A stark and powerful mystery thriller, with a mood of deep melancholy that stuck with me long after I’ve left the theatre. Part of it is the natural setting, the vast, silent wintry expanses of snow and forbidding mountains of Wyoming, where the story takes place. While beautiful in its own way, this desolate environment makes for a harsh life. Another part is the sorrow and desperation of the people who live on the edge of this wilderness, and the hard-hitting, ugly violence of some key scenes. And there’s the haunting, sparse score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
I quite enjoyed the previous P.D. James murder mystery I’ve crossed paths with, but I didn’t have as much success with this last entry featuring Commander Adam Dalgliesh. Though seeing that it’s the 14th novel in the series, it’s not enough for me to cool down on them altogether. After all, a series this long-running is bound to produce some duds.
Red curtains and eerie Angelo Badalamenti score? Must be a David Lynch movie! Despite being a massive Twin Peaks fan, I’m not all that familiar with his filmography, so I decided to watch this movie which was also a big breakthrough for Our Own Naomi Watts. I was prepared for off-kilter weirdness, but it’s safe to say the movie exceeded my expectations on that front and messed with my head like few films ever had since… well Twin Peaks probably. There’s something about the Lynch brand of horror – the distortion of the mundane, the vivid unsettling imagery – that really gets under my skin.
I’m feeling a strong sense of déjà vu since I’ve reviewed Paula Hawkins’ best-selling thriller barely a week ago. I thought that the book was pretty average, but I was curious to see the film and especially what Emily Blunt, who is one of my recent favourite actresses, would do with the main role. As I had expected, she was the only truly remarkable thing in this decent but workmanlike adaptation. She’s always been a compelling presence and here she brings layers and nuance to the character of Rachel, a sad lonely alcoholic whose life fell apart after her husband left her. The plot of the movie sticks closely to the book, with Rachel getting involved into the disappearance of a young woman who, in a rather Hitchcockian fashion, she’d witnessed kissing a strange man from the window of her everyday commuter train. The only radical change is the transatlantic shift of the setting from London to New York, which neither adds nor detracts from the story. It’s hard to see why it was done at all, other than making the film more attractive to the US audience.
It can be hard to make a story about an unexplained mystery feel dramatically satisfying, yet Peter Weir’s haunting, mesmerising, and utterly singular early film manages just that. It tells of the strange disappearance of three private schoolgirls and their teacher on a Valentine’s Day in 1900, during a day out at the Hanging Rock in Macedon Ranges, and the reverberating impact it has on the school and the local community.
This was one of those mystery/thrillers where you go, hmm I think I can see where the story is going, but there are still plenty of pages left, so hopefully there’s some totally unexpected juicy twist in store… oh wait there isn’t. So then the remainder of the book is just waiting for the main character to connect all the dots and for the story to roll out, which is rather tedious. I don’t usually play Sherlock and try too hard to solve the crime or predict the plot of the books and movies – in most cases I prefer to sit back and go along with the story, and I rather like being surprised. Here though the red flags are so obvious I couldn’t help but guess the culprit long before the heroine does.
I wanted to take a short break from the Neapolitan Novels and read something less dense, so I read the first entry in the Norwegian crime series about Harry Hole, the hardboiled anti-heroic Oslo detective whose inner demons don’t stop him from having genius insights and solving cases by the end of the book. I first got introduced to the series while house-and-cat-sitting for a lady with an apparent huge interest in crime fiction, and eventually got through five or six Harry Hole books, mostly in non-chronological order which was confusing at times.