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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, July 7

Five Quickie Movie Reviews

The best of these five—certainly also the quirkiest, the strangest—has to be the oddest film I’ve ever seen, South Korea’s Joon-ho Bong’s dystopian allegory Snowpiercer. Basic premise: The earth in 2032 has frozen over after a botched attempt by science to halt global warming; everyone on earth has perished except for the people lucky enough to board an experimental train called Snowpiercer, which rolls through the frozen landscape on an endless circuit of the earth. Sort of a parallel to Noah and his ark, or Katherine Ann Porter’s Ship of Fools, a microcosm of mankind. The train is sectioned off into classes, with the lowliest, grubbiest in the train’s rear, with each car going forward through increasing status to the engine, occupied by the train’s inventor, Wilford, sort of like the Great and Wonderful Wizard in Baum’s Oz series. The back car people want to revolt and move forward, even to take over the engine. Mayhem and bloodshed everywhere as they move through car after car, increasing luxury car by car. There are all kinds of holes in the logic of the allegory, some grisly humor provided by Tilda Swinton as an imperious administrator for Wilton, and an ending so ironic I’d be letting the bear out of the bag if I told you.

Second best is another sci-fi flick, Edge of Tomorrow, with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt battling an invasion of aliens, each battle beginning over and over each time Cruise is killed, in a time warp they need to break to finally defeat the bad guys. Time travel has always been a favorite topic for science fiction writers, from H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine to Robert Heinlein’s The Door into Summer, and now another wrinkle in that timely progression.

Then there’s The Fault in Our Stars, a re-do of the old tear-jerker based on Erich Segal’s Love Story, staring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. You know, two kids falling in love with one dying of cancer. The story is old, but the tears get jerked just the same, and in this one Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as the two lovers take this old plot out of the ordinary and make it something special.

Next is a movie that critics liked better than I did. Clint Eastwood produced and directed this film version of the successful Broadway musical Jersey Boys. Good voices (especially that of John Lloyd Young doing his impression of Frankie Valli), good old songs, but I’ve never been a fan of r‘n’r, so these weren’t even close to my favorites. Then there’s the Jersey depiction of the Italian segment, with the mob connections and the fraternity of Good Old Boys. For me it was a turnoff, and I don’t mean onto the Jersey Turnpike.

And finally, a film I thought I wanted to see when it came out but didn’t get around to until we rented it on Dish, the remake of Thurber’s old story “The Adventures of Walter Mitty.” I love the story, I loved the Danny Kaye film version, I wanted to love Ben Stiller’s version. But I didn’t. It was too hokey with Mitty actually doing things the real Mitty would never have been able to do, like climbing into the Himalayas and treking across miles and miles of snow and ice to find Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), his famous photographic friend, like skateboarding high speed three or four miles downhill into an Iceland village. Nah, Mitty wouldn’t have been able to do any of that. Nice try, Ben, but Danny Kaye's was better.
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