I had a lot of spare time on my last trip, so I watched the following movies and read the following books (and wrote reviews on them)
The Inferno, by Dante Alighieri (translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
I wouldn’t recommend it to people who don’t know Italian history, because I think a lot of the appeal of this thing is recognizing all the people suffering in hell. There were a number of things I liked about it, but overall I found it pretty damn boring, unsurprisingly, since I don’t know a damn thing about Italian history and I didn’t even recognize the names of most of the “notables” burning for their sins.
It was the burning for the sins that I came for, and the burning for the sins that I stayed for. I mostly just wanted to read poetic descriptions of suffering. They were pretty graphic. Turns out I also liked the odd sentence structures and obscure verbiage. I must admit, though, I found it difficult to finish the book. I’ve never read anything that put me to sleep so quickly, and I’m including math and physics textbooks. I was pretty amazed.
I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of the Divine Comedy until my education miraculously improves (preferably Matrix-style downloadable knowledge upgrades).
Apparently a classic German movie (of the non-scheisza variety) from 1931. In some ways I can see how it might have inspired The Usual Suspects, but M’s nowhere near as good. I think there was supposed to be a morale to the story, although it’s difficult to tell whether it’s “don’t judge others unless you’re free of sin” or “killing people is bad” or “German children like candy” or “the German criminal undeground is unionized, highly organized, and remarkably efficient, and the police force is not.” I can probably think of a few others. On the boob scale, it rates a zero, because although there were whores, I didn’t even see any cleavage. Also, no explosions, although there were unruly mobs.
Reading the following paragraph will probably spoil the plot for you, but since I don’t expect anybody will actually rent it, here goes:
The story starts off pretty cookie-cutter; mysterious serial murders of young girls, murderer writes a letter to the presses for publicity, manhunt and panic ensue. Here’s the twist: The unionized, highly organized criminal underground is so upset by the upsurge in police activity (cutting down on their work and reducing their funding, requiring them to start taking money from their “pensions for the wives of jailed union members” fund) that they decide to go after him themselves. And they go whole-hog, too. The Beggars’ Union tracks him into a building and they observe that he doesn’t come out, so the thieves and other disreputables break into it that night, neutralizing the guards and systematically break into every room in the building looking for him. When they finally catch him (moments before the cops arrive), they take him to some abandoned building to give him a trial. The cops arrive before the trial can be completed, and regular justice (as opposed to criminal underworld justice) is dispensed.
La Femme Nikita was pretty good. This one was French. Apparently I’ve been into foreign films lately. I guess that’s just how it goes when I start adding things to my Netflix queue. I end up with a bunch of things from a genre in a row, with Bubba Ho-tep thrown in the mix. Anyway, the plot was basically a teenage druggie punk gets caught and prosecuted for murder. The government stages her death so they can turn her into an assassin, something at which she’s apparently particularly talented. After a few fucked up scenes, she decides she doesn’t want to do this job any more, and leaves everything (including her newfound beloved fiancee) behind to continue her life elsewhere (presumably with markedly less violence).