Do you like to watch actors acting like they’re acting? If so, you will enjoy Val Kilmer’s antics in The Saint. The protagonist, an efficient mercenary on the cusp of retiring with 50 million dollars, switches accents as easily as he switches names, taking on the identities of various Catholic Saints and producing Russian, Australian, Spanish, German, Afrikaans, and American voices to avoid detection.
The science he’s been hired to steal is “cold fusion”, a process that can produce unlimited low-cost energy. That’s clearly bogus, and the 90s communications technology is laughable (it’s been 20 years!), but the spy plot is still fun. It’s the classic story of the thief with a heart of gold… The hero not only charms an attractive female physicist (played by Elizabeth Shue), he gets the better of an unscrupulous communist demagogue and saves countless Russians from freezing to death in energy-starved Moscow. Hooray for technology!
I went to the National Library to write some snail mail in peace and quiet. When the mail was ready, I went next door to drop it in the postbox at Bras Basah Complex. Then I got snared by the used book bookshop on the corner there. It must have been at least an hour later that I re-emerged with SG$20 less in my wallet and these six books in my backpack.
More on these books below.
Continue reading Visit to Evernew Books
Georgia-Pacific is a paper company headquartered in my hometown, Atlanta, Georgia. The Georgia-Pacific Tower, a pink granite building shaped like three tiers of steps, came into being about the same time I did. It’s my favorite skyscraper in the city. I was in it once, way up high, for a job interview.
Now. The sticker that says “Please tear sideway”, spotted on a Georgia-Pacific paper towel dispenser in a restroom in the Singapore General Hospital complex, did not come from where I came from. I don’t know where it came from, but it did not come from Georgia.
I liked Season 1 of Broadchurch better than Season 2 of Broadchurch. Switching between two plots was clever but made the show less unified. It was also darker.
The second season brings in three new lawyer characters as well as two characters from D.I. Hardy’s previous, unresolved case. Two of the three lawyer characters are urban outsiders, and despairingly cynical, pragmatic, and detached in their approach to the law and in their manner of dealing with people generally. The two characters involved in the other case belonged in another town and didn’t know anyone. In contrast, all the characters in the first season, apart from (the big-city journalist and) the tortured soul D.I. Hardy himself, were locals with skin in the game, and that game was the only game in town.
The dual nature of the second season is in fact reflected quite well on the DVD cover, where you can see a photo of the dramatic beach cliffs imposed on a photo of the two main characters in the woods. The DVD cover for the first season just had the two of them standing on the beach itself.
Part of what made the second show darker was just the yuckier nature of the Sandbrook crime, but I think I liked the second season less mostly because it was thematically darker. I think it’s common for sequels to have to be. In the first story, the readers or viewers are introduced to the characters and the world they live in, and the main character starts from a position of relative weakness and overcomes obstacles until finally he or she winds up in a position of relative strength. As an encore, what else can you do but rip that character apart? You often have to destroy that first victory to create a new challenge. The character has to start at square one again, except that it can’t be exactly the same starting point—that would be tedious—so you’ve got to make the starting point a worse one than before. The character then has to scramble, not to succeed on some externally directed quest but to defend his or her very life, outlook, or core principles. The goal is not to triumph but merely to survive. I think that such stories, while they may be ‘deeper’, are harder to write and harder to enjoy. Beginnings are (relatively) easy.
Next year when Season 3 of Broadchurch airs, we’ll see how they do with endings, which are also pretty tricky.