Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cover Girl

I'm a fan of Spanish novelist Arturo Perez-Reverte, especially his trademark puzzle stories, where an artifact from the past has a symbolic meaning that holds the key to a modern mystery. Polanski made his novel The Club Dumas into one of our favorite movies, The Ninth Gate, starring Johnny Depp.

The movie we watched recently, however, was Uncovered, starring Kate Beckinsale. It is based on The Flanders Panel, something I didn't realize when I started watching it. I can't remember why I queued it up. I think it's because I like Kate Beckinsale.

Beckinsale plays an art restorer in Barcelona, working on aFlemish triptych showing a chess game. An infrared photo shows a painted-over Latin inscription: "Who captured the Knight?" As she begins to remove the cover-up, people related to the painting start turning up dead. It seems to be related to the chess game in the painting.

Anyone looking for a delightful intellectual romp will be pretty disappointed. Anyone looking to watch Kate Beckinsale, often in close up, romping around the famous Gaudi monuments of Barcelona - Bingo.

Most of the other actors are more or less icky, except maybe the chess hustler. He is a blond gypsy hippy type who is at least age-appropriate to Beckinsale.

I also object to all the smoking that the characters do around the old painting, the manhandling and the complete lack of security. Beckinsale leaves the painting, which they hope to get millions for, in her apartment with open windows and a weak alarm system.

Well, I can't say I hated this movie. I did enjoy watching Beckinsale. Barcelona looked beautiful, although there could have been more Sagrada Familia. The whole mystery and puzzle is lame as can be, but I've watched worse. It's a case of "the kind of thing you'll like, if you like this kind of thing."

In conclusion, watch The Ninth Gate instead. For Beckinsale, maybe Laurel Canyon. I don't remember enjoying Underworld.


mr. schprock said...

I am so glad you mentioned the smoking. I did read this book, and noticed that although the main character was supposed to be a real stunner, she smoked and drank to excess and had the worst sleep habits. How could anyone who did all that look good?

I had no idea they made this into a movie.

Beveridge D. Spenser said...

I must have read the book, but I can't remember a thing about it. I'd be reading it now, but Mrs. Spenser swiped the copy I got out of the library.

mr. schprock said...

I just remember vague things, like this really valuable painting had been hanging in some guy's kitchen, and the whole chess problem thing of course, and I think the culprit was the gay, avuncular, likable art dealer, a confidant of hers. Or not. A little fuzzy there.

I read an English translation, of course, but it was done in the British idiom, which made it bloody good. And even though I forget nearly all of it, I recommend the book highly.