Saturday, September 26, 2009


Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner is totally lame!

It's very well-written and digestible, but the ideas are just so thin. There isn't a lot of there there. I mean, there are discussions of some interesting studies and some interesting conclusions and interpretations, but really, there is not enough in here for a book. The authors say that the book idea grew out of a magazine piece, and that's exactly what it felt like, a beefed up article.

It's a shame, because I had high hopes for it. I read it in two days, which is very satisfying for me given how little I've been reading lately. But ultimately it was very disappointing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

District 9

Last night I saw District 9 at the Union Square movie theater with a friend.

It was excellent! It was sort of a sci-fi verite. It takes place in Johannesburg twenty years after aliens have arrived and have been ghettoized in "District 9" which is like a horrible slum/concentration camp. It is heavily policed by a government/military agency which decides to remove the aliens out of the city. The story concerns an asshole agent in charge of the removal who becomes contaminated by a secret substance and starts to turn into an alien. His allegiances change as he is seen as an enemy, and he befriends one of the smartest "prawns" -- the derogatory name for them.

There's a ton of action and violence which I found tedious, but it is really a very smart and interesting movie. Can't wait for the sequel!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grey Gardens

I had seen the Maysle brothter's documentary Grey Gardens years ago and loved it. I was kind of turned off when I found out HBO made a movie based on it, as the documentary is so intense and good, why would you need to dramatize it.

Grey Gardens the movie with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange isn't as gritty, intense and disturbing as the documentary. Neither character comes across as quite so crazy, and I remember the mother as being pretty mean. However, it's really a very good movie. Very moving. Both actresses give excellent performances, and Drew Barrymore can't contain something irrepressibly happy that is just in her as an actress. Even as she communicated fear and deep, deep sorrow, there was a joy of life that was always there.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Failure To Protect and Sexual Stigma

Failure to Protect by Janus is an excellent treatise on our current sex offender policies. Sexual Stigma by Plummer is an excellent symbolic interactionist account of sexual deviance.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Madama Butterfly

Last night a couple of friends and I went to Lincoln Center to watch an outdoors High Definition screening of Madama Butterfly on a huge screen.

This was the first full opera I ever watched, and I loved it. Loved it. I was riveted. I had read the synopsis on line before, and the production included subtitles, which was very helpful. And I just got so caught up in the beautiful music and emotion. It was a wonderful evening.

Patricia Racette played "Cio-Cio San" (Madama Butterfly), and her performance was amazing. She had to carry the whole show.

I think I'm now officially an opera convert!

The Education of Charlie Banks

Watched The Education of Charlie Banks the other night. It's a nothingish coming of age nostalgia piece. I probably would have enjoyed it if I was a teenager or in my twenties. But for me it felt limp-wristed and cliched. Flat, contrived.

The actor, Jesse Eisenberger (or something like that), is very good. I've seen him in a few things and he does educated, pubescent sensitivity very well.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pineapple Express

I was so surprised by how much I liked Pineapple Express. It's a hilarious, sweet-natured, stoner/buddy movie that also includes a tremendous amount of violence.

Pothead Seth Rogan witnesses a murder committed by his pot dealer's dealer, and he and the dealer, who is so lovably and hilariously played by some gorgeous actor whose name I don't know, have to hide from them. Problem is, they are both high as a kite the whole time. It was very funny and the two main actors were very endearing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Alienist

I have never read a book that I liked less than Caleb Carr's The Alienist. Usually I don't finish reading books that I dislike this much. It was trashy and contrived. Not suspenseful at all. Cheesy as all hell. In fact, even though it's a mystery, I didn't bother to read the last ten pages. That's how little I cared, how little invested I was. So I don't even know the details of the stupid ending.

What the real mystery is, is why didn't I put it down after 25 pages instead 475?