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Short Takes
DIRT MUSIC By Tim Winton Luther Fox, riven from his family, seeks oblivion. That's not hard to find when you are an illegal fisherman off the remote West Australian coast. Georgie Jutland, a seen-it-all nurse, is looking for healing. They meet. Things get prickly. After Thomas Keneally (Schindler's List) and Peter Carey (True History of the Kelly Gang), Winton is Australia's most revered writer. But he is younger and more averse to romanticizing his harsh native landscape. Dirt Music is like that landscape: you can't skip through it, but its unflinching beauty will get you in the end.

DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD Directed by Callie Khouri A successful playwright (Sandra Bullock) gives an interview to TIME, complaining of an unhappy childhood. Her mother (Ellen Burstyn) takes offense. Her lifelong friends (the Ya-Yas) kidnap Bullock, hoping to explain the sources of Mom's unhappiness and effect a reconciliation. The ladies are Southern, therefore boozy, warmhearted, eccentric — all too predictably and cozily so. After many lumpy flashbacks, peace and harmony are restored. This is potentially near tragic material, and playing it as an all-forgiving comedy is a waste of everyone's time.

THE LAST BROADCAST Doves Most Brit rock acts have become so consumed with burying their melodies that they forget to compose them. Thank you, Radiohead. Doves, a Manchester trio, is a pleasant exception, a band that actually enjoys its own tunefulness. Yes, there are echo effects, abrupt tempo changes and a few melancholy lyrics — how else would we know this is contemporary rock from England?--but songs such as There Goes the Fear, M62 Song and N.Y. reveal a sweet pop soul that is more Beatles than brooding.

BOSTON 24/7 ABC, June 4-7, 11 and 12, 10 p.m. E.T. ABC News spent three months around the clock with Boston city workers for a panoramic view of the thankless job of keeping a city afloat. The sparsely narrated episodes let the subjects' own actions tell their sometimes praiseworthy, sometimes embarrassing stories. Highlights include inside looks at an ugly contract dispute between fire fighters and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, at an idealistic but hapless new prosecutor and at a no-nonsense inner-city principal. Boston Public is in reruns, but 24/7 offers a dramatically public Boston of its own.

June 10, 2002 Vol. 159 No. 23

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