Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Tristram Shandy
I'd love to speak definitively and say how this is a really faithful adaptation of Lawrence Sterne's 18th century novel without really being an adaptation at all. That's the right thing to say. But I never finished Tristram Shandy. I wanted to. But it was part of that end-of-grad-school rush for the big exam and, well, you know. Maybe I will now. At any rate, even if you've never read Tristram Shandy at all, it's easy to see how great a movie this is. It's a making-of of a movie that never quite gets made telling a life story that never quite gets told and it's effortlessly clever without ever being painfully clever. Also, Steve Coogan is hilarious, as is co-star Rob Brydon, whom I've never noticed before, even though he was in 24 Hour Party People and is apparently the British TV equivalent of a superstar. Finally, has Michael Winterbottom ever made the same film twice? He could make this one again, if he wanted.

The Maltese Falcon
Not the movie, though that's great, but the book. James Ellroy always directed people who would compare him to Raymond Chandler to Dashiell Hammett and now I get it. This is waste-no-words prose at its finest with an ending that makes the Huston film look cheery, even if it lacks the famous "stuff that dreams are made of" line. Any book that compares its hero to a "blond satan" on the first page knows how to keep readers off their guard. That quote in full: "Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting V under the more flexible V of his mouth. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan."

So low in nutrition. So high in calories. So amazing in taste. And they're the official cheese-filled snack of NASCAR. I could eat them any time of day. My new proposed slogan: "Combos: They're not just for truck stops anymore."

Battlestar Galactica
Stevie and I burned through the first season of this show on DVD in a week. I can't recommend it highly enough. In spite of being remarkably true to the concept of the '70s show (apart from an alarming absence of robot dogs), this is an amazingly smart show filled with complex characters, conflicting faiths, and a serious inquiry into what it means to be human. Tonally it's the most 9/11-informed piece of entertainment I've seen this side of The 25th Hour. Everyone makes hard choices with serious consequences and not everyone makes it back alive.

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