Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reviews: 2 Movies and 1 Book

Yesterday I watched two movies. The first, King Corn, was recommended by my friend, Dina, and the second was Donnie Darko, which Philip wanted to see after reading a New Yorker review of a movie that called the director, Richard Kelly, potentially the next Hitchcock.

King Corn is a documentary that follows two friends on their quest to learn more about the rise of corn in the western diet. Their investigation begins after they find out how much carbon in their hair comes from corn - and not corn on the cob. The two head out to Iowa to raise an acre of corn and find out where it goes. The film discusses the history of farm subsidies, the rise of corn as a crop, the prevalence of corn in processed foods, its use in the meat industry (no slaughterhouse images, for those of you with weak stomachs), and the impact on the health of Americans. It features interviews with farmers, government officials, manufacturers' reps, and Michael Pollan. Definitely interesting.

Donnie Darko is a psychological story with a time-travel element. A cult classic from 2001, it reminded me of a contemporary, non-sci-fi Minority Report. Jake Gyllenhaal was great as the lead - is he a paranoid schizophrenic or not? After a plane engine falls through the roof of his house, Donnie begins to see a mysterious figure that directs him to undertake various malevolent tasks. Donnie struggles to understand what he sees. Really interesting, and not hokey. I heard the director's cut is even better.

Finally, the book I read is The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Written in the 1980s this novella (140 pages) is a spooky Victorian ghost story full of atmosphere. Solicitor Arthur Kipps heads to a remote English house to deal with wrapping up the affairs of the deceased mistress of the house, Mrs. Drablow. Mysterious strangers, unexplained sounds, and villagers unwilling to go near the house or even talk about it...

I really liked the writing and was drawn along by the plot. A good quick read.

Well, that's it. Off to enjoy this beautiful fall Sunday!

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