Holiday Notes – website updates; films; iPhone

Too many things going on recently to have had time to update the blog. But briefly–

Have not followed up on those tickets, beyond what I reported earlier.

Latest development on the website is that I’ve set up, just today, a WordPress blog for the Magazine pages — i.e., the monthly table of contents, Locus bestsellers, and New & Notable books. So now, every post I do (posted in the middle column of the website homepage) will be part of the RSS feed for the site.

I *have* read a few books lately, and my next step will be to update the book images in the right pane — now a year out of date — to indicate those books I’ve read lately.

I’ve also seen a few films this month, of which I will mention, again briefly–

J. Edgar: had its moments. DiCaprio is very good; he disappears into his role. Armie Hammer, less so; I wasn’t convinced by his attitude, for the time, or by his old age makeup, which was terrible.

Source Code (saw on DVD): technically impressive, Jake Gyllenhaal very good, as is Vera Farmiga. But the premise undercuts itself at the end, tries to have it both ways. Is it virtual reality, or multiple worlds?

The Descendants: marvelous and moving. Maybe my favorite of the year. Only a tiny bit in part because I happened to visit the north coast of Kauai about a year ago, and so recognized and empathized with those settings and local attitudes. Clooney really is terrific.

Hugo: marvelous and thrilling. I’d read the book, knew where the film was going and — perhaps because of this, because seeing something you’ve read and internalized and now see in a shared reality — made it all the more satisfying.

The Artist: pleasantly amusing, a treat for films buffs who know movie history. The Arclight theatre in Hollywood where we saw this had displays of the costumes from this movie. I noticed the heavy lifting of Bernard Hermann’s Vertigo score near the end, apparently subject of minor controversy.

The Adjustment Bureau (again on DVD): Matt Damon — like Jake Gyllenhaal, and Leonardo DiCaprio actually — is a really good actor. The film is well-made, if not rigorous in its deployment of the premise. The ending is too easy — OK, no problem, you’re good!

Shame: yes, Michael Fassbender is amazing. There are beautiful, and excruciating, scenes here. Does Fassbender’s character reform at the end? Or is he doomed to a lifetime of compulsive behavior, the way alcoholics never entirely recover, only momentarily suspended by a feeling of shame? My partner and I debated this after seeing it.

A Dangerous Method: Michael Fassbender again, in an intellectual, play-based, story about Freud and Jung and their common patient. Fascinating and engaging. Could have been longer.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol: spectacular, and much more true to the original TV series — in the opening music, the setup, the tricky plot — than the earlier MI films that I saw (though I’m not sure I saw beyond the 1st one). I read newspaper articles describing how Tom Cruise *really did* do those stunts on the outside of that building in Dubai… but as I watched the film, I couldn’t quite believe that most of the scenes were not done on a soundstage somewhere… In any event, the set pieces in the film were spectacular, the plot elements satisfying closed. Highly recommended.

Finally — not as a Christmas present, but coincidentally received this past week, I have acquired an iPhone. I feel like I’ve been abruptly booted ten years into the future; though in reality, I realize I’ve been languishing in the past, while the world has moved on without me, for ten years, and now I’ve caught up. [Edit -- well, 5 years; the first iPhone was released mid-2007. Still, it seems longer.] Lots of fun; very cool. A mini 2001 obelisk in my pocket.

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