Friday, July 13, 2012

Gone Girl

Some books draw you in so quickly that you experience a thrill along with a sense of dismay - you know you'll struggle to pace yourself instead of devouring it in one sitting. A book that, despite its heft, you tote with you wherever you go just to sneak in a few more pages. One of those books that, you realize with sadness, you will never again experience for the first time.

Gone Girl is that kind of book. I lost the battle with myself to enjoy it over a week and was done in less than two days. I just learned that Reese Witherspoon's production company is going to do a film version with Witherspoon herself as Amy, the "gone girl" of the title. It takes the edge off, but only slightly, of reading that last page. I can't wait to see how the story translates to the screen.

Author Gillian Flynn has been compared to Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley series) and I think this is accurate. Gone Girl has psychological tension, very dark humor, and a sophisticated story line which provides serious food for thought for those who are married, have been married, have contemplated marriage, or have ever been in a relationship. So, pretty much everyone. Even if you think you know your partner better than you know yourself, surprises await. Just hope that they're not the "Nick and Amy" kind.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Recently, I re-watched both Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974) and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others (2007). Both award-winning films feature conflicted professional eavesdroppers - Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) in the former and the late Ulrich Muhe as Stasi Captain Gerd Weisler. Enemy of the State (1998) continued with this theme as does the more recent and rather good TV series Person of Interest.

It's a peculiar line of work to choose. Maybe human nature has instilled in us the belief that other people's lives are more interesting, and maybe more illicit, than our own lives. While it's true that we learn a lot by gleaning information from all sources, at what point does the impulse to eavesdrop become an obsession as it did in the lives of the protagonists above? What if the tables were to turn and the eavesdropper were to become the eavesdroppee?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

To Woody with Like

I saw the Chicago premiere of Woody Allen's latest film, To Rome with Love, this past weekend. I liked it enough, but not as much as I enjoyed Midnight in Paris, Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona, or Match Point, his other European-set forays since 2005.

Still, To Rome with Love made me laugh. Especially the opera singer in the shower plot and Alec Baldwin as a romantic guide to Jesse Eisenberg, playing a young Allen type. Yes, I rolled my eyes occasionally, but overall, I continue to appreciate Allen's Greek theater-Shakespeare-modern angst melange. I usually leave the theater feeling that life will still be okay in its neurotic way, but I like that the catharsis is always tinged with unease.

I wonder which European city Woody will tackle next. I vote for Prague or Berlin, maybe Krakow. But in color, not a black-and-white Shadows and Fog treatment. Or maybe he should explore a new continent? South America (Buenos Aires)? Asia (Shanghai)?