BOOKS Apollo 13. Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger. Pocket Books. PREVIOUSLY (and rather more poetically) called Lost Moon, Apollo 13 is the book which inspired the film of the same name. The Tom Hanks movie is quite rightly doing big business and no doubt the success of the film will mean a big increase in sales for this thoroughly enjoyable tale of exactly how Apollo 13 made it back to earth against all the odds.
This book is, first and foremost, extremely well structured. Jeffrey Kluger has realised that if he recounted in linear fashion the catalogue of disasters and subsequent solutions that befell Apollo 13, then we would be in for a pretty tedious book. Instead he weaves in various fascinating anecdotes from the life and times of Apollo 13 com mander Jim Lovell.
He is the ultimate all-American hero, a real winner who in times of strife comes through as cool and calm as you like. The portrait of him in the book allows one to understand what it takes to make a man who can keep his cool when an oxygen tank destroys his spaceship three quarters of the way to the moon.
Of course there is no mystery as to how this story ends, but that does not really matter. What makes this book so fascinating is the extraordinary bravery of the three men in the stricken craft and the intelligence of the mission control team whose imagination and powers of reasoning got them back home.
VIDEO Boys on The Side. ONE of the most touching AIDS films yet to have been released, Boys on the Side starts out as a road movie and ends up as a tear-jerker which puts forward some very telling points about just what it is like to live with HIV. The film stars Whoopi Goldberg as a sassy and gay rock singer who is beginning to realise that at 40, maybe she ain't never going to make it, but perhaps the West Coast will bring more luck than New York. She meets up with a prissy suburbanite (Mary Louise Parker) and they decide to share a car across the States, despite their obvious differences. On the way they pick up Goldberg's friend (Drew Barrymore) and in the process, accidentally kill her abusive boyfriend. From here on in, it is female bonding all the way and Parker gives a particularly touching portrayal of a woman who contracted AIDS during a rare sexual encounter and who must now live without sex until her dying day. Poignant and wonderfully written.
LASER Brief Encounter. THIS goes down as one of those 'must-own' films that really deserves to be watched on laser disc. Director David Lean's most intense work sees Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson battle with their terribly British sense of what is right. What makes this film so wonderful is that the affair is never consummated. I have this vision of a Frenchman watching this film and being utterly unable to understand the central premise: that a man and a woman can be attracted to each other, yet never go to bed with each other because of their acute fear of offending what they view as 'decency'. It is an almost unique achievement. Lean gives us a tragedy in the middle of suburbia. Superb.
MUSIC Foo Fighters. Foo Fighters. Roswell Records. NIRVANA'S drummer Dave Grohl has hardly allowed the soil to settle on Kurt Cobain's grave before coming out with this, his own version of the band. The sticksman-turned-singer even manages to sound like his former front-man as he whines on about how c**p life is - even when you have millions to spend.
As with Nirvana, the songs are all pretty much sing-a-long pop tunes with an attitude (miserable lyrics). And as with Nirvana, the overall sound is never anything but tarted up easy listening.The Jackson Five. Soulsation! 25th Anniversary Collection. Motown. AH, yes, little Michael Jackson before he looked like something that crawled out of a plastic surgeon's worst nightmare. Michael and his brothers had a youthful exuberance which has long since disappeared from the king of self promotion's repertoire (have you seen that HIStory video?). This is a four CD package so there are a lot of little-known fillers. But the top-notch stuff makes Michael's current techno-pop sound seem like soulless garbage.