The Professor (a movie blurt)

A surprisingly good film starring Johnny Depp as a college English professor, who finds out that he has cancer discovered too late. After treatment would buy him only one year to live. If left untreated, he would have six months at most. So, he feels F—-D. As he tries to process it, he goes back to feeling the same thing:  F—-D. Soon after he’s learned his fate, he decides to share the news with his small family at dinner time. But, before he gets a chance to do so, his daughter says she has something to say. After her somewhat surprising news, his wife tells him something life changing as well. With news that seem to match the gravity of his situation, he decides to live out what’s left of his days a little differently. Make that  a lot differently. The movie then builds on a series of life changing events in the classroom, campus, and home.  There are  both funny and sad moments that showcase Depp’s noteworthy acting abilities. It’s worth a view.

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Dragged Across Concrete (a movie blurt)

The story is driven by main characters making decision that lead you to throw out the notion of good guys vs. bad guys. Two detectives, played by Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn, are caught on a cellphone video arresting a drug dealer. The act of the arrest is perceived as overly aggressive by the media. As a result, they are suspended without pay for several weeks. Their unexpected furlough compounds financial concerns for Mel Gibson’s character who is forced to reconsider moving his wife — who has multiple sclerosis — and a daughter, who is being bullied – away from their rough neighborhood. His questionable plan to make ends meet somehow intersects with a smart, recently released neighborhood felon. He wants to begin living a straight life but is pulled back into crime. That’s because he is faced with having to take care of his mother, who has taken up hooking to subsist, and a wheelchair-bound younger brother, whose dream is to someday go to college and become a videogame creator.  As may be expected with any S. Craig Zahler film with such a graphic title, the movie is gritty and intense, leaving viewers to gasp just when they thought they could sit back and eat popcorn.

The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver (a book blurt)

I gave up my workout session to read the final chapters of this book and when I finished, I wanted more. Thankfully, this new book is the beginning of a new series, featuring Colter Shaw, a traveling survivalist whose job is to seek monetary rewards for, among other things, finding lost people. Based on his upbringing and his now-deceased parents’ rich assets, Shaw sounds like he could afford to choose which rewards to collect. The story starts with Shaw tracking a distraught father’s missing teen-aged daughter. The outcome leads to another missing person with the events mirroring a once-popular video game. True to Deaver’s style, this suspense story is one twist after another with subplots that are just as engaging as the main one. Additionally, the reader gets interesting insight about the gaming world and some survivalist know-how. Game on with this one!

Logan Lucky (a movie blurt)

This is a heist movie directed by Steve Soderbergh, who also directed the well-known Ocean Trilogy heist films (Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen). Although there’s a formula to this genre, the characters, their situation, and the sprinklings of comedy are ingredients that make each one different. Set in West Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina, this story is about two down-on-their-luck brothers played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver. Channing decides to plan a robbery soon after he is let go from his construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway because his limp from an old football injury is considered a liability at work. They bring in their hairdresser sister to help. To round out their crew, they recruit an imprisoned explosive expert, Joe Bang, played by Daniel Craig, whose British accent is replaced by a good ‘ole boy twang. As a condition of Joe Bang joining the group, he asks to have his two hilarious hillbilly brothers join the heist team. The film is enjoyable to watch as we see how the colorful characters plot, ply, and plow through such a convoluted, but clever undertaking. Although there are underlying tones of injustice within our society—think haves vs. have-nots mixed in with a bit of Robin Hood–there is nothing preachy about the movie. Just grab a box of popcorn and watch the story unfold amidst the rural settings and classic American stock car action.

The Only Child by Andrew Pyper (a book blurt)

Every week I go to the library to pick up movies or books I’ve reserved. I also do a quick browsing around to see if anything interesting might catch my attention, and this book sure did. I decided to start reading it as soon as I got home and I finished it close to four hours and 284 pages later. A pleasant surprise was finding that the different settings in the book included Budapest of all places, among other European countries I that I recently visited; it was interesting to recognize so many places. However, the story was equally captivating. It’s about a highly regarded forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Lily Dominick, whose life takes a twisted turn after seeing an unusual patient, a criminal who claims not to be human. Rather, he says he was artificially created by an ambitious, but misguided scientist.

The patient’s claim is not so much what makes Lily sees him as different from all the heinous criminals New York delivers to her office. Rather, it’s his claim of being at the scene when her mother was murdered. At only six years of age, Lily witnessed her mother’s violent demise. As their conversation continues, the details he provides, and his startling claim of being her father, starts the story spinning into a suspense full of uncertainty and supernatural events. The story also explains how the legends of Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula came to be told.

Well-written and engrossing, the book makes me want to read more of what Andrew Pyper has written. This is a beginning of a new readingship. I am listing the books below as I finish reading them.

The Damned

 

The Hollars (a movie blurt)

A movie about a family with dreams that somehow didn’t take off as they wished. John Krasinski directed this movie, as well as starred in it as a son who returns from New York to his Midwestern home due to a family illness. While visiting with his parents and brother, we soon learn about the family strains bubbling beneath the surface, not too different from many families experiencing hurt and feelings of inadequacy. Krasinski’s character himself is also wrestling with disappointment. He doesn’t quite know how he feels about his relationship with his live-in girlfriend, played by Anna Kendrick. She’s pregnant and ready to give birth at any time. In the midst of this angst comes the eventual realization of self-worth, gratitude and stronger family bonds. Overall, the movie is heartwarming and well-acted with a surprise twist in the end. Other stars include Charlie Day, Richard Jenkins, Margo Martindale, and Sharlto Copley.

Gone Again by James Grippando (a book blurt)

This is the 13th of a book series featuring Jack Swyteck, a defense attorney, who at the beginning of his career defended death row inmates for some agency. As the series continues, we see Swyteck eventually getting his own law practice and jumping into and out of romantic relationships. This particular story line touches on the subject of adoption.  Since this is a suspense story, the focus is on the darker side or challenges of such subject. Interesting twists here as we try to learn what happened to an adopted 17-year-old. Is she still alive? Suffice to say this is one of the more interesting stories in the Swyteck series.

In my earlier review of one of Grippando’s books, I listed all the books I’ve read in the order they were published, including all of the previous Swyteck books. So check out the list if you wish to read his earlier works:
Cash Landing by James Grippando

Subsequently, I’ve read Grippando’s new publications, which I will continue to list below as I finish reading them.

Penny Jumper
Most Dangerous Place
A Death in Live Oak