New York Times Book Review, 30 May 2010: A Semi-Short List

Books self is interested in reading after perusing The New York Times Book Review of 30 May 2010:

  • After reading David Kamp’s review of the final installment of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest:

All the books in the trilogy:  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, in the new translation by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier

  • After reading Andrew Ervin’s review of Julie Orringer’s novel, The Invisible Bridge:

Julie Orringer’s story collection, How to Breathe Underwater

David Foster Wallace’s “dense, challenging, wildly satiric, at times profoundly sad and gruesome 1,079-page novel,” Infinite Jest

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Nomad:  From Islam to America:  A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations

  • After reading Geoff Nicholson’s end-paper essay, “A Matter of Fact,” about reference books:

The Guinness Book of Records (any year)

Having Seen “Prince of Persia,” Self’s Summer Officially Starts Right Now

Ah summer, summer, summer.  How can self ever forget the summer of “Congo,” the summer of “Independence Day,” the summer of “The Rock,” not to mention that this time last year, the “Star Trek” re-boot was slaying all, and Zach Quinto and Chris Pine were the hottest pair since —  since Michael Fassbender and Tom Wisdom in “300”!!!

With the weather cooperating by being extremely, extremely hot, self officially turns off her brain meter and heads for the popcorn stand.  So many movies to see, so little time!

Here are the movies currently showing that self will make a stab at seeing sometime this week:

  • “Sex and the City 2,” which self has heard is horrible, but that is why she wants to see it.
  • “Prince of Persia:  Sands of Time,” which self has also heard is horrible, but that is why etc etc
  • “Get Me to the Greek,”  heard this one was funny, perhaps she will wait to see it with hubby
  • “The A-Team,” heard this was so-so, but again, a movie almost tailor-made for seeing with hubby
  • “Knight and Day,” is this opening soon?  Self thought the previews were funny.  And she likes the idea of Cruise and Diaz together in an action movie.

*     *     *     *

Later in the Day, Having Just Seen “Prince of Persia” :

Self is here to inform dear blog readers that this is not a bad movie.  One has to be in a certain frame of mind.  Of course one would not go to this movie expecting to see “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but Jake Gyllenhaal is very easy on the eyes (notwithstanding the fact that self kept wishing they had cast Tom Wisdom!) and that British girl who plays the princess is feisty enough (though self found her voice annoyingly tinn-y).  In fact, self’s eyes never drooped, not even once, not even when she could tell what was going to happen next, about half an hour before any of the movie’s characters.  The worst part was that the brothers of the Prince of Persia were such blockheads.  The Prince has to run around exerting himself for 3/4 of the movie, trying to convince them that he is innocent of the murder of their father.  Self kept wanting to yell, “You’re wasting time!  Will you just look into Jake Gyllenhaal’s big, sincere eyes and take his word for it ???”

Self also greatly appreciated the fact that there were not any goo-ey romantic scenes.  Actually, this movie was OK!  Better than the “Rotten Tomatoes” crowd would have you believe, dear blog readers!

Stay tuned.

Thank You, Joel Tan, for Calling Self a “Provocateur”! And Thank YOU, Brillante Mendoza, for Your Great Movie!

Brillante Mendoza’s “Kinatay”, which self saw this afternoon at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is a near-great movie.  If it’s not brilliant, it’s unforgettable.  Which makes it brilliant?  Self, what are you going on about?  Can’t you please be clear?

Self was invited to be a discussant for the film, by of course one of the Filipino community’s provocateurs par-excellence, Joel Tan (Just look at his Facebook page, and you’ll know what self means).  Self was so flattered!  To think Joel takes her opinions seriously!

The movie was followed by a discussion with the audience, which self really enjoyed.  (Interesting things have been happening at Yerba Buena for a number of years now, dear blog readers.  If you happen to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, know that this is an art space that, with its focus on teaching and community outreach, is truly one of the Bay Area’s gems.  Self will never forget the exhibit on prison art, a few years back)

Now to self’s take on “Kinatay”:  This was a necessary, even brilliant, movie.

It’s not about the rape.  It’s not a snuff film (though she’s heard it called that:  how horrible to demean it in such a way).  It’s about corruption, corruption, corruption.  And about how easy it is for little dis-honesties (like stealing a tip from a table at a restaurant, in a brilliant little clip early in the film) to lead to bigger and bigger betrayals of integrity.  The beauty of the film is that it shows us how corruption tends to escalate.  Who was it that said:  “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”?

One of the most compelling scenes of the entire movie was a scene where a group of men, having beaten a prostitute into unconsciousness, then relieve themselves, all of them standing in a line, by the side of a road.

The places in the movie that made the most impression on self:

  • Manuel L. Quezon University
  • the road leading to Calumpit, Bulacan
  • Quiapo

P. S.  Belatedly discovered that Brillante Mendoza was Director of Photography for “Tirador” (Slingshot), the movie that The New Yorker, a couple of years ago, described as “brilliant.”  (Somehow, this adjective seems to come so trippingly off self’s tongue when she mentions Brillante Mendoza — !  Talk about subliminal association!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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