Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Review in Review

A smattering of sorts, really.

Dan in Real Life: We saw this this weekend at a sneak preview, and I have to say, it's one of those that became one of my instant favorites, up there with movies like Garden State, Children of Men, and Crash. Steve Carrell is, I think, perhaps the most gifted actor of the present day. He has an ability to convey extreme depth of character and emotion through facial expressions, and to make you forget you're watching Steve Carrell and get lost in the character he plays. Which is something rare, I think, among actors, and only present in those most talented. The story also is genuine, painful, and ultimately beautiful, and the family is the most real and positive portrayal of extended family relationships that I think I've ever seen. I highly recommend it. giving Four Seals of Approval, a couple of Enthusiastic Plaudits, with a healthy dose of Unabashed Praise.

A side note: I've heard it said that it's far easier to find negative things to say about something than positive, and it makes one sound smarter to do so. I read movie reviews with this in mind, and I think I'm becoming more and more adept at those reviewers who take the critic's easy road by trashing a movie with cheap shots. It's the critics who praise movies that should more often be listened to (although oftentimes only certain movies with the right political agendas are praised as "daring" or "cutting edge", when in fact it's quite the opposite) than those who pick apart a movie's weaknesses instead of acknowledging its strengths. As such, I endeavor to enter movies with a positive outlook. Which is something my wife might scoff at to hear, since I'm far pickier in my movie taste than she, but it's nonetheless true.

The Abortionist's Daughter: a book by Elizabeth Hyde, brief in length but rich in character. It's a murder mystery of sorts - a prominent abortion doctor is murdered, and there are multiple suspects for detectives to sort through. The book is less about the mystery, however, and more about the interactions of the characters in the wake of this woman's murder. It's an interesting book in that I think it fairly represents both sides of the abortion issue, creating characters on either side whose motivations are understandable and consistent. That's unique, I think it's fair to say. It's not often one comes across someone who even-handedly talks about such a volatile, emotional issue.

The Road: a book by Cormac McCarthy. It's a novel, but it reads like poetry. I picked this up in anticipation of the upcoming movie directed by the Coen Bros. based McCarthy's book No Country for Old Men. I am a little leery of reading books right before watching the movie version of them, simply because I usually end up disliking the movie because of the inadequacy of the adaptation. So I chose another book by the same author, and I was instantly hooked by his amazing sensory descriptions, unique word choice, and rich vocabulary. Blown away. It's a heart-rending story, too, about a man and his son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where the human race has turned to consuming itself for lack of other food. Hard to believe that with such subject material this book can be as beautiful as it is.

That's all I got.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Divine Encounter

Jesus, you make me feel so damned guilty when you
sit there like that, grinning, rattling your can, blowing through that
windless, tuneless harmonica

I tell you, “you know you’ll only spend it drugs, maybe booze,
if I’m lucky”

but you only blow “O Susannah” and smile
and I hear the coins rattle in your cup: dimes, nickels, they hit
the bottom: clink, clank

“In good conscience, I can’t,” I tell you: are you listening?
is it really so hard to understand, Jesus, that
I have to be a good steward, I mean

you gave me this money in the first place; and surely
you wouldn’t want me to let you buy drugs with it –
would you?

come on, Jesus be reasonable