Friday, March 23, 2007

"Il sell you to the first one-eyed carnival freak I can find for a pack of chewing gum!"

A new addition to this blog, which I'll happily attribute to my reading of 50 Books, finds me keeping track of all the books I read in 2007. During a particularly dull free History period this morning I began to jot down the names of the books so far; a strenuous exericise as I couldn't quite recall which books I had read since January, rather than ones I had read since September. I decided to stretch the year back to Christmas, around when I read a number of novels in a row. It's easy to keep track if I take 25 December 2006 as my starting-off point.

To the left you can see a list of the ones I remember. It doesn't seem like a whole lot and I'm fairly sure there were a number of books I've read in that time that have completely slipped my mind. It would be easy to say "Oh, if I can't remember them, they can't have been that good in the first place" but anyone who knows me will vouch for my awful memory. To the forgotten books: I'm honestly sorry.

Now, onto the year. I severely doubt I'm going to read 50 Books from now until Christmas. I never complete tasks like this and I'm worried it'll suck the joy out of reading. Instead of setting myself impossible challenges, I'm just going to note down every book I read and perhaps a few thoughts about them, if I'm feeling wild.

Currently Reading: "Thud" by Terry Pratchett
To Read: Well, I bought "The Little Friend" by Donna Tartt in Hodges Figgis last week, but am waiting until I finish my Discworld novel to begin it. I also still have some surplus from Catherine's Christmas Book Buying Spree, including "On The Road", "Tender is the Night" and a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine.

In other news:

After Ugly Betty last night (I'm enjoying this show more and more as it goes on!), I switched off the tv to complete my English homework and take a shower. After which, not feeling in the mood to read or sleep, I turned on the tv again to find myself perfectly timed to catch the beginning of the film. I had missed the opening titles, just caught the end credits so I knew it was a Gus Van Sant film. I'm not a huge Van Sant fan (only having seen the haunting, but kind of tedious Elephant) but I also saw Matt Dillon was the leading actor, so I settled down to watch.

The film was, of course, Drugstore Cowboy.

I really enjoyed Matt Dillon's performance. His portrayal of Bob Hughes, a nervy junkie with no discernable future other than hanging out with his loser friends and breaking into hospitals for a fix, was a revelation. Previously, the only other screen appearance I had ever seen by him was the guy in the Pogues' video, so it was great to see him actually have a substanstial role. Bob is the quintessential drug addict, heroin thin and brooding eyes, tapping his fingers off the tables, constantly waiting for his next high. He's definitely the focus of this piece, there's a voice-over that runs throughout and the film is bookended with the same scene of him being carted off to hospital in an ambulance.

There were some very realistic little touches in the film that I loved, nothing to do with taking drugs or running from the law (obviously stuff that I have no experience with!) but, for example, a small scene where Bob gathers his friends down in order to tell them something important. He's very excited and is beginning to tell them when his girlfriend gets up and leaves for her cigarettes. Agitated, he tries to start again when another friend stands up and says he'll be back in a minute. The frustration on Bob's face and the feeling of "Listen guys, sit down and hear me out!" are something everyone can relate to. Other cute touches were Bob's girlfriend, Diane, waving goodbye to Bob's mother. She's walking towards the car and the mother is standing in the doorway of the house, so Diane gives her a a little backwards wave. It's cute and funny, but such a throwaway thing that it could have easily been left out. I appreciate small details like this. Also, the casting of William S. Burroughs was spot on: the guy can't really act, but if you want an elderly, wise old man with a drug habit to lend gravitas to your film, Burroughs is your man.

As druggie movies go, it doesn't have the humour, quotability or youthful exuberance of Trainspotting, nor does it have the hyper-intensity of Requiem for a Dream. But, I suppose lumping these three films together because of one common thread is rather humourless, as all are very different from each other. Some of the finer details of the actual plot eluded me (although this is perhaps due to my state of mind; as the film progressed I became more and more tired. During the last 15 minutes I was continuosly checking my phone for the time to see when I could crawl into bed) and I disliked the cheesy sub-Wizard of Oz graphics and the noodly jazz score. But, it wasn't overly long and I did almost well up at one point, so it gets a "Decent Watch" on the Catherine-ometer.

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