Friday, March 29, 2013

Film Frames Friday

A special FFF for Richard Griffiths, who died yesterday at the age of 65. A leading man of the stage, and great character actor of film. RIP, Uncle Monty.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lucky Jim Book Covers

Lucky Jim is my favorite novel. Not only that, but whenever I see a used version in a bookstore, I generally buy it, especially if it's a cover I don't have yet. One day, maybe, I'll have a whole shelf devoted to versions of Kingsley Amis's first novel. It would be a large shelf, since there are many, many versions of this never-out-of-print book.

Here are the ones I own:

There are a few others I have, that I couldn't find images for online. The classic, of course, and probably my favorite, is the one drawn by Edward Gorey, which he did for the first United States version. The top one, with the illustration by Arthur Robins, freaks me out a little since the illustrator did the drawings for What's Happening to Me, the book on puberty my parents gave me when I was, well, hitting puberty.

Here are some I don't own:

Man, what I would give for the Four Square Books version, with the pulpy girls fighting over a very dapper Jim Dixon. I'm sure I could find some of these versions on ebay, but it's more fun to find them in bookstores.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lionel Asbo: State of England

It's pretty obnoxious when readers such as myself make suggestions about what an artist should do next (e.g. Woody Allen should stop making movies about neurotic people), but I'm going to do it here. I wish Martin Amis would take his wit, his characterizations, his fizzy prose, and write a straight (i.e. not satirical) novel. It's not just that I think he might write something very good (just imagine a Martin Amis version of his father's great novel The Old Devils), but it would also mean that he wouldn't be writing another bad book. Lionel Asbo goes over a lot of territory that MA has already trod on: The distopian present, thugs with excessive appetites, character foils, and he's done it better before. That's the problem.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Anna Karenina

I'm glad I watched this (at this point in time I'll watch any Joe Wright film), but this one didn't particularly work for me. Just way too much theatricality imposed on the medium of film, and what ultimately happens is that the film just distances itself from the audience. Keira is excellent as the doomed title character and Joe Wright breaks out every directing trick he has (and he's got a lot), but all those tricks just get in the way of the story instead of helping it along. See it for the costumes, the Steadicam shots, and Keira's expressive face.

The Expats

A unique and twisty debut spy thriller from former book editor Chris Pavone, in which the main character is an ex-CIA agent who has given up her job to move to Luxembourg for her husband's banking career. When another American couple befriends them, her spy-instincts start to tingle. Are they being watched? And is it her they are after, or her husband. Good stuff, structured in such a way that it's constantly surprising.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


This photograph of Stanley Kubrick directing Lolita in 1961 doesn't look real to me. It looks like a staged photograph by Wes Anderson or something.