Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Miscellaneous: Grab Bag

I thought I had an entire post prompted by Sarah Weinman’s question: whither noir? Specifically, is there any truth to a critic’s charge that many contemporary writers are “knowingly catering to a minority audience of crime buffs”?

It was going to be a thing of beauty, this post, a heartbreaking elegy for the generalist that would use this website as an example. Then I thought about it for three seconds and realized how self-serving it would be. Instead, I’ll make the one small point that has some merit. Sarah’s post springs in part from Tribe’s interview with Christa Faust. Swing by my links page and you’ll see all three of these fine bloggers there. Meaning that if there is “a minority audience of crime buffs,” I’m probably in the thick of it.

So to buttress my generalist bona fides, some quick takes:

Volver. Almodovar’s latest suffers only in comparison with his extraordinary recent run – All About My Mother, Talk to Her, Bad Education. It’s a bit self-conscious at times in its return to his older style, but still completely captivating. It’s like an entire rainy day afternoon of Joan Crawford movies rolled into one film. I trust all those Penelope Cruz naysayers are queuing up for crow.

Déjà Vu. The second hour isn’t as good as the first. But it’s packed with giddy moments and high-grade hokum. The car chase in which the present pursues the past is the reason why I go to the movies.

And, to burnish my crime buff credentials:

Hose Monkey. Author Tony Spinosa is actually Reed Farrel Coleman, creator of the award-winning Moe Prager series. The focus of this book is Joe Serpe, a one-time NYPD detective disgraced in a corruption scandal. He’s drawn into a murder investigation with the unlikeliest of partners: his former Internal Affairs nemesis, now dealing with demons of his own. A solid mystery made memorable by rich Long Island atmosphere and a great dynamic between the two lead characters.