Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Good Liar is a movie to see

The new Helen Mirren-Ian McKellen flim, “The Good Liar” has the feel of an old movie.

Not because the two leads are septuagenarians, but because it has the careful craftsmanship I associate with films or another era.

Roy (McKellen) is an aged con artist taking in Betty (Mirren) a widow with a sizeable bank account.

Roy is all charm and he disarms Betty – or does he? And if she is on to him, she better watch out because Roy is ruthless, as he displays when confronted by one of his earlier victims.

There were moments when I thought I had this movie figured out only to have it take an unexpected turn.

The story is a good one, but the reason to see “The Good Liar” is the acting. Mirren and McKellen are two old pros at the top of their game. Watching them play cat-and-mouse is a pleasure.

Also in the cast is Jim Carter (who was Carson the butler in Downton Abbey).

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Defending Jacob by William Landay

William Landay’s 2012 novel, Defending Jacob, was on the reading list of my wife’s book club. The tastes of the club almost never coincide with mine. But this one was different.

Defending Jacob is the story of a suburban family torn apart when the 14-year-old son is accused of murdering a classmate.

First-person narrator, Andy Barber, is the dad and central character in the story. He is the prosecutor overseeing the investigation into the stabbing death of a local eighth-grade boy, Ben Rifkin.

Andy knows the dead boy and the Rifkin family. His son Jacob is the same age as Ben and they went to the same school.

Clues and even motivations start coming in and they point to Jacob. In one of the many twists of this book, Ben was a bully and his frequent target was Jacob.

Andy refuses to see any connection. His words are 100 percent in Jacob’s corner. His thoughts betray his suspicions.

Defending Jacob is a novel that snuck up on me. I was caught up in the father’s anguish. Could Jacob have actually killed the other boy?

There is a bit of weird science woven into the tale concerning bad genes which can be passed down. But overall, this is a solid suspense story.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Accused is a series to watch

In the 1990s, British writer Jimmy McGovern created the character Fitz Fitzgerald for television. Played by Robbie Coltrane, Fitz was a psychologist with loads of personal problems who worked with the police solving crimes. The show was Cracker, one of our favorites of that decade.

Looking for more shows by Jimmy McGovern, this month I came across Accused, an anthology series from 2010-2012.

Each of its 10 one-hour episodes is a different story with a different cast.

All were written or co-written by McGovern. All feature average folks in trouble, violence, danger. All involve crime and punishment.

Sometimes characters are done in by the system. Other times they are victims of their own corruption, obsession, criminality or stupidity. On rare occasion a character is exonerated.

Last night, we reached the half-way point in the series and every episode has been top-notch TV.