An open note to a certain #1 NYT Bestselling author of a certain thriller series: All right, you have gotten me hooked on this series because of the characters, particularly the main guy, and the action-packed plots, and the delicious opportunity to figure things out for myself occasionally. Lately, however, I have been disappointed. You're killing my guy, and my long-time love affair with this series, by slow suffocation. I have just a couple of main gripes.
First, go back to letting the plot and the action drive the narrative. We're smart, your readers--give us some credit, OK? We don't have to be told what to think/suspect/speculate over by a constant clutter of what would be, in a bad movie, voice-over narration. Here's an example, from smack in the middle of a high-speed car-chase by our hero of a mystery figure:
"Who the h*** was in the car? Why was somebody running? Could it be __________?"
STOP, already. Admittedly, these books are "brain candy," and not high literature. But how in the world is it that you could possibly not know that we, the readers, are already asking ourselves the above questions, and that we know that the hero is asking them, since we know by virtue of the context of this section that our hero IS CHASING SOMEONE WHOSE IDENTITY HE DOES NOT KNOW, and that _________ is the villain and has been throughout the whole darn BOOK? Stop it! I'm not five years old!
Also? I can appreciate the occasional use of the Deux ex Machina in fiction. Really, I can. But, Dude, when you put us through this whole complex, globe-spanning investigation and personal tribulation to our beloved characters, you do not, repeat DO NOT end the book by having the hero, IN THE FINAL TWO PAGES of the novel, end the story by just SPOTTING THE BAD GUY ON THE STREET BY HAPPENSTANCE, running him down, and then watching him poison himself. That's just bush-league stuff, and it robs us as readers of any real satisfaction. We don't get to see our hero (and by extension, ourselves) figure it out and find the Bad Guy through deduction, we don't get any motivation for or insight into the Bad Acts of Bad Guy, and finally, we don't even know if Bad Guy is really The Bad Guy, or if you're just setting us up for another one of these later. I swear...you better not.
You know who you are, multiple #1 NYT Bestselling thriller author who's had successful movies made from this screamingly popular series. Knock it OFF.
ON THE TEEVEE:
Can't tell you how much I love "Bones." It makes me so happy for so many reasons. First, I'm sick of stale, humorless CSI; all locations, and this is so so SO much better (maybe just because it's even MORE unbelievable, in the sciencey parts, than the CSI franchise). And this last episode was the BEST EVERRRRRR. After all those years of watching David Boreanaz as Angel not quite able to be human, the joy I experience in watching him goofily air-jam to Foreigner's "Hot-Blooded" is unquantifiable. And the Deschanel sisters, Emily and Zooey; love them. We'll get to Zooey later. Anthropology, sociology, and profiling fasinate me, so I love hearing them spouted about constantly, even if it's total hogswallop as far as I know.
And OH! Adam Baldwin! From "Angel" and "Firefly/Serenity," is here in this one! Cool! (No spoilers, my Australian friends.) Also good in this ep is Hodgins getting to see one of his famous conspiracy theories actually turn out to be true, AND getting to don body armor and play along. And yes, there is enough Angel-love left in me that seeing Boreanaz, battered and bloody, hurting himself to save the girl and be the hero...well, it just satisfies me. Mock at will. Favorite dialogue this week, between Boothe and Bones while Boothe lies in a hospital bed after being asploded:
Boothe: "I'm fine...you know...I don't even know if I have to stay here."
Bones: "You got blown up."
Boothe: "I've been worse."
Worst moment: Hearing Temperance (Bones) talk about "beating the soles of the feet with pipes..." STOP!!!
And now, thanks to JenB, I have the books on my queue that this show was based on--written by and about Kathy Reichs, real-life forensic anthropologist. (Seriously--how many of you, when you visited your high-school guidance counselors, were told there was any such butt-kicking job as "forensic anthropologist?" To hear ours talk, the world was totally made up of doctors, lawyers, teachers, and the military.)
And my favorite show on television currently has to be "Boston Legal." (I reserve the right to change this opinion at a whim and/or weekly, but that's how it is now.) The writing is brilliant, the characters consistent and whip-smart, the actors excellent. I can't really say enough good things about it. I adore the conflicted, oddly-principled Alan Shore and James Spader's portrayal of him.
