>Two things I wanted to write about as I’ve read/watched them very recently:
My expectations for this movie were surprisingly high. I say ‘surprisingly’ because: a) it’s a crass buddy movie, and b) it’s a sequel. I had had good reports about it from my brother and others (though I do wonder why I trust my brother’s judgement sometimes; this is a guy who prides himself on his collection of zombie and gore movies, and who actually wanted to watch Dracula 3000 in its entirety) and, at the very least, it starred John Cho and Kal Penn.
Upshot? Well, it is very much a crass buddy movie and sequel. And we thoroughly enjoyed it.
I think Cho and Penn carry the film in ways that may have left lesser actors flat and just embarrassed. Granted, ’embarrassed’ was a key trait of the film, yet the grotesquerie was strangely charming. The Doogie Howser cameo still worked well, and I love the fact that the bordello’s owner was Beverley D’Angelo (of National Lampoon fame). As a Law & Order: SVU fan, I enjoyed the cameo by Christopher ‘Elliot’ Meloni a bit too much in the first film (who doesn’t love their repressed hero covered in boils?).
It probably won’t be the most memorable film you’ll ever see, but it was fun enough.
I do wish Cho would appear in more internationally marketed films. He was the lead in 2002’s Better Luck Tomorrow and, since then, has had a fairly patchy TV/film cv. He is in good company as Sulu in the new Star Trek movie (to be released in Australia in May 2009; directed by J. J. Abrams), what with Simon Pegg and Eric Bana as co-stars. That said, I note that Winona Ryder is also on board the Enterprise…hmmm.
2. The Day of the Jackal (Frederick Forsyth)
WARNING – This is going to be chock full of spoilers, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want to know what happens, move on now!
As I’ve mentioned in another post, this author was recced to me by Book Boy. One of the best uses for bookmooch.com is to stock your shelves with copies of novels by authors who are quite prolific or have been around for yonks, and you’ve liked for ages, but just never got around to getting that book or two from their oeuvre. Many of the genre fic novels that I’ve enjoyed are precisely of this category (e.g. Elizabeth Peters’ ‘Amelia Peabody’ novels). I’m partial to crime thrillers and mysteries, and some pockets of sci-fi/fantasy. I dipped into a bit of chick.lit when I first joined bookmooch, just because I could (and there was so much of it floating around), but I’ve sworn off it now. I’ve found that it’s quite a poisonous genre, and the examples that I read were rather shabbily/quickly written, not to mention eye-rollingly stupid in terms of denying any smidge of progressive gender relations or conception of a world without cliched romantic gimps.
ANYway, back to Jackal: I was pre-disposed to like it; partly because Book Boy liked it, and partly because well-written spy thrillers are another thing I can’t resist. I haven’t read many in recent decades because they seemed to have made way for a flood of crime/forensic thrillers, genres that still hold major sway today. My father was a big fan of Martin Cruz Smith, Robert Ludlum and Frederick Forsyth, but I never read the books when they were his (except maybe Gorky Park…). Jackal sucked me in within the first couple of chapters. The precision of the writing was wonderful, and the pace so apt. The background was sketched with great restraint (thank god – I don’t think I would’ve persisted if Forsyth were the type of author to impart whacking slabs of historical context; I usually give those books a short time to save themselves from the ‘unreadable’ pile) and relevance. I loved the figure of the assassin and the small window into his routines and desires. The latter played such a credible role in the novel’s final sections, and I finished the book very satisfied. In addition, while the book as a whole was satisfying, I found myself mourning the assassin. I think I wanted a Hollywood disappearance once the smoke cleared and Lebel (an excellently drawn character) managed to grab the other gun. Perhaps it’s the sequel-isation of my reading habits. I wanted the Jackal to live and snipe another day.
So, yes, my first brush with Forsyth was positive and I now have The Fourth Protocol to consume (as well as his other books, which will be a doddle to source 2nd hand).