Bundle up tight, LJers, for your weekend media blow:
American Gods: Neil Gaiman’s entry into the surprisingly crowded mythological-figures-battle-over-the-American-landscape genre. Gaiman’s got that good “sense of story” like Whedon has (hey, I never said I hated the guy) and he uses it to interesting ends. Compare this book to any given novel by Tim Powers (specifically, Last Call or Three Days to Never) and you’ll find that Gaiman tends to veer toward the twee in cases where Powers would veer toward the gritty. That doesn’t mean you’ll wince, however, and Gaiman’s advantage is that you never get confused as to what’s going on, whereas I still don’t understand how Three Days to Never turned out. I furrowed my brow a little at one scene near the end that looked like it was lifted, line for line, from Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. However, (1) Gaiman has acknowledged his debts to Zelazny multiple times in the past, and (2) oh, wait, it’s a modern retelling of mythology – they’re probably both cribbing from the same source; duh. Very entertaining read.
Good Night and Good Luck: Handles very well for such a talky flick. Characters who’d be unsympathetic in a weaker script – the Air Force colonel who tries to intimidate CBS into silence, Frank Langella as the CBS exec answerable to the station’s sponsors – have depth, integrity and backbone. And of course Strathairn’s delivery as the most well-regarded editorialist of the 20th century is letter perfect. The writing is cool and fairly minimal – to a great extent, Clooney lets the original players speak for themselves: newsreel footage of McCarthy, the actual text of Murrow’s broadcasts, etc. Better than a documentary.
Girl with a Pearl Earring: A very quick read that failed to really move me one way or another. I got hints of what the narrator was experiencing – her frustration at the prospect of a lifetime of drudgery, her secret obsession with Vermeer, her conflicting feelings regarding the young butcher, her mixed curiosity and distrust of differing religions and customs, etc. But we never dwelt on any of those in detail. All I can say with certainty is that it sucked being poor and a woman in the 17th century, though in fairness that was true for every century save this one and the last. The behind the scenes look at how Vermeer created his masterpieces was certainly interesting.