Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Movies, Fall 2007

Not a strong beginning for the season, sadly. Premonition (2007) is a Sandra Bullock vehicle all the way. She gives a strong performance, but the plot weakness works against her, unfortunately. Still, I found lots to like about this film and wish it had all hung together. http://imdb.com/title/tt0477071/. See Wikipedia for the best explantion of the plot and theme I find.

Next up, About Schmidt (2002), Jack Nicholson at his delightful old self. Schmidt has almost disappeared into the conformity of his so-called life, but his retirement and almost simultaneous death of his wife, instead of killing him, open him, quite unexpectedly, to life for the rest of his years. Delightful, sad, funny, and outrageous. http://imdb.com/title/tt0257360/

The Incredibles (2004) was charming fun. So many fun references to action/adventure/spy etc. films! In fact, it starts out good, and keeps getting better and better. http://imdb.com/title/tt0317705/

Back to the movies! Finished La Fille sur le pont (The Girl on the Bridge) (1999) tonight. Vanessa Paridis (perfect!) and Daniel Auteuil (amazing!) run around Europe testing their luck. Who knew knife-throwing could be erotic? Another Leconte (L' Homme du train (2002)) masterpiece. http://imdb.com/title/tt0144201/

Colin got Peter Pan (1953) for his birthday. It is showing its age, but is still a Disney classic. http://imdb.com/title/tt0046183/

Twisted! Another wonderful French film with the ever-amazing Daniel Auteuil, this time as an ugly man, through and through. Jean de Florette (1986) shows the banality of evil and greed set against the foolish, sunny, innocent but stubborn optimism of Gérard Depardieu as Jean de Florette. Yves Montand is malignant as the evil old mastermind of the dirty plotting for Jean's land. http://imdb.com/title/tt0091288/
Soon, we'll watch part two, which is called Manon des sources (Manon of the Spring)(1986) where Manon gains her revenge against the men who caused the death of her father, and changed her life forever. - Finally watched Manon, which was thoroughly satisfying. I was happy to see Manon give up her revenge, and let her enemies destroy themselves, without involving herself in that. Yves Montand is completely incredibly wonderful in the end. I felt that he understood how completely wrong he had been about life, and how he had been entirely at fault. http://imdb.com/title/tt0091480/

Broken Flowers (2005) http://imdb.com/title/tt0412019/ -- leaves me with as few words as Bill Murray's character uttered throughout the film. Great performance from him, and everyone else. I need to see more Jarmusch films!

I must say something about Firefly, even though I'm only in mid-series, and it's a TV show, and one cancelled after one season, at that. All I can say about that, is that TV execs are idiots. At least we got the Serenity film out of it, to sum up and finish the story. Good show!

If you are wondering why you see so much of the same stuff on your movie screen, over and over again, see This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated, and see what we have allowed the MPAA to do to American film. What a disgrace! But a fun, frustrating documentary comforts the fan -- a bit.

Grim, dark, gripping: The Number 23 (2007). Jim Carrey in one of his best dramatic roles ever. Much of the cast plays duel roles (or do they?) as he sinks obsessively into a novel and into disturbing dreams of obsession and murder. http://imdb.com/title/tt0481369/

Another dark masterpiece: Bringing Out the Dead (1999). Nic Cage is burnt out and seeing ghosts of those people he's failed to save in his years as a paramedic. But his compassion still burns within him, even as he sleepwalks through life. Wonderful soundtrack -- I wish I had access to all those songs. And the cinematography is absolutely splendid. http://imdb.com/title/tt0163988/

What an interesting night at the movies! First up, Strictly Ballroom (1992), first of Baz Luhrmann's "Red Curtain Trilogy", this one is set in Australia, and in his past. Funny and touching, with those *amazing* ballroom dancing costumes, hair and makeup. Under-rated gem. http://imdb.com/title/tt0105488/

Next, the disturbing Mysterious Skin (2004). Painful to watch, wonderful acting, writing, characters, cinematography, music -- but I can't say much else at this point. Haunting, in all senses of the word. http://imdb.com/title/tt0370986/

