Episode 38 : A pox upon your house, Dan Brown.

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Added on Sat, 23 May 2009 14:57:13 -0700.
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Ah. There you are. So nice to see you. If you'd care to pull up a chair and audio playback tool of your choice, I suppose we can make a start of dissecting the merits or otherwise of Star Trek, Angels and Demons, Coraline and Synecdoche, New York. The results will be most elucidating, I promise.

Star Trek sees J.J Abrams murderate with extreme prejudice the slide into god-awful technobabble and mawkish sentiment that the varied later series have descended into and deliver what may well be the most entertaining, fun blockbuster of the tentpole season. Another origins affair, this pulls of the impressive and laudable double act of completely overhauling a very dead franchise at the same time as pissing off all of the tiresome Trekkies responsible for killing said franchise.

For Synecdoche, New York, famed mentalist writer Charlie Kaufman also directs as Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a stage director attempting to... well, frankly attempting to briefly recap a plot this unhinged is a fool's errand, so let's lightly skip over it. It is, at least, an interestingly structured film, if one that seems more obsessed with its own sense of self-importance rather than with actually making any sort of point or packing any emotional or dramatic punch. Interesting, clever, and composed entirely of facade, this perhaps falls just the wrong side of the genius/bullshit divide that Kaufman so often balances on.

In retrospect, the dark-edged fiction of Neil Gaiman and the dark-edged stop-motion styling of Henry Selick seems like such an obvious match that it's surprising that it has never been attempted before. An alternately whimsical and dark tale of a young girl feeling largely ignored at home finding an, on the surface at least, idealised alternative version of her world, Coraline is simply the best kids film produced by Western hands since the heyday of Disney. Beautiful, sensitive, respectful stuff that we can only hope the full-pelt day-glo ADD-riddled zany madcappery so beloved of modern kids cinema has not desensitised kids to more delicate and wondrous things.

Oh no! Dan Brown has returned to kill us all. Angels and Demons sees Tom Hanks return as a symbologist, this time helping the church reveal dark, Illuminati backed plots of murder, mayhem and absolute nonsense. Sporting quite the most staggeringly daft, ill-conceived plot since, well, The Da Vinci Code, there's not much to recommend at all. It is, at best, a very slickly produced slice of "product", but there a complete absence of soul and a notable lack of character motivation throughout. Tedious, brain-numbing drivel that will, just like the diarrhetic novel that spawned it, be massively successful despite its utter worthlessness.

Bit of a downer to end on there, but with a following wind things will be better next time round. Join us then!