Friday, July 20, 2007
Based on a novel by Michael Crichton ( Jurassic Park, The Terminal Man, Congo, Airframe, etc) this adaptation turns out to be a very good movie with both Michael Douglas and Demi Moore giving powerful performances. Michael Douglas is good when he acts in thrillers such this. He was excellent in "The Game" and "Basic Instinct" and in this movie, his performance is just as riveting. Moore, young and beautiful in this role, impresses.
Tom Sanders (Douglas) is a happily married computer engineer anticipating a promotion and big bucks when his company completes a corporate merger. Much to his chagrin he finds that he has been passed over and Meredith Johnson (Moore) who is credited for engineering the merger is now his boss -- a strange situation for Sanders to be in because Johnson was once a subordinate and lover of his. The very first day as his superior, Johnson sexually assaults Sanders demanding a continuation of their liaison. The unwilling Sanders resists and earns the wrath of a woman scorned. She accuses him of sexual harassment and assault. Sanders counter sues but finds that he has a credibility problem. When it seems that he has managed to prove his innocence, Sanders finds that his troubles are not over; there is further intrigue -- his bosses want him out.
Both Douglas' and Moore's performance are well above average. Douglas brings depth to his role as the hardworking and loyal employee and husband, who, while not totally above office politics is anxious to keep his job without backstabbing others. Although not portrayed as being a naive, good-guy type who learns all about office politics -- the movie would not work if it were so -- there is that progression in character from the guy who is victimized to the one who wants to give as good as he got. Moore's character is less compelling, but quite believable. She is the "new woman" who seeks total gender equality in the corporate world, even to the extent of sexually harassing her male subordinate. She shows no guilt in being what she is.
The screenplay and direction are taut and no scenes are, to my mind, extraneous. The movie progresses at a very brisk pace and the audience is never bored. Sympathy for Sanders as he battles to save his job and marriage is never short. Moore displays just the kind of confidence a woman in her position would have -- smart, sexy, distant, and potentially dangerous if crossed. Donald Sutherland makes most of his role as Bob Garvin the founder and CEO of the company, smitten by Moore's character. He portrays a man more interested in ensuring that his fortune stays intact by whatever means. Sutherland plays his role adequately, but one wishes that would inject more into his roles -- in this and his other roles he just verges on the bland.
Sure there are parts of the movie where an over-infatuation with future technology, "the corridor", can be detected, but this can be considered a minor fault. The focus on the theme of domination is never diffused. One can also quarrel with the the use of the external "friend" that keeps popping up to assist Sanders, but then in the real world there are those who know that a co-worker is being set up and want to help but cannot be seen to be doing so, so as not to jeopardize their own positions.
Friday, July 6, 2007
I bought this album based on Paul Simon's track record of superb music composed and sung over the past decades. What a surprise this album held for me. I hated it.
I did not like the overpowering electronic accompaniment, nor the tuneless pieces that Simon passes of as songs. There were hardly any pieces that stayed with me after giving this album three listens. I had to force myself to do this because sometimes what one dislikes the first time round become more palatable and even delicious after repeated listens.
There are no hooks at all in any piece nor memorable musical phrases to haunt me and keep me going back for more. The lyrics are mundane, or too obvious -- some even meaningless. Simon sings about discrimination, fatherhood and a host of other issues that other artists have also sung about more passionately with music that is at least listenable.
Perhaps now with the success he has had with career, Simon has no motivation to please a mass audience – just himself and those who, perhaps influenced by his reputation, can still find something meaningful in this collection.