Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

My friend wept at the end of this film. I didn't, but that doesn't mean I didn't think it amazing. She thought it was the best film she'd seen of the class of 2005. I can't remember any better. Gary Thompson of the Philadelphia Daily News summed up my reaction when he said, "Brokeback" is not always a great movie, but it has great moments.

This is why I can't be a reviewer -- because the things I'd like to say about my reactions to the film would feel too much like spoilers to me. I wish I'd known less about it before I saw it. I think anybody who sees it would benefit from knowing as little as possible, by having as few preconceived notions as possible.

Phenomenal performances, especially by Heath Ledger. This is definitely worth seeing and forming your own opinions.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Match Point

Kind of pointless.

I wanted to like it. I wanted to like it a lot. I like Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and have since I first saw him in Bend It Like Beckham. I've enjoyed enough Woody Allen to not be immediately concerned that it was his film. I read enough raves to expect to be delighted.

Not so much.

After their initial meeting, I couldn't feel enough sizzle between Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johannson to justify the premise of the movie, infidelity. (Yes, it's a Woody Allen movie, of course it's about infidelity.)

There were many things about it that I enjoyed, and there were certainly some solid performances, but once you get over the fact that she's stunningly beautiful, there really isn't enough in Johannson's character (or more likely, her performance) to convince me she was worth risking your entire life as you know it to sleep with her.

I know, I'm not a guy.

So anyway, that's it for me. Enough people disagree with me that I'm sure it would be best for you to see it for yourself and come back and tell me what you think.

The Summer Birds

In my other blog, I posted a meme about books and mentioned a book that I'd looked for for years (see #9).

My friend, AncyKate, found it for me in five minutes, bless her heart, and I ordered it, and have now read it again.

It's a gentle little story with Peter Pan elements -- a boy who can fly and teaches the children in the village to fly with him. It lacks pirates and crocodiles, which makes it "gentle" but I recall finding the ending very sad when I read it, and it moved me enough to remember it all my life.

I think one thing it did was give me a window into other children's lives -- two sisters who live in a bizarre old house with a grandfather who is "reading astrology" and a haphazard housekeeper who doesn't seem to like to cook or keep house. References to other children's lives that were equally alien to me in my Dallas neighborhood. It's something I've always been fascinated by, getting glimpses of how other people live. It's one major reason I read.

I can't say it's a great book. I can say I'm glad I read it again, and am glad it's now on my bookshelf.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Stage Beauty

Stage Beauty

For a change of pace -- a film. Or DVD, in this case. I loved Claire Danes in My So-Called Life.

The idea of this film, that Billy Crudup is that last man to portray a woman on stage prior to Charles II decreeing that women should portray women -- revolutionary, indeed -- intrigued me. The trailers intrigued me.

But now that I've seen it, it's Billy Crudup who intrigues. I kept thinking, "That name, that face, what else has he been in?" and then remembered -- Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. Wow, very different.

And amazing, whether he is a man portraying a woman on stage or in a carriage with female admirers, or a man trying to play a man, or ... well the permutations are fascinating and superb. I loved this film, and Billy Crudup's perfomance (and some fine supporting cast members, as well) is the reason why.

If you liked Shakespeare in Love, give this one a shot. I think you'll love it.

Anansi Boys

God is dead. Meet the kids.

I just finished listening to Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, read by Lenny Henry.

I wasn't familiar with Lenny Henry prior to this, but I am impressed. He's a terrific reader, with wonderful character voices. I can't imagine anyone doing as fine a job with this material.

And the material itself? Love it. How could I not love a book that opens:

It begins, as most things begin, with a song.

In the beginning, after all, were the words, and they came with a tune.

Even though I had a general idea how it must end, I did not know how it would all come together, and was quite pleased with the ins and outs of it.

I think it would be terrific to read or hear -- I do intend to buy it and have on hand for reading later.

If you like audiobooks, however, and a bit of magical realism, I think you should definitely give this one a listen. It's delightful!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy

  • charlie bone and the invisible boy

    This is the third in a series by Jenny Nimmo. Simon Russell Beale is a wonderful reader. Fun books, shorter and less involving than the Harry Potter, but then, what isn't? These have their own charm, and again, the reader is superb.

    If you know nothing about Charlie Bone (the first in the series is Midnight for Charlie Bone) I must tell you that you will first notice its similarity to Harry Potter. Charlie is also a boy who does magic. He also has weird hair. He also is going to be forced to go to a school where kids do magic.

    Only this is not a pleasant school, and not ALL the kids do magic. And those who do -- who are "endowed" -- each have a particular talent. When Charlie looks at photographs, he can hear what the people were saying when the photograph was made. Another student can touch an object and tell you what happened to its owner. Another can stir up a storm (literally) if his emotions aren't controlled. And so on, and so on. At one point it occurred to me that this is a variation on a school for superheroes, each with odd and specific powers.

    And while the Dursleys are cruel and unpleasant, Charlie's family is so bad, well, I won't tell you because you don't find out until deeper into the first book.

    As I said, it's entertaining enough if you like this kind of book, and I do love this reader.

    Have you read any of them? What did you think? Just curious....

  • Thursday, January 12, 2006

    Freddy and Fredericka

    On Dec 30 I wrote:

    I love audible. I love listening to books while driving (which I spend much time doing) or while doing housework (which I spend rather less time doing).

    And I started listening to Freddy and Fredericka with the best of intentions. I found it amusing, and a nice distraction. However, "amusing" and "nice distraction" do not justify 25.5 hours of my listening life.

    I haven't been listening as often as I used to, because I keep thinking, "Oh, yeah, it's that Freddy-book, maybe I won't listen right now." I considered giving it up as a lost cause, but every time I start listening again, I think, "Well, it's amusing enough, I'll keep listening...."

    And so here I sit with 3 1/2 hours left to listen to -- after listening to 21, mind you -- and I'm about to hit the wall.

    I'm about to say, "I don't give a flying fuck what happens here, I will run screaming into traffic if I have to hear any more of this book," and quit. I honestly can't figure out why I didn't quit sooner. It's not as if I've never quit reading a book I didn't like. I do it all the time. Life's too short.

    So, has anybody here read it? Does something happen at the end that makes you go, "Wow! What a killer ending!"

    Because an "amusing" ending is not worth the time I've spent on this already, much less another 3 1/2 hours.

    Maybe I'm not up to listening to ANY book that is that long. Although I've never had trouble listening to any of the Harry Potters, and some of them have come close....

    January 5, I finished it. (Yeah, I went ahead and listened to the rest of it.)

    I think I would have enjoyed this book more had I read it. It has charm and humor and sweetness, with a bit of an edge.

    I'm glad I finished it. Maybe in a year or so I'll read it.

    Sisyphean efforts....

    In an attempt to keep track of what I read, listen to and watch in 2006, I am beginning this book/dvd blog.

    Let's see how long it lasts.