13 East Street (1952)

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“I’ve lived in a jungle all my life. She who bites first bites last—that’s my motto.”
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UK / 69 minutes / bw / Tempean, Eros Dir: Robert S. Baker Pr: Robert S. Baker, Monty Berman Scr: John Gilling, Carl Nystrom Story: Robert S. Baker Cine: Monty Berman Cast: Patrick Holt, Sandra Dorne, Sonia Holm, Robert Ayres, Dora Bryan, Michael Balfour, Hector MacGregor, Michael Brennan, Alan Judd, Michael Ward, Alan Gordon, Harry Towb.

A likable, extremely competent (aside from the abominably staged fisticuffs) but hardly memorable programmer from a time when such movies were the heart of British cinema. And it comes complete with a rooftop chase!

Gerald Blake (Holt) holds up a jewelry store in London but is caught by the cops as he tries to make his getaway. Sentenced at the same time as expat American professional crook Joey Long (Balfour), he befriends the man and, as luck would have it, becomes his cellmate and buddy. Soon enough, Gerald engineers an escape, and brings Joey along with him.

Patrick Holt as Gerald Blake.

Joey’s a member of the gang run by another US immigre, Larry Conn (Ayres), under cover of the latter’s Haulage Contractor business. Thanks to Joey’s friendship, Larry takes Gerald at face value and recruits him. Other Continue reading

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book: U is for Undertow (2009) by Sue Grafton

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Good old Goodreads. I was halfway through a considered discussion of this book when, shambalaboolipops, Goodreads wiped out what I’d written. If I were Alex Jones I’d assume it was an Illuminati, Deep State plot. As I have a brain, or some semblance thereof, I think my little accident was just yet another product of Goodreads’s user-unfriendliness.

So let’s try again, shall we?

It’s not all that often that the death of someone I’ve never met — usually a celebrity of some kind — upsets me: John Hurt was one, Ed McBain another. Sue Grafton was yet another: everything I’ve been told about her tells me she was one of life’s good eggs, and I got the same impression from her novels, all in the Kinsey Milhone alphabetical series and many, probably most, of which I’ve read. I’ve never not enjoyed one of those novels, but . . .

At the same time, I don’t think they’re perfect. In particular, I tend to Continue reading

snapshot: Small Town Murder Songs (2010)

Canada / 75 minutes / color / 3 Legged Dog, Resolute, Kinosmith, Telefilm Canada, The Movie Network, Movie Central, Monterey Dir & Scr: Ed Gass-Donnelly Pr: Lee Kim, Ed Gass-Donnelly Cine: Brendan Steacy Cast: Peter Stormare, Aaron Poole, Ari Cohen, Jackie Burroughs, Stephen Eric McIntyre, Martha Plimpton, Jill Hennessy, Amy Rutherford, Vladimir Bondarenko, Trent McMullen, Erin Brandenburg, Kat Germain, Jessica Clement, John Penner, Herm Dick, Alexandria Benoit, Ann Holloway, Stuart Hughes, Alyssa Mariano, Heather Allin.

An impressive slice of rural noir, set for once in Ontario rather than the American Deep South and against the backdrop of a community where the German-speaking Mennonite community is still strong.

Six months ago the sheriff of Greyfork County, Walter Ruden (Stormare), was discarded by his lover, a waitress from the local diner, Rita Louis (Hennessy). Since then Rita has taken up with ne’er-do-well Steve Hinden (McIntyre); in retaliation, Walter has been harassing Steve by booking him repeatedly on trivial or spurious charges. And, when Steve finds over by Point Beach the dumped corpse of a naked, strangled woman—in due course identified as stripper Melissa West (uncredited)—Walter is keen to move heaven and earth to pin the murder on the usurper in Rita’s bed.

Peter Stormare as Walter.

Detective Dave Washington (Cohen) of the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) and his team arrive to investigate the killing, but essentially get nowhere. In parallel, Walter and his sidekick, Constable Jim Gooding (Poole), try to take advantage of their local knowledge to dig into the crime . . .

Ari Cohen as Detective Washington.

The narrative is split up into four chapters whose titles reflect Continue reading

Our newly available titles on NetGalley

Sharp and Pointed

Corrupted Science front cover

We’ve been running a NetGalley promo, and just changed some of available titles. The books listed here are the ones now available. Corrupted Science will be down soon, replaced by another title, so if you review books and are interested in Corrupted Science, it’d be a good idea to sign on with NetGalley now.

Here’s a brief description of NetGalley followed by a list of currently available titles.

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If you read e-books and even occasionally review them on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, etc., or your blog (if you have one), you might want to check out NetGalley NetGalley. It’s a service that provides free e-books to those who review at least some of the free books they download. This differs from the unrestricted book-giveaway sites. While anyone can create a NetGalley reader account, prior to okaying a book download publishers can check to see how many…

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Return to Sender (2015)

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Surgery practice!
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US / 95 minutes / color / Voltage, Boo, WOC, HW Dir: Fouad Mikati Pr: Candice Abela-Mikati, Holly Wiersma Scr: Patricia Beauchamp, Joe Gossett Cine: Russell Carpenter Cast: Rosamund Pike, Shiloh Fernandez, Camryn Manheim, Illeana Douglas, Nick Nolte, Alexi Wasser, Rumer Willis, Stephen Louis Grush, Donna Duplantier, Ian Barford, Billy Slaughter, Scout Taylor-Compton, Jeff Pope, Ryan Phillippe, Liann Pattison.

