book: Under the Midnight Sun (1999; trans 2015 Alexander O. Smith, Joseph Reeder) by Keigo Higashino

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In Osaka in the early 1970s, a pawnbroker is found savagely murdered in an abandoned building. The crime fascinates Detective Sasagaki, but when, over the next year, the two major suspects die — one in a traffic accident, the other in what everyone thinks is suicide although murder and misadventure are both possibilities too — the investigation is wound down. Still, Sasagaki can’t get the case out of his mind. He’s haunted by his recollections of the two children involved: Ryo, son of the murdered pawnbroker, and Yukiho, daughter of the woman who may or may not have committed suicide and may or may not have been the pawnbroker’s mistress.*

For the most part episodically, Under the Midnight Sun Continue reading

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A Hundred Streets (2016)

vt 100 Streets; vt One Square Mile
UK / 93 minutes / color / Caudwell, One Square Mile, Umedia, West Fiction, Crossday, What’s the Story, Green Door, Vertigo Dir: Jim O’Hanlon Pr: Pippa Cross, Leon F. Butler, Idris Elba, Ros Hubbard Scr: Leon F. Butler Cine: Philipp Blaubach Cast: Idris Elba, Gemma Arterton, Charlie Creed-Miles, Franz Drameh, Kierston Wareing, Tom Cullen, Ken Stott, Ashley Thomas, Kola Bokinni, Jo Martin, Cherie Duah, Paul Hickey, Jordan A. Nash, Hope Kiernan.

Three tales of life in London, a mosaic of tales that touch each other tangentially or, at most, overlap in slight ways of which their protagonists are unaware.

Max Moore (Elba), once rugby captain of England, is overcompensating for his retirement from the arena by hitting the sauce and snorting the white stuff, not to mention serially cheating on ex-actress wife Emily (Arterton) with a series of floozies, in pairs if he can get them that way. Before the movie started he apparently added to his conquests the nanny of kids Evie (Kiernan) and Leo (Nash)—the last straw so far as Emily was concerned, because she’s booted him out of the house and taken up with an old flame, photographer Jake (Cullen).

Gemma Arterton as Emily and Tom Cullen as Jake.

More than that, through her onetime mentor Terence Harris (Stott) she’s managed to wangle a job back in the theater.

Terence provides the link between Continue reading

snapshot: Johnny Dangerously (1984)

US / 90 minutes / color with some bw / Edgewood, TCF Dir: Amy Heckerling Pr: Michael Hertzberg Scr: Norman Steinberg, Bernie Kukoff, Harry Colomby, Jeff Harris Cine: David M. Walsh Cast: Michael Keaton, Joe Piscopo, Marilu Henner, Maureen Stapleton, Peter Boyle, Griffin Dunne, Glynnis O’Connor, Dom DeLuise, Richard Dimitri, Danny DeVito, Carl A. Gottlieb, Ron Carey, Ray Walston, Dick Butkus, Byron Thames, Alan Hale Jr., Scott Thomson, Sudie Bond, Mark Jantzen, Gary Watkins, Mike Bacarella, Hank Garrett, Leonard Termo, Troy W. Slaten, Georg Olden, Cynthia Szigeti, Edward C. Short, Trisha Long, Hal Riddle, James Coco.

Michael Keaton as Johnny.

It’s 1910 in NYC, and the dispatch with which newspaper boy Johnny Kelly (Thames) sees off bully Danny Vermin (Olden) impresses passing mobster Jocko Dundee (Boyle). Jocko eventually hires the lad, who grows up to be the dashing Johnny Dangerously (Keaton), the gangster whom everyone loves because, like Jocko, he’s generous to a fault and makes sure no one ever gets hurt. Much.

Marilu Henner as Lil.

The only people in the old neighborhood who don’t know Johnny Dangerously is really Johnny Kelly are Continue reading

book: Jasper Jones (2009) by Craig Silvey

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It’s December 1965 in the small Australian town of Corrigan, and 13-year-old Charlie Bucktin is an outcast because he’s bright, reads copiously and is pretty lousy at sports. His best and only friend is Jeffrey Lu, who’s an outcast because he’s of Vietnamese extraction and Australian troops are dying in the war there.

One night yet another outcast, the somewhat older Jasper Jones, comes to Charlie’s bedroom window begging for help. He’s found the beaten body of local girl Laura Wishart hanging from a tree in the remote forest, and knows that — as a half-Aboriginal — he’ll be accused of her murder and convicted before you could sneeze should the body be discovered.

So he and Charlie hide the corpse and decide to try to track down the real killer themselves. Top of their list of suspects is Continue reading

book: Only to Sleep (2018) by Lawrence Osborne

NB: This is crossposted from my Goodreads account — hence the opening remarks.

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One of the limitations of the Goodreads star system is that it doesn’t allow for nuance. This is an excellent novel that I admire immensely (five stars) yet it’s one that I didn’t personally much enjoy (two or three stars). Ideally I’d simply not give it a star rating at all, but that doesn’t appear to be an option.

