28 August 2007

Unfocused + unsolicited reviews of popcult items

That's what I feel right now. Spent three days pretty much doing fuck all, fixing the odd thing on the new home server and that's it. I have a horrible queue of books to read, but didn't feel really compelled to touch any of that. I have at least two projects to work on, but I wasted much of the time allocated to those.

We watched a couple of weird movies (which were the only ones mildly interesting at our local Blockbuster). Probably the weirdest was "Frozen Land", a Finnish flick on chaos theory, human depression, and the "interconnectedness of it all". Finnish movies are always so bare, they probably get it from their climate... Or maybe these movies are the only ones sold abroad, and as such they reinforce stereotypical images of "cool Helsinki", this "frozen land" of desperation, drugs, technology and strange sunlight. Suomi is extremely weird to hear, very odd in the European landscape, only vaguely Slavic... Should I ever need a language for talking whales, I'd use that.

Also seen "The Darwin Awards", a quick-buck-job for everyone involved (including Winona Ryder and Joseph Fiennes). "Inspired" by darwinawards.com, the plot is an excuse to link together some of the freakiest (real) accidents described on the site. Production is TV-like and direction is simply bad. You can really see the Hollywood team, meeting over a (vegetarian) meal, banging together the movie... "ok, this one is basically like Jackass, but we wanna sell it to the Ryder crowd too which is a bunch of Gen-Xers with degrees... we need a "higher" subplot here, what about... a serial killer? maybe a literate serial killer?" "Yeah, that's clever! He could quote poets... like, beat poets!" "But we also wanna make it like this stuff if really real, or we lose the Jackass crowd... what if all was kind-of-filmed-on-super-8-sorta-thing?" "Yeah, cool!"... So Winona can pay the rent and Ferlinghetti can pay for the drugs (or the other way round), and you can have the odd laugh here and there while waiting for Joe Fiennes to get laid (which he'll invariably do, I guess his agent put it in the contract as usual) and go away. Did I say this caters to the Jackass crowd? It even has the unavoidable Metallica guest appearance, full of shit as they usually are.

I'm currently in the middle of The Third Policeman, surreal book recently rediscovered thanks to random product placement on Lost. Better books than BMWs, I guess. Review when I'm done.
( And since we are on product placement, the last Bond movie was a very stylish 20-minute-long film followed by an hour of adverts. What a waste. )

The Third Policeman
by Flann O'Brien

Read more about this title...

I've finished the first book from the Earthsea tetralogy (or "quartet", as they put it). I hadn't read fantasy for a looooong time, and this book reminded me why. The careful use of epic language never falls in common traps and avoids boring down the reader in useless world-building details... but it left me with a sense of "so what" which didn't really push me to read the following books. Enjoyable distraction, probably very good for teenagers (no disrespect intended here).

The Earthsea Quartet
by Ursula K. Le Guin

Read more about this title...

So many other books on the shelf... "From the Gracchi to Nero" is a lovely introduction to Roman history; it reminds me at every page of how similar they were to us, how they really built the foundations on which every "democracy" (i.e. "extended oligarchy") now runs. We went from daggers in the dark to sex scandals, but the concepts are the same, the political questions are still the same (who is a citizen? What is Law? Who executes the Law?). You could probably write "The Emperor's West Wing" in five minutes; now that i think of it, HBO's "Rome" is more or less that, plus the customary brawls and orgies.

From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 BC to AD 68
by H. H. Scullard

Read more about this title...

No comments: