Sun, Feb 16, 2003

: Exocet

Author: Jack Higgins

Surprisingly well-written tale about espionage during the British-Argentina war over the Fawkland Islands. Basically the Argentinians need Exocet missiles desperately so they can sink the British battleships, and go on the open market to look for some. British intelligence is out to stop them from getting some. Things get a bit complicated as the French and Russians are involved, everyone with their own motivations. The plot promises a bit more than it delivers: the resolution is lightweight and rather routine. But what the book does offer is an intriguing love story and character studies. A beautiful woman, roped into working with British intelligence, seduces an Argentine pilot, only to really fall in love with him. Her conscience bothers her terribly as she spies on him, but in the end it’s the British who betray her. Fortunately, all ends happily for the good guys (and gal). The bottom line: the story’s routine but the writing is above average and the characters worth knowing. The only real character flaw is that enough though I wanted to believe it, I found the way the two main characters fell in love at first glance across a room unrealistic.

Topic: [/book]

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: Bad Taste

Author: Peter Jackson

Director: Peter Jackson

Peter’s first film, shot over three years on weekends, is a cinematic masterpiece. Okay, perhaps “masterpiece” is not the word, but it’s certainly an incredible achievement. It’s a gory B-movie trip, and it’s hilarious. The plot’s great: a representative from an outer space fast food chain has arrived on earth with his cronies and is packing up humans for alien consumption. So far they’ve taken over an entire village of 75 people. This is just a trial run to see if the product’s a hit, but with four billion “cattle” on earth, there are big profits to be had. The New Zealand government sends in “The Boys,” a group of scientists and gunfighters to find out what’s happened to the remote town, and of course, they discover the aliens and what follows is lots of bloodshed. Lots. Terrific action, editing, and gory special effects, astonishing with the minimal budget. (Peter spent $11,000 of his own money for the first 75 minutes shot on 16mm, then used funds from the NZ Film Commission to finish the film.) The special effects are really impressive even by modern standards: headless zombies, guy cut in half, body falling down a mountainside and bouncing. But the key to everything is the humor. In one scene, a guy has part of his brains fall out the back of his head. He replaces the missing piece of his head, but then something’s not quite right — he’s a bit out of sorts. So he takes up some of the brain matter he finds scattered about, opens the head wound, and stuffs in the brains! Then he’s okay! In other scene, a guy’s Uzi runs out of bullets, but he realizes the alien zombies are pretty dumb, so he pretends to shoot and makes ch-ch-ch-ch sounds with his mouth. The alien dude flails his arms and staggers as though bullets are tearing him apart until he realizes he’s fine! In another classic scene — believe me, there are dozens and dozens — a dead alien lies propped against a wall, a single bullet hole in his forehead gushing blood like a faucet… into a glass which he’s holding in his hand! Oh, there’s just too much of that — it’s awesome. This is definitely a midnight movie you can watch over and over and over again and always see something new. Amazing.

Topic: [/movie]

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: Time and Tide

This film is about scenes: just watch for the interesting ones and enjoy them. Don’t even try to understand the incomprehensible plot that shifts from one place to another at a confusing and frantic pace. Perhaps partly due to the fact that it’s in Chinese, and the dubbing and subtitles didn’t match at all, I couldn’t follow anything. I kept getting characters confused with each other (Were there two pregnant girls and which was which?), and I had a hard time following anything. But the action sequences were cool, especially the climax of a gun battle while a woman is giving birth, and the film’s direction has some real flair in places. Overall, however, I found the thing made no sense at all.

Topic: [/movie]

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