Maltese Falcon

MALTESE FALCON The Maltese Falcon — I saw it tonight in a theatre. It was okay, but it’s not in the same league as Casablanca. Bogart’s performance is uneven, the romantic element is unconvincing and the story isn’t too intriguing or compelling. For me, it has more style than substance. And even then, it’s not spectacular. My favourite film noir starring Bogart — if you really want to aim for cool just for the sake of being cool — is The Big Sleep, which would be great to see in a theatre. (April 7/08)

The Forbidden Kingdom — A forgettable martial arts film with Jet Li and Jackie Chan. It’s not unwatchable but it ain’t worth watching. (April 20/08)

The Mist — I couldn’t watch more than 30 minutes of Stephen King’s The Mist. Judging only from what I saw, it’s a horror film in the sense that the writing is horrible, the acting is horrible and the special effects are horrible. Everything is so bad, I thought I might enjoy it as a B-movie. And maybe I can. But not today. (April 27/08) Okay, I managed to come back and watch the rest of it. The special effects get a little better and the acting gets worse (the script certainly doesn’t make it easy for them). I can see how the story of a bunch of people stuck in a grocery store while a mist outside full of tentacles and creepy crawlies kills anyone who walks out the door could be a scary movie, but by trying too hard to be dramatic, it’s just stupid. The person I saw the movie with said this: “Man, that movie sucked. Were we ever afraid of anything? Did we ever feel any emotion the director wanted us to feel when he wanted us to feel it? I can’t believe it gets a better rating on Rotten Tomatoes than The Science of Sleep. That’s messed up.” Yup. (April 29/08)

Books I’ve Read Recently

  • Next by Michael Crichton 3 out of 10 stars (3/10)
    Too many characters with too little detail. Crichton seems to be getting worse, writing about topics that are interesting but a story with no substance. He creates short, interesting scenarios and dilemmas to raise issues related to the topic of his book (genetics in this case), but the story and characters are just fluff and a waste of time. The best part is the Author’s Note in the end, where he summarizes his views. Maybe he should write some short-stories instead.
  • night book cover by elie wieselNight by Elie Wiesel 9 out of 10 stars (9/10)
    A haunting auto-biographical tale of living being a Jew during the Nazi years of World War II, where the author is sent to prison camps as a child with his family. The writing is beautiful. I want to read other works by this author now.
  • The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester 7 out of 10 stars (7/10)
    Published in 1952, winning the Hugo award in ’53, this novel is considered a classic. It’s about telepaths that commit murder and help solve them. It’s detective-type story isn’t compelling; it’s the atmosphere the author creates that’s fascinating. A memorable book, but it drags in places.Wikipedia has an entry about it.
  • A Crack In The Edge Of The World by Simon Winchester 7 out of 10 stars (7/10)
    Interesting tale of the rise and fall (via an earthquake in 1906) of San Fransisco and its surrounding area. You’ll learn how the American Pacific coast was settled and how San Fransisco came to be. Interesting for history buffs, which I’m not.
  • Blaze by Stephen King 6 out of 10 stars (6/10)
    King wrote this in the early 70s, which it feels like, too, if you’ve read his earlier works. Predictable yet intense ending, but it isn’t horror. It’s about a guy (Blaze) who kidnaps a baby and how he (i.e. Blaze) came to be who he is. Some memorable scenes, like the blueberry picking chapter, but nothing classic here.

Books I’ve Read Recently

I never think to create a draft post and write a few sentences about the latest book I’ve read, which is probably what J-Walk does. My last Books I’ve Read Recently post was in June, 2007, yet I read at least one book a week.

  • pillars of the earth book cover by ken follettThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett 7 out of 10 stars (7/10)
    This is an epic story that takes place in England in the 1100s, which is fun to read about: knights, earls, tyrants, monks, etc.. It’s a good book, but an easy read. You get to know the characters well, wanting to see how they turn out, wondering who dies and lives. Predictable at times, but the era portrayed is compelling.
  • Andromeda Gun by John Boyd 8 out of 10 stars (7/10)
    A science-fiction western written in 1974 that I enjoyed, where an alien possess a cowboy in the 1800s, trying to mend his unlawful ways. Well written and intelligent, it will make you think about morality. This is one of a thousand paperbacks I have that I’m slowly weeding through.
  • Lisey’s Story by Stephen King 4 out of 10 stars (4/10)
    I couldn’t finish it. Too wordy. It’s about a women grieving over her husband who was an author. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it.
  • Welcome To The Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut 9 out of 10 stars (9/10)
    One of the best collection of short stories. A classic. Most have a science-fiction theme, but they’re accessible by all, I think: funny with ideas and images that will stick to you like tar. Read this.
  • Saturday by Ian McEwan 8 out of 10 stars (8/10)
    A day in the life of a man in London, England, whose perspective of life is changed after an encounter with a thug that threatens his family. Lots of think about in this novel, where the protagonist expresses views about modern events and politics. It didn’t bore me, but it didn’t stick with me either; I don’t remember much about it now; however, I did enjoy it.

A Review Of “The Colorado Kid” by Stephen King

The Colorado Kid by Stephen KingThe Colorado Kid by Stephen King
Rating: Rating: 7 out of 10 stars (7/10)

This isn’t a horror novel. It’s published by Hard Case Crime, known for hardboiled crime fiction by old and new writers, which some would say is a crime itself, as The Colorado Kid isn’t that hardboiled.

It’s about the telling of a mystery involving a man found dead on a bench, in a small town where strange men dressed in suits aren’t usually found dead for any apparent reason. The tale is told to a young reporter by her mentors whom you get to know well; they’re memorable characters, despite the novel’s short length. Who is the dead man? How did he die? Where is he from? This book is not a mystery. It’s not hardboiled. Hell, it may not even be crime fiction.

In the Afterward, which he seemed to write knowing the reader would think What the fuck? after finishing the book, King explains why he wrote what he did, how it came about, and that he has no regrets about it:

…if you tell me I fell down on the job and didn’t tell all of this story there was to tell, I say you’re all wrong.

He knows this isn’t your traditional hardboiled story:

…even though The Colorado Kid is probably more bleu than outright noir, I think it has some of those old-fashioned kick-ass story-telling virtues.

And it does. There’s a mystery to solve, but it’s the telling of the tale that hooks you, not any mystery’s solution. I don’t think this book should’ve been published by Hard Case Crime, though. Maybe as a collection of short-stories, or in serial form in The New Yorker.