During the Summer, I’m particularly fond of seeing some films that have a great sense of place about a city that I love, be it Los Angeles, London, New York, or have loved spending a lot of time in, like Taipei, Venice, or several others. I suppose it is a cheap way of travelling back to these places, but somehow I think it is more than that. I think it is also a lot about making contact with things that I cherish deep inside me: memories of all kinds, feelings, people, and sometimes crucial stages in my life. (Gosh. I did not mean to write an opening paragraph so laden with…. whatever it is laden with. Oh well, there it is.)
So anyway last week and this week have two film releases of work steeped in New York atmosphere. The first is The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, a Tony Scott film, which I was quite happy with (I saw it on opening night last Friday). It is not a landmark or masterpiece of a film (how many of those are there anyway?), but it is a solid thriller with a number of good performances and an enjoyable, tight, script, with good dialogue. I loved that the subway system itself was a major character in the film. I really enjoyed that aspect, since a big part of my NYC enjoyment when I am there is the subway, and the people and situations you encounter on it.
This week sees the release of Whatever Works, a Woody Allen film. Besides the fact that it is a Woody Allen film, and that it is set in New York, some of you might also be interested to know the lead is played by Larry David, and some of you may also be interested to know that the character is a physicist! Well, that aspect can go either way, of course, but it is always nice to see a major film come out with the main character be a scientist. I’ve no idea whether that aspect is integral to the plot or not but it should be interesting to see the film for several of the above listed reasons.
On a not unrelated note (but nothing to do with New York), something to look out for later this year (not sure when) is a film adaptation of the writer Aimee Bender’s first novel, An Invisible Sign of My Own. It is a very enjoyable novel, wonderfully written (I don’t say that because Aimee’s a friend and colleague) and I’ve no idea how the adaptation will turn out, but it is notable that the main character, Mona Gray, loves numbers, and mathematics, and becomes a mathematics teacher. (You can read chapter one here at the New York Times site to get a taste.)
It will be interesting to see how the filmmakers go about bringing out Mona Gray’s character. Will they fall into all the standard traps, trotting out the narrow range of stereotypes reserves for people who love mathematics or science? The pictures that have been released of Jessica Alba (who is evidently making a stab at a “serious” dramatic role by taking this part) made up to look like the Hollywood idea of a “math geek” don’t fill me with confidence, but who knows? I’ll definitely be throwing down my $14 (or whatever) to give it a chance. I suggest you throw down the considerably smaller amount to read Aimee’s book first though. Then perhaps see the film. I’ll come back to all of this soon since I’ve been meaning to mention Aimee’s books in one of my upcoming “Summer Reading” posts.
- Actually, I’m hoping it is not, since I am looking for the day where having a scientist career for a character is just as ordinary and common as them being a lawyer, doctor, or musician or whatever. Then I think we’ll have passed an important landmark. [return]
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