Friday, September 09, 2005
Codename V tells it like it is
In which V tells things like they are.

Apologies for the delay in posting. I've been kind of busy immersing myself in a lot of entertainment of varying quality. It's a tough job, but I do it for YOU, all for YOU dear readers, so that I might spare you the agony of boredom.

First on the list is The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. This massive novel clocks in at nearly 700 pages and is the sole reason I didn't post last week. It's the best book I've read in years. Caveat: it's not for everyone, admittedly. You have to be in the mood for vampires, mystery, intrigue, AND loads of sometimes-too-wordy history lessons. But put it all together and it makes for a fascinating read. I thought so, anyway.

A rundown: a young girl discovers her historian father's research into Vlad the Impaler, despite his desperately trying to shield her from it. What she uncovers is a quest to prove that Vlad is STILL ALIVE (gasp!) and to kill him. Vampires are in fact the harsh reality in this novel, and they're particularly gruesome. Overall, I'd say it was sort of like The DaVinci Code, only with vampires, and not at all lame. Cos let's face it, The DaVinci Code was a book full o' lame.

Next up we have a couple of films that I have seen, and can recommend with good conscience for your viewing pleasure.

Depending on your personal tastes, you might enjoy Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywood version of Jane Austen's story. I am ALL ABOUT the Jane Austen (I know, I know, this is completely at odds with that whole murder/death/kill aspect) so I found this film to be great fun. It was my first Bollywood film, and so there were aspects I liked, and aspects I didn't like so much. They were all the time breaking into song, which I understand is a key feature of Bollywood. But I'm not a huge fan of musicals, or telling parts of the narrative via really annoying songs. So, I kind of got a little fed up with that, but the music itself was really great. And the dancing, really really great. Naveen Andrews (Sayid from "Lost") was in this, and he did some damned impressive dancing. It was also full of bright happy colors, I like that. And, I mean, hey. Pride & Prejudice = Mr. Darcy, who is quite possibly the alpha male of literature.

If you're more into murder/death/kill, there's Hide And Seek wherein Robert DeNiro and his neurotic daughter move to the country to get over the death of the wife/mom, and end up facing some kind of sick hell of killing. The less you know about this film, the better it will be when you see it. Parts of it are maybe implausible, but I like to suspend my disbelief when I watch thrillers like this. Dakota Fanning plays the neurotic daughter. She is very good at being a creepy kid, and this is the only film I've seen her in wherein she did not irritate the crap out of me by attempting to ooze radiant cuteness. Instead, she oozed radiant goth angst, which I can better relate to. And DeNiro, well. You know what to expect there. I liked it, it was good, the ending kind of took me by surprise (but admittedly, when I watch thrillers like this, I make a conscious effort NOT to try and figure out the ending, cos I like being taken by surprise). So yeah, watch it.

Then I saw this film Red Riding Hood that I still don't quite know what to make of. Basically you have this 12 year old girl living on her own in Rome, and she goes around punishing small-time criminals (like shoplifters) as revenge for her dad having been murdered years ago. She has this friend "George" who could possibly be a dog, a werewolf, or completely imaginary (you eventually find out) who helps her do these things. She is obviously quite unhinged, and it all comes to a head when her grandmother comes to look after her. The girl ends up strapping grandma to the bed and drilling holes in her kneecaps. Fun times. Honestly for about the first 20-30 minutes of this, all I could think was "what crap", but it started growing on me. It's weird - very, very, very weird. But worth seeing, if you happen to stumble across it.

Finally we have a film I saw (most of) yesterday, Ghost of the Needle. The DVD cover compares it favorably to The Ring and The Eye, both of which are most excellent films. Further research indicated that this film got mostly consistently great reviews, and that people who seemed to be actual fans of the horror genre seemed to sincerely like it.

Friends, I am here today to tell you that those people are either liars or on crack.

The first indication that something might be amiss with the quality of this film can be found in the opening credits. Ghost of the Needle is written by Brian Avenet-Bradley. It is edited by Brian Avenet-Bradley. It is directed by Brian Avenet-Bradley. It is based on an original idea by Brian Avenet-Bradley. And it stars... wait for it...

Brian Avenet-Bradley.

This should always, always be taken as a sure sign that the film you are about to see will be pure, unmitigated crap. See also: Todd Tjersland.

Anyway, Brian Avenet-Bradley goes around taking photos of places. And then he schmoozes up to women and asks them to come model at his studio. And then he kills them and photographs them dead for his "private collection". He gets asked to do a specific photograph for a wealthy man, and then gets kind of sucked into all this weird intrigue. And meanwhile he has a head injury and keeps having flashbacks and occasionally seeing ghosts that are NOT AT ALL SPOOKY.

If I had to make a guess, I'd say that funding for this film was almost certainly provided by Mom and Dad Avenet-Bradley... I ended up just turning it the hell off with about 20 minutes to go.

So there you have it, a summary of recent entertainment. Again, please pardon the extended hiatus, real life has kind of caught up with me lately.