I'm a bit behind on movies, both watching them, and reviewing them here. Last night we watched the short Andre's Mother (1990), which was made for public TV. Very nice character study of two characters brought together by shared grief. Richard Thomas is more likeable than I've ever seen him, as Andre's grieving lover, and Sada Thompson as Andre's mother is so *frozen*. In the scenes with her mother, played by Sylvia Sidney (who steals every scene she's in), you see the roots of her damage. http://imdb.com/title/tt0099037/

Five Easy Pieces is a Nicholson classic that I haven't seen since Bob and I watched it in the theater, back in 1970. What a great film, from the first frame to the last, wrapped around the amazing scene in the diner: [Bobby wants plain toast, which isn't on the menu]
Bobby: I'd like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
Waitress: A #2, chicken salad sand. Hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?
Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.
Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?
Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.

'Nuff said. http://imdb.com/title/tt0065724/

Ghost in the Shell Kôkaku kidôtai (1995), an early anime. A beautiful cyborg on the hunt for the Puppet Master, realizes that she too is "a living, thinking entity that was created in the sea of information" as he was. Beautifully done. http://imdb.com/title/tt0113568/

Finally, at Lou's urging, tonight I watched the truly dreadful Saw (2004). While I see the draw of the puzzle, the mystery, the drama, the film at base is about cruelty; cruelty displayed for us as entertainment. It isn't the gore that got to me, but the absolutely pointless cruelty. I wish this film did not exist. http://imdb.com/title/tt0387564/

Last night I finally got to the really wonderful Capote (2005). Philip Seymour Hoffman absolutely *shines* as Truman Capote, from when he chooses the topic of his next article, which soon grows into the book In Cold Blood. Catherine Keener as Nelle Harper Lee, Capote's childhood friend who acts as his assistant during the trips to Kansas, is his calm center. This is right before Lee's classic To Kill A Mockingbird was published. And finally, Clifton Collins Jr. as the murderer Perry Smith is absolutely captivating. All other aspects of the film are spot-on; no wonder it won an Oscar! http://imdb.com/title/tt0379725/

Inspired by a Hallowe'en series of scary film scenes, I ordered Jacob's Ladder (1990) because I love Tim Robbins. I won't give away the plot, but this film will MESS WITH YOUR MIND. Quite satisfying, if immensely disturbing. The supporting characters, the writing, sets, cinematography all combine to make this well worth your time. I'm not a huge fan of director Adrian Lyne, but this film raises him in my estimation. Oh, and Danny Aiello is an angel! http://imdb.com/title/tt0099871/

Tales of the City (1993) (http://imdb.com/title/tt0106148) and the imaginatively named More Tales of the City (http://imdb.com/title/tt0120574/) have been completely absorbing me. After watching the first series, I got the first book, the second, have now finished the third, and ordered the final trilogy. I may do a separate blog post just about this series, and the wonderful Armistead Maupin. I plan to read all of his books. What a prince!

Tonight, Colin and I watched the charming and beautiful Les Choristes (The Chorus, 2004). Wonderfully cast, acted, directed, filmed, and sung. If you like choral music, or are interested in education, you should see this film. If you enjoy good French film, you should see this. A very HUMAN film. I loved it.

Finally watched Wait Until Dark (1967), which features Audrey Hepburn as the blind Suzy, still trying to find her way in the world. As the tension builds, she sheds her fear and gathers her courage and intelligence to fight for her life against a trio of hardened criminals trying to play her. What a wonderful thriller! A couple of the scenes near the end were extremely frightening. Richard Crenna and Alan Arkin were top-notch, and Audrey Hepburn, of course, was her meltingly great self. What a dream she is!

Also long-awaited was Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), which is a Frank Capra/Cary Grant madcap masterpiece! Yes, Grant is over-the-top, but I think that was just what the film needed.

Down the stretch to the Solstice, and a new year's worth of films. We rented The Family Stone (2005) so Bob could see it. I like it just as much the second time! http://imdb.com/title/tt0356680/. Finally got Freaks (1932) from the library as a VHS tape. I hope they put this on DVD, and clean it up a bit. Sound is muddy, and it's sometimes hard to see exactly what is happening. But there isn't a creepier movie out there -- the casual, sly cruelty of Cleo and Hercules towards little Hans is met by the frightening anger and violence of all the freaks, who expose her for the monster she truly is. She is shown to be the true freak. http://imdb.com/title/tt0022913.

