Thursday, December 28, 2006

I saw Dreamgirls the other night. I can see why there's awards buzz around Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy. Whenever they're on screen the movie comes alive. Certainly you can tell this was adapted from a stage show, since the scenes, the framing and the music are very "Broadway musical."

Now, I don't know if Beyonce was wasted on this part, or if she's just a flat actress, but I don't get why she has received a Golden Globe nomination for her part in this film. And I certainly don't know why Ms. Hudson got a nod for best supporting actress. Who the fuck was she supporting? You know, other than the whole production.

Something that surprised me at first was that people in the audience of the movie theater were clapping and cheering on the performers on screen. I can certainly understand why they would. Part of me was feeling like, "come on, it's not like they can hear you." But then, if the spirit moves you, you might as well move, right?

But overall, I don't think the movie deserves a best picture nod. Well, it doesn't deserve a win. I imagine that the stage show is something like 4 hours. And this was two-and-a-half. So there were gaps, and it was choppy. And Jon Lithgow had a bad haircut. And the guy from the American "The Office" played a screen writer, or a director. I was never sure. Anyway, the story wasn't well served by the film's length. It fails the story.

One final thing: There's a big scene for Ms. Hudson - the scene that got her the nod, I'm sure - where she's singing to her group mates and lover. And the gist of the song is "Look at me, love me, pay attention to me." Up to this point, her character, Effie, hasn't been the most likable. And in this scene, she's being pretty self centered. But the scene is perhaps the best in the film. Slowly, her groupmates and friends leave the stage until it's just Effie singing to an empty theater. This scene - for its staging and power - is worth the price of admission alone.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's Christmas Eve, and I'm with my parents. Well, I'm with one half of my parents. Seeing as I'm at the ass end of Generation X, it's only appropriate that I am the child of divorce. So I'm with my mom this year. Actually, I think this is the way it's going to be from now on. Thanksgiving with Dad, Christmas with Mom, and whatever in between.

I have been reading, but it's not been Brothers. In fact, the less I read of it, the more I like saying I'm reading it. Have to admit, it impresses people.

But that's not to say I haven't been reading. I recently finished Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell. Not a great book for her, but better than most. The story was kind of flabby, you could tell who was going to die before they bit it, and the characters were more caricatures, but what the hell. Now, I'm reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Don't know how long it'll take to read that.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm going to visit other family, and I'll do what I can to read on with Brothers. Wish me luck. And Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

As you can see, I haven't really posted anything about Brothers in a while. And I've got a reason. Actually, I have several reasons. Basically, there's a lot of personal shit going on in my life right now, and Brothers is not at the top of my list of things to do. Not that it's at the bottom, but it's not breaking into the top 10. Now, I hope to have another posting about it before the New Year comes, but I do want to write that I will do my best to be back to it full force come 2007. I'm thinking that I should do one big book a year.

I also want to let you guys in on something else: It took me years to get into the groove of Ulysses. Seriously. I did a lot of stopping and starting on that book before I settled in and just read it. I hope it's different with Brothers. In fact, I'm going to be better with it than I was with Ulysses. But bear with me.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I finally finished The Heart of the Matter yesterday, and Greene stayed in form with his depressing ending. And while I thought this was a very good novel, there was something about it that bothered me, which was Scobie's sudden devotion to God. But I'll get to that in a second.

First, I'd just like to write two things: One, I'm not going to give the ending away. Two, I recommend you read The Heart of the Matter, simply because - aside from my coming gripes - it's a great book. Graham Greene knows what he's doing when he sits down to write.

Now, the main gripe: Scobie became a good Catholic very fast. For most of the book, he's lackadaisical at best when it comes to mass and observing his faith. Then, it seems as if he becomes hard core overnight. I don't have a problem with him becoming religious, having conversations with God, and so on. Guilt does that to people. But there didn't seem to be a transition. There was no gradual slip back into - or into it in the first place - into his belief.

My only other complaint is that he uses a broken rosary as a very obvious metaphor, but if that's the worst of his sins as a writer, then I can live with that.

Okay, clumsy seque here...

At one point, Scobie talks to his priest, Father Rank, who says, "It's better to sin 70 times and repent each time than to sin once and never repent." This concerns me on two levels. On the one hand, it's clear that it's foreshadowing the end of the book, and it's a bit obvious. But on the other hand, it makes me wonder how many people - especially Catholics - actually believe that. I mean, if you have someone sinning so often, don't you think there's something going on? That maybe they need an intervention? At least the guy who sins once and doesn't repent isn't going around making life hell for those around him. Father Rank does save his own ass spiritually/philosophically at the end of the book, but I'll leave that for you to find out.

Anyway, that's it for now. Maybe I'll have more time for The Brothers Karamazov now, though don't hold your breath too much. I will make it to page 100, but I don't know when at this point. I've got a busy weekend ahead of me.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I read some more of Brothers finally!

The elder Zosima takes leave of Pavlovich, Ivan and the others for a moment to see the people of his village, a group of about 20 women. The narrator says this is normal, that people come from all around to see Zosima because he has a reputation as a healer. Over the course of the chapter, he "heals" about three or four people. One woman is a shrieker. She's basically having a nervous breakdown, and Zosima covers her head, says a prayer, and that seems to clear things up. I bet he sees that woman again.

Anyway, another woman comes to him. Her infant has died, and her husband has given in to drink. This is actually a pretty good scenario, because there's nothing Zosima can really do here. So he basically feeds her a line. That line: Since the baby didn't have a lot of time on the earth, he's an angel in Heaven. So his mother should be happy. And of course she is.

The thing about the chapter is, there's not a lot to learn about anything other than Zosima. And while I've complained about Dostoyevsky's writing before, I have to say, this is a better way to show character - Action. Zosima is doing what he can to heal these people, though I think he's full of himself. He kind of deals with these people as if he's reading from a script. That's fine in terms of character development, but as a person... I don't know. Still, this is one hell of a step up from before. I think the novel should have started two chapters ago, instead of wasting time and space with the crap that Dostoyevsky shovelled out before.

So the verdict? Things are picking up.