16 September 2008

Books, Movies and History

This weekend I presented at a political science/law conference at the law school here. It was a useful reminder about both disciplinary boundaries and the purposes of interdisciplinary work. In short, I don't speak poli sci. I speak history. And I speak law, at least in a semi-legitimate way. One of the complaints I heard the political scientists make was that the election coverage on the news right now never has any political scientists, instead they interview historians. I smirked a little, since I tend to think history is what's missing from most poli sci (though the best work in that field treats historical context very seriously).

We watched Penelope last night, cute, a bit silly, kind of the fairy tale of a rich girl accepting herself. As you can imagine, I would prefer that she were not quite such a richy rich, but it was cute enough. Last week we watched Last King of Scotland, which I both hated and liked. I hated it for most of the film, especially when I had the impression that the audience is supposed to be empathizing with James McAvoy's absolute jackass of a character, who has no redeeming qualities. The idea of showing the story of Uganda from the perspective of this irresponsible, idiot white guy who I suspect is supposed to be "charming" just ticked me off. I liked it for the last fifteen minutes basically. Forest Whitaker (who is incredible in this role) gives a badass speech at the end that calls out the "white man's burden" and I imagine that for those who identified with McAvoy's character in the rest of the movie, it was probably - hopefully - a powerful moment of awareness. So, I'm still of two minds about the movie.

I got to read lots of novels on my recent trip to BC, and I have to give a mini-review of one here. The Road is very good. And I don't think you need to read it. Seriously, I loved Blindness and recommended it to people, but that book was haunting and depressing and dark. And it's like a Disney fairy tale compared to The Road. So, I guess that makes The Road an effective book, and it's certainly well-written, but why do that to yourself? Read something with some human redemption. The world is already depressing enough much of the time.

Finally, if anyone has an efficient use for two dozen purple tomatillos, I'd love to hear it!


Y. said...

I second the recommendation not to read The Road. It was engrossing, thought-provoking and well-written, but I'm not sure it's worth the depression and nightmares. I still have disturbing images lingering in my head. I can't believe it's being made into a movie.

Dolce Vita said...

First, you photograph those tomatoes and show them off on your blog.

Are they firm tomatoes? Would they be good fried? Are they sweet? Pico de gallo? (I recently made some with onion, heat, black beans, garlic, a few tomatillos, parsley, cilantro, and lime but I forgot the roasted corn. I will make it again soon with the corn; that makes such a difference.) I wish I had a garden. I can almost smell and taste your pictures.