10-16April2011 :: This Week
- Watched half of Paris Vu Par (imdb); it's a collection of shorts by various French New Wave directors, capturing pieces of lives in different Parisian quarters; Jean Douchet's opener, about an American girl studying in Paris, is well-told and reasonably charming, but the next couple are slow and uneventful, so I didn't continue; strangely too, in the three shorts I did see, the main characters just want to get out of Paris.
- Watched Hidden Diary (Mères et Filles) (imdb); the English title is curious, taken from a plot element, the main character finding a diary belonging to her grandmother, who'd left when her mother was a child; the French title though, Mothers and Daughters, captures the spirit of the film, as it's about the relationships amongst the women at different generations, and how each woman's relationship with her mother drives her relationship with her daughter; it's slow, could probably stand to be half an hour shorter, but is reasonably well acted and the storytelling and characterisation all nicely nuanced.
- Watched The First Circle (Le Premier Cercle; aka Inside Ring; aka Ultimate Heist) (imdb); the split identities in its various titles reflect the film itself; it's not bad, but it's unsure whether it's a crime film or not (the "one last heist" plot point is there, but not made the focus), and skirts around the questions of immigration and naturalisation it raises, being about an Algerian French crime boss grooming his son to take over; fairly weak in terms of story and character, and its look occasionally strays too far into cheap video territory, but does feature some beautiful shooting (especially following cars down roads in the beautiful south of France), and a nice atmospheric soundtrack.
- Watched The Banquet (imdb); it's sumptuously designed, with gorgeous sets and costumes, but the same attention hasn't been shown to the story, taking a while to come together; inspired by Hamlet, it features an uncle taking the thrown and the Empress, and thematic elements clearly inspired by Hamlet, though in The Banquet, Wu Luan, our proxy for the Danish prince, is an artist himself, so his involvement in the "play within the play" works well; he's not crippled by indecision the way Hamlet is, but he is unwilling to get involved in any fighting, so there's a curious dynamic; the film extends the story with the eponymous banquet, but it's not even announced until half-way through and much of the lead-up feels like it's included just to lengthen the story; once it does come together though, it does so very well, with all the intrigue between the characters paying off, and the typically Shakespearean approach to art shining through.
- Am about half-way through reading Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch, and enjoying it so far; I picked it up a couple years back on a whim, having enjoyed the movie, but hadn't really felt like reading what I assumed was just a version of the movie's story; it is, however, so much more; the book is told like a series of short stories, with the movie taking the plot of the first and elements from the others; the stories still feel like the movie, but there's a much more detailed world created, and a range of characters with far more depth, especially in the case of Anton, the protagonist, who has very little agency in the movie, but has a curious and full inner world in the book.
- Picked up a bunch more books, four Murakamis arriving from the Book Depository, and a handful of cheap classics going cheap from Dymocks, with Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road, F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 all now added to be read; and of course, now that I've renewed my pile of printed books, I've just today bought the new iPad, marking the start of a switch to digital, though I suspect the transition will be a slow process.
- Picked up PDF back issues of Coilhouse (on sale); haven't yet read them but figure PDF magazines are iPad fodder; clever payment process too, asking me how much I wanted to pay, based on a minimum — it worked to get me to chip in 50% extra, where I'd likely not have thought to add a donation separately, for example.
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In which I read and watch and listen, and wonder about genre
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In which I consume, to varying degrees, various media
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