Arthur And George (Julian Barnes) — not quite historical novel, not quite biography, following the true story of Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji. Somewhere in between, perhaps. Really well written, I thought (no wonder if was on the 2005 Booker shortlist), getting inside the heads of the main characters using language they’d probably use themselves. And a very intruiguing story, which although it has a main plot that kind of fizzles out, remains interesting right to the end.
(Having just finished reading the book, I found it interesting to see that Arthur’s house, Undershaw, is the subject of some controversy at the moment.)
Lego Star Wars — The retail life of a video game goes roughly like this: It starts at $80-100, which is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a game, if you ask me. But if it’s good, the early-adopters grab it. The price gradually falls to a half-decent level, then a very-decent level. And then, particularly if the reviews are pretty good, and I think my kids will like it, I’ll buy it. $20 (at Target), as it turns out, is a very-decent level for Lego Star Wars, which turns out to be a helluva lot of fun. A good variety of (Lego) characters, plus some spaceship flying, plus podracing, plus co-operative two-player mode, plus some terrific visuals adds up to a very enjoyable game. Perhaps not a big challenge for hardcore video gamers, but certainly a lot of fun for everybody else.
And by the way, I reckon those Lego characters are better actors than Hayden Christiansen.
Jyndabine — Comparisons with Ray Lawrence’s earlier Lantana are inevitable. While this one also looks closely at human emotions and death (and bloody noses), this film has less of a claustrophobic, mystery feel to it. People familiar with the Raymond Carver short story or Paul Kelly’s Everything’s Turning To White will know the basic story, but this telling sees the four men slip almost accidentally into the actions they are later condemned for, and the subseqent events are very believable, helped by seemingly flawless acting that left the entire cinema silent and thinking right through the film. Terrific stuff.