I watched the film again last night. It’s very good. I’m not usually James Caan’s number one fan (ahem, sorry) but he did a great job in this and, of course, Kathy Bates was tremendous.
I also watched the accompanying featurette on the DVD from 2000-ish (I’m presuming that date as they were talking about Richard Farnsworth in the past tense) and there was Barry Sonnenfeld talking about how he used different lenses and, as his last job as cinematographer, before he went onto directing such gems as Wild Wild West, but even though the bit about using different lenses to match the tone of certain scenes was interesting, the film generally has the flat look of a TV movie. The more I think about it, the more I'd like to watch the film again with the director's commentary to see what in filmic terms went a good mile or so over my head as I did get the sense of it being filmed and staged with a very classic feel, I just haven't got that film school knowledge to provide adequate points of reference.
Rob Reiner also talked about the casting. I thought it was a nice touch that the relative fame levels of the characters was reflected in the choice of actors. I didn’t know that Kathy Bates was much more of a stage actor at the time but she certainly set out her stall for the film world with this one.
It’s a very faithful adaptation (obviously there are some alterations and omissions - but don't tell me you didn't wince at this version of hobbling too) and, from a fan perspective, that’s perfect, particularly as it’s underpinned by outstanding performances. One of the other things I liked is that the film did a lot of showing and not a lot of telling. It's nice to see that in a book adaptation.
Kathy Bates rules. After her awesome turn on Six Feet Under I'm still crushing on her like crazy. Her part on The Office was lovely too.
I know this post is a bit disjointed and cack, but if there's one thing I want to say it's that in a world where there are really only a handful of really good Stephen King film adaptations among buckets of shit, this is one of the very good ones.