It’s the late 1980s and Philip Marlowe is 72 years old. An insurance company calls him out of retirement to investigate the recent drowning death in Mexico of real estate magnate Donald Zinn, a client of theirs, a death that they regard as suspicious. For what he knows will be his One Last Case, Marlowe Continue reading

Claire in Motion (2016)

US / 84 minutes / color / Sacha, Running Man, Breaking Glass Dir & Scr: Lisa Robinson, Annie J. Howell Pr: Lisa Robinson, Annie J. Howell, Jenny Deller Cine: Andreas Burgess Cast: Betsy Brandt, Zev Haworth, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Sakina Jaffrey, Chris Beetem, Brian Evans, Ken Strunk, Marianne Murray, Merri Biechler, David Haugen, Kim Taylor.

Ohio University math professor Claire Hunger (Brandt) lives in Athens, Ohio, with her husband Paul (Beetem), an ornithology professor, and son Connor (Haworth). One morning Paul leaves home by prearrangement to go on a three- or four-day solo survivalist hike in the local wilderness, planning to live off the land. But time passes and, although his abandoned Subaru is soon found and a massive search operation is mounted by Police Chief Ken Doyle (Strunk) and his department, Paul himself is never seen again.

Betsy Brandt as Claire.

Trying to adapt, Claire discovers there were plenty of areas of Paul’s life that he was keeping secret from her. In conjunction with art postgrad Allison Lorn (Hollyman), for example, he had been creating a sculpture; although he and Allison Continue reading

reblog: “The Third Murder” Review

++A tremendous account from dbmoviesblog of a movie I talked about here a while ago: Sandome no Satsujin (2017 vt The Third Murder).

If you’re not following dbmovies, you should be!

dbmoviesblog

The Third Murder PosterThe Third Murder (2018)

People hardly understand membersof their own family, let alone strangers” (Shigemori Akihisa in “The Third Murder”).

This film by an acclaimed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda (“After the Storm” (2016), “Shoplifters” (2018)) begins with a scene of a murder in progress. A man kills his boss in cold blood and burns his body. The man – Misumi (Kōji Yakusho) – has previously been in prison for around 30 years for other two similar crimes he had committed. A legal team prepare a case, but since Misumi has confessed, there is nothing much to debate or investigate, and the sentence of death penalty looms over his head. The case of Misumi seems to be an open and shut one, or does it? When a new lawyer Tomoaki Shigemori (Masaharu Fukuyama) takes over the case, he slowly begins to…

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Book: Tangerine (2018) by Christine Mangan

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I bought this in part because I’d caught wind of the hype but primarily because of the Joyce Carol Oates quote on the cover: “As if Donna Tartt, Gillian Flynn, and Patricia Highsmith had collaborated on a screenplay to be filmed by Hitchcock.”

I feel a bit nervous contradicting such a grande dame of American letters as Oates but, while I can figure out the Highsmith comparison and certainly the Hitchcock one, I simply don’t see the resemblance to the works of Tartt or Flynn. The only real twist here is the one right at the end (where contrary to genre expectations the status quo is not restored), so that cuts Flynn out, and the novel simply doesn’t have that sort of magisterial quality you expect from Tartt.

Turning away from what the book is not, what about what it is?

It’s 1956 in Tangiers (or Tangier), and neurotic Alice Shipley has been living here for the past year in an unhappy marriage to Continue reading

The Unseen (1945)

vt Her Heart in Her Throat; vt Fear
US / 80 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Lewis Allen Assoc Pr: John Houseman Scr: Hagar Wilde, Raymond Chandler, Ken Englund Story: Midnight House (1942; vt Her Heart in Her Throat) by Ethel Lina White Cine: John F. Seitz Cast: Joel McCrea, Gail Russell, Herbert Marshall, Phyllis Brooks, Isobel Elsom, Norman Lloyd, Mikhail Rasumny, Elisabeth Risdon, Tom Tully, Nona Griffith, Richard Lyon, Mary Field, Sarah Padden.

In the small New England town of New Bristol, the imposing pile at 11 Crescent Drive was boarded up twelve years ago after its owner, Commodore Tygarth, died. Now his much younger widow (Elsom), is planning to open “The Commodore’s Folly” and put it on the market.

Sarah Padden as Alberta.

One rainy night an old woman, Alberta (Padden), sees a light moving behind the boards. Pausing to investigate, she drops a watch—a treasured gift from her mother. Before she can find it on the ground, a man rushes out of the house and pursues her into nearby Salem Alley, where he strangles her. Little does he know he’s been observed . . .

Next day Continue reading

o/t: Leisure reading in September

A good crop of books this month (not that many of them, but two were enormous), only one being a bit of a stinker and one, the Zafón, looking set to be my Book of the Year . . . although who knows what further bookish excitements may come along before December 31?

The links are as usual to my Goodreads notes, although those were crossposted here in all instances save one.