Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reading/watching round-up

I'm reading some primary texts that the heroine of the current WIP might have read: Lucretius, who was still PNG where the Pope was concerned, but whose transmission of Epicurus's ideas through his poem On the Nature of Things had been widely translated and disseminated by humanists, and Boccaccio's Famous Women, which is really interesting because of the things that Boccaccio perceived as admirable qualities in women - primarily stoicism and intelligence and loyalty and honour, which he regarded as masculine qualities and consequently rare in women. Harrumph!

Finished a slight chicklit, called Sugar and Spice, which reminded me why I don't really enjoy chicklit: 1) too much like reading a glossy magazine - total candyfloss; 2) whiny whiny whiny heroine. The heroines in too many of the chicklit books that I've read are too victim-y. Stuff happens to them, there is a passivity that doesn't really work for me. I remember watching Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky a little while ago, about a primary school teacher beautifully played by Sally Hawkins, who does meet an interesting kind of guy, and it struck me that the film was the material of chicklit, but of course, Leigh just makes it real and original where most chicklit books are too predictable.

Saw Duplicity with Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, which was very light and fluffy, perfect for a Friday evening, with an especially bravura turn by Tom Wilkinson who is one of those totally watchable actors. Clive Owen fascinates me because he and my own DH look not dissimilar (tall, swarthy) but there are subtle differences, so I quite like watching CO to check where the differences are. This meant that when BBC1 showed King Arthur the other day, I was up for it, even though the reviews were distinctly lukewarm. Who are they kidding, it was terrific! Lots of hunky men galloping about very pretty scenery, lots of swordfighting and archery and good guys winning against apparently insuperable odds, and blissfully hammy dialogue. It's a classic Saturday afternoon action flick, taking me back to the days of Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis - bring on The Black Shield of Falworth and the Son of Ali Baba, The Vikings and best of all, Taras Bulba... King Arthur was an honorary mention in that category of film, and if you like the cheesy histo-flick, then it's a goody with a lot of tasty eye-candy for us ladies (Ioann Gruffud making beards look as good as they can get, Mads Mikkelsens, Hugh Dancy) and Keira Knightley not wearing much for the men in your life.

Also saw the Doctor Who Easter special, which I thought was a distinct improvement on the Christmas special - the oncoming evil was very creepy, and the plot hung together much better. There are those who worry about the doctor doing all this kissing of his guest companions, but I don't mind that terribly, and in this case, the heroine was a very kick-assy kind of girl who it would be lovely to see in action again. Despite her terrible fringe.

Finally, I have to confess to watching what has to be one of the worst series ever shown by the BBC, called All the Small Things. It has terrific actors in it - Neil Pearson, Sarah Lancashire, Sarah Alexander, Clive Rowe, but it is a humming, suppurating pile of over-ripe gorgonzola, cataclysmically addictive and I just can't stop watching it. It's the characters, who are ambulant clich├ęs written larger than advertising hoardings, the plotting which is like one of those Early Learning Centre slot-the-shape in the hole 'first' jigsaws and the considerable gap between the set design and any form of financial reality - English lecturer with big suburban detached house, flat of special needs gardener looking like a spread in Living etc, Serbian economic migrants dining on elegant china with exquisite glassware, woman with no perceivable income in swish brand new minimalist flat with Liberace baby grand and matching poodle...Give me a break... until next week, when I will be watching again to see what implausibility will be foisted on me next.

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