Also watched Burnt Money (Plata quemada) (2000), a wonderful Argentine film based on a true crime story. Leonardo Sbaraglia as El Nene and Eduardo Noriega as Ángel just burn up the screen. Pablo Echarri as El Cuervo is crazysexy as hell, too! Dolores Fonzi as Vivi also shines on the screen. If sex, drugs, nudity and crime offend you, this is not your film. But if magnetic characters walking and even dancing to their doom is your style, check it out! http://imdb.com/title/tt0227277/

The Night Listener (2006) was wonderful, but not as good as the book. More of a thriller, with much less emphasis on the shifting relationships. Robin Williams and Toni Collette were both outstanding, however. And Bobby Cannivale is a dream, as always! Be sure to watch the "making of" segment, if you are interested in Armistead Maupin and his former partner Terry Anderson. http://imdb.com/title/tt0448075/

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) haunted my dreams for a few days. Yes, it seems so over-played, but the attention you must focus on a silent film (this edition has music and the opera singing) makes it a very intense experience. The extras on the DVD, with photos of the sets, an old silent ad, etc., are also enjoyable. http://imdb.com/title/tt0016220/

The Dinner Game, originally Le Dîner de cons (1998) is a French film I'm on the fence about. It is very engaging, but rather mean-spirited. At the end, the real fool is shown to be the supposed smarty who was trying to get points with his similarly mean-spirited friends by showing off the biggest fool, played by Jacques Villeret (now sadly deceased), but Pignon ends up helping the handsome and rich Pierre Brochant, played brilliantly by Thierry Lhermitte. http://imdb.com/title/tt0119038/

I missed the first few minutes of Walk the Line (2005), but the rest of the film is excellent. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon as Johnny Cash and June Carter did a wonderful job both acting and singing, although Phoenix in particular often reminded me that he was NOT Johnny Cash, just because their looks are different. Nevertheless, he seemed to channel Johnny Cash. You don't have to love country music, or Cash's music, to love this film. http://imdb.com/title/tt0358273

What an intense experience the most recent Phantom of the Opera (2004) is! So rich, dense, and wonderful. I'm so glad I got so see Lon Chaney's powerful but unsympathetic Phantom before the modern Gerard Butler version, much more slick, sympathetic and obsessed. Emmy Rossum as Christine was just divine, perfectly balanced between her longing for her dead father and the Angel of Music he had promised would comfort her in her grief, and her love for her childhood sweetheart Raoul, played by Patrick Wilson. I so wish his hair had not been so greasy and long, LOL. Wilson's Raoul was much stronger than the 1925 character, who was a bit of a wimp. Oh, the music, especially Butler and Rossum's duets! Slowly, gently, night unfurls its splendour. Grasp it, sense it - tremulous and tender. Turn your face away from the garish light of day, turn your thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light - and listen to the music of the night!... Softly, deftly, music shall carress you. Hear it, feel it, Secretly possess you. http://imdb.com/title/tt0293508/

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) is based on a true story, and set in Savannah, Georgia where the murder happened. A few of the characters were minor players in the original tragedy. Clint Eastwood made a leisurely film, and even Jude Law's firecracker of a character doesn't wake it up much. The Lady Chablis playing herself, however, steals every scene she's in. And Irma P. Hall as Minerva anchors the wild tale. http://imdb.com/title/tt0119668/

The final film I watched this Fall was The Cockettes (2002), which was a total trip back to the late Sixties San Francisco. I adore this film, and anyone who cares about gay history, the Sixties, art or drama should SEE THIS FILM! As John Waters so wisely said, "the Cockettes were basically complete sexual anarchy. which is always a good thing." http://imdb.com/title/tt0303321/

Monday, September 17, 2007

Movies, Spring & Summer 2007

What I can remember from summer and fall 2007. I guess I'll start a new list on the Equinox!

