Monday, July 12, 2010

Reviews: one book and one movie

The Book:
So, Oscar Wilde is like, super famous and stuff, but I've never actually read anything by him, until I picked up a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray. As an aside, how much do I love Penguin Books? A lot. At least here in Australia, they've greatly expanded their line of cheapo orange and white paperbacks, which comes in handy because regular paperbacks go for like $30 down under. At the beginning of The Picture of Dorian Gray, we meet the three main characters- Basil, a mild-mannered artist, has become enthralled/obsessed with a young, handsome man named Dorian Gray, whom serves as something of a muse to him- gay subtext much? Basil's friend Lord Henry is a natural mischief maker who likes nothing more than stirring up controversy at dinner parties, and upon seeing Basil's portrait of Dorian, Lord Henry blathers on of the fleeting power of innocence and beauty. Dorian makes a wish for the portrait to grow old, rather than him, and it comes true, and the story turns into a gentlemanly horror tale. In spite of a few tedious sections, I did enjoy the book, and found Lord Henry particularly entertaining- full of quotes like this: "To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable."

The movie:

The Cove, is a 2009 documentary about the killing of dolphins in the small Japanese fishing town of Taiji. Considering that I eat meat and have "sacrificed" rodents in the name of science, I may be somewhat of a hypocrite for siding with the filmmakers, but overall, it's a very informative, powerful, and well-filmed documentary. Ric O'Barry, who captured trained the dolphins for the tv show Flipper, eventually determined that dolphins suffer in captivity and has spent the majority of his life as an activist working on their behalf- protesting their capture and risking arrest to free them. The majority of captive dolphins come from a coastal village in Japan, where they are herded into shore and netted- however, only a small percentage are sold live, and the rest are brutally slaughtered in a hidden and heavily guarded cove. O'Barry and a team of activists and filmmakers (and free divers) aim to plant cameras and capture the slaughter in action, hoping that video proof of the killings will help put an end to the practice. In addition, the film also devotes time to the political aspects of whaling, painting the Japanese government as the clear villain and the International Whaling Commission as imbeciles for refusing to regulate dolphins and other small cetaceans (word of the day!). The Cove is certainly not a cheerful movie, but it is an interesting and effective one.


Andy said...

1) I love Penguin books. Haven't read Dorian Gray but have always wanted to. You're inspiring me!

2) The Cove was sooooo good! I was gripped and I usually dont care about hippie dippie environmental shiz. I do love a documentary though, and the characters are all compelling. I agree it was powerful & makes you want to do something about the dolphin slaughter!

eileen said...

Yeah, I didn't think I'd be into The Cove but ended up really liking it! (except for the bloody dolphin parts)

Suldog said...

Have you ever seen "Wilde", starring Steven Fry? If you like Oscar Wilde, you should. Very well done.

eileen said...

Thanks for the recommendation- i'll have to check it out!