Sunday, March 12, 2006

A media consumption frenzy

I have been a big consumer of media this weekend, so I figured it was time to share some of my opinions on the things I've been reading/watching.
  • The New Yorker March 13th edition has an article on Bush's politicization of science policy (sorry, not available on-line) decisions ranging from stem cells to emergency contraception and climate change. There isn't a lot of new information here for someone who's been paying attention but its well-written, seems comprehensive, and would be a great place to get an introduction to what the fuss is all about.
  • Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-rabbit was a delightful way to spend Friday evening. Clay-mation is amazing artistically and technically, and the story-line was both original and cliched enough to be very enjoyable. While basically kid-friendly, there were a few pieces of adult humor (Wallace wearing a cardboard box with a label saying "contains nuts"). I actually laughed out loud a few times. Apparently, despite its Best Animated Feature Oscar and what I had thought was a good reception, the picture has been a money-loser for Dreamworks. So support insanely complicated artistic endeavors and rent this one, if you haven't already seen it.
  • Saturday night brought a bit more adult fare with the viewing of Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash and June Carter movie. It was a good movie, but I wouldn't say great. It didn't compare to Ray in terms of totally winning over a viewer with no built-in connection with the musician. Joaquin Phoenix was amazing as Johnny Cash, but I was less impressed by Reese Witherspoon (who, incidentally, won Best Actress for the role). But I think that's less because of the skill of her acting, and more because I've seen her in so many other things. After a while, prolific leading actors only start to seem like themselves. They have certain characteristic facial expressions and mannerisms that appear in all their movies. Once I pick up on that, I have a hard time enjoying their performances. So Reese has joined the ranks of Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Tom Cruise. But I guess that's not bad company in which to be. Anyways, it's an interesting movie. If you like biographies or country music, definitely check it out.
  • Finally, I stayed up until 2 am on Friday night reading "Hard Truth" by Nevada Barr, the umpteenth in her Anna Pigeon mystery series. I've read six or seven others in this series, and I've enjoyed them all. This one I kept reading until late at night because I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep without the mandatory "happy" ending. It was much to disturbing to let invade my dreams. The series in built on an interesting premise:the protagonist is a 50-ish woman park ranger (Anna), and each book places her in a new national park. The author is very familiar with the workings of the park service, and she does a nice job of intricately fitting the story to its setting. Anna is a strong, independent woman, as are all of the female characters, and I get a lot of joy out of passages where she is observing things in the woods around her. But this book was far too dark for me. The plot hinges around the abduction of 3 pre-teen girls and a sociopathic child rapist and mass-murderer. While Barr is careful to spare us the most horrific details, she is very clear to imply that the children have undergone things incredibly brutal and sadistic. And that's just to much for me. I think it may be the last of her books that I read. (Interestingly, the first reviewer on Amazon's page for the book says pretty much the same thing.)
Based on this list, I'd be really interested to see what ya'll would recommend for me.

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