Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Interview: We Should be Blaming Obama, Not Sony, For Caving In

Several weeks ago, I was in a movie theater awaiting a screening of Brad Pitt's Fury when I saw a trailer for The Interview. The plot seemed to be this: James Franco and Seth Rogen play a pair of middle-aged bums who are hired by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, supreme leader in North Korea.

Oh boy, 
I thought. This is going to be good.

While I was expecting furor, I didn't realize quite how much of a stir the film would create. From The Washington Post:

Hours after an announcement that U.S. authorities determined North Korea was behind the recent cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, the entertainment company announced it was pulling the film The Interview.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Curtain: Poirot's Last Case - Episode Review

My review of the previous episode: The Labours of Hercules

I promised myself that I wouldn’t start this review with a personal anecdote. wouldn’t say that I’ve been watching Agatha Christie’s Poirot since I was around five or six, that Poirot and co. have been constant comfort food throughout my childhood. I wouldn’t say how very close David Suchet’s little Belgian was to me.

So now I haven’t said all that, I will say: AGH IT’S OVER. MY CHILDHOOD HAS DIED.

Okay, that’s done.

Friday, December 12, 2014

British Detectives 2015

2015 will get off to a great start with the U.K. premiere of a second season of Broadchurch. The first season (my review) was, by a long stretch, the best TV show I’ve viewed this year. The plot centered on the murder of a young boy, Danny Latimer. As the whodunit played out, we witnessed the town disintegrate into suspicion and betrayal. The media’s arrival, accompanied by incendiary headlines and invasive paparazzi, only exacerbated problems caused by a lengthy investigation. But while the conclusion was devastating, it was not untempered by hope from an unexpected (but appropriate) corner.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

P.D. James - The Last Victorian

If I'm still writing at the age of 90, I will die happy. I hope P.D. James did, anyway.

One thing is for certain: no one could have predicted her life would have ended here, as a world-wide respected author. At the age of 16, she left school to help support the family - her father didn't believe in higher education for women. Throughout her lifetime, she worked in a tax office, as a stage manager, as a member of a hospital board and at the Home Office in the forensic science and criminal law departments. When her husband was sent to a mental institution after World War II, she became primary breadwinner for their two daughters. 

She started to write detective novels in the 50's, and her first book Cover Her Face, was published in 1962. While it received favorable reviews, it took until 1980, with Innocent Blood (my favorite) for her career to skyrocket. After that, she seldom wavered from the adventures of her poet-detective, Adam Dalgliesh. One notable exception was The Children of Men, a fascinating religiopolitical dystopia built on the premise of an ingenious question: What if mankind stopped bearing children? In 2006, it was made into a movie, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (we'll be reviewing it this week on The Pilgrim's Podcast.) In 1991, Queen Elizabeth made James a Conservative peeress: Baroness James of Holland Park.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Pilgrim's Podcast

For those of you (are there any of you?) who only follow me here at Longish, you might be interested in some of my other doings about the web. The most exciting things I've gotten into recently is starting my own movie review podcast. Strictly speaking, it's my podcast, and my dad's, and C.S. Lewis's. But it's now available on iTunes, via an RSS feed, or at the website (formerly Longview), The Pilgrim's Podcast.

We have three episodes up so far:

The Godfather - Never Go In Against a Sicilian

Raiders of the Lost Ark - If You Like Your Ark...

Godfather Part II - If You Love Me, You Have a Funny Way of Showing It



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe: The Root of All Horror

The great G.K. Chesterton was a stalwart defender of pulp fiction, but he also dismissively spoke of Edgar Allan Poe as a really “morbid” writer, driven mad by his hatred of poetry. There is no contradiction here. Poe is indeed one of the great pulp authors, but he was also mad.

Poe has long been considered anathema to “serious” study. Perhaps the reason he is so distrusted by the literary establishment is his fatal mixture of vulgar sensationalism and popular appeal. In such stories as The Fall of the House of Usher, he shamelessly utilizes basic thrills to tell a story which doesn’t appear to have some Important Point to make, beyond plumbing the depths of human fear and psychosis.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Inspector Lewis - Beyond Good and Evil - Episode Review

My review of last week's episode: The Lions of Nemea

Need a MacGuffin to inject drama into your season finale? Add a serial killer with a grudge against your hero!

Let's face it, the story is pretty clichéd, but psychopaths have a way of upping the tension in any story, and it's no different in Beyond Good and Evil.

Graham Lawrie, a Scotsman with a rictus of a face, has been in prison for thirteen years. A newly minted Inspector Robbie Lewis put him away in 2001 for allegedly murdering three policeman with a hammer. Now, fresh evidence has cast the verdict into question, and another murder with an identical method adds further force to Lawrie's appeal.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Formula and Art

Why is one form of an idea so cheesy?

...another so terrible?

...and another so beautiful?

One word: restraint. And okay. British accents help.