Monthly Archives: June 2004

Sexy Beast

Simultaneously tense and funny “pre-heist” gangster movie. (There is a heist in there, but the bulk of the story plays out before the job, and the actual break-in is irrelevant to the plot.) Ray Winstone is fantastic as the soft-hearted mobster who wants nothing other than to live out his retirement in peace, but Ben Kingsley blows everyone else on screen away as the psycho hard case Don Logan who comes to get him for one more job. Lots of intense dialogue, thorough characterisation, dark humour, and the occasional surreal moment with an uzi-wielding rabbit. Wicked good.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Without a doubt the best film I’ve seen so far this year. Sweet, sad, touching, clever, romantic, and funny. Jim Carrey harnesses all his comic talents to give a performance that is all the more powerful for its restraint. Kate Winslet is dippy, off-beat, and real. The script is quirky, insightful, and overwhelmingly postive in a melancholy kind of way. It is also the best science fiction film I’ve seen in…well, a long time. Not in the spaceships-and-aliens sense–it is set in the here and now–but simply in the way it explores themes of a scientific and philosophical nature through their impact on the everyday lives of ordinary people. A definite must-see.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The pace of this film is more relaxed compared to its predecessors, and more even throughout. This contributed to the performances and settings feeling more natural and convincing, without sacrificing any of the sense of wonder that surrounds Hogwarts. However, it also left the film without the same kind of soaring climax the the first two had. It had been so long since I read the book that I was actually waiting for something else to happen when the credits rolled. Having said that, I was surprised to find that two hours and twenty minutes had passed so quickly. Fun stuff.


Silly sci-fi comedy about a bunch of geeks who save the Earth from super-fast evolving aliens. Passably funny in a few places, wooden and flat everywhere else. Duchovny is not a comedic leading man.

Dennis Lehane – Sacred

When I started reading Lehane’s Darkness, Take My Hand, I was suspicious of his using the Serial Killer plot so early in his Kenzie and Gennaro series. No worries on that account; Darkness turned out to be one of the best books I’d read in 2003. In Sacred, Lehane picks up another staple of the detective genre: the Missing Person/Religious Cult intersection. As before, I was dubious. Could he turn another tired trope into something stunningly fresh and exciting? Answer: yes. Sacred isn’t as profound and emotionally wrenching as Darkness, but it is fast-paced, tense, and rich with character. Top stuff.


Interesting story, but clumsily told. There are too many moments of plain stupidity on the part of characters who are supposed to know better. These moments may drive the plot forward, but they do so at the expense of credibility. And when the historical facts of Bletchley Park are so fascinating in their own right, it waters down the film’s verisimilitude. I kept wanting to see more of the background, and less of the protagonists. Dougray Scott gives an uneven performance as the troubled genius; Jeremy Northam has his sly, superior charm turned all the way up to 11, which is too high for the tone of the film; but Kate Winslet has her dowdy clerk-heroine tuned just right. Overall: it made me want to go and re-read Cryptonomicon.