Comments on Auster’s “Sunset Park”

I’m being a little generous giving Sunset Park 7 out of 10. For a Paul Auster novel, it’s nothing special. The novel starts off strong, but about half way through it begins to peter out, mainly because he doesn’t focus on a single character’s story. Instead, every chapter is a character sketch of each person in the novel. Many of the chapters are vivid and compelling, but the parts are greater than the whole. It’s as if Auster began by telling the story of one central character, finished it and realized the story was only a hundred pages or so, then decided to reconstruct the story as a collection of character sketches so he could expand it into a novel-length story. That’s the impression I get.

The story is about four university type people, two men, two women, living in an abandoned house in New York City. The story takes place in 2008 during the first financial meltdown in the U.S. which some blame on the reckless military spending of George W. Bush’s government. Like he did with Man in the Dark, I think Auster is reflecting again on the tragic legacy of George W. Bush’s presidency. It’s not as direct this time around, but it’s not hard to spot when you think about it.

Sunset Park isn’t a bad novel. But overall it didn’t grab me like most of Auster’s have.

Quick Review of “Léolo”

  Léolo was directed by Jean-Claude Lauzon who died on this date in 1997. The movie is charming and tragic and beautiful all at once. It’s a nostalgic / anti-nostalgic look at a boy growing up with his strange family in Montréal.

I’ll just quote Roger Ebert: “Leolo is an enchanting, disgusting, romantic, depressing, hilarious, tragic movie, and it is quite original… I have never seen one like it before. It cannot be assigned a category, or described in terms of other films. I felt alive when I was watching it. If you are one of those lonely film lovers who used to attend foreign films, who used to seek out the offbeat and the challenging, and who has given up on movies because they all seem the same, crawl out of your bunker and go to see this one. It will remind you that movies can be wonderful.”

Rise, Thou Ape

  Rise of The Planet of The Apes delivers. It’s the best summer action-type movie of 2011 so far (though I haven’t seen too many because I could tell most of them suck). It could have been completely stupid, but it’s an engaging, tense movie that builds to an action packed climax of unadulterated entertaining mayhem, and I look forward to the sequel.

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is fun if you don’t take it seriously. I suspect the purist will scoff at the creation of an entirely new Planet of The Apes that has no connection to any of the previous Ape movies. But those fans probably take Doctor Who seriously, too.