Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

02 Feb 2003, 21:56 p.m.

Finally, Some Reviews

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2003 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (IMDB entry): Leonard liked it, and I was glad, since I had been dragged to it and loved it four years ago. Dr. Evil really seems a separate character from Austin. Spoiler: Austin shows himself to be an honorable man when he refuses to take advantage of Vanessa when she's drunk. That's always been the sweetest moment in the film to me.

The Hidden Fortress (IMDB entry) by Kurosawa: I found the film rather boring and long. After The Seven Samurai I expected something more absorbing, with more sympathetic characters. I hated the buffoons, the two main characters (or at least framing-device characters) who just schemed stupidly. And why did everybody yell all the time? Bad microphones? I guess it must be good, as it's Kurosawa, but I didn't see the qualities that recommended it to George Lucas. (The story goes that Lucas thinks of The Hidden Fortress as the ur-Star Wars. Then again, I don't much care for Star Wars either.)

The Producers (IMDB entry): This film is definitely funny. It takes place in the comedy universe, as Leonard puts it, and doesn't try too hard to explain improbabilities. By my just-invented Some Like It Hot-o-meter, where the entire comediness of a film can be measured in the average funniness of a scene, The Producers shines. Most scenes are funny, and there aren't that many of them, thus shooting the film up to about a .75 or .8 Some Like It Hot ranking: about Some Like It H.

I would actually see the Broadway production for twenty or 25 dollars. I assume that Nathan Lane plays Zero Mostel's role and that Matthew Broderick plays Wilder, right? Oh yeah, that reminds me: as I watched Wilder, I thought, "I can't help thinking of him as Willy Wonka from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." That passed. A week later, when I showed Leonard Willy Wonka &c., he said, "I can't help thinking of him as Harold Bloom from The Producers!" [Update: He said Leo Bloom, not Harold Bloom. Whoops. Yeah, I work in a bookstore.] Oh, and Leonard can't stand Willy Wonka, except for the line where Mike TV jumps into a stupid situation and Wonka lazily calls out, "No, stop, come back."

My notes for The Producers contain the phrase "SF in spring", but I don't know why.

Adaptation (IMDB entry). Saw this with Joe, and it's quite good. For the Gödel, Escher, Bach crowd. Yes, it's gimmicky, but also immensely entertaining, and you probably will like the ending better than I did. I would see it again, with you, even!

Sarah Peters asks:

"so what's the deal with "dr. zhivago"? when is it set? is it actually about a doctor? like ER but with lots and lots of snow?"
Well, Sarah, Boris Pasternak set Doctor Zhivago around the Russian Revolution eighty-odd years back, with an actual doctor or two, but very few explicitly medical scenes. I haven't *cough* er, quite *cough* finished Dr. Zhivago yet. I put it down a few weeks ago and haven't come back to it. It's good. Pasternak writes a fine scene and sets up scenery wonderfully. I save about a paragraph every twenty pages that I simply must quote to Leonard. And, since I haven't seen the film, I really must finish the book to find out how it ends!

I have finished some books in the interim, despite my preoccupation with stand-up. I read a Routledge pocket introduction to Karl Popper, which strengthened my rather Popperian convictions on science and knowability. And I'm almost done with Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series, of which more soon.

I also skimmed Zoya's Story, an astonishing memoir by an Afghan woman working with RAWA. It brought tears to my eyes. How brave, strong, and resourceful these women are! The narrator notes briefly that she's my age and has already renounced marriage for the cause of the people of Afghanistan. Wow. What would I sacrifice, and for what? I am a coward.