Sweet hospital nurse Miranda Wells (Pike), though rather cold, is always willing to help—and always level-headed in a crisis. To be sure, she’s a tad over-fastidious and obsessive, a quality she puts to good use in her hobby of baking and decorating intricately crafted cakes but that also manifests itself through her panicky antagonism to using any pens save those of a particular brand (which she orders by the boxful), through her need to clean off public phones before touching them . . . and through her reluctance to meet men with a view to dating.

Rosamund Pike as Nurse Miranda Wells.

Her colleagues and friends Nancy (Manheim), Darlene (Willis) and April (Wasser) are determined to do something to “cure” Miranda of this last idiosyncracy, and after months of trying Darlene has managed to get her to agree to a blind date with a man called Kevin (Slaughter).

The appointed day comes, and Continue reading

o/t: leisure reading in July

Again not too many books this month, but two were pretty long and two of the others moderately chunky. Once the current MS deadline’s passed (well, technically speaking it actually has passed, but once I’ve, y’know, finished the book) I’ll get back to chucking a few more GADs, etc., into my reading mix.

A couple of these I liked really quite a lot. The links are as always to my Goodreads notes, although in all instances those were crossposted here.

book: The Perfect Nanny (2016 as Chanson Douce; trans Sam Taylor 2018) by Leila Slimani

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In Paris, career up-and-comers Myriam and Paul hire for their two small children a woman whom they assume is the perfect nanny, the doll-like Louise. She has glowing references and she does far more than merely look after the kids. She keeps the apartment spotless, she cooks meals, she works long hours and she’s willing to step up at a moment’s notice. What could possibly go wrong?

We know from the opening lines of this Prix Goncourt-winner that in fact things do go wrong — lethally so. The novel serves as an explanation of Continue reading

snapshot: Irresistible (2006)

Australia / 99 minutes / color / Intandem, FFC Australia, Cascade, Take Partnership, Baker Street, Kennedy Mellor, Film Victoria, Palace Dir & Scr: Ann Turner Pr: David Parker, Tatiana Kennedy Cine: Martin McGrath Cast: Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill, Emily Blunt, Bud Tingwell, William McInnes, Georgie Parker, Terry Norris, Joanna Hunt-Prokhovnik, Lauren Mikkor, Heather Mitchell, Alethea McGrath, Eleanor Caspar, Emerald Tanner.

Sophie Hartley (Sarandon) balances life as a highly acclaimed children’s-book illustrator with being mother to ten-year-old Ruby (Mikkor) and seven-year-old Elly (Hunt-Prokhovnik)—not to mention wife to architect Craig Singleton (Neill).

Her editor, Rina (Mitchell), has put her under a tight deadline for her new book, and it’s to the stress of this and the recent death of her beloved mum—and to lack of sleep—that Sophie initially attributes a few odd little moments around the house: Did she forget to Continue reading

book: A Trip to the Stars (2000) by Nicholas Christopher

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A genuinely astonishing piece of work. For much of the time I was reading it I thought it was one for the ages, the best book I’d read this year and perhaps for several years; but a number of niggles built up toward the end, and then finally a true howler meant it was knocked from the pedestal it had come to occupy in my mind. Even so, this long novel represents a splendid achievement.

It’s 1965. Given up for adoption as a baby, orphaned by his adoptive parents and now orphaned by the adoptive grandmother who took him in, young Loren has no one left but his adoptive aunt Alma who, a university student, barely knows him and doesn’t know what to do with this child who’s suddenly her responsibility. While she’s still panicking, she takes him as a birthday treat to a small planetarium. There, among the jostling crowds, he’s snatched from her. It’ll be fifteen years before the pair are reunited.

No, this isn’t a crime novel, although there are crimes a-plenty in it.

Loren, as he soon learns, is really Enzo Samax. His abductors are led by his fabulously rich great-uncle Junius, a polymath and obsessive (who for some reason I imagined throughout as being played by Morgan Freeman). Junius takes Enzo to Continue reading

Devil You Know (2013)

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The long shadows of the past!
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US / 72 minutes / color / Roger, Nightfly, Wonder, RIVR Dir: James Oakley Pr: Michael Webber, Peter McIntosh, Amanda Foley, James Oakley Scr: Alex Michaelides Cine: Kenneth Brown Cast: Lena Olin, Rosamund Pike, Dean Winters, Molly Price, Barbara Garrick, Bern Cohen, Matthew Faber, Stephen Gevedon, Jennifer Lawrence, Alan Coates, Paul Navarra, Michael Pemberton, Kit Flanagan, Annika Peterson, Charlie Wilson, Eric Zuckerman.

The very first thing I thought on glancing at this movie was, Golly! What a cast! How come I’ve never heard of this . . .?

What I didn’t then know was that Continue reading