Maoi took Amber and me out for her graduation dinner last Friday. [Thanks, Maoi!—I’ve been trying to email you, but your account is bouncing.] After good food at Light we bustled off to see Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The film has such a clumsy title because it is bolted together from two novels in a series of about twenty by Patrick O’Brian, but this doesn’t stop it being thrilling stuff.

There was excellent acting, particularly from the young officers and from Paul Bettany who stole the underrated anachrobuckler A Knight’s Tale a while back. (I have just invented the word “anachrobuckler” to describe a sword-swinging costume drama—“swashbuckler”—that makes no attempt at historical accuracy—“anachronistic”—for example The Princess Bride, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and the upcoming Timeline.)

Being based on “the best historical novels ever written*”, Master and Commander is anything but inaccurate. There are several points when you would rather it wasn’t quite so painfully convincing. The special effects are superb and as subtle as anything involving cannonballs and house-high waves can be. I’m not giving anything away by suggesting that high-low culture vultures should enjoy debating which four-letter skipper Russell Crowe‘s Captain Jack owes more to: Kirk or Ahab.

*according the New York Times Review of Books