Monday, January 26, 2009

Rankin and Ratatouille

Finished Ian Rankin’s Set in Darkness whilst1 on holiday, all 463 pages of it. Admittedly that’s the mass market edition, but it’s quite a read still, and fairly convoluted. In spite of all the plots and sub-plots (it’s never easy to tell which is which in a Rankin story) Rankin keeps a firm grip on things, and the detail in the interrogation/interview scenes is smartly worked out. The story, amongst many other things, concerns a nasty couple of blokes who chase and rape women walking home alone; a skeleton found during the excavations of an historic building; the suicide of an apparently homeless person; and the murder of an up and coming MP. All four connect eventually (one of them not until almost the end) but the murder takes some figuring out, it takes a lot of time to find out who the skeleton ‘belonged’ to, and the suicide doesn’t turn out to be who we expect - and neither does the skeleton. Rankin has surprises up his sleeve throughout - even when it comes to making us feel sympathy for annoying characters.
As always the writing is top quality, the humour occasional but sharp, the characterization excellent, and the ongoing gloomy picture of Edinburgh consistent.

We watched Ratatouille again last night on DVD - we saw it first in Northampton, in the UK. It’s an odd (animated) movie in terms of story. It takes a pretty unlikely premise and for the most part makes it work (a rat with superb abilities to create cuisine is a kind of puppet-master to a young man who has no apparent abilities at all). The human characters are superbly delineated, the rats also. The vividness of the ‘scenery’ is often amazing, as it is in all Pixar films. The vocal characterizations are as always, excellent, though Lou Romano as Linguini, gets a little annoying with his constant self-deprecating tone; it may be more a fault of the script than Romano himself.
Overall it’s not a Pixar that I’d rate as the best - mostly because of the story - (at present my favourite is The Incredibles) but it’s certainly not at the bottom of the pile either.

1 Use of the word, 'whilst' in favour of 'while' encouraged by number one son.
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