jamie goode's wine blog: NWR: Books and films

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

NWR: Books and films

Some amateur film and book reviewing now follows. I've gone through a bit of a barren period of late with both genres, but long-haul travel usually helps here...

My favourite book of late has been Douglas Coupland's The Gum Thief. I also loved Coupland's last book, J Pod. In some ways, these books are a bit of a guilty pleasure. They're funny and self-referential, but essentially trivial. They focus on the banality of modern life, but they work. There are good reviews here and here.

Now films. Benjamin Button is a rubbish film. I'm sorry, this seems a bit negative, but I tried watching it twice (once on a plane) and never managed to get to the end. It was a rip-off of Forest Gump, if you ask me, with a bizarre plot twist (guy gets younger rather than older) that isn't really explored properly or intelligently.

I did enjoy Revolutionary Road, despite the fact that both Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio take the starring roles. But it's a really good film. Set in the 1950s, it chronicles the breakdown of a marriage in all its dark complexity. There's a good review here.

Synecdoche New York is a film that annoyed me intensely, but which, on reflection, has some merit. It's massively self-indulgent and totally bizarre. Yet it has some powerful messages, if you can get past the delivery. Philip Seymour Hoffman - perhaps the best actor of his generation? - delivers a strong performance. For me, the key message delivered is quite a negative one: while the role we play in our daily lives seems so important to us, no one is actually watching, and it doesn't really matter. I don't agree with this premise, but I understand how people can feel like this.

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At 12:23 AM, Anonymous Steve said...

Benjamin Button is based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, so I think you can reasonably assume that Forrest Gump (and Martin Amis's Times Arrow) borrowed from it, not the other way round.

Have you heard the astonishing Duckworth Lewis Method album yet? You won't hear a better set of cricket-themed songs if you live to 111 not out. I saw them in a conference room at the Oval tonight and I'm still not sure I didn't dream it.

At 8:51 AM, OpenID Richard said...

A huge Coupland fan myself - think I've got them all going back to Gen X - though they've actually tailed off and become a bit predictable or formulaic of late.

For some classic Coupland, head back towards "Girlfriend in a Coma", "Life after God" and "Shampoo Planet" - plus the original version of JPod (aimed at Microsoft rather than Apple), "Microserfs".

He's done some fascinating interviews about culture, faith, relationships and worldview - and he's quite an artist in his own right, with sculpture and art exhibitions to his name.


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