Thursday, 12 January 2006

Films 'n books

The 3 weeks in Norway were good for my book and film counts.

I started reading The Constant Gardener on the way to Oslo, and finished it off before leaving Lillehammer. Like Absolute Friends, the other Le Carré that I read last year, he is stylistically an airport novelist, but in this case the relevance to modern, umm, politics I guess you'd call them, and the way he managed to paint the change in the central character, made it a pretty engaging read.

After that I started on Lee's copy of The Great Gatsby, which she finished just before I started. I guess I had fairly high expectations, given that its a known book and that Fitzgerald was a contemporary of Steinbeck, one of my favourites. I was a little underwhelmed, though. He paints a nice enough picture of what the scene did to the people and relationships involved, but it wasn't a story that ever really involved me. Quite probably it was just that I expected more.

We also managed to get to a few films. Our first night back in Oslo we went along to see King Kong. I wasn't sure what to expect, but its basically a pretty entertaining film. The action scenes are done really well, and are well scattered through the film. The performances are mixed; Jack Black is marginal, Brody is just OK, and Naomi Watts is pretty good I guess, although little more is required than a scream or a longing gaze. The real star is the monkey, who's really, really well animated, and quite frankly gives far and away the best performance in the film.

We also trotted along to see Broken Flowers, with Jenny. As I wrote over at AllConsuming:
This isn’t a narrative, piece. It’s not even really a character study, but I still liked it. It just has a good vibe. Bill Murray, playing a character without any particularly strongly discerning characteristics, is just one of those guys that’s easy to watch, and the little vignettes on each of his “broken flowers” were each, for me, interesting little paintings of what can go wrong with people’s lives. It’s also very much a european style film, with little external dilemma, and with an ending that could generously be called inconclusive.

Then, on the weekend, Lee finished up reading the Constant Gardener, so we trotted down to Gaumont to see the film version while it was still showing. Its a weird feeling watching a film so soon after reading the book, since you know the story to a degree of detail beyond what is presented on screen. I guess the result was that I was watching the film much more from a perspective of assessing the choices they had made in adapting the story, and also paying much more attention to stylistic elements. Both of these were pretty well done here, and the film appealed to me, although I'd been keen to hear views of people who hadn't the baggage (or background, perhaps) that I did before seeing it.


M/Mir/Ran said...

Hey Jimbo!

I've just re-found your blog through Afe's blog.

Really loving your stories and photos of the Norway trip. Cross country skiing looks and sounds as breathtaking as you say - and with a good dose of fitness involved! I can't wait to do it!

What's Lee doing in Norway? I don't think I've seen her since the university parties.

Dave's heading over to UK tomorrow. I assume you already knew that.

I saw Afe at NYE on the sunny coast and just saw Jesse for lunch yesterday. Glad to hear that you had a good one - and that it was so 'easy' for you to get there! I hope you saved some money going the route that you did!

Anonymous said...

Le Carre an airport novelist??! If thats putting him in the same class as Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum etc then I really have to object! Le Carre can actually write... If you haven't already, try some of his old stuff, its great. I'm not so fond of the newer incarnation, now that he no longer has cold war spying to write about.