Category: the petri dish

The Beautiful Game

Between working on my new book and keeping up with the World Cup, my days have been very busy lately. What better soap opera than the implosion of the French team? What better opportunity to compare bad haircuts than the one provided by the Algerian team? What more devastating exit than that of Brazil, who scored against themselves? Was there ever a more exciting football game than the Uruguay-Ghana match this week? I had hoped that Ghana would make it past the quarter-finals and was crushed when they didn’t, especially because the game would not have been decided on penalties if Gyan hadn’t missed his kick against Uruguay. And don’t get me started on Suarez’s left hand! So you see there is plenty of character and drama, which is all I need to keep me happy, whether in or out of books.

Photo credit: Getty images



The Last Station

I didn’t know what to expect from The Last Station, the film adaptation of Jay Parini’s novel about the last year of Tolstoy’s life, but I have to say I enjoyed it tremendously.  As I’m sure you’ve heard, the acting is great: Helen Mirren plays Sophia Tolstaya; Christopher Plummer is the great man;  James McAvoy plays Tolstoy’s secretary Valentin Bulgakov; and poor Paul Giamatti gets to be Chertkov.  But really what sets this adaptation apart is that the screenplay is so good. It’s multi-layered, well-paced, and handles its deeply flawed characters with great care.  Which, of course, it owes to Parini’s novel. This movie made me glad I reinstated my Netflix subscription.

On a somewhat related note, it was reported this week that Sergei Tolstoy, the novelist’s 87 year old great-grandson, now lives in a low-income assisted living facility in DC. He wants to write a book about his service as an undercover officer in the U.S. Army.

Photo credit: Sony Picture Classics



The Road

I went to see the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road a couple of days ago. I tried to trick myself into not expecting anything from the movie because I thought that would prevent me from being disappointed. There was anything wrong with director John Hillcoat’s work. And Viggo Mortensen delivers a fine performance (but then he nearly always does.) But I was still terribly disappointed. The problem, I think, is that there was no poetry to this movie and it simply doesn’t do justice to the novel.



Ansari on The Office

Producers of The Office have announced that Aziz Ansari has joined the cast for their spin-off show. I am unreasonably excited about this–can’t wait to see what he’ll do.



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