An amazing film to end summer with, was Good Night, and Good Luck (2005). Wow, the guts it took to create the reality this film was based upon, and then the courage to make the film NOW -- immeasurable. David Strathairn was beat by beat perfect as Edward R. Murrow, but George Clooney wrote AND directed. It is unbelievable to me that it was nominated for so many awards, but won so few. Not a SINGLE Oscar, with six nominations! Courage was admired if not practiced in the past; now I guess it is so rare that it can be almost ignored. Don't ignore this film, though. Imagine if we still had a press with eyes, heart, and backbone? http://imdb.com/title/tt0433383/

I guess I'm trying to pack in as many films as possible before the equinox! First up tonight was The Holiday (2006), a pleasant romantic comedy. Very nice to have two leading ladies; both get their groove back by trading houses for a couple of weeks. Perspective really is everything, I guess. Nice to see Eli Wallach with a juicy little part. Unfortunately, he's the only part of the film not totally predictable. http://imdb.com/title/tt0457939/

Now, the second film, Caché (Hidden) (2005), by contrast, had my heart in my mouth. The tension builds oh so slowly, until it is nearly unbearable. Daniel Auteuil as Georges Laurent carries the film, like a heavier and ever more painful burden. Juliette Binoche as his wife Anne is as usual marvelous; mystified, angry, and perhaps hiding her own secrets. Maurice Bénichou as the tortured Majid -- I don't know what to say. He has very few lines, but is really the center of the plot. Little is explained, but so much is made clear. My heart is still beating very loudly. http://imdb.com/title/tt0387898/. I like this film so much that I checked the DVD out of the library, just to view the last few scenes again, and watch all of the DVD extras -- an interview with Michael Haneke, director and writer, plus a documentary about the making of the film. Not much hidden is made clear, however. This is a film made for thoughtful pondering.

Tonight's movie was a real surprise. Although I love Nicholas Cage, Weatherman (2005) was both a painful and pleasureable experience. Filmed in Chicago, it was just beat for beat surprising and *right*. Casting was excellent; special pleasures were Michael Caine as David Spritz' father, and his two children, played by Gemmenne de la Peña and Nicholas Hoult. See this film! http://imdb.com/title/tt0384680

Tonight was a double feature, of two I had seen some time ago. First, Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000), charming but a bit too thin. Not as good as I remembered, especially after just finishing Tales of the City. Fun to see Zach Braff as a frickin' BLOND, and to see him, Andrew Keegan, and Justin Theroux as such youngsters! http://imdb.com/title/tt0222850/. Second up, Joss Stone's Serenity (2005), which WAS as good as I remembered. I've just *got* to see Firefly, the cancelled series which the movie grew out of. http://imdb.com/title/tt0379786/

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) - great film about the classic years of Hollywood; David O. Selznick's Hollywood. Wonderful thread about the Hollywood connections: http://imdb.com/title/tt0044391/board/nest/31176173?p=1

Tales of the City (1993) is more of a mini-series than a film, but it has some great moments, and great scenes. Armistead Maupin wrote the novel, Richard Kramer the teleplay. Two thumbs up! All of the commentary on the DVD is worth the listen. I wish it was completely uncut, however. http://imdb.com/title/tt0106148/

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) is a rather dated character study of a Scottish teacher who gives everything to "her girls", for good and for ill. Fabulous acting by Maggie Smith, however, and a wonderful supporting role as the cold-blooded'Sandy' by Pamela Franklin. I'm stunned that she hasn't become a huge star by now! Celia Johnson is also wonderful as the long-suffering school mistress who finally gets rid of Miss Brodie. http://imdb.com/title/tt0064840/

Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991) or Lovers on the Bridge: wonderful! The more I think about this film, the more in love with it I am. Written and directed by Leos Carax, and beautifully acted by Juliette Binoche as Michèle Stalens, Denis Lavant as Alex, and Klaus-Michael Grüber perfect as Hans. What an excellent film. http://imdb.com/title/tt0101318/

Another French film, this time a cartoon -- Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003). So unusual, and not for everyone -- it isn't pretty, and the comedy is dark. Absolutely enchanting! Created by the genius Sylvain Chomet who wrote and directed, with music by Ben Charest. http://imdb.com/title/tt0286244/

Finally saw Little Miss Sunshine! (2006) Well worth waiting for! Offbeat, funny, and heart-breaking. http://imdb.com/title/tt0449059/

