Thursday, June 18, 2015

Book Report: Fight Club

It's a narrative of pure poetry in the manner of Dante, Homer or Milton. Oozing with existentialist angst, it shields its eyes and blindly spelunks the dark, directionless fears of a lost generation in the way Kerouac and Fitzgerald did. I want to learn entire chapters and be able to recite them on demand at parties. Every phrase is a war cry that stings and leaves resounding echoes that bounce around in your head.

The only knock I have on the book is it's not as good as the movie based on it. It's one of the best books I've read, but these are still just the dusty bones into which David Fincher breathed bitter.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Book Report: The Secret Garden

It's a long, slow burn that pays off really well at the end with emotional impact that hits you sideways and ties a bunch of meandering narrative choices together in  a resonant finale.

It's tough to get behind the protagonists, two who are snot-nosed punks who take an alarmingly long time to evolve and show redemptive qualities, and the other who's a paper-thin caricature without any depth.

What the book is best at is capturing the thought and discussion patterns of sheltered kids as they try to make sense of the harsh realities of the world. It reminded me a little of To Kill a Mockingbird in that sense. Overall, the book is a worthwhile, but rocky trip.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Movie Review: Entourage

Coolio should have sung the theme song for the Entourage move.

Been livin' most our lives livin' in a douchebag paradise.

This isn't a complaint against the series' douchebaggery. To like Entrouage is to embrace its solipsistic bubbleworld, in which everyone is rich and fulfilled and their only problems are fleeting worries that they may not be able to be even more rich and fulfilled by the time the movie ends. The worries are unfounded, of course, because the show is as upbeat and giddy as My Little Pony. Friendship is magic, and to dream something is to have it come true, easily and automagically.

And I love it. That's exactly what I wanted from the show, as well as this movie. It's fun, Sex and the City-for-dudes escapism, and the movie frolics in its comfort zone without worry or consequence.

Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), freshly divorced off a weeklong marriage, is ready to fulfill his lifelong goal of becoming Ben Affleck by directing and starring in a tailor-made Oscar contender. Agent/new studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), hooks this up without a problem, and the crew of hangers-on-turned-Vince-made-millionaires E (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) are all along for the nonstop party thrillride they have become accustomed to.

There might have been a little drama had writer/director Doug Ellin decided to make Vince's movie a bomb, but instead it's a surefire Oscar contender that's gone overbudget. Only the deep pockets of a Texas oil baron (Billy Bob Thornton) and his snotty, entitled, Vince-hating son (a puffed-up Haley Joel Osment) can make that happen. So the guys juggle personal problems (i.e. which insanely hot women from their rosters should they bump to the top) while working the political minefield to get Vince the money to finish the movie.

None of this is exciting or consequential, but it's interesting, if only for the flood of self-referential/deprecating celebrity cameos, witty-in-a-frat-house-sorta-way dialogue and Piven's stinging one-liners. The movie works just as the TV show did, and in cramming a season's worth of plot developments, proves that each season of the show could have done the same.

But all the padded-out time with the series was well wasted. If nothing else, the movie proves that the franchise is still viable and belongs back in a weekly slot on HBO. Since that's not happening, this is the next best thing. Are annual sequels too much to ask?

Starring Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Dillon and Jeremy Piven. Written and directed by Doug Ellin. 104 minutes. Rated R.