Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

So can anyone recommend a good Robert E. Howard biography?

For me, The Whole Wide World is a "there" film: something I saw and didn't react to. I didn't really like it, I didn't really dislike it. It was just kind of there. It left me wanting more strongly to read a really good in-depth biography of Robert E. Howard, who created Conan (and King Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane, Sailor Steve Costigan and more pulpy goodness), but that's my main reaction.

The hilarious Down With Love excepted, Renee Zellweger (who plays schoolteacher Novalynn Price, a real-life friend and sorta-kinda love interest of REH) does almost nothing for me most of the time; when I saw and liked the film version of Chicago, I mentally replaced Zellweger with Charlize Theron, who was to star as Roxie Hart in an earlier attempt to film that play. (Sorry, yendi. But hey, I won't steal her from you!) I really need to see Jerry Maguire finally to see if I respond well to her there.

Vincent D'Onofrio's by far the most interesting part of the film, portraying REH as a man who seems to vibrate against the West Texas environment where he finds himself, as if he can't decide between staying there and being transported to the Hyborian Age he conceived.

I'm not surprised that screenwriter Michael Scott Myers hasn't gotten more films made; there's really nothing striking to the film's structure, as so often happens with biopics, and there's some expositional clunkiness. It's not all that interesting, the writing. I notice that director Dan Ireland produced some very striking films before this one, like Lair of the White Worm (which I've seen) and Paperhouse (which I haven't), so based on The Whole Wide World he seems more interesting as a producer than as a director. Oh well.

Maybe I'm being harsh because I've become such an REH fanboy these last few years (he was a fascinating, difficult guy! This film sort of shows that, but I want to see more!); and maybe also because I just saw the very stylish and striking and emotionally-grabbing The Illusionist, per Alicia's very strong suggestion. Wrong double feature.
Tags: books, film reviews

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