Saw “State of Play”

Saw “State of Play” this afternoon, in downtown Redwood City. Whole city was sweltering. Theatre was full of seniors (at least, this movie was). Saw four excellent previews: “Funny People” (Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, and Jason Schwartzman, the short guy who was in “The Darjeeling Limited.” About this preview, all self can say is: if one is not prepared to see Eric Bana with graying sideburns, then don’t watch this movie); the new Michael Mann movie about John Dillinger, with dreamy Johnny Depp; a James Toback documentary about Mike Tyson; and the preview for “Angels and Demons” (featuring Tom Hanks’ new hairstyle: much improved from previous outing, four stars!)

Movie was great for all these reasons: Russell Crowe. Helen Mirren. Ben Affleck.

Did self say Ben Affleck???

Yes, indeed! Here is finally a performance worthy of the darling boy’s mug! That is, it was an A-plus performance, according to self’s book! He was so vulnerable, so eminently sympathetic, one could see what the attraction (or should we say hero worship) of fat reporter/Russell Crowe character was. And, self just wants to say, that the overweight part was not just an example of over-the-top method acting or what-have-you on the part of Russell Crowe. In fact, it was absolutely essential to understanding his character, and his character’s relation to Congressman Stephen Collins (and Dear Son did have a classmate of almost this exact same name in grade school, and boy had somewhat similar look to Dear Ben, and also hailed from Boston. What’s up with that?).

And Robin Wright Penn — is there an American actress who can play wounded vulnerability as well as she? Self thinks not.

And she is still beautiful.

And Rachel McAdams is called upon to be all dewy wide-eyed, but she is not cloying.

Good movie! Some of the seniors even clapped at the end! Self would give it three out of four stars! (The only reason she didn’t give it four was because there were a couple of scenes toward the end that self found a bit dragg-y. But not the scene where Russell Crowe is cooking himself some mashed potatoes! That scene is absolutely necessary to establishing Dear Russell’s character!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

The Short List From NYTBR 12 April 2009

Books Self is Interested in Reading After Perusing The New York Times Book Review of 12 April 2009 :

(1) After reading Miranda Seymour’s review of Andrea Wulf’s The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obssession :

    Andrea Wulf’s The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obssession

(2)    After reading Jack Pendarvis’ review of Torsten Kroll’s novel, Callisto:

(3)    After reading Alison McCulloch’s capsule reviews in the Fiction Chronicle:

  • Claire Castillon’s My Mother Never Dies:  Stories
  • Tahar Ben Jelloun’s Leaving Tangier

(4)    After reading Michael Meyer’s (highly informative) end-paper essay on the disappearing “Author’s Advance”:

    Money Changes Everything, an anthology edited by Elissa Schappell, identified in the essay as “a fiction writer” (Self knows her as something more than a fiction writer:  book editor of Vanity Fair; editor at Tin House)

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