I’ve seen three movies at the cinema recently. The best of them was Thank You for Smoking, which I saw with Karen. This film was funny and sharp. It follows the story of Nick Naylor, the frontman for Big Tobacco’s lobby group. Somehow, Nick has to convince the world that smoking isn’t such a bad thing, and that the tobacco companies are not evil. At the heart of the film are questions to do with freedom of choice and the role of individual responsibility. These issues were explored via Nick’s relationship with his son, Joey, who comes to respect his father for sticking to his values and for his considerable argumentative skills. This one is definitely worth seeing.
I then saw Fearless, supposedly Jet Li’s last Kung Fu film, with my brother. As far as martial arts films go, it was a pretty good one, though it was in a different vein to recent cinematographic masterpieces such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The House of Flying Daggers and Hero. The action was good, but the plot was rather formulaic, and the attempt to promote harmony in Chinese-American and Chinese-Japanese relations could have been a bit more subtle.
Last night, Karen and I saw Friends With Money. This film was completely character driven, with pretty much no plot to speak of. Character driven films can sometimes be really great, but this was not a great film. It is essentially a snapshot in the lives of three married couples, and one of their single friends. One marriage is on the verge of breakdown; one of the wives is depressed and angry, but really shouldn’t be because she creates expensive designer clothes and has a very loving husband, whose only “fault” in the eyes of some of her friends is to appear a little bit on the gay side of straight; and the other couple seem to have the perfect marriage. As for the single woman, she’s a qualified teacher working as a house maid and flitting from one relationship to another. That’s pretty much the plot, the minimality of which would not ordinarily be a problem, except that the movie didn’t develop any of the characters in this film to a great enough depth.
In the way of CDs, I’ve recently acquired an album called Feeding the Wolves by Josh Pyke. I particularly like Middle of the Hill, Private Education and Fill You In. Before that I picked up Sufjan Stevens’ recent album, Illinois (although, the album cover says Illinoise). That album has a number of gems on it.