o/t: New e-book giveaway

***Just announced by See Sharp Press!
And I’d echo their comment about The Revelator, a weekly environmental e-newsletter published by the Center for Biological Diversity.

Sharp and Pointed

Corrupted Science front coverThe Revelator newsletter, from the Center for Biological Diversity, will be giving away free e-book copies of John Grant’s Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology, and Politics in Science starting tomorrow and ending on Sunday. The offer holds for both current and new subscribers.

If you’re not a current subscriber, just click on this link to their site.

We’d highly recommend The Revelator newsletter — it’s free, well written, and enlightening — and if you subscribe by Sunday, you’ll get a free e-copy of John Grant’s in informative, infuriating, and amusing book.

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snapshot: Gemini (2017)

US / 93 minutes / color / Stage 6, Filmscience, Syncopated, Pastel, Rough House, Neon Dir & Scr: Aaron Katz Pr: Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy, Adele Romanski Cine: Andrew Reed Cast: Lola Kirke, Zoë Kravitz, John Cho, Greta Lee, Ricki Lake, Michelle Forbes, Nelson Franklin, Reeve Carney, Jessica Parker Kennedy, James Ransone, Todd Louiso, Marianne Rendón.

Zoë Kravitz (left) as Heather Anderson (left) and Jessica Parker Kenndedy as fan Sierra.

Hollywood movies about the tawdry glamor of Hollywood and the movies always run the risk of seeming masturbatorily self-referential—who’s really interested in the doings of grossly overpaid and often talentless people except other grossly overpaid and often talentless people?—but this one manages to get around that problem, probably through its focus on the less flamboyant end of Tinseltown, where no one’s rolling in money and stardom is a relative attribute.

Heather Anderson (Kravitz) is an indulged and self-indulgent minor movie star with enough of a cult following that Continue reading

book: Acts of Nature (2007) by Jonathon King

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Ex-cop Max Freeman and his cop girlfriend Sherry Richards decide to go to a remote shack in the Florida Everglades to enjoy a few days’ R&R. Cut off from the outside world, little do they realize that a major hurricane is homing in on the area. In the aftermath of the storm, with Sherry seriously injured, they must endeavor to get back to civilization. In their way are not just natural hazards like alligators and polluted water but human foes — a team of looters and a pair of “security consultants”/hitmen sent to make sure the storm damage hasn’t revealed an oil company’s dirty secret . . . Continue reading

book: Drink to Yesterday (1940) by Manning Coles

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A while after we’d first moved into our current house, about twenty years ago, we discovered that what we’d assumed to be a bit of solid wall in the living room was a much-painted-over built-in storage chest, so to speak. Once we got the thing open it proved to be full of books, jammed in there willy-nilly years and more likely decades earlier. We knew that an older generation of the previous owners had been readers; to judge by the inscriptions in the books, these had been their light reading, thrust into the “wall” either for storage or, to judge by the way they’d been stuffed in, for insulation purposes. The mice had been at many of them, but a fair few were still in readable condition; some of these we gave to the local thrift shop and some I salvaged for myself, intending to read them in the near future.

Which is how I came to own a copy of Manning Coles’s Drink to Yesterday. The near future proved to be not as near as I’d anticipated.

The novel was intended, according to the cover blurb, as a debunking of the Bulldog Drummond-style glamorized espionage story that was apparently Continue reading

Black Butterfly (2017)

Spain, US, Italy / 93 minutes / color / Grindstone, Ambi, Paradox, Elipsis [sic] Capital, Battleplan, Lionsgate Premiere Dir: Brian Goodman Pr: Silvio Muraglia, Andrea Iervolino, Monika Bacardi, Alexandra Klim, Marc Frydman, Rod Lurie, Alberto Burgueño, Juan Antonio García Peredo Scr: Justin Stanley, Marc Frydman Story: Papillon Noir (2008 screenplay) by Hervé Korian Cine: José David Montero Cast: Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Piper Perabo, Vincent Riotta, Brian Goodman, Katie McGovern, Abel Ferrara, Nicholas Aaron.

Writer Paul Lopez (Banderas), an early stellar career now too many years and too many bottles of hooch behind him, lives alone in the midst of an extremely picturesque Colorado nowhere while watching himself run out of money fast and inspiration faster.

One day at the diner where he’s meeting Laura Johnson (Perabo), the realtor who’s trying to sell his house for him, he’s rescued from an altercation with an angry trucker (Goodman) by an ex-con drifter, Jack (Meyers). The upshot is that by way of thanks he invites Jack to lodge with him for a few days.

Antonio Banderas as writer Paul Lopez.

Jack starts to take over Paul’s life. Initially it’s just a matter of fixing up the house, but then he appoints himself Paul’s literary critic and mentor, and then in effect his life coach. The reasons Paul’s career has plummeted, Jack reasons, are twofold: Continue reading

book: Seduction (2005) by Catherine Gildiner

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A novel that’s marked by a number of very visible failings but that I nonetheless enjoyed a very great deal.

