President’s Day, 2012: Watched “Safe House”

In order to feel refreshed and energized for the coming week, and in order to wipe from memory the debacle of the poor officiating yesterday during the Stanford vs. Oregon basketball game, self and the husband saw “Safe House” in the downtown Century 20.

There were lines!  Self can’t remember the last time she saw lines in the Downtown Century 20!  (It seemed like 2011 was a very dull year, in terms of movies.  In 2011, there was nothing approaching the crowds that lined up for “Inception” and “Avatar.”)

Here are some other random observations:

  • Denzel sported a semi-Afro.  He has the most amazing, blindingly white teeth.  When he smiles, it is immediate mega-watt charisma!
  • The movie was shot in gritty, mock-documentary style, and the fight scenes were Bourne-like vicious and intimate.
  • Many people are killed.
  • Ryan Reynolds has a very likable face (as well as being tall and slim).  He looks great playing a young American — and you know, he even masters the accent thing, because in a few scenes he has to speak Afrikaans (which she thinks is what you call that language they speak in Cape Town).  She doesn’t know if he is as powerfully convincing as Matt Damon was at playing Bourne, but this movie was not a Bourne movie, it was a movie where Denzel is again paired with a young up-and-comer, and gets to show how well he can play the worldly, weary veteran in contrast to the other man’s inexperience and youth!

Self must admit, she had hopes in the opening scenes of the movie —  it was a little like “Snatch,” a little like “Smokin’ Aces.”  She liked the Ryan Reynolds stuck-in-a-safehouse-and-getting-bored-scenario, and she liked the initial action scenes.  Then, Reynolds and Washington move out of the safe house, and it all becomes rather formulaic.  And there is even a scene where two men are rolling on the ground and wielding jagged pieces of glass, and SPOILER ALERT!  the one who survives has a big, bleeding wound in his solar plexus, which one would think would be enough to finish anyone off.

Self doesn’t know why, but her appetite for violent action movies has declined considerably, the last couple of years.  She used to be able to take all manner of scenes of gory mayhem, and not even bat an eyelash.  Now, she doesn’t like to look at more than a few seconds of that (Unless it’s something like “300”, where the violence has a painterly aspect.  And where it is very nice to look at all those toned abs).  She thinks, in fact, that she wants more British costume dramas.  More adaptations, for instance, of Jane Austen.  More movies about buttoned-up civility, with tensions roiling underneath!  More movies, in fact, like “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” where it’s the grey matter that matters most.

She wonders what it would be like to see Ryan Reynolds in a costume drama?

Back to the movie!  Denzel and Ryan are very good fighters, and they survive all manner of physical assaults, and they even sport awful facial cuts and bruises.  And of course, since this is a movie about the CIA, there are awfully incompetent boobs scattered about, and the only way to expose these charlatans is for someone to go to a reporter and let everything unravel on the evening news.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Books Recently Read (October 2011 – February 2012)

In October of last year, self read a wonderful book called Cleopatra’s Nose:  39 Varieties of Desire, by Judith Thurman.  There was also Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s searing look at the American Occupation of Iraq,  Imperial Life in the Emerald City.

In November, self found herself reading Legacy of Ashes:  The History of the CIA, by Tim Weiner, and discovered that the book bothered the CIA exceedingly (If you don’t believe self, go check out the CIA’s official home page).  She also read a wonderful short novel by Lloyd Jones, Mr. Pip.  She also discovered the British writer Will Self, via his book Psychogeography, a collection of his various articles.

In December, self read French Women Don’t Get Fat:  The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, by Mireille Guiliano, which had her enthralled most of the time.  Until the very end, almost.  And then she read what is so far one of her favorite books:  Saxons, Vikings, and Celts:  The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland, by a former Oxford University professor, Bryan Sykes.

In January, self began reading John Burnham Schwartz’s engrossing The Commoner, and became extremely disappointed.  She also read Peter Ho Davies’ The Welsh Girl, with a similar reaction.  What is with self and novels?  She has no idea.  But her January reading life was rescued by two books by James McBride, his memoir The Color of Water, and his novel Song Yet Sung.  She brought these two with her to India.

This month, February (Self is startled to discover that it is more than half over:  she feels like the month had barely begun), self read Resistance, a first novel by Owen Sheers, which was a little plodding.  And now she is reading Adrian Goldsworthy’s Caesar:  Life of a Colossus (which gets more and more interesting, with every page:  Self read about Caesar’s campaign against the Belgians on the plane, returning from a visit to son)

So, looking back on the books self read since October, the books self liked best were nonfiction.  Of the handful of novels she read, she really enjoyed Lloyd Jones’ Mr. Pip (a deceptively short novel, readers will be doing themselves a dis-service if they try reading it all at one gulp) and James McBride’s Song Yet Sung.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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