Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Lot Of Oysters But No Pearls

The summer half over, trailers for various end-of-year film releases are already being spewed out all over the internet. A couple look interesting. Others don’t inspire confidence. The remainder won’t ever see me in the audience.

Whatever the JJ Abrams-produced 1-18-08 is about, I’m just too old to play along with all this super-secret teasing. If they’re not careful, it’s pretty clear that the hype is likely to crush the end product.

One I’m seriously in two minds about is Gone, Baby, Gone. It’s based on a book by Dennis Lehane and has a solid and reliable cast that includes Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and John Ashton.

If you only recognise Lehane’s name from him writing the odd episode of The Wire, go buy his books. His breakout novel was Mystic River, a damn good book turned into a damn good film by screenwriter Brian Helgeland and director Clint Eastwood. The cast were pretty damn good too.

Before Mystic River, Lehane’s first five novels featured Boston private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. Before becoming a full-time writer Lehane was, for a time, a counsellor helping abused children and the mystery thrillers not only blur genres, they feature sexual predators, the relationships between fathers and sons, and the consequences of the sins of the father as they echo down through the years.

Although gripping reads, like the best from his contemporaries, Lehane’s books don’t all lead toward a happy ending, even if justice is eventually served. The stories, which have to be read in order, leave the characters emotionally, physically, and psychologically damaged as they sink deeper into a world of violent brutality.

Adapted and directed by Ben Affleck, Gone, Baby, Gone – the fourth book in the series – stars his younger brother Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan as Kenzie and Gennaro, characters who grew up in hard neighbourhoods, took some hard knocks and them some.

If you know the books, is this how you pictured the pair?

Me neither. I think, on reflection, I’ll stick with the books.


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