Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Book: High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby (1995)

I seem to have gone off crime fiction lately. Maybe I’m burned out, or maybe it’s going around. Lee Goldberg describes a similar malaise.

So when I had a break in my non-fiction reading, I picked up Hornby’s novel for what must be the sixth time. It’s the only book I’ve ever forced on friends. For many years I was convinced I was going to turn out like Rob Fleming, obsessed with pop culture, forever making lists, and unable to make any real world commitments. (Those of you who believe I in fact have turned out like Rob can keep your strong opinions to yourself.) It is, in its own way, a perfect piece of writing. Even the extended ending works. It’s only fitting for a guy like Rob to experience his epiphany in stages, like cuts on a great album.

The John Cusack movie version is terrific, but it can’t improve on Hornby’s original.

Movie: The Pirate Movie (1982)

In my high school days, this musical had an inexplicable cult following. It stars Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins, who at no point challenge Fred and Ginger, and a passel of Australians who were never heard from again. It features countless movie parodies, shameless mugging, and hoary old gags at which even Benny Hill would turn up his nose.

But some of the songs are good. At least the Gilbert & Sullivan ones are. The film is actually an ill-advised update of “The Pirates of Penzance,” which would be released as a film starring Kevin Kline one year later.

The closing credits note, “Additional lyrics to Gilbert & Sullivan songs by Trevor Farrant.” Not as bad, perhaps, as the legendary line from the 1929 version of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (“By William Shakespeare, with additional dialogue by Sam Taylor”), but it’s up there. Mr. Farrant’s lyrics include topical references to STAR WARS and Bo Derek. Here’s a taste of his work, from the revised “I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major-General.”

“To groovin’ with the Doobies in my Malibu white-souling tones
Man, I’m older than the Beatles but I’m younger than the Rolling Stones.”

W. S. Gilbert must be turning in his grave. I’ll bet Jim Broadbent, who played Gilbert in TOPSY-TURVY, doesn’t feel too well, either.

Miscellaneous: Links

Bill Crider provides this link to all the dirt you could want on the B-Movie Hall of Fame. And courtesy of Jaime Weinman, here’s a look at what the future holds from the vaults of Warner Home Video. Prepare to salivate.