June 9th, 2011
Hot Tub Time MachineJacob: I'm kinda right in the middle of a thing right now, but can I text you later?
Girl at Club: Can you what?
Jacob: Are you online at all?
Girl at Club: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Jacob: How do I get a hold of you?
Girl at Club: You come find me.
Jacob: That sounds... exhausting.

The Visitor

June 8th, 2011

The VisitorHailed as "one of the most intriguing drama" (Claudia Puig, USA Today), THE VISITOR stars Richard Jenkins (SIX FEET UNDER) in a "perfect performance" (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly) as Walter, a disaffected college professor who has been drifting aimlessly through his life.

When, in a chance encounter on a trip into New York, Walter discovers a couple has taken up residence in his apartment in the city, he develops as unexpected and profound conection to them that will change his life forever.

As challenges arise for his tenants Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Gurira), Walter finds himself compelled to help his new friends, and rediscovers a passion he thought he had lost long ago. Written and directed by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent), internationally-renowned Hiam Abbass (Munic) co-stars in "the year's first genuine must-see film" (Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post) about rediscovering life's rhythms in the most unexpected places.

I was eager to see this movie. It was written and directed by the man who both wrote and directed a movie that I really enjoy: The Station Agent. Both movies feature a theme of a solitary man finding friends in the least likely of circumstances.

Richard Jenkins plays the protagonist in The Visitor and, while it is not the most dynamic role, he was great. It was not his performance, however, that should get you to see this movie. Haaz Sleiman may be a one-hit wonder, but I hope not. He is Tarek, the illegal immigrant that Jenkins's character finds living in his apartment in New York City. He is tremendously charismatic.

This is not the fastest-paced movie. Please be patient, this movie is worth your time.


June 7th, 2011
Slumdog MillionaireJamal Malik: When somebody asks me a question, I tell them the answer.

The Finkler Question - Howard Jacobson

June 6th, 2011

The Finkler Question by Howard JacobsonHe should have seen it coming. His life had been one mishap after another. So he should have been prepared for this one... Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they've never quite lost touch with each other or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik, a Czech always more concerned with the wider world than with exam results.

Now, both Libor and Finkler are recently widowed, and with Treslove, his chequered and unsuccessful record with women rendering him an honorary third widower, they dine at Libor's grand, central London apartment. It's a sweetly painful evening of reminiscence in which all three remove themselves to a time before they had loved and lost; a time before they had fathered children, before the devastation of separations, before they had prized anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. Better, perhaps, to go through life without knowing happiness at all because that way you have less to mourn? Treslove finds he has tears enough for the unbearable sadness of both his friends' losses.

And it's that very evening, at exactly 11:30 pm, as Treslove, walking home, hesitates a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country, that he is attacked. And after this, his whole sense of who and what he is will slowly and ineluctably change.

The Finkler Question is a scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity. Funny, furious, unflinching, this extraordinary novel shows one of our finest writers at his brilliant best.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2010 Man Booker Prize Winner. Be like me. Be mislead by the synopsis, which summarizes what happens in only the first few pages and read the book. That is marketing. You sell books that are about lifelong friends who cope with loss in each others' misery. There is depth to that story. There are layers you can't wait to peal away, one chapter at a time. You may still sell some books, but not nearly as many, that are about two Jews who wonder what the point is to be Jewish any more and their non-Jew friend who is literally obsessed with all things Jewish.

This book is a great example of an unnamed genre where the weak plot is just a vehicle for an author to write beautifully about something. In The Finkler Question, Jacobson offers some deep perspective on mortality, companionship and the sense of self. He adds some commentary on the still-on-going violence against Jews around the world. His characters are flawed, even those who seem to be the best put together (maybe they are the most flawed of all) and that might be the most "real" part about this story.

It seems that from the a few of the recent Man Booker winners that maybe the Prize goes to the book that has the best writing and is not necessarily the best book...if that makes sense. To that point I cite this book and Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh.

Wikipedia says that Howard Jacobson "is best known for writing comic novels that often revolve around the dilemmas of British Jewish characters." This is recommended reading if you like pretty much anything by Michael Chabon who works a healthy amount of Judaism into his writing, whether it belongs there or not. That's not really my "thing," though I will always highly encourage people to read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.


Stone Steps

June 3rd, 2011

Beautiful stone steps leading to the backyard

June 2nd, 2011
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldI've nothing against people who love truth. Apart from the fact that they make dull companions. Just so long as they don't start on about storytelling and honesty, the way some of them do. Naturally that annoys me. But provided they leave me alone, I won't hurt them.

June 1st, 2011

May 31st, 2011
Lars and the Real GirlLars Lindstrom: How was the game?
Gus: The cheese inspectors beat the crap out of us.

Carte Blanche

May 30th, 2011

Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver

Carte Blanche by Jeffery DeaverFresh from Afghanistan, James Bond has been recruited to a new agency. Conceived in the post-9/11 world, it operates independent of Five, Six and the MoD, its very existence deniable. Its aim: to protect the Realm, by any means necessary.

The Night Action alert calls Bond from dinner with a beautiful woman. GCHQ has decrypted an electronic whisper about an attack scheduled for later in the week: casualties estimated in the thousands, British interests adversely affected. And 007 has been given carte blanche to do whatever it takes to fulfil his mission.

This book will be available on June 14, 2011.

Pre-order your copy.

Monorail Track Reflection

May 27th, 2011