Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

[Amazon Link] [5.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

Yes, of course I saw it. Some have deemed it "awful", but I believe some have forgotten how to get in touch with their inner 15-year-old. It was great.

First, however, we had to (a) drive fourteen miles to the spiffy new 15-screen stadium-seating multiplex in Newington; (b) wait in a long line for tickets for the next available showing; (c) wait for that next available showing; (d) sit through interminable ads and previews (although Hancock looks pretty funny); (e) sit through the first 10 minutes of the movie, noticing that it was damned hard to hear anything the actors were saying; (e) listen to the theater management apologize and direct us out of the theater; (f) wait in another long line for a refund; (g) drive ten miles back to Dover and its 1940s-era Strand Theater; (h) wait for the 9:15 show.

I'm surprised that movie theaters are doing as well as they are.

Once you can see and hear it, though, the movie is a lot of fun. The 1957-model Indy is beset on all sides. His main antagonist is a chilly Commie (Cate Blanchett) who has a disturbing ability to insert herself and her small but well-equipped military squad into the US and South American countries at will. There's also a duplicitous partner (Ray Winstone); an uncomfortably nearby atomic bomb detonation; Red-hunting FBI agents; a mysterious kid (Shia LaBeouf) who's channeling James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Edd "Kookie" Byrnes; a crazed ex-colleague (John Hurt); and—best of all—the still-lovely Marion Ravenwood, played by the still-lovely Karen Allen. (This is not a spoiler; she's in the credits.)

Indy's age seems not to have slowed him down much; he's still cracking his whip, outwitting and outfighting bad guys. The major change seems to have been in his mood: he's seen it all, and this is more of the same. In the opening scenes, he's been abducted from Mexico, stuffed in a car trunk, driven to New Mexico, and dumped out on a runway; after all that, he's just a tad grumpy.

Marion, too. She's more mellow, always bouncing back from dire peril with her dazzlingly wide, slightly goofy, smile.

The plot is borderline incomprehensible, shackled by the necessity to come up with action sequences and fight scenes every few minutes. It might make sense, if one went back and parsed Indy's breathless explanations. ("Oh, that's why they're going there.")

Nevertheless, it's nice to see that Commies get Jonesed in pretty much the same way that Nazis got Jonesed a couple of decades back. Another vindication of Hayek's insights!

No, not Salma. Friedrich.

Next up: Wall•E, from the genius heroes of Pixar. Which I think we'll try to see at the Strand.

Last Modified 2012-10-12 7:42 AM EST

Prayers for Rain

[Amazon Link]

This novel's narrator is Patrick Kenzie, Boston private eye. He has a talent for wisecrackery, overlaid on a core of unshakeable honesty and integrity. As the book opens, these otherwise admirable character traits have gained him the emnity of nearly every cop in the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area, and lost him his one true love, Angela Gennaro.

But a guy's gotta eat, and Patrick accepts a job from one Karen Nichols, who's seemingly being stalked by a sleazeball. Patrick and his psychotic friend Bubba set out to discourage the stalker using methods that make more conventional PIs like Archer and Marlowe look like Miss Manners.

But a few months later, Karen Nichols commits suicide in a particularly garish fashion. Patrick makes it his mission to find out how that happened.

The author, Dennis Lehane, is one of the best authors writing in the mystery genre. His writing is full of wit and color, and he paints a mood as well as anyone. This book is (so far) his last entry in the Kenzie/Gennaro series, I hope he gets back to them soon.

Last Modified 2012-10-12 7:41 AM EST

Memorial Day 2008

Let's all remember.