Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

I rented Clint Eastwood's "The Bridges of Madison County" and watched it last night. It was refreshing to see filmmaking at its best. No wonder he's my favourite director.
The story is deceptively straightforward, a celebration of dialogue, of patience, and suspense. The only part of the film that felt forced or unnatural was the way in which the movie was setup as a set of flashbacks. The movie begins by telling us that Meryl Streep's character is dead and the children--one-dimensional and self-important--begin to discover that their mother had a 4-day affair with a photographer (Clint Eastwood). These children read through their mom's memoirs, adding a kind of comedic tone to the film that I could personally do without.
This film is brilliant.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"V Dub In the House"

I can't pinpoint it, but the new VW commercials seem to feature kind of racial animus that unsettles me. Just say no to that guy from Fargo "un-pimping your auto."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

'Cuse takes out #1 Connecticut

An amazing game, my friends. Syracuse took out #1 ranked Connecticut in the Big East Tournament. It's too bad I had to go to class with 3 minutes left in regulation. Argh, stupid class.
I was kind of worried about 'Cuse staying on the bubble when GW lost to Temple earlier this morning, but this seals the deal.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov

When I signed up for an Audible trial a few months back, one of the audiobooks I download was Nabakov's Lolita. I've read it before, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I've wanted to purchase this recording since high school when I first saw it on audio tape. This audiobook is unabridged (a little over 11 hours total) and is narrated by none other than Jeremy Irons.
I cannot tell you how great his narration is. And the fact that he himself played Humbert umbert in a great film version of Lolita makes it even better. I got so much more out of the book by listening to it. I feel like I can pick up a lot more details when I listen.
In addition, Lolita has the perfect organizational structure that makes it perfect as an audiobook.
I'm not giving away any plot endings here, but Lolita is largely a statement by Humbert Humbert to his jury for a murder charge. It is also a part memoir and part therapy for Humbert. That he is incarcerated and recounting how he fell in love with his nymphet step-daughter is a great vehicle for narration.
Many other novels don't have such a strong narrator (or at least the narrator is often not the main character but a kind of deity that knows all). These books will happen in real-time and feature dialogue between characters as it happens. The problem here is that an audiobook narrator must constantly try to change voices (which is never good) and repeat phrases like "he replied" or "she said." I think an audiobook would work if they tried to delete those types of phrases, making it sound more like a play-version of the book. But with Lolita, you get the exact image of Humbert Humbert as Humbert Humbert.
Granted the subject matter--pedophilia--might not be suitable for some of you, this book is able to create a specific time, atmosphere and uniquely drab, American world of anonymity that its readers can never really forget. Jeremy Irons' voice is forever imprinted in my head.
I was sad to hear the last few sentences of Lolita. It's the feeling you get when you finish a great movie at home and then turn on some sitcom that seems far less significant. So to fill the void, I have begun listening to Theodore Dreiser's "Sister Carrie," which is about 17 hours long. I have not read this novel before, though I am familiar with his book "An American Tragedy," which is a fantastic read.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Freshly-Cut: Albums of the Month

(February 2006)

  1. The Black Keys / "The Big Come Up" (2002)
  2. The American Analog Set / "Know By Heart" (2001)
  3. Idaho / "Hearts of Palm" (2005)
  4. The Fall / "2g+2" (2005)
  5. Mazzy Star / "Among My Swan" (1996)