Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brazzaville Beach

A riveting novel about a female anthropologist. The narrative jumps between the story of her marriage in England, and the story of her time observing chimpanzees in Africa. It's not a thriller but it builds to an almost unpleasant level of suspense. There are some brutal bits of animal violence which I found very hard to read -- why is it so much harder to read about cruelty to animals for me than it is to read about cruelty to humans? Is it because I know humans better than I know animals?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I want to go to there

Blu-ray collection. If it showed up in my stocking around Christmastime I wouldn't complain.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Poetry Monday

A little Charles Bukowski, as requested by Jon.

And The Moon And The Stars And The World

Long walks at night--
that's what good for the soul:
peeking into windows
watching tired housewives
trying to fight off
their beer-maddened husbands.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ordinary Thunderstorms (2009)

Hard-going at first, this novel really picked up steam and by the final third I was ripping through pages to find out what happened. It's a thriller, and a thriller in my favorite genre -- the wrong man -- where an innocent bystander finds himself embroiled in a mystery. The biggest problem in the beginning is that the actions of the protagonist -- Adam Kindred -- are really hard to buy. The other problem is implicit in the hero's name. This novel doesn't know whether it wants to be a straight-up what's-going-to-happen-next thriller or something more symbolic and Kafkaesque, about the speed with which a human can be stripped of his trappings. Still, when it starts to work, it really works, and that is because William Boyd, without tricks or style, can really write.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy 50th Birthday, Alexandre Desplat

Any composer who can do the score for The Painted Veil and the score for Fantastic Mr. Fox (not to mention the last two Harry Potter films) deserves a very happy birthday.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Poetry Monday

by Elizabeth Bishop

Summer is over upon the sea.
The pleasure yacht, the social being,
that  danced on the endless polished floor,
stepped and side-stepped like Fred Astaire,
is gone, is gone, docked somewhere ashore.

The friends have left, the sea is bare
that was strewn with floating, fresh green weeds.
Only the rusted-sided freighters
go past the moon's marketless craters
and the stars are the only ships of pleasure.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Candid Connery

I love candid shots from movie sets. I really love candid shots from 1960s James Bond sets. I really really love candid shots from James Bond sets of Sean Connery. I really really really love candid shots of Sean Connery flirting with his co-stars.

With Luciana Paluzzi on the set of Thunderball
With Claudine Auger on the set of Thunderball

With Martine Beswick on the set of Thunderball

With extras during the Miami sequence of Goldfinger

With Honor Blackman on the set of Goldfinger

With Ursula Andress on the set of Dr. No

... and gallantly helping her do a handstand ...

... then showing her how it's done

Teaching Tania Mallet to golf on the set of Goldfinger

Shooting a scene with Shirley Eaton on the set of Goldfinger

Talking with Ian Fleming, and not happy about it, on the set of Dr. No, I think

Now happily talking with Ian Fleming because Shirley Eaton is there

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Um. Just okay. It was enjoyable, it had some zippy dialogue, and there are some fine performances, particularly Steve Carell as a sad divorcee and Ryan Gosling as a slick womanizer. The problem was that so much of this film is just not believable, or just downright cringe-worthy, including a sequence where a middle-aged man interrupts his son's 8th grade graduation speech to talk about true love. These scenes need to be eradicated from American romantic comedy. No more declarations of love in public places.

Something about this film reminded me of an America version of Love Actually, a film I've seen far more times than I should have (it's on Charlene's xmas viewing list. It's a multi-generational love-fest that is fairly funny in scenes and at other times, absolutely terrible. Maybe nothing in this one is as bad as the guy with the big cue cards declaring his love to Keira Knightley but it gets awfully close.

A Good Man in Africa (1981)

William Boyd's first novel is truly excellent, enough to make an aspiring writer such as myself pretty sick. Also, it's abundantly clear that the young William Boyd's favorite book (or close to it) is my own favorite novel, Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis. There are sections and phrases that are very familiar to someone who has read Lucky Jim as many times as I have. A Good Man in Africa is a comic novel, its protagonist a low-level member of England's diplomatic corps in Western Africa. His name is Morgan Leafy and he's a corrupt, womanizing boozer who stumbles in and out of farcical situation. The plot builds, however, with genuine suspense and the atmosphere is palpable. William Boyd: My new favorite writer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


As scary and well-made a horror film as I've seen for its first two-thirds. Not Rosemary's Baby exactly, but definitely in The Changeling territory. Compelling and unnerving, as in "I might turn this off" unnerving. The last third is more akin to a Mick Garris television adaptation of a recent Stephen King novel. It's a huge drop-down but I kind of like Mick Garris TV movies so, all in all, a big thumbs up from me.