I don’t normally do plugs on here, but my good friend Ella has just recently completed her first novel: Blood, Sex and Coffee. It’s a mammoth achievement, weighing in at a good 700 pages, and is a campy vampire novel bringing in more themes than you’d think could be fit in such as a size - although is fundamentally a huge tract of story crossing space and time. I haven’t yet had a chance to read it - and I’m not normally a big fiction reader - but I have a 12 hour flight to Cape Town at the weekend, so maybe be burning through some of it then.
Black Snake Moan is rich, thick, and satisfying, like a good film should be. Samuel L. Jackson plays a strong role as the Good Samaritan with an unusual method. Christina Ricci is unashamedly raunchy as the object of his ‘caring’ (which makes for slightly uncomfortable watching when you remember her first major role in The Addams Family aged eleven). Surprisingly, even Justin Timberlake does a passable job as the third wheel in the film.
The political arguments around government and business are well understood. At one extreme are people who despise profit-making businesses, considering them a necessary evil at best, and who’d prefer to see governments take more action to protect their and society’s interests. At the other are those who’d prefer to see governments scaled down significantly and businesses given more freedom. People with my political opinions often make arguments for the latter based on either practical or moral arguments.
Economists approach things in weird ways. I’ve noticed several posts on the more popular economic blogs recently discussing marriage, relationships, and sex: Are Husbands Really Like Potatoes? being a good example, as well as a discussion of polygamy. Tyler Cowen has even briefly looked at how nudity affects human behaviour (arguably not directly related to relationships, but it’s a fun read anyway). Given that I like the economic way of thinking (given my limited training), I thought I’d take a look at dating, something close to my heart as a bachelor.
Midnight Cowboy is a hard film to call. It’s a slice of film history, with some well-known visuals, well-known music, and well-known scenes: "Hey! I'm walkin' here! I'm walkin' here!" - Ratso But it’s a confusing film, with plenty of montages, flashbacks, fantasy scenes, and a drug-induced party. I wasn’t expecting any of that, and it doesn’t exactly help carry the plot (that which there is) forward. The sex scenes, despite being notorious (Midnight Cowboy was the only X-rated film to ever win an Oscar - it’s since been downgraded to R-rated) are tame by modern standards: although there’s a strong theme of ambiguous sexuality running throughout the film, with Joe Buck (Jon Voight) - the cowboy of the title - being pretty indiscriminate about who he sleeps with, even in his role as a hustler.
I’ve written about synchronicity vs. asynchronicity before, but I wanted to revisit the subject because it seems to be so key to modern services; as more and more communication mechanisms evolve out of available technology and entrepreneurs’ imagination, understanding customer’s usage patterns will be important when developing businesses around them. An excellent article by Gregor Hohpe, Starbucks Does Not Use Two-Phase Commit (included in Joel Spolsky’s Best Software Writing Vol. 1), is an examination of why understanding computer science concepts such as 2PC (and, I would argue, synchronicity) is important when engaging in business process engineering.
I’ve noticed that my blog’s been splogged - unsurprisingly, using one of my film reviews that contains some ‘adult’ words (see here for the NSFW copycat). Does this mean I’ve made the blogging bigtime? I’m still only at Technorati rank 147,804 - although (in a not-at-all-sore-loser fashion) I feel the same about Technorati as Richard does about Sun - what exactly is the point?
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a murder mystery. It’s sexy, witty, and fast-paced. Lead actors Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer (the latter as the superbly sarcastic Gay Perry), are a fabulous duo and perfectly cast. Michelle Monaghan adds a saucy touch. The plot is intricate and has more twists than a pretzel, just like any decent murder mystery. It has car chases and guns. Downey Jr. breaks the fourth wall all over the shop - and the icing on the cake is his aside about the poor ending to the last LoTR.
'What's sex?' - Betty Pleasantville is a favourite film of mine. Powerful on many levels, it manages to captivate the attention as well as entertain and give pause for thought. The premise is simple; David (Tobey Maguire) is given a remote control that allows him to enter the TV set and the programme of Pleasantville with his sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon). This mysterious start to the film is a well-trod one (Gremlins and Back to the Future being well-known previous examples), but it works without too much tedium.
Rated X is a film about the (ahem) adult film industry, so sensitive eyes might want to stop reading this review now. It stacks up well against other films of the genre, such as Boogie Nights (although it’s not as funny), and The People vs. Larry Flynt (although it’s not as political). The film tells a frequently unfulfilled dream: two brothers (well played by real-life brothers Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen) want to make porn that isn’t just cheap and tacky, but tells a story.