While the past three months have brought nothing but chaos and stress, I’ve managed to regain some sanity with an infusion of books and films. And with this first post in weeks, I suppose things are getting to normal. So briefly here are a list of films:

The Insider: Spike Lee’s latest. Its good, competent, and delivers what it promises–a good bank robbery film. The opening song is A.R. Rehman’s Chaiya, Chaiya, which was a good match for the film, though the lyrics have nothing to do with the movie but never mind. There is also a Sikh character which was another surprise, and he wasn’t a cab-driver either (no disrespect to cabbies), though there was cab joke in one of his scenes, so the film did acknowledge that particular stereotype. Anyway, I wasn’t demanding my money back after the show.

Hard Candy: Which is about a pedophile and his fourteen year old supposed victim. Typical indiewood fare. Supposedly character driven, but saturated in the flatulent emissions of its own importance. Full of cute little quips in the dialogue, with characters so uni-dimensional it makes you scream. What makes it even worse is that the characters are given the blandest, shallowest motivations you can imagine. How do these movies get made?

Friends With Money: This one is a character study of a group of friends, I couldn’t care less about. They are all neurotic and more or less unhappy, which should have been interesting, but isn’t. Tepid and bland. Plus its hard to put the fact out of your mind that Jennifer Aniston is a “Friend.” To be fair, there are moments when the film gets to an interesting place, but doesn’t pursue it further.

The Notorious Bettie Page: By far the most interesting film I saw recently. Thankfully Mary Harron doesn’t even go near psychology in that annoying way that seems to be obligatory for everyone who has come out of an MFA film program. I just wish the film had been on a bigger scale. In the Q and A session at the screening, Mary Harron said how she was really interested in the fifties, but from the film it looked that she had to scale down her ambitions. A pity.

The Sentinel: I can’t even be bothered to say why this one sucked.

Thank You For Smoking: This one was enjoyable, even though the filmmakers felt compelled to make the main character likable by giving him a son he cared about. Where, oh where do you have to go to get some good, honest to goodness satire these days?