And more from our Gossip Girl: Liz catches “Contagion” fever … and Doris Day’s new album is a hit!
“HYPED UP on too much coke and ready for action, Armand took a stroll through the casino while he waited for the prostitutes he’d ordered. He was in need of some kind of release while he decided how he was going to deal with the Santangelo bitch.”
This is opening sentence of chapter thirty-eight of Jackie Collins’ new book, Goddess of Vengeance. But most of the chapters of this book open (and close!) with a bang. Jackie has 27 New York Times bestsellers under her belt, and this is likely to be her 28th — it is already on the top of the lists in Britain.
This exercise in high-life low-lifes continues the adventures of Jackie’s beloved character, Lucky Santangelo, now the mother of an 18 year-old daughter (and several older sons), all of whom seen destined for the crazy life she has experienced. Especially, the daughter, Max. But Lucky has hardly mellowed. She is still kicking ass, a sometimes deadly feminist, a mama grizzly in towering Christian Louboutin heels. And, of course, as Miss Collins describes her heroine, she is as gorgeous and sexy as ever, approaching menopause be damned.
Goddess of Vengeance has all the requisite roman a clef-ish touches — is that really supposed to be Madonna or Nicole Richie or any number of well-known starlets, moguls and tacky wives of famous men? Trying to decipher what is real or made up about the characters (once you have decided you think you know who they are supposed to be) is half the fun. Jackie herself says even her most outrageous characters are “people I know, in disguise … and the truth is much more bizarre.”
I have got to hand it to Jackie Collins. She knows how to build and build and build a story to a nail-biting climax, and she has not lost her touch in character-building, either. I say this with a lot of admiration, because I am usually engrossed in some book about the Civil War or medieval queens. Or, yes — a good thriller. I know too much about show biz to be that interested, generally.
Goddess of Vengeance is a read-it-in-one-big-gulp book. It’s like a pint of Haagen Daz. You think you’ll be good and just have a bit, and put it back in the freezer. Wrong! Jackie Collins makes you very bad indeed. You’ve got to have it all. Oh, and this latest one just screams for a sequel. Max is for sure Jackie’s new “Lucky” charm.
By the way, Jackie herself remains one of the most vital, vivacious, positive-thinking people I know. If those Collins girls could bottle their energy, we’d all rule the world, just as they do.
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I’M A big sucker for apocalyptic movies. I can’t help it. I won’t be around for the end of the world — I don’t think — so I rather enjoy Hollywood’s obsession with showing us various ways the world will meet its demise. Some of them not so far-fetched.
Take for example the new Stephen Soderbergh hit, “Contagion” which is about an incurable fast-spreading virus that seems to threaten all mankind. First of all, it stars tons of my favorite people — Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cottilard, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne. Let’s face it, end-of-the-world scenario or not, this cast is pretty great!
Although Soderbergh chooses to separate almost all the stories and characters — the multiple storyline gimmick that so many directors use now (and a gimmick that I think can drain interest and tension) — “Contagion” holds up pretty well. Very well, for the most part. I found the science aspects and government reactions believable, as well as the fear-mongering and irrationality. This is not the most original concept for a film — in recent years, the cinematic viruses turn everybody into killer zombies. We are spared that. But there is some predictability. Well, new ideas are hard to come by.
The friend with whom I attended “Contagion” complained there “wasn’t enough action.” (No zombies or hordes of screaming people.) But I thought the relatively low-key atmosphere was far creepier, more realistic, and far more paranoia-inducing. The cinematography is very good and enhances the tension beautifully.
And while I didn’t leave the movie “2012” believing the earth was going to come apart at the seams, I was a bit disturbed by the lady coughing near the popcorn counter. “Contagion” made its point.
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GREAT NEWS on the Doris Day front. DD has become — at age 87 — the oldest artist to score a Top Ten album featuring new material. Miss Day’s “My Heart” debuted on the UK charts at #9. The CD will be available in U.S. stores in a week.