Monday, August 16, 2004

Book: The Killing of the Tinkers, by Ken Bruen (2004)

Reading this novel is like grabbing hold of a live wire while ripped to the gills on Guinness. You’re instantly swept up by the Gael force of Jack Taylor’s personality. I wouldn’t mind if Jack took a drop of Powers every now and then instead of Jameson’s, but otherwise I have no complaints. (Well, one. George Pelecanos’ name is misspelled. In two different ways.)

Bruen uses pop culture references better than any contemporary writer who is not Nick Hornby. His crime fiction allusions are particularly sharp. I’ve read too many mysteries that drop names as a ham-fisted way of acknowledging the author’s influences, which are generally all too evident to start with. But Taylor’s riffs on Ed McBain or Lawrence Block give us insight into his personality. When I finish a Bruen book I not only want to read another one, but every title he’s mentioned as well. The bastard.

DVD: Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

From Charles Taylor’s recent Salon piece on the cinema of dislocation (subscription or day pass required):

“There is plenty to distinguish CRADLE OF LIFE from the mainstream dross around it: the plot actually makes sense, and the action sequences are shot so that you can tell what’s going on in them ... (The movie) wrests fun from the very rootlessness that is so anxiety-provoking to contemporary sensibilities ... The plot may globe-hop, but it does so at a pace that makes us feel as if we’re on a quest proceeding by train or horseback rather than high-speed jets.”

Sorry, Charlie. This movie’s a mess. Why he mentions it in the same breath as LOST IN TRANSLATION and the entire output of Wong Kar-Wai is a mystery.

I’ll give you that it’s better than the first film, which is saying almost nothing. The plot is standard action movie hooey that may scan from one scene to the next but falls apart as a whole. On top of that, I’ve seen it before. (Ransoming a contagious disease? That’s, like, so M:I 2.) It’s no worse – but no better – than your typical summer extravaganza. It certainly didn’t tap into any zeitgeisty feelings of ennui. Although it did create them.

BTW, the punctuation in the title is pure guesswork. For all I know, there are semicolons and hyphens in there.

Movie: Alien Vs. Predator (2004)

No, I haven’t seen it. Yet. I’m a completist like Slate’s David Edelstein. I’ve seen both Predator movies and all four Alien films, as well as the short-lived Fox Kids cartoon, “Li’l Aliens.” (OK, I made that last bit up.) I even confess to liking director Paul W. S. “For the last friggin’ time, I am NOT the guy who made BOOGIE NIGHTS” Anderson’s earlier SF efforts EVENT HORIZON and SOLDIER.

But I’ve got concerns. Chief among them is that this movie screws with the continuity of the Alien series. AVP is set now, in Antarctica. If chest-bursters were on Earth in 2004, how come nobody in ALIEN recognizes them? Huh? Tell me that.

Actually, the filmmakers may have a ready answer. According to AVP reviews, Lance Henriksen plays billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland. It’s a nice nod to Henriksen’s performance as the android Bishop in ALIENS. But the company that employs the crew of the Nostromo in the first film and funds the expedition in the second is named Weyland-Yutani. Which raises the possibility that the firm has been hunting the aliens ever since their founder uncovered them decades before. It’s an intriguing notion.

And I am such a geek.

Miscellaneous: Link

From Movie City News: even celebrities have garage sales.