My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Wednesday, February 27

Side Effects & Casablanca

In speaking about this movie, I have to be extra careful not to include any spoilers. The whole damn thing involves spoilers. Almost anything I say would spoil something about the plot. I’m talking about Side Effects, with Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum. The side effects referred to in the title relate to depression drugs . . . at least on the surface. The viewer just assumes this will be about the negative side effects so many anti-depression drugs have on the taker. But then the plot spins around and seems to be more about the effects our actions have on the directions our lives take. “Present behavior is often determined by past behavior,” Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) would say. Banks is a psychiatrist who is treating Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) for depression, prescribing a variety of anti-depressants with complicating side effects. Director Steven Soderbergh has given us a mystery within a mystery within a mystery, and it would take a second viewing of this movie to sort it all out. I’ll leave it there, except for one more comment. Rooney Mara, our dragon-tattooed lady, shows that she’s much more than just a kick-ass computer genius. She’s also a very fine actress.

Last night we decided to watch our latest from Netflix, that old classic Casablanca. Neither of us had ever seen it and we’ve both heard from any number of people what a great film it was. But after an hour, we shook our heads, turned it off, walked out, and left the building. It was just so hokey. There they all were—Peter Lorre slipping around like an unsavory eel; Sydney Greenstreet in all his corpulent splendor; pencil-mustachioed Claude Rains doing a tilt-hatted police captain; handsome Paul Henreid just doing his suave thing; Dooley Wilson on piano; Humphrey Bogart as Rick, smoking and drinking through the whole thing; and, of course, Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa, Rick’s one true love. It’s a shame what time does to the films we loved in our youth, to the music we loved in our youth. I now hear the big-band tracks from the Forties and they don’t sound nearly as good as they did when I was a young man. I hear Vaughan Monroe, Bing Crosby, Tony Martin, Jo Stafford, Billie Holiday, or Doris Day and they don’t sound nearly as good as they did when I was a young man. The same is true with films. A year ago I decided to revisit a movie I loved from my youth, High Noon, with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. And it was so very hokey, from the intrusive background music to the silliness of the final shootout. How could I ever have thought this was a great movie? Well, it was then; it isn’t now. That’s what time does. I wonder if other old favorites would also be as out of step—Shane, Gone with the Wind, Gunga Din, North by Northwest. I think I’d rather not know. Let them stay as classics in my memory instead of chapters in my hokey book.

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