Monday, 19 September 2011

Everyone has to watch 'Justified'

I love Justified, it is seriously awesome. That's the only word for it. The first series of Justified is a slow builder. To begin with you think it's merely a vehicle for U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens and his general awesomeness. He's played by Timothy Olyphant, who also produces the show. He is a bit of a wonder as an actor, portraying a multi-dimensional/anti-heroic hero. However, come the end of series one, you realise that this is truly an excellent ensemble piece. The supporting actors are just brilliant, most notably Walton Goggins, don't you just love his name? As the relationship develops between these two you realise it's not a clear case of villain versus lawman, there's an element of the buddy movie about their relationship, a not-quite-friendship which draws comment from other characters

Love the opening theme, Long Hard Times to Come, by Gangstagrass. Love the accents. LOVE the dialogue. Love the depiction of redneck/appalachian life. Somehow it seems to make Kentucky kinda cool. Well Givens is cool, no question and he makes an unusual kind of hero. It means that when everything goes belly up, it takes the characterisation way beyond your usual television drama.

Whatever you do, DO NOT start with series two. You need to know what's happened in the first series in order to make sense of what occurs in the first episode, even the first scene. However, if you do start from the beginning you will not regret it.

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Sunday, 11 September 2011

Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls

I've been sick in bed with flu this week, so some time after the rest of the world, I found time to catch up and read One Day by David Nicholls.

It is very readable novel, and captures elements of an era perfectly. A generation older than myself, the characters nonetheless were a vehicle for a bit of nostalgia. Nineties throwaway culture such as Shed Seven, Kula Shaker, late-night extreme sports TV, the onset of mobile phones, and the nay-sayers who claimed they would never succumb. The description of the CD changer in the boot of Dexter's car definitely caught me with a wry smile on face.

Was the book any good? Certainly thousands of people seem to think so, given the reviews out there. Personally I think people might just be having a meander down memory lane, pointing at the scenery in their near past, and saying to themselves "I remember that!" Exactly as I have just done here.

However, does it's readable nature, and tapping into a bank of common memories make this an important work? I would have to disagree with all people claiming the brilliance of this novel. In getting caught up with the atmosphere, they are overlooking the fact that the story is, at best, not-very-original. In fact, it felt to me very much like a rip-off of Cecilia Ahern's Where Rainbows End. Which is just yer basic honest chick-lit, not trying to be anything else, but with a far better twist in the story. Now of course that book is one that the Guardian-reading masses really can't admit to having read. I'm not going to go down the 'reaction to male writers versus female writers' route. It would be interesting to know if V.S. Naipaul had any thoughts about One Day! But I think the chances of him reading it are pretty slim, even if it is written by a man.

Then you've got the perpetual near-misses which serve to keep our protagonists apart, thereby prolonging the agony, and functioning as a plot device. Even Thomas Hardy never had this amount of tragic near-misses in any one novel. IMHO less is more with things like that. Of course in this book, they are the whole story.

Plus, let's be honest Dexter is a truly hideous character. He never convinced me that he was Emma's soul mate. She was somewhat witty, intelligent, with a social conscience. He was mean and shallow, even during his "nice" period. It just felt like she wasted most of her life waiting for him.

So One Day by David Nicholls,the book that has a nation in its grip. It's a Bridget Jones for blokes. Fine as a holiday read, but it failed to make my heart go boom.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sorry it's been so long

Sorry little blog. I hadn't forgotten about you, I'd missed you actually. But a month in England catching up with friends we hadn't seen for 3 years, then returning and moving house to a place with no internet. Scarcely even a mobile signal in fact. Well, it was all stacked against you for the last couple of months. But I'm hoping to be able to make it up to you...

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