. It’s kind of a pain. What’s worse about it is that I can’t close my camera bag properly. Last night I paid the price.

(Here are the most recent photographs from my 1000 Faces project – which I was planning on working on when my camera broke.)

We were going to see Matisyahu. I had my camera in the back of the car. We realized that car was just about out of gas so we decided to take the other one. I reached in to grab my bag and as I swung it onto my shoulder the camera fell out – onto the concrete floor of the garage.

The lens cover and filter few off. The worst damage is that the shoe has come undone and is hanging to the camera by one screw. I can’t seem to get i back on (or off) and the flash still won’t come off (and nor will it fire any more).

The camera is a Canon Digital Rebel. The original model. From 2003. It has a host of little problems: the onboard flash doesn’t work any more, the battery door has to be taped closed, the single exposure setting doesn’t work and the padding around the eye piece is long gone.

All that said, it still met my needs pretty well. Not that I wasn’t thinking of replacing it at some point – just not right away. Frankly, even if I wanted to replace it right away it just isn’t in the cards from a cash flow perspective – what with the holidays and all. (Shockingly, I would like a camera that isn’t super cheap . . .)

What’s tough is that I really, really love my camera. I love taking people’s photographs. I love meeting new people and having a reason and an opportunity to engage with them.

My camera – and the 1000 Faces project – has been a huge source of pleasure and satisfaction for a long time. Now, for the foreseeable future at least, that’s over.

I’m going to think of some new projects I can do with the images I already have but there aren’t going to be any fresh faces for some time.


update – last night I managed to get the shoe off the camera but that’s about all. It was bent so there was no way for me to get it back on properly.

Oh angel of imaging give me succor!