It’s the very early 1980s. Kate Fitzgerald, having served nine years to date for murdering her husband, is granted a TA (temporary absence) by the prison psychiatrist, Dr. Garbonne, on condition she work on behalf of a major international Freudian society to investigate the behavior of its high-profile playboy chairman, Anders Konzak, who’s threatening to reveal bombshell information that would destroy Freud’s reputation, and the school of psychoanalysis as a whole. Since Kate has spent her years in solitary confinement studying Freud and Darwin, she’d seem ideally qualified for the job . . . except that Garbonne insists she work with an ex-con PI, Jack Lawton, and teamwork has never been Kate’s forte.

Soon there’s a murder, and Kate is the obvious suspect. Then there’s another: likewise. She’s convinced this is all part of some elaborate plan to pin the crimes on her, since it’d be easy enough to slam her back into Continue reading

snapshot: Cop Car (2015)

US / 88 minutes / color / Audax, Dark Arts, Park, End Cue, Expedition, Focus World Dir: Jon Watts Pr: Cody Ryder, Alicia Van Couvering, Sam Bisbee, Andrew Kortschak, Jon Watts Scr: Jon Watts, Christopher Ford Cine: Matthew J. Lloyd, Larkin Seiple Cast: Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford, Camryn Manheim, Shea Whigham, Kyra Sedgwick (voice).

A movie the Coen Brothers might have made if they didn’t have much of a budget, an enjoyable dark comedy—very dark, in places—set somewhere in flyover country where cattle outnumber people.

Two ten-year-old boys, Harrison (Wellford) and the more outgoing Travis (Freedson-Jackson), have just this morning run away from home and are on the verge of getting bored with freedom when they come across what appears to be an abandoned police car, sitting in a copse in the middle of nowhere. Naturally they Continue reading

book: Junkyard Dogs (2010) by Craig Johnson

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It’s winter and Sheriff Walt Longmire, head of law enforcement in a small Wyoming town, is tired of the ice and snow. His latest case starts when a couple from the local junkyard inadvertently tow their grandfather behind the family car across the ice for a couple of miles. (The old man doesn’t seem much discommoded by the experience, despite a dislocated shoulder.) Next there’s the discovery of a severed thumb in a cooler someone’s dumped at the junkyard. And next . . . well, things start to get really serious from there, with a couple of murders and the unearthing of a conspiracy run by the Aryan Brotherhood.

I laughed aloud quite a few times while reading this book — including the explanation as to quite how Grampus got roped to the back of the car. Some of the novel’s humor derives from Longmire’s dour but very human outlook on the world, and the one-liners he produces. Then there’s Continue reading

Aus dem Nichts (2017)

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Germany, France / 106 minutes / color / Match Factory, Bombero, Warner Bros., Macassar, Pathé, Dorje, Corazón, Canal+, Ciné+ Dir: Fatih Akin Pr: Nurhan Ôekerci-Porst, Fatih Akin, Herman Weigel, Ann-Kristin Homann Scr: Fatih Akin, Hark Bohm Cine: Rainer Klausmann Cast: Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto, Johannes Krisch, Samia Muriel Chancrin, Numan Acar, Hanna Hilsdorf, Ulrich Friedrich Brandhoff, Rafael Santana, Ulrich Tukur, Karin Neuhäuser, Uwe Rohde, Asim Demirel, Aysel Iscan, Henning Peker, Ionnis Economides, Youla Boudali.

There’s little point in denying that Diane Kruger is a beautiful human being, and it was on this basis that, I’m sure, she got the part in National Treasure (2004) that perhaps above all brought her to the notice of the US public. Yet even in that movie—an adventure in the Dan Brown mold—where all that was really required of her was that she be a scrummy blonde, she showed herself to be far more an actress than simply another pretty face; countless female Hollywood heartthrobs could have filled the role of Nicolas Cage’s love interest, but relatively few could have convinced me they were indeed academic archivists.

Diane Kruger as Katja.

In Aus dem Nichts/In the Fade Kruger manages to defy her own beauty to deliver one of the most electrifying performances I’ve seen in a while. Her character is in so many ways not admirable, but is one with whom only someone with a cold and stony heart wouldn’t sympathize. When she achieves her final vengeful closure, it’s hard not to Continue reading

book: The Moon-Spinners (1962) by Mary Stewart

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I read a few of Mary Stewart’s romantic suspensers back in the day (for some reason I was less entranced by her Arthurian series), but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t one of them. I did watch the 1964 movie, although all I can now remember of it is the windmill and (of course) Our ‘Ayley. When I saw a copy of the 1963 US edition of the novel (I think it’s a bookclub reprint) at a library sale recently I couldn’t resist grabbing it for nostalgic reasons.

And, golly, am I glad I did so! There’s nothing like a good adventure tale well told. Stewart picked me up on page 1 and the next thing I knew Continue reading