Monthly Archives: March 2013
LOWCOUNTRY BRIBE by C. Hope Clark has the best opening line I have read in quite some time: “O-positive primer wasn’t quite the color I had in mind for the small office, but Lucas Sherwood hadn’t given the décor a second thought when he blew out the left side of his head with a .45.” I was hooked.
Hope’s descriptions don’t end with that beautiful Tarantino-esque opening. In what sounds at first like the last thing I would ever read – an agricultural mystery in the Deep South – Hope delivers fast paced, easy reading, absolutely compelling prose. Her sense of place and people put you there, and the tension and twists don’t let you put the book down. I read it in one sitting, and I don’t do that often. I loved the characters, and the edge. And this is coming from someone for whom mysteries are just not in the wheelhouse.
Carolina Slade Bridges is a strong female protagonist, a good woman drawn from equal parts Dashiell Hammett, Patricia Cornwell, and Elmore Leonard. She’s tough, she’s harsh, she’s by the book, and quite often, she’s Hope Clark herself – or at least the woman, mentor, and friend I have come to know after a decade of interviewing her at The Writer’s Chatroom. It’s no secret the book is loosely based on real events, but how close, no one’s talking. Any way you slice it, Slade (don’t call her Carolina) rocks, and I can’t wait for the next installment – TIDEWATER MURDER, due next month. Four stars out of four, highly recommended.
Denmark – “Only Teardrops” by Emmelie de Forest
Hmmm… someone needs a new conditioner. Seriously, this one is a contender. Catchy tune, part ballad, lotsa drums, traditional flute, and a beautiful woman, and not too outrageous – if there was a formula for Eurovision, this would be it.
Estonia – “Et Uus Saaks Alguse” by Birgit
Estonia is usually a fierce competitor, but this year we just get a ballad.
Ireland – “Only Love Survives” by Ryan Dolan
Lithuania – “Something” by Andrius Pojavis
I’m not sure which is more bizarre, the background dancers, or the Abraham Lincoln drag… craziness in the Eurovision tradition, love it.
Moldova – “O Mie” by Aliona Moon
Wow, that is some outfit, and a lot of hairspray… pretty song though.
I’m about a month late to the party on this one, but there’s still time for the rest of us. This fabulous Netflix exclusive TV series starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara, is probably the best thing I’ve seen outside of pay cable in a while. And that’s probably the coolest thing about it – it’s not cable at all – it’s only available on Netflix. Welcome to the future.
“House of Cards” is based on the book(s) by Michael Dobbs, and the BBC miniseries that followed by Andrew Davies. Originally set in British Parliament, show developer and producer Beau Willimon adapted the concept to Washington DC and the US Capitol for American viewers. Spacey is an ambitious Congressman manipulating his way to the top with almost demonic precision and sly fourth wall breaking asides to the viewers at home. There are Emmy caliber performances by all involved, but I wonder if it will be eligible for the Emmys?
Netflix, observing viewing habits and trying to keep ahead or at least abreast of cutting edge technology, has gone into the entertainment business, creating their own shows. Seeing that many folks will watch an entire series at once, sometimes a season at a time – a practice called ‘stripping,’ Netflix created shows meant to adapt to that. In that spirit, the entire first season of “House of Cards” was released all at once on February 1st.
The compelling characters, I tense stories, and terrific performances will keep you coming back episode after episode. It also has the likes of David Fincher, James Foley, and Joel Schumacher in the director’s chair. This is a series worthy of HBO, Showtime, or AMC, yeah, it’s that good. I highly recommend it. I just don’t know what I’ll be doing until season two comes out…
Austria – “Shine!” by Natália Kelly
“Shine!” has a slow build, but it’s got more energy than the usual Eurovision entry. I like this one, and in a year with so many beautiful and sexy women competing, Natália Kelly is no slouch.
Belarus – “Solayoh” by Alyona Lanskaya
Go, Belarus, pretty girls, drums, and dancing is what Eurovision is all about. Another strong entry – what did I say about this being a good year?
Belgium – “Love Kills” by Roberto
Not a happy song, but the music is upbeat, and he’s cute.
Croatia – “Mižerja” by Klapa s Mora
Sort of a man band as opposed to a boy band. Zzzzz…
Cyprus – “An Me Thimase” by Despina Olympiou
I was surprised to see Cyprus competing this year, considering that nation’s financial problems. Most likely, if they win, they would not be able to host the following year. Although, it’s just another Eurovision ballad with little to differentiate it from the rest – I don’t think they have to worry about winning…
You can see all the Eurovision entries for 2013 here.
The Hatchet Man ~ This 1932 Warner Bros. classic, from the heart of the pre-code gangster era, has an all star cast – Edward G. Robinson and Loretta Young in the leads, along with J. Carroll Naish and a pre-Ming the Merciless Charles Middleton. In fact, it may have been his performance here in Asian make-up that won him the villainous role in the “Flash Gordon” serials.
Even with the terrific cast, a script based on the popular play The Honorable Mr. Wong, and the brilliant direction of William Wellman, there is much to shame this film by today’s standards. Besides the non-code depictions of narcotics and adultery, the politically incorrect use if the word Oriental, and violence typical of this era, there’s the fact that this is the equivalent of an Asian minstrel show – the majority of the actors are whites portraying Asians.
Nevertheless, the direction and performance of the cast are exemplary. Loretta Young shines through her make-up, and we see both the hard side and the little seen soft side of Robinson. Edward G. plays the ‘hatchet man,’ the fist of justice among the tongs in Chinatown, San Francisco. While some of it is misperception, much is a tale of the old ways giving way to the new world.
When the tongs go to war, it’s not like a John Woo or Ringo Lam flick, but it does match up to the gangster films of its day, and you do get to see some fancy hatchet work. If you can get past the make-up and the stereotypes, this one’s worth watching.