Sunday, November 28, 2010

Books and Movies

During the last week or two we have watched two movies and I have read three books. We watched "Invictus" and "Book of Eli" and liked both. Invictus stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar. The action takes place in South Africa in 1994-1995 as Mandela is trying the mend the country from the wounds inflicted by years of apartheid. The Springboks rugby team is an unlikely candidate to win the world cup, but Mandela sees it as a means to help bring the country together if he can get the team to play well and represent the entire country. Another part of the plot revolves around Mandela's security team integrating and coming together to protect their leader.  The title refers to a poem that Mandela thought of often as he was imprisoned for 27 years. Clint Eastwood directed.
Denzel Washington stars in the Book of Eli as the man who must carry the last copy of the Bible on a journey to the West to an unknown destination. He walks by faith not by sight in more ways than one. There is a lot of violence in the world due to a war that ended 30 years prior. A blast blinded many people and landscape is desert-like. There are confrontations and destruction along the way, most notably in a wild west type town controlled by a despot. Denzel Washington does a great job with this role. I remember some criticism of the movie as being religious when it played in theaters. Well, it is religous--it is about the last copy of the Bible for heaven's sake! I liked it.
I read Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood at about the same time I watched the Book of Eli. Oryx and Crake also takes place in a bleak future world where the main character, the Snowman (aka Jimmy) seems to be the only human left alive. He is not alone though because his best friend Crake has invented a new human-like species which Jimmy has managed to save as the rest of the people have died from a fast spreading plague. Most of the book is flashbacks as Jimmy tries to remember his words and his previous life and figure out how it all happened. Oryx is a beautiful young women who finds her way from being a child prostitute in Southeast Asia, to the US where she meets Jimmy and Crake--and we have a love triangle. It is a good story which is continued in "In the Year of the Flood" which I have already read, but now will have to read again.
Also on my reading list was The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday by Alexander McCall Smith. I thought I had read every single one of McCall Smith's books but then I saw this one on the shelf at the library. It is part of the Isabel Dalhousie series and takes place in Scotland. I would describe it as a "gentle" book. Lots of introspection by Isabel since she is a moral philosopher. Good story.
And, last but not least, "I Still Dream About You" by Fannie Flagg. I always like a Fannie Flagg book and this was no exception. Maggie Fortenberry, a former Miss Alabama, is the main character of the story set in Birmingham. There is some mystery, a lot of humor, and some great characters in this book. Although sometimes predictable I really enjoyed it, and it made me feel good!

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