Monthly Archives: July 2004

Shrek 2

Shrek used modern-day tropes and imagery to satirise fairytales. Shrek 2 does the opposite: it uses fairytale motifs to create a satire of modern life. It’s a very funny sequel. But with a more complex story line and a more diffuse band of characters, it’s not as focussed and essential as the original.

Red Dragon

Ed Norton doesn’t have the same edgy, fearful presence that William Petersen did in the 1986 version (Manhunter), nor does Ralph Fiennes have the same slightly vacant chill that Tom Noonan displayed. As for Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter… Well, he’s been there and done that already. The best performance here was from the ever reliable Philip Seymour Hoffman as the seedy reporter Freddy Lounds. Taken on its own, it’s a decent thriller, but I want more from a remake. I already know the story, so show me something new. Red Dragon doesn’t.

Amit Kalani, Priti Kalani – Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with Visual C#.NET and the .NET Framework

Like his C# web apps book in this series, this study guide for Microsoft Exam 70-320 gives a thorough look at the whole curriculum. I haven’t taken the exam yet, so I don’t know if the book alone is enough revision material to pass the exam with, but the book certainly made me feel confident enough to tackle the real thing. Some of the example code is weak and contrived, but at least it compiles most of the time–I found few errors. It’s not terribly exciting or original, but it’s a solid guide.

Adam Hall – The Mandarin Cypher

I went through the whole of Adam Hall’s Quiller series about five years ago when I was on an espionage kick. The books are pure high-speed secret agent escapism, and a quick dose of Quiller action was just what I needed to stir myself out of my current reading funk. The Mandarin Cypher is the first of the series I read. Upon re-reading it now, it has lost a bit of its sparkle, but none of its pace. Hall’s matter-of-fact stream-of-consciousness patter is great for keeping the plot moving and the pages turning. I always found Quiller’s Russian adventures the most engaging, but his outing to Hong Kong here has all the tense elements I remembered: hard targets, hard opposition, and impossible situations aplenty. If you want a throwaway afternoon thriller, you just can’t beat this stuff.