February 23rd, 2007

If you like eerie whodunits, read books by Phil Rickman.

It's not often I tell people to stop what they're doing to go out and buy a book, but if you like eerie whodunits, stop what you're doing right now and go down Barnes and Noble (or Borders) to buy the "Merrily Watkins" books by Phil Rickman.

I just finished "The Smile of a Ghost" by Phil Rickman and I really enjoyed it. In his Merrily Watkins series, he sets Merrily Watkins, his main character, up as the "Church of England Diocesan Exorcist" for an area in rural England and sets her on a path that forces her to explain the deaths, car accidents, suicides, people dancing by the moonlight and other assorted weirdness that occur in local parishes.

It might sound weird (in this book she investigates a spate of seeming teen suicides that are happening locally), but the books are a really enjoyable read. People who read the likes of Anita Blake and Kim Harrison will like this series of books. The books don't have gremlins and vampires wandering about and they aren't written to be as "laugh out loud funny," but if a really good but with a story that has a potential supernatural at its' core (you aren't sure if the baddie is an evil spirit or a local rat bag), read these books.

But start with Midwinter of the Spirit, it set up some of the threads that appear later on.

I went to see "Little Children."

I went to see the Kate Winslet Jennifer Connolly, Patrick Wilson film "Little Children" today, largely because Winslet's been nominated for an oscar.

It's about two 30-somethings (Winslet and Wilson) who start having an affair after they take their kids to the same playground (Wilson is a "stay-at-home dad"). A third actor has a completely different relationship with children. That relationship is explored too. It's probably the best film I've seen this year but at the same time it profoundly irritated me. 

Winslet plays a self-conscious woman who's clearly intelligent, but is self-conscious about how she looks (Wilson doesn't help much in that regard, telling her she isn't beautiful, which some women seem to hear as "you're ugly"). To me that makes no sense. I mean she's not one of those 6 foot tall stick insect model types but I defy anyone to look at her and think there isn't something about her. So it really irritated me when she bleated on about her lack of looks (I had the same response to an Uma Thurman Janeanne Garofillo film made a few years ago).

All that having been said, the film was pretty good, but Winslet won't win the Oscar. It was hardly the most inventive film and I can't really see why she was nominated.