Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mr Brooks

Out for some time in the States, about to be realeased here, the serial killer genre gets a (slightly) new twist with Kevin Kostner as Mr Brooks, a mild-mannered businessman who is using the Twelve Step programme to try to give up his addiction to murder. Haunted and continually tempted by his alter ego, Marshall, a fine portrait of sinister and supernaturally smart hunger by William Hurt, Brooks, a.k.a. the Thumbprint Killer, steps into a world of trouble when he gives in to temptation for one last time. His double murder is witnessed by a nerdish amateur photographer (Dane Cook), who blackmails Brooks into initiating him into the murder club. So far so good. Dane Cook’s sweaty nervousness nicely ratchets up the unpredictability and Kostner (always at his best when he dons a bowtie and horn-rimmed glasses) and Hurt are a great double act; there’s a very fine moment when, after half an hour of bickering, they both laugh at the same time at the same nasty little idea, and you realise just how indivisible they really are.

Trouble is, the movie can’t resist piling on the issues. The policewoman hunting the Thumbprint Killer, played by Demi Moore, is not only a millionairess, she’s not only being taken to the cleaners by her soon-to-be-divorced husband and his rapacious lawyer, but she’s also being pursued by another serial killer who’s just escaped from prison and wants revenge. I half-expected her to be suffering from some kind of rare terminal illness, too. And Mr Brooks’s daughter hasn’t dropped out of college because she may or may not be pregnant: she’s inherited her father’s addiction, and has just botched her first effort. All of this is more or less skilfully resolved into a clever and neatly packaged ending, but it’s at the expense of proper development of the three-cornered relationship between Mr Brooks, Marshall, and the wannabe.

Demi Moore as usual sticks her chin in the air too much but wrings a few good moments from for her overblown character - but we’re also treated to the usual gratuitous scene of her exercising with grim determination (we got the message after G.I. Jane, Demi: give it a rest). Portland, Oregon, provides a fairly anonymous setting. Three out of five stars - partly in the hope that this will get Hurt much more work.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No End To 'Em

Jeremy Lassen asked if I’d mention that Nightshade Press is having a clearout sale. I will. They are. And because this blog is operated on the principle of unbiased coverage beholden with no special bias towards anyone in particular (except to me), I’ll also mention that Small Beer Press, Earthling, and PS Publishing also produce some pretty good books.

Monday, July 16, 2007

End of Round Two

I’m sure you’re all be thrilled to know that I’ve finished the second draft of the first Quiet War novel. Okay, well, I’m thrilled. And exhausted. Something like thirty thousand words were cut, this time around (and a few new ones added), and now the baggy monster has a definite shape and intent. It still doesn’t have a title, but that will come along. (I did think of calling this one War, and the next, Peace, but only, I swear, for a moment.)

I should take a break. But I have an introduction to write, and a short story that’s banging on the inside of my head, demanding to be let out.

I have managed to do a bit of reading. Michael Chabon’s fine The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, and then, because I liked that one so much, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Michael Connelly’s The Overlook. Adam Roberts’s Land of the Headless. Al Reynolds’s The Prefect. Rajiv Chandraskaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City. Samuel R. Delany’s Dark Reflections. And Endless Things, the fourth and last part of John Crowley’s patient chronicle of becoming and unbecoming.
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