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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.

Wednesday, October 21

Bridge of Spies & Two Others

It’s amazing how far Tom Hanks has come since that time in his youth when he was a “Bosom Buddy” on television. He was Sleepless in Seattle, he was Cast Away, he helped Save Private Ryan, he made us all learn his Forrest Gumpisms, he Got Mail on the Green Mile, he was taunted by DiCaprio with, “Catch Me If You Can.” And now, in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, he’s the pudgy lawyer who in 1960 negotiated a deal with the Russians and East Germans, one spy for one spy and a student. Tom Hanks becomes a loveable Jim Donovan, the lawyer who, against all odds and all public opinion, defends Rudolph Abel and convinces the judge not to execute the man for espionage. He would later use Abel as a pawn in the exchange that took place on snowy Glienicke Bridge between East and West Berlin, Rudolph Abel for Gary Powers, the U-2 pilot who was shot down over Russia as he was spying on Russian installations, just as Abel was spying on U.S. capabilities. The movie was interesting in its return to that awful time when the world was fearful of nuclear war between the world’s two powers, when that awful wall was built in Berlin, when we see again the killing of those who tried to scale the wall from east to west. The movie is owned by the two main players, Tom Hanks as lawyer Donovan and Mark Rylance as Rudolph Abel, and both will be in the conversation regarding best actor and best supporting actor. And the movie for best movie as well as Spielberg for best director. I mean, it’s Spielberg, right? It was a great movie, even though a little heavy-handed in spots, like when it showed the brutal way Gary Powers was treated in the Russian prison and when almost immediately it showed the humane way Abel was treated in the U.S. prison. Rylance portrayed Abel as a quiet, unassuming man who loved to paint between his spying errands. Donovan asks him during the trial, “Aren’t you worried?” Abel responds, “Would it help?” Funny. Human. He says that Donovan reminds him of a man he once knew. The authorities kept beating the man for information he supposedly had, and after each beating the man would stand again, passively waiting for them to beat him again. Finally, the “standing man” won and the authorities gave up. Donovan, he said, was like that, a “standing man.” I think the film was a “standing movie.”

Two quickies we saw on Netflix, The Road Within and Frontera.

The Road Within was a comedy about three young people being treated for mental disorders—Vincent (Robert Sheehan) who suffered from violent episodes of Tourette’s syndrome, Marie (Zoe Kravitz) from anorexia, and Alex (Dev Patel) from extreme obsessive-compulsive disorder. Doesn’t sound much like a comedic hook to hang your story on, does it? Well, it was and it wasn’t. The three sort of band together by stealing their doctor’s car and make a madcap journey to the Pacific Ocean to deposit therein the ashes of Vincent’s dead mother. The comic elements involve their misadventures along the way, the chase that Vincent’s father (Robert Patrick) and Dr. Mia Rose (Kyra Sedgwick) give them, and the subsequent bonding of the three misfits.

Frontera was a low-budget examination of the problem we have on our Southern border, the illegals brought into the U.S. by corrupt coyotes, the brutality of their treatment by those coyotes as well as by some Americans who try to solve the problem with rifles, the despair of those who are seeking a better life. Roy (Ed Harris) and his wife Olivia (Amy Madigan) own land In Arizona that borders Mexico, easy access for illegal entry. They represent the humane attitude. When Miguel (Michael Peña) meets Olivia in a dry wash on her land, she offers to help him. But three young men on a nearby hillside decide to scare them a bit by shooting at them, not intending to hit them. Olivia’s horse throws her and she fatally hits her head on a rock. Roy hears the shots and comes looking for her and sees Miguel holding the horse’s reins. When Miguel calls his father-in-law to tell him he’s in jail and being held for murder, Miguel’s wife Paulina (Eva Longoria) hires a coyote to take her into the U.S. to help Miguel, though I don’t know what she thought she could do. We see then an example of what too often happens to those brought in to this country, those who suffocate in abandoned trucks or who get raped by the coyotes. The film may be understated in its message, but it was for the most part an honest assessment of the problem.
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