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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.

Monday, December 16

Three Movie Reviews

A few quickie reviews.

I saw 12 Years a Slave almost three weeks ago and couldn’t figure out what to say about it. Critics have raved about the acting, especially that of Chiwetel Ejifor as Solomon Northrup, a free black violinist in 1841, and Michael Fassbender as Master Epps, the brutal, strangely dual-personality Louisiana plantation owner who winds up with Northrup when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The movie was difficult to watch as director Steve McQueen gave us a no-holds-barred view of this country less than two hundred years ago, showed us what atrocities some whites could inflict on other human beings with a completely blind eye to their inhumanity. It was a film that we needed to see, just in case any of us forgot what a horrible institution slavery was. But I can’t see the acting of Ejifor or Fassbender as being academy award worthy. Good, but not great.

Then there’s Matthew McConaughey’s performance in Dallas Buyers’ Club. Wow! He’ll certainly be nominated for best actor, maybe even win it. Just picture him as we saw him in some of his other films: Mud, The Lincoln Lawyer, A Time to Kill, Reign of Fire, and two of his better known romcoms The Wedding Planner and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. About six feet tall, maybe 185 pounds, a handsome hunk who likes to take his shirt off. Well, he lost 45 pounds for this role as Ron Woodroof in Dallas. That’s a bunch of weight, to go down to about 140. He was portraying Woodroof, a racist homophobe in 1985, a boozer, a smoker, a womanizer, a snorter of cocaine. And when he was admitted to a hospital for an injury, he was told he was HIV+ and had only about thirty days to live. He set out to prove the diagnosis wrong. He talked a hospital orderly into selling him AZT pills, the drug that was then in trial status. It was soon discovered that large doses of AZT was as toxic and dangerous as it was an aid to the treatment of Aids. The drug-supplying orderly gave him the name of a doctor in Mexico who was treating Aids patients with other FDA non-approved drugs. And then he started smuggling large quantities of these drugs back into the U.S. for his own use and to sell to other Aids patients. When he found out how illegal such sales were, he began a club called the Dallas Buyers’ Club, to which people could join for a monthly fee and then get his drugs free. And all the while he has this running battle with the FDA. But he ran the club for seven years before he died. A gritty story about a gritty subject, but McConaughey played it to the hilt—scrawny, bleary-eyed, pale, dying. And by the end he had come to understand and even like most of his fellow Aids victims, especially Rayon, played brilliantly by Jared Leto, a transgender victim who helped Woodroof in his drug club. Jennifer Garner was also in it as Dr. Eva Saks, but hers was only a bit part while McConaughey and Leto will both probably be nominated for best awards. Oh yes, and an odd fact about McConaughey: he’s afraid of revolving doors.

And finally, To Catch a Thief, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Amazing how our memories of old movies can be so different when we see them at dramatically different times. I remember getting High Noon from Netflix a few years ago and couldn’t believe how hokey it was. I was remembering it as one of the great films I’d ever seen. And then the reality of fifty or more years later. It just wasn’t very good. The same can be said of Mr. Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. It was supposed to be suspenseful, as are all of Alfred’s flicks supposed to be. But instead it was slapsticky silly. Bad acting, silly story. Now I’ll have to get Rear Window and The Birds and see if they are also silly and unsuspenseful. Sorry Mr. Hitchcock wherever you are.

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