Also "finally saw" -- Aladdin (1994)! Much better than I thought it would be; not nearly what it could have been. Oh, well. http://imdb.com/title/tt0103639/

Some time in the last few months, I also "finally saw" My Own Private Idaho (1991). One of the posters on IMDb called it a "surreal character study," and that's true, but it's more than that. Not for everyone, to be sure. Gritty, Shakespearean, and bewildering by turn, it is ultimately just REAL. River Phoenix is amazing, and Keanu Reeves as Scott Favor is too. http://imdb.com/title/tt0102494/

And we've just finished the entire run of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, of which I watched a bit over half this time around. Someday I hope to finish watching Angel, and then watch both series intertwined as they were originally televised.

Martin Scorsese's insanely great Dylan documentary No Direction Home (2005) was well worth watching twice. Maybe only once if you don't love Dylan's music: http://imdb.com/title/tt0367555/

Empire Records (1995) was fun. A bit cliched, but the music made up for that. http://imdb.com/title/tt0112950/

Zorro the Gay Blade (1981) -- over-the-top, great fun. George Hamilton is FABU! http://imdb.com/title/tt0083366/

The Libertine (2004) was chilling, yet engaging. Johnny Depp is electrifying. http://imdb.com/title/tt0375920/

Whale Rider (2002) is amazing! I loved everything about this New Zealand film. Absolutely top-notch. Keisha Castle-Hughes is unbelievably wonderful. She is heart-breaking. http://imdb.com/title/tt0298228/

I think I forgot to write about Swimming Pool (2003) before. We watched it quite awhile ago, but I still ponder it, at times. Very interesting film! http://imdb.com/title/tt0324133/

M. Butterfly (1993) was a revelation. Such sensitive, beautiful acting, and an excellent riff on the operatic tale of Madame Butterfly. Jeremy Irons, always excellent, plays René Gallimard, based on a historical character, who is in fact still alive. John Lone as Song Liling is electrifying. http://imdb.com/title/tt0107468/

The high points of the summer, of course, were Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007), which were both enormous fun. HP just gets better and better, as the story darkens. Pirates was the finale, and a topping good one it was! ARRRRR!

Earlier, we saw Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del fauno, 2006), a dark tale indeed, set in Fascist Spain. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. http://imdb.com/title/tt0457430/

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Books! 2007

Been reading lots of books lately.

The Front Runner: a novel about love by Patricia Nell Warren first, so I can return it back to the library. Checked it out because it was listed as one of the top 5 books in the 40th anniversary issue of The Advocate. I enjoyed almost every word of this book, although some of the language is a bit cold and clinical ("homosexual" is used a lot), but perhaps that relates to how early the story begins, and how repressed the narrator was in the beginning. He makes quite a journey from beginning to end, and it reads more like an autobiography of a track coach than than a novel.

Sarum: The Novel of England by Edward Rutherfurd was fascinating, educational, and satisfyingly LONG (1033 pages). It reminded me a bit of James Michener's novels, treating the history of the land and the people who live on it, intertwined. Sarum is the old name for the area around Salisbury, including the grand old earth and stone works Stonehenge in the south of England. The story begins with the retreat of the ice 12,000 years ago, up to a glimpse of life in 1985. A few families are followed for most or all of that twelve millenia! Rudimentary family descents are shown with the maps.

I re-read the first six Harry Potter books before digging into Harry Potter . What a wonderful conclusion to a great series! Rather than winding down, they only got better and better.

Another great series, also (sadly) coming to an end is the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. Harry Dresden has grown in power, smarts, experience, and likeability!

I started another series, beginning with Evans above by J. Rhys Bowen, but have stopped with one. Set in Wales, you'd think they would be right up my alley, but ..... eh.

Finishing lotsa books lately -- reviewed Sex in Middlesex on the genblog. Finally finished Living By Fiction by Annie Dillard. If you are interested in modern fiction, and interested in thinking more deeply about it, get this one, and read it slowly. I had to put it down every page or two and think for a day or so. Yes, it's that good. Now finishing Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, and think I'm going to read all of them. Quite delish!

Finished More Tales of the City, and it is a gripping, hilarious, sad, shocking page-turner. Maupin can sure spin a tale!

