But alas for imagination, inventive low budgetry and 'less is more'! In recent years, the more graphic, highly coloured and expensively choreographed the movie violence, the less convincing it gets. Having sought out the second film of The Girl Who… trilogy (see previous blog) I must admit that The Girl Who Played With Fire is a sad disappointment. Another terrific performance from the intrepid heroine Noomi Rapace, but what with a different and not as competent a director, some poor continuity plus a risibly unlikely script and action-sequences, it's subject to the inexorable law of sequels and diminishing returns. Which is not to say I wouldn't watch part three, if only out of curiosity and admiration for the remarkable Ms Rapace, though I won't be in any rush to borrow the dvd.
More imaginative is a slow-burning, modest-budget British treat, very low-key, almost music- and action-free – Joanna Hogg's slyly satirical dissection of a posh, dysfunctional family group holidaying on the Scilly Isles, Archipelago. This concise little flick maps out its territory and sets its tone in a downbeat area somewhere between Chekhov and Eric Rohmer, but it's certainly far more involving than the latter's endlessly pretentious and miserabilist chatter! There are, too, several exquisitely revealing and embarrassing scenes involving food and mealtimes (these seemed once to be the favoured preserve of Nouvelle Vague types, e.g. that grim joker Claude Chabrol) but Joanna Hogg matches the French here. The editing and colour photography are impressive also; the faces and landscapes unfamiliar and all the better for it. Recommended.
So too is a marvellous memoir I picked up recently for a quid in a local charity shop. A hardback a few years old now but clearly unread – more's the pity – by one of my favourite cartoonists, Martin Rowson. Rowson as caricaturist is currently second only to the great Steve Bell: here, in Stuff, this graphic artist shows most of the over-hyped British wordsmiths a thing or two! Sometimes sharp as a stanley knife, sometimes poignant, often very funny and quite without sentimentality, Stuff is the work of a genuine original. There's probably a paperback around by now, and so there bloody well should be.