Sunday Salon: end of January

Sunday_salon_4 I’ve very much enjoyed the books I’ve read in my week of reading, 21-27 January.

First, I finished The Butterfly Effect by Pernille Rygg, a lean, mean and excellent example of Norwegian noir, with the added bonus (for me) of a female detective/main character. The book is so good that I immediately ordered the second (and so far as I know, only other title) in the series. Review to come.

After that, I read the second Simon Serrailler book by Susan Hill, The Risk Of Darkness, about a child abduction. I was slightly put off reading this by the awful event at the end of book one. But the sequel was so exciting, tense and chilling that I immediately had to read the next Serrailler book, The Pure in Heart (already on my shelf), which was even better — and if there was another one I would have started that, too.

Unfortunately there isn’t another Serrailler book quite yet, so this morning I’ve begun Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid, which is (as expected) good so far. This title is one of her Tony Hill (psychological profiler) stories, so I recommend the earlier ones in that series before starting on this one, based on what I have read so far, as Beneath the Bleeding will work better if you know the main characters.

The total number of books I’ve bought or had delivered this week remains classified information, but if anyone is looking for an exciting adventure series to recommend to an almost-teenage or teenage reader, I am observing reading obsession currently being applied to the CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore. There are ten of these exciting books out so far, with more on the way.

Biggest movies of 2008

Link: The 50 Biggest Movies of 2008 | 2008 Movies Guide – Times Online.

This link has been sitting in my draft posts for ages, as I’ve been too busy to check out the actual article to see which movies the Times thinks will be biggest (in the UK) in 2008. For 2009, one assumes there won’t be many or any US movies because of the writers’ strike, so we will have to make the most of these. My favourite was the idea of Will Smith as Tony Hancock but a second glance made me realise I’d got the wrong end of the stick. Here are a few highlights (not many of which I’ll be actually going to see, but they look possible DVD rental material). If you go to the Times link above, you can click through to trailers and other info about each movie [descriptions below are from the Times site, not mine!]:

29: The Time Traveller’s Wife

After having been derailed by the Pitt/Aniston divorce Audrey Niffenegger’s ‘sci-fi for women’ finally reaches the big screen with Eric Bana as the man who can’t control his progress through time and Rachel McAdams as the girl who grows to love him anyway.

23: Burn After Reading

Clooney turns up again as part of an incredible cast assembled by the Coen Brothers for this tale of two losers who find a disk containing CIA secrets. As if that could ever happen.

22: Be Kind, Rewind

Michel Gondry’s next movie has the most original plot of the year, guaranteed. Jack Black’s magnetised brain erases every tape in his local video shop which leads to him re-making the classic films he has inadvertently destroyed.

15: Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

The second most popular instalment in CS Lewis’ Lion, Witch and Wardrobe series of fantasy novels, Prince Caspian will be the children’s movie most likely to please accompanying adults in 2008.

7: Hancock

Superhero comedies can be as knowingly funny as Mystery Men or as plain silly as Condorman. Hancocks’s secret weapon will be the perennially likeable Will Smith in the title role as a super-powered crime fighter who creates almost as many problems as he solves. 

6: Sweeney Todd

Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Helena Bohnham Carter conspire in a dark plot of pies and hairdressing. Spectacular somgs from Steven Sondheim are the icing on a wonderful, sinister, cake. [Already open in the UK, rave reviews (on the whole) and seems to be doing well.]

5: Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Transformers star Shia LaBeouf pops up as the son of the world’s hardest-working archeologist in what must surely be the final Indy adventure.

3: Bond 22: Quantum of Solace

After a shooting schedule more secretive than the ageless super-spy, Bond 22’s title has finally been revealed.That doesn’t offer too many clues as to the storyline, but it looks as if the adversary from Casino Royale, Mr. White, is going to be replaced by a no less sinister Mr.Greene. The suggestion that it continues almost immediately from the end of Casino Royale, and in much the same vein, is all the advertising most movie fans will need.

2: Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

The vast regiment of Potter fans will already know what they’re getting. Despite Guillermo del Toro’s pleas this instalment of the boy wizard franchise will be directed by David Yates, who everyone except Guillermo seems to agree made a decent fist of Order of the Phoenix. 

1: The Dark Knight

The hype machine is almost up to full speed now for The Caped Crusader’s next outing. Great notices for director Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and an irresistible trailer make The Bat the boy to beat in 2008. [Written before the sad news about Heath Ledger, another reason why the film will be a success. This is the first of the 30-plus online reader comments to the Times piece [also written before the event]: "The Dark Knight is without doubt gonna blow a lot of us away, not only will we have a darker and angrier Bale as Batman but Heath Ledger looks absolutely phenomenal as The Joker……". Even so, I doubt I’ll be seeing this one.]