And of course, Captain Kirk's--I mean William Shatner's--turn as the dynamic, befuddled, possibly mad-cow or Alzheimer's afflicted, bafflingly lovable right-wing hotshot undefeated criminal defense attorney Denny Crane...there's nothing more delicious on television right now, for me. Best of all is the friendship between the two characters, one a raging, bordering on anarchist, liberal, and the other a rabid, mouth-foaming Republican...it's a match made in heaven. My favorite part of the show has become their end-of-the-day waxing philosophical over cigars on the firm's balcony. This week's had a particularly wonderful exchange:
Alan: "You know what I miss most about our country, Denny? Not the loss of our civil rights, so much...as our compassion; our soul; our humility."
Denny: "No--uhn-uhn-uhn-uhn. 'Soul;' that's a religious thing: State. Church. It's unconstitutional for the United States to have a soul!"
Alan: "Apparently. "(pause) We seem to be becoming a mean people. Learned Hand once said liberty lies in our hearts. And once it dies there, no constitution can save it.' "
Denny: "Just ONCE I wish you'd quote a Republican."
Alan: (momentary pause) "I want a kinder and gentler nation."
David E. Kelley earns his money.
Also in television, on Nick Jr.: Is it wrong to want to hurt one of "The Wonder Pets?" Particularly the baby duck, Ming-Ming? This is Bella's current favorite show, and every time that blasted duckling says, "This is SEWIOUS!" I want to pinch her fuzzy little head off. For whatever reason, the turtle and guinea-pig are not freaking me like that duck.
INSTANT MOVIE REVIEWS:
"A History of Violence"
Avoid at all costs. Depressingly bad action flick starring usually good actors turning in bad performances, and Viggo Mortensen's nekkid hiney. Not even the latter is enough to save this one. We were tricked into viewing by the Oscar nomination of William Hurt in the Best Supporting category. (SPOILER ALERT) Um, he appears in the last third of the film for approximately 10 minutes total screen time of unremarkable acting, then gets shot in the head. OSCAR? William Hurt, What do you have on the members of the Academy???
Quotable: Um, sorry, I got nothing here. See other movies for words worth remembering.
Meh. Depressing, so-so film about past events (Desert Storm) with predictable relevance to current events (Iraq war). Mediocre movie with some excellent, stirring performances (love me some Sarsgaarrrrrrrrrd, arrrrgh) including Jamie Foxx's and Jake Gyllenhaal's. Bonus material: A good bit of Jake's screen time is spent nekkid, and he's been working out. Reccomendation: Read the autobiographical novel by Anthony Swofford (played by Gyllenhaal in the movie) instead. Unless you just want to look at Jake Gyllenhaal's hiney; then this is your best bet.
Quotable: "I am 20 years old, and was stupid enough to sign a contract." --Anthony Swofford
"Good Night, And Good Luck."
Solid thumbs-up from us. Well-done small, depressing film about past events (McCarthy hearings, communism scare) with shocking--to many--relevance to current events (Homeland Security, terrorism scare). Top-notch cast, from the smallest roles to the biggest. Understated, using lots of actual footage from McCarthy hearings. Watch it, but prepare to be saddened at the realization, once again, that the new boss is, indeed, same as the old boss, the rhetoric never really changes, and we're all gettin' fooled again. And again. Possibly even zeldafitz will have to give Clooney some props for this one.
Quotable: "We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home." --Edward R. Murrow
Depressing film (picking up a theme here?) about a teenage boy involuntarily committed by the legal system to a mental hospital, and his, and others', experiences there. Purely amazing performances by lead actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the littlest kid from the T.V. show "Third Rock From The Sun) and, as always, Don Cheadle. We're starting to judge movies by the "Cheadle Factor." Also, Zooey Deschanel does a great job in a supporting role (told you I'd get to her). A little film that needs to be seen. The kid (who is most assuredly an adult by now) carries it well.
THE DISCLAIMER: I'm not sure, if you were in an unstable state of certain mental illnesses that involve manic/destructive/self-mutilating/addictive behaviors, that watching this film wouldn't perhaps provide some negative "triggers." Approach with caution in this circumstance.
Quotable: Little, in this space, due to saturation of profanity, but much, content-wise. See for yourself.
I've been saving these in bits and pieces for a while, so I guess that's enough for now.