Monthly archives of “January 2011



The Unconsoled, Kazuo Ishiguro (1995). Limpid prose kept me reading all 9000 pages, but there’s not much there there.

Youth in Revolt, Miguel Arteta (2009).
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Edgar Wright (2010).
Cleverish enough, I guess. I like this Michael Cera fine, but why can’t the protagonist in these things ever be a girl?

Specimen Days, Michael Cunningham (2005). Cunningham’s a lovely writer sentence by sentence. The concept seemed too high-concept for me at first, but I grew into it and wound up enjoying this a great deal.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (2010). One of the last great showbiz workaholics.

The Decalogue, Krzysztof KieĊ›lowski (1988). If you’ve seen it, you know. If you haven’t, you should.

Style Wars, Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant (1983). Terrific, fascinating documentary about the rise of graffiti and hip hop culture. Amazing to see NYC in the early 80’s and realize how much time has gone by. Provided me with at least one long-sought source for a sample I’d wondered about: “You only specialize in one thing, you can’t call yourself the all-out king.”

Foul Play, Colin Higgins (1978). Second only to Seems Like Old Times on my list of Hawn/Chase childhood favorites. One of those 70’s flicks that’s simultaneously total fluff and highly clever.

The Informers, Juan Gabriel Vasquez (2004). There was no reason not to like this, but for some reason I couldn’t engage with it.

Spies of the Balkans, Alan Furst (2010)
The Arms Maker of Berlin, Dan Fesperman (2009)
WWII espionage fiction: My annual holiday indulgence. A return to form for Furst, who seemed to me to be phoning it in the last few times. I blame Fesperman for not being Furst, but that’s of course unfair.

The Kids Are All Right, Lisa Cholodenko (2010). This isn’t perfect, but it’s very good, and it gives me a lot of hope. A reasonably serious and insightful story about a family of two moms and two kids going through a crisis of confidence, written and directed by an out Lesbian. Some might say that the achievement of the movie is that it doesn’t even matter that the parents are gay, that it’s just a story about a family crisis. That’s only about half true. The parents’ Lesbianism is integral to the story, but it doesn’t determine the story. To me, this seems like a tremendous achievement; the piece neither claims special status for the couple nor asserts that this couple is just like any other. The view of human sexuality on offer here is also refreshing. It ain’t Foucault, but it’s way more sophisticated than the permanent adolescence Hollywood usually peddles in the bedroom.