Sunday, 14 November 2010

Movie and Book Reviews

Today I watched Full Metal Jacket ... not exactly uplifting for a November afternoon when it was dark so early and then raining.  But a fine movie.  Vietnam ... the reality show ... one that revealed just who the Americans were who were doing the fighting  ... a whole range of young men from the almost feeble minded to incredibly brutal to intelligent. 

The star, if there was one, was a sensitive thoughtful young man who should have been studying in some ivory tower instead of spewing bullets thousands of miles from home in someone else's senseless war.  On his helmet, crudely lettered, was "Born to Kill" ... and on his lapel, a peace symbol. Said it all.

Yesterday I watched Hannah and Her Sisters.  I expected to hate it.  I have not liked many of the movies Woody Allen has produced and acted in.  I think my dislike goes back a long way to a sex scene that was supposed to be funny, but which inhibited me for a very long time. 

However; I enjoyed Hannah and Her Sisters..

Woody Allen is more likeable in this one ... just as neurotic but redeemed by love here.  And the other characters are more human as well.

I have also started reading Alain de Botton's A Week at the Airport.  He writes well (likely the reason he was chosen by British Airways to spend a week at Heathrow writing about it).  But I found myself wondering just what purpose the book serves.

The organization reflects the realities of the airport ... Approach ... Departures ... Airside ... Arrivals.  Approach is his introduction to the project.  In Departures he takes us from the hotel to landings to luggage retrieval and architectural notes and then gives us vignettes of people: the disappointed traveler, the farewells of two lovers, business travelers, a family on vacation.  This one is the most complex as he explores the family relationships.  This section ends with a description and some musings about the prayer room.  I have just entered the Airside section, and gone through security, and am now in the duty free shopping area of Terminal 5. 

I don't want to dismiss the book before finishing it ... and it is certainly not painful to read. But apart from being a vehicle for the writing of a good travel writer who brings all his international experience to bear on his description of this airport, I am still wondering why he was hired to write the book in the first place.  It reminds me of the kind of exercise all writers indulge in when they are biding their time.  As we put in hours waiting  for planes in airports or meals in restaurants or friends who are late, we all observe and reflect and write copious notes in our travel journals.  It is that kind of book.

1 comment:

Barbara Carlson said...

Yes. I had those thoughts when I read his The Art of Travel. He is missing...something... or maybe it's because I have made all his observations myself and expect bigger ones than little 'ol me manages.
Still, he confirms one's prejudices, as I've said before, which is comforting. You ask -- was he "hired"? or did he pick this theme himself. Sounds like him; he's done other books like this which I've read with my same criticism.

Here is a journalist's report on doing 30 airports in 30 days.

Occasionally funny, but again, why? But then, why not? Everything is up for writing about -- the trick is to make the specific to general leap
(which you like to do all the time -- which makes your blog outstanding). :)

Alain De Botton, the gentle philosopher...

Essays In Love (1993), also published as On Love: A Novel (2006)
The Romantic Movement (1994)
Kiss and Tell (1995)
How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997)
The Consolations of Philosophy (2000)
The Art of Travel (2002)
Status Anxiety (2004)
The Architecture of Happiness (2006)
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (2009)
A Week at the Airport (2009)