Further Tales of the City is a bit far-fetched, but perhaps that's because Jim Jones and the deaths in Jonestown are the background to a major part of the plot. Mary Ann continues to mature and grow stronger, as do the rest of our beloveds. DeDe in particular becomes a force to be reckoned with -- and in league with Mary Ann! I would love to know who the un-named gay actor is -- my guess is Rock Hudson.

The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease was a novel I picked up on sale, and what a bargain it was! Set in the 14th Century, it tells the story of rich and poor, religious and not, politics local, religious and national. The illuminator of the title and the woman he comes to love, Lady Kathryn of Blackingham Manor are the couple the story weaves around. I loved it.

Losing patience at waiting for Middlesex, tonight I decided to read the long-awaited The Maytrees by Annie Dillard. Oh, she had to be older to write this wonderful, poetic novel, and I think you might have to be older to read it, too. Set in Cape Code, for the most part, it is the story of Lou and Toby Maytrees, their lives and loves, art, poetry, work and thoughts. And such thoughts! Annie Dillard is a national treasure. Living By Fiction was difficult for me, but so illuminating! Even though I had not read many of the modern novels to which she referred. I would love to take a class where that was the curriculum -- her book, and the modern novels. I think it would have to be a year long! I shall have to read more of her books, since Pilgrim At Tinker Creek was immensely important to me years ago. But for now, since I don't have Middlesex, I'll finish the Tales of the City final trilogy, and report back!

Back to Barbary Lane has the final three novels of the series; Babycakes (1984), Significant Others (1987), and Sure of You (1989). In Babycakes we connect with Mona again, first in Seattle, and then -- can it be -- in London? Michael trades his apartment in Barbary Lane for digs in London, and adventure ensues. Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, Mary Ann continues her climb up the ladder of fame, stepping on Brian's heart all the way. Still, he gets a baby out of it all! Significant Others introduces us to Thack, Michael's new lover. Brian gets his own AIDS scare, and Mary Ann continues to hone her act. DeDe & D'Or have their adventure at a lesbian women's arts and music festival (Wimminwood), while Booter (Frannie's new husband) frolics and mourns at the Bohemian Grove a few miles away. Finally, an full-size model named Wren draws them all together in a crazy and almost frightening wrap. Brian and Michael become partners in the nursery business. Sure of You follows Brian and Mary Ann to the end of their relationship, and almost to the end of Brian and Michael's partnership also. Mona and Anna Madrigal journey to Lesbos together, re-cementing their relationship. Thack and Michael also grow closer, as they live and build their life together. I'm happy to say that Armistead has written one more book to cap the series, which was published this summer, Michael Tolliver Lives. As soon as I can order it from the library, I'll be reading it! What an amazing series, braiding comedy, wisdom and grief together in a wonderful human pageant. Having now read Michael Tolliver Lives, I'll just say that it is a very satisfying end to the series. We get to catch up with everyone, thank goodness!

Hah! I was gonna write a long review of Middlesex, but instead, I'll simply link to Tamaranth's review: http://tamaranth.blogspot.com/2007/08/40-middlesex-jeffrey-eugenides.html

Thanks to LibraryThing for everything.

Now on tap, Nuala O'Faolain's second memoir, Almost There (2003) is leaving me eager to read her first memoir, Are You Somebody? (1998), and her novel, My Dream of You (2002), and her biography of the Irish criminal, The Story of Chicago May which came out in 2005. What a lovely writer.

Next up, Armistead Maupin's The Night Listener which I'll read soon, since I have the movie on DVD from the library also!(I did like the book much more than the film, especially since I'm such a Maupin fan.

My Dream of You was even better than I had hoped. Totally absorbing, and so rich in history, language, feeling, Ireland, wonderful characters, and thoughts about love, sex, passion, family, aging. Completely satisfying. :-)

Are You Somebody: Memoirs of a Dublin Woman, Nuala O'Faolain's first book, was also great. Not as well written in places, but the writing gets better and better through to the end, which is *amazing.* Written as the foreward for a collection of her Irish Times columns, it was a huge best-seller in Ireland in 1996-7. When an American publisher picked it up, she wrote an afterword, and the columns were not included. The afterward alone is worth the read.

Thus endeth books read in 2007.