August 2, 2002

Bookshelves & Insomnia

Category: Movies,Updates :: Permalink

This morning, my bookshelves arrived — seven of them. It took the elderly gentleman who made them a couple of hours to make sure all the shelves fit, and then I spent the next couple of hours filling them with the books which, for as long as I’ve lived here, have been piled up around the walls of my bedroom. The arrival of the shelves is somewhat bittersweet, however, since I’m not sure how long I’ll be living here, and I’m reluctant to unpack all the boxes of books I have stored downstairs in case I have to pack again a few months from now.

I had supper tonight with Keith and Jenn Griffioen. After supper, we went to see Insomnia. It’s not perhaps a great movie, but I enjoyed it. It’s a murder mystery, but the mystery isn’t the main focus.

Al Pacino plays Detective Will Dormer from Los Angeles who has come to Alaska with his partner to help find the killer of a teenage girl. But things go wrong in a way that might lead people to suspect Dormer himself of a crime. Dormer covers things up. After all, if he’s under suspicion, his entire life’s work could be undone; criminals he’s arrested in the past might go free if there’s any suspicion cast on him and his methods as a detective. But Dormer can’t sleep, and the midnight sun doesn’t help. Add to the mix the fact that the suspect in the murder knows what Dormer has done.

The film presents a number of moral questions worth pondering, primary of which is whether the ends justify the means. Jeffrey Overstreet at Looking Closer writes,

This movie should be seen, discussed, and pondered more than once. Movies regularly sell us the lie that a hero is somebody willing to do anything to catch the bad guy. Most big screen heroes work in varying methods of vigilante justice. Many commit small crimes in order to stop those who commit big ones. And audiences cheer. But who’s to say that the criminals themselves weren’t trying to accomplish what they saw was good through unclean methods? Insomnia is a tragedy, but it tells the truth about the wages of sin. It’s one of the best American thrillers I’ve ever seen.

The scenery was breathtaking. Although the story is set in Alaska, the film was shot in northern British Columbia, in a town that Keith had visited a few times.

Now I’m off to have a cup of tea and read a bit more of Holifield and the last short story in Gene Wolfe’s Endangered Species.

Posted by John Barach @ 10:48 pm | Discuss (0)

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