Sunday, June 03, 2007

Monday Morning Review

I write on this blog largely for my own, no-charge therapy and to serve as a written record of where I've been, so it makes absolutely no sense to add a weekly review of movies or books. If nothing else, it will serve to remind me how much time I spend reading or watching other people's creativity. I'm guessing I'll keep this up for a month, tops. Until then, Sundays are my reviews of what I read or watched in the previous week.

As chronicled in the last post, I was in Mexico this past week. The weather was hot, humid and rainy, so the P and I spent a good deal of time indoors. I was also on planes and I read on planes, so my inaugural post will be much longer than usual.


The Good Life, by Jay McIerney

Having read a few of McIerney's books, I was somewhat ambivalent about this book, but the NYT Book Review prompted the purchase. In short, I loved this book. It haunted me and as soon as I read the last word, I started over. It is a story about Manhattan's upper echelon post-9-11, and while I don't relate to most of that scene, the stories of the characters were haunting, if not startlingly, familiar. This is probably too personal of a review to do, but suffice to say, it captured my imagination for more than a few days. I can't stop thinking about it.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

This is the book on which the Showtime series is based. Having watched the show religiously, the book had few surprises, and, of course, the series gave me a complete visualization of the characters. I wish I had read it (and its progeny) first, although there is another book coming out this summer.

Elements of Style: A Novel , by Wendy Wasserstein

A little more meaty than most chick lit books, this one is also about NYC's upper echelon and their fucked up relationships. The characters are better written than most and the story more engaging than I had anticipated. It was hard to relate to the social climbing aspirations of some of the characters, to say nothing of their lifestyle, but, as always, the trials and tribulations of complicated relationships makes for an entertaining read. The author is a playright and it shows - Janet Maslin of the NYTBR called it "chick lit with a pedigree".


Knocked Up

From the director of the 40 Year Old Virgin, this was an entertaining romantic comedy that was really well written. Lots of laughs, snappy dialogue, interesting characters. I do think the lead actress (the chick from Grey's Anatomy) was miscast and her big, white teeth were a little distracting. I didn't think she and the male lead had any palpable chemistry and certainly nothing in common (aside from impending parenthood). I also detected the slightest suggestion that women are inherently irrational, at least during pregnancy, and that you shouldn't judge a (male) book by its cover.

The Dead Girl

Interesting storytelling, to say the least. I can't say much without giving away entire plotlines, but it is basically just the story of the death of one girl and its effects on several people around her. Some really good casting on some levels, but at the end of the whole thing, I found myself thinking "well, that was weird."

Breaking and Entering

An Anthony Minghella film, this one has very well written characters and explores the familiar themes of trust, love, desire and the need for intimacy. It is remarkably well cast, with Jude Law, Robin Wright Penn, who rocks quite an accent, and an amazing performance by Juliette Binoche. Pretty heavy on the dialogue, which is my kind of flick, and some interesting twists that keep the story engaging. The gist is that Jude Law's environmental landscaping business keeps getting robbed of its high tech gadgets and when he discovers who it is, he becomes involved with the thief's mother (Juliette Binoche). His wife (Robin Penn) has a precocious but troubled daughter from a prior relationship and she keeps them both emotionally estranged from him. At its core, the movie is about Jude Law looking for an intimate relationship with someone -- anyone -- and eventually realizing that what you don't say is almost always more interesting than what you do say. I call that negative space and I find it fascinating.

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