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.