instead, i went to see the new fast and furious and read jonathan schneer's london 1900.
academic (-ish) stuff first. this is the book my ever-so-friendly-and-charming commentor (commentator?) recommended i read. originally, i was just going to ignore it, but then curiosity got the better of me and since it was on the shelf at nu, i got it. it should probably go along with cultural histories like judith walkowitz' city of dreadful delight and antoinette burton's burdens of history and so forth. both of which are better, i think. schneer ignores or denigrates what he doesn't agree with -- i can see why my commentor liked the book! -- and, for a book published in 1999, his analysis doesn't seem wildly exciting.
from my point of view, he gets the irish thing more than a little skewed; his work on gender issues (which isn't a phrase i like anyway) is limited to a chapter-long analysis of four individual women, all of whom are upper middle class or aristocracy and completely unique even within that subset. it's rather like saying margot asquith was totally representative of all women in england and since she did it, why didn't the rest of them just haul up their socks and get rich husbands and big houses and social influence and influential newspaper jobs, too? he disses josephine butler who i kind of have a sneaking affection for. emily hobhouse is absolutely nowhere which is just a huge shame because analysis of her anti-boer war work and involvement would have given the book much more depth since she was (really and truly) one of the big moving forces behind getting the english public informed about the south african camps. he also tries to do a little literary analysis on the way by and chooses conan doyle's sherlock holmes stories as a focus which is fine, but he then doesn't give them a lot of time. and i think the stories are a little more complex than he gives them credit for.
and so the slightly more fun stuff -- the new fast and furious movie. i have to say, i was seriously dubious about this the first time i heard about it (pre-teaser/trailer) 'cause tokyo drift is just...not really good. (what's with the girl who looks more like michael jackson the more times you watch the movie?) and drift isn't "not good" in a fun, shiny, entertaining way which the other two are ("i ain't goin' back to barstow!"). but apparently what the franchise needs to be successful is the presence of either paul walker or vin diesel and then things are okay again. and i was actually really impressed by the actor -- whose name i have now totally forgotten -- who played the major contact for the "bad guys."
the plot is basically unimportant -- it struck me as being kind of strangely '80s, actually: mexican drug dealers and heroin and fbi doublecrosses and the like. casino royale choreographed the second big action sequence -- not that this is a bad thing! and the price of converse is going to go up again because i swear that's all paul walker ever wears for shoes. i was amazed that he had dress shoes on once.
the driving sequences were -- as always -- awesome to watch. there are a couple that will look better on a small screen 'cause the cgi got a little whacky, but on the whole things moved too fast to keep track of which helped! i'm a little confused as to what the hell brian was driving in the end of the film -- it looked very strange and i think he deserved a car that at least looked a little spiffier given what he's driven in the past, but presumably there was some kind of reason for it. and, really, they could have just done one more little thing in the end sequence and i would have been really happy. since i don't want to spoiler it (inasmuch as you can spoiler f&f), i won't say, but it would've been fun!
on the whole, i could've lived without the two or three guys behind me in the theatre who insisted on doing a kind of live mst3k experience to the scenes they felt were particularly ridiculous. i mean, c'mon, guys -- what did you come to this movie for? great character development? nuanced acting? subtleties of plot? hannah montana is right next door -- why don't you head on over there?