Month: December 2014

Book review: Red Dragon

Red DragonRed Dragon by Thomas Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first read this book years ago, in my early teens. My Nan had a copy – a tie-in edition for Manhunter, the excellently neon film version of the story – and passed it on. I devoured it – rather fittingly, given Dolarhyde’s dental proclivities – and the Thomas Harris kick was on.

Fast forward a couple of decades. I’ve just finished watching the string of Hopkins-as-Lecter movies (and that terrible the-war-made-me-do-it flick) and first two seasons of the Hannibal show. The latter takes Red Dragon as its basis, so I thought it’d be a fine time to revisit the novel. (more…)

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Book review: Movie Icons: 365 Day-By-Day

Movie Icons: 365 Day-By-DayMovie Icons: 365 Day-By-Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A short review as there’s not much to review. If you know Taschen’s general attention to production detail, you know that the reproductions of film stills that appear within this book are very fine.

There’s not much else to say. It’s a book with a movie (or star) per day. It’s too nice to write on in a diary fashion, and so it is a little bit of a confusing publication. But if you treat it as I did – a way to create a little cinematic break in which to appreciate films you know (and discover ones you don’t) – then it’s a fine tome.

Book review: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

Easy Riders, Raging BullsEasy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is remarkable.

No, I mean it. If you’re a film buff there’s no need to complete reading this review. Just go read the book: you’ll thank me later.

Still here? Well, okay. The work is cobbled together through reams of interviews to provide a more or less seamless account of the rise of the auteur in the ’60s and ’70s. Well, those generally hailed as auteurs – thanks, Pauline Kael – rather than those who actually were auteurs. You know: Ashby, Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, Lucas, Friedkin, De Palma, et cetera. (Add to that the associated producers, writers and actors – Nicholson, Beatty, Towne, Hopper and the like – and you’ve a colourful cast looking to smoke, snort, drink, fuck and generally behave badly with anything or anyone around. (more…)

Book review: Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour TristesseBonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After an intervening couple of decades I revisited Sagan’s novel. I remembered enjoying it greatly when I read it in my teens, and hoped the same memories of cut-glass oceans and desultory fucking-for-effect conniving would hold true.

They didn’t. (more…)

Book review: Deep Kyoto: Walks

Deep Kyoto: WalksDeep Kyoto: Walks by a number of contributors
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The offshoot of a blog, this book is a collection of loosely-planned walks through the ancient city (and former capital) with a variety of themes. There’s plenty of history, sure – you can’t really avoid it in a place like Kyoto – but there’s also a lot of personal history brought to bear, here. (Sometimes, a little too much – some of the writers’ digressions aren’t as amusing as they presumably believe, but I accept this may just be a personality clash.) (more…)

Just slow, you know ?

A quick note: it’s been a little slow around here for the past couple of weeks as I’ve been out of the country. I had intended to schedule some older review reposts but as ever, the lead-up to an international trip hammered pretty much everything that wasn’t work, or directly related to making it into a seat on a plane.

The trip was great.

The return hasn’t been so great. I’m currently knocked out with some kind of weird fever. Just as I was feeling smug about not being struck with norovirus, too!

Anyway, posting – including reviews of the books I’ve finished in the meantime, though I read far less than normal while I was, you know, overseas seeing new things – will come soon. When I can stand up and not immediately feel like I’ve been hit with an axe, that is.

New Zeitkratzer review

My review of a live disc of Zeitkratzer performances of Whitehouse songs has gone live (a little while ago, now) over at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample.

Zeitkratzer are a great ensemble. Their acoustic mastery is undeniable, and the sounds they recreate without access to a bunch of broken boxes and fucked electronics are spot-on. But somehow the execution of the task seems almost redundant: there’s as much enjoyment to be had by the idea of a bunch of traditional instruments covering Whitehouse as there is from having the end result in your hand.

You can read the whole review here, if you like.