The value of Pullman’s new translation, I believe, lies in his willingness to encompass the darkness as well as the light in the tales, and his determination to retell them in language that does not belong to any particular historical moment or sensibility.
In certain movies, there comes a single moment that completely changes one’s opinion of it. It can be due to an unnecessary twist, an out-of-character action, or the film completely switching gears, but really any individual thing can cause viewers to re-evaluate how they view a movie. I will not spoil Gus Van Sant’s new movie Promised Land, but, suffice it to say, it has one of those, which I will call Moment X for purposes of this review.
All the guests have become very drunk and the little desfile march is given over to interpretive liberties, such as the men and women dancing The Stroll (Circa 1960) downstage á la American Bandstand, with a little disco hand gesture (Circa 1978) thrown in, and then the Funky Chicken (Circa 1963), with one couple staying true to classical ballet (Circa Louis XIV) as they shoot their arms through exaggerated port de bras. The audience is roaring, and so is the fireplace that fills the TV screen.
Though some stories in Astray are more poignant than others, Donoghue once again shows herself to be a writer who excels at evoking characters with startling precision. The result is an exceptional collection that meditates widely on the way in which even the most stable-seeming lives can quickly unravel, revealing the contingent nature of the idea of stability itself.
Everyone notices Jack’s flamboyant behavior and his sudden preponderance of cash. Jack evades their questions until, finally, he can no longer bear lying to his family. He finally confesses that he and his old-money wife Jenny are splitting up. Oh, and one more thing: Jack has embezzled 27 million dollars from the bank where he works.
A child murderer is terrorizing the city. The police hunt is intense, but fruitless. So the cops redouble their efforts—rousting bars, hassling citizens walking the night streets, turning a bright spotlight on the creatures of the back alleys. The killer still remains at large, but there’s an unexpected side effect: with every flophouse and crime den being raided on a nightly basis, the underworld pimps, thieves and pushers cannot operate.
The tone for the entire film is mostly depressed, angry, pessimistic, and confused, which is best evidenced by Fred himself, a repo man who steals Christmas presents for his own apartment. He is a total jerk, and more of a depressed burnout than the fun-loving slacker that the trailer makes it seem.