Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pop Culture

What have I been taking in lately? Well, Roman and I went to see “The Prestige” last week. (My choice. Anything with gaslights and British accents is a yes! my movie-going book) And we also watched “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” on DVD the other night.

“The Prestige” was interesting, although I think it helped a lot that I’d read the book. Not that I was really wowed by the book, you understand. I did finish it, which is saying something, because it’s thick enough to club seals with. But I thought it was way too long – a properly ruthless editor could have improved it a lot. I found it rather self-consciously literary, too.

Still, having read it meant that I could follow the movie pretty well. Poor Roman is a total film geek and even so, he was still a little cross-eyed trying to keep up with three different timelines, all of them fraught with not-well-explained plot complications.

But I’m interested in anything that has to do with the history of stage magic, and David Bowie was good, and Micheal Caine was good, and Scarlett Johanson’s breasts were very nice. So, overall, worth seeing.

“Mr. and Mrs. Smith"... Well, in the scene where Brad and Angelina transition from trying to kill each other to fucking, Roman and I looked at each other and said “That looks just like us having sex.” (Without the guns, though.) It was mildly amusing, and yes, Ms Jolie is a babe. But it seems like the essential message of the movie would be that even vanilla people should have violent sex because, hey, it’ll save their marriage. And I’m okay with that - I just wonder if that’s really what the filmmakers meant to say.

Books… I need some new books. Here’s what I’m browsing…

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson. I liked The Devil In White City, and this looks great to me, in spite of mixed reviews. I’ve read a bit about the race to perfect the telegraph, and historical crime stuff is always cool, so this sounds fascinating. I’ll be ordering it soon.

The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability by Laura Kipnis. Ms Kipnis has a delightfully vicious wit, and I’ve enjoyed her writing in the past.

The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life by Tom Reiss. From the publisher: “Part history, part cultural biography, and part literary mystery, The Orientalist traces the life of Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew who transformed himself into a Muslim prince and became a best-selling author in Nazi Germany.”

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. I just stumbled across this book, and I don’t know anything about it other than what this page says. But something about it looks promising.

The Mad Cook of Pymatuning: A Novel by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt. I don't usually read horror novels, but this looks much more layered and complex than the usual blood-and-guts fare. I'm intrigued.

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