Tag: Mystery

2019, Movies

Knives Out (2019, Rian Johnson)

For someone like me, there are few things more pleasing than a really well-done genre film. But genre conventions can be pretty tired, so that one thing that is more pleasing than that, is a genre crossover that really works. For me, comedy is often the most reliable genre to mashup. (I am a big …

2019, Movies

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival

Once again I only saw 5 movies this year. As with previous years, the reason for that will become apparent in a month or so. But, as usual, we managed to do a pretty good job picking movies and only saw movie I wouldn’t recommend seeing, which is a pretty good ratio.

2019, Movies

Lyrebird (2019, Dan Friedkin)

Do you ever watch a film with high production values and, from the opening scenes, you’re thinking, ‘this is is not going to be good’? Well, Lyrebird is such a movie. It’s the kind of movie you spend wondering if it’s the director’s first film (it is) because nothing works like it’s supposed to. SPOILERS …

2008, Movies

Changeling (2008, Clint Eastwood)

This is a weirdly told true crime film which turns what would have probably been a really interesting film into a bit of a mess. It’s weird watching a Clint Eastwood film and thinking it could have directed by someone with a surer hand. I’m not sure what happened here, but it’s really clunky, something …

2018, Movies

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018, David Slade)

When I was in Grade 7 or 8, the math/history teacher at my alternative school brought in a man with a bizarre piece of technology. My math/history teacher and the man insisted this technology would change entertainment forever. There was a regular TV, a regular VCR, and what seemed to me like an absolutely gigantic …

2016, Movies

Inferno (2016, Ron Howard)

I have never read a Dan Brown novel and I imagine I could not handle reading one. But for some reason, perhaps because I enjoy watching bad movies, this is the second of the adaptations of his novels I’ve seen. I’m not sure this one is as stupid as Angels and Demons, but it’s pretty fucking …

2018, Movies

Hold the Dark (2018, Jeremy Saulnier)

Expectations are an awful thing. I have seen and enjoyed every previous feature film Jeremy Saulnier has made. At some point I was going to see one I didn’t like. I’m not saying I didn’t like this, exactly, but I’m definitely struggling with it in ways I didn’t struggle with his previous two movies, and …

Uncategorized

The Accountant (2016, Gavin O’Connor)

This is a kind of bizarre hybrid of an action movie with a serial killer-style crime investigation combined with forensic accounting – yes, I know how that sounds – that is surprisingly effective much of the time, but has some massive flaws that keep it from really working. Mild Spoilers

2017, Movies, TV

Crooked House (2017, Gilles Paquet-Brenner)

This is an atmospheric adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel with an all-star cast that does a very good job aesthetically, even though it gets a little over-the-top, but I’m not entirely sure the source material is quite as strong as it needs to be. SPOILERS

2017, TV

American Vandal (2017)

The best pop culture satires and parodies manage to combine a scathing critique of their target genre or conventions with a true enough adherence to those conventions that you actually end up scaring while you enjoy the critique. American Vandal is an excellent, note-perfect satire of true crime series like Making a Murderer that somehow manages to …

1974, Movies

Murder on the Orient Express (1974, Sidney Lumet)

I think there are two things to talk about when discussing this film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express: there’s the success of the film as an adaptation of the novel and then there’s the source material, the novel itself. SPOILER ALERT

1968, Movies

The Bride Wore Black (1968, Francois Truffaut)

This has to be seen as the spiritual predecessor to Kill Bill, even if Tarantino insists he’s never seen it. The overall plot is just too similar, though Tarantino made far superior films. (I suppose it’s also possible someone just told him the plot, or he read the novel. SPOILER ALERT

1978, Books, Fiction

The Westing Game (1978) by Ellen Raskin

This is the kind of novel all kids should read. I am far too old for this type of book now but, as a child or tween, this would have been great. It feels like a legitimate game – it’s basically a far more complicated version of Clue, but with character development – and its …

2017, Podcasts

Shit Town (2017)

Shit Town, known as S Town in its marketing because the US is a country full of prudes whose heads will explode if they hear the word “shit” in public, is a remarkable new podcast from This American Life. It is unlike any other podcast I’ve heard so far, in fact. If you were one of the …

2007, Books, Fiction

Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks (2007) by Christopher Brookmyre

This is not only  a well-done mystery but it is also a fine indictment of a certain kind of chicanery, one that drives me particularly crazy. SPOILERS

1968, Books, Fiction

A Case of Need (1968) by Michael Crichton writing as Jeffery Hudson

This is a real page turner and it’s easy to see why it’s the book that properly launched Crichton’s career: it’s full of detailed information about contemporary medicine but Crichton uses that detail to drive the plot, not to overwhelm the reader in minutiae (as some “techno thriller” writers do). Though this type of thriller …

1997, Books, Fiction

The Partner (1997) by John Grisham

I only know Grisham from the old days when his novels were constantly turned into “event movies” – or the closest thing we had to those back in the ’90s. I watched many of them, though not every one, and, at least as a teenager, thoroughly enjoyed a couple of them, particularly A Time to …

2011, TV

The Bridge aka Bron (2011)

I am reviewing the first season of Bron because I have no intention of watching future seasons. (Though I have heard the second season of the American version of The Bridge is very good so maybe if I do try the American version, I will get that far.) The following review contains spoilers.

2011, Movies

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011, David Fincher)

Aside from the bizarre, music video opening – which also features a terrible cover of “Immigrant Song” – and the bizarre “Swedish” accents of all the Swedish characters (a huge pet peeve of mine in any English language film set in a foreign country), I think this is probably superior, as a film, to the …

1995, Books, Fiction

The Essential Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1995) edited by Leonard Wolf

This is an immense edition of what is otherwise a pretty short novella. It is nice that a story like this would get this kind of treatment, but it’s kind of over the top. For example, the novella itself is rather over-annotated. How is that possible, you ask? Well, even one of the footnotes has …

2012, Movies

The Factory (2012, Morgan O’Neill)

This is one of those “inspired by true events” movies where you know the screenwriters found out about a case with the “factory” of the title and then wrote their ‘idiot plot’ (to steal a phrase from Ebert) all around it. So we have the typical tired, spent cop pursuing a case that nobody else …

2011, Movies

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011, Guy Ritchie)

Putting aside this film’s complete diversion from the source material… (Unlike the original, this film doesn’t even bother to try to pretend it’s based on one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. It incorporates “elements” of two of them, which is a bit of a stretch.)

2006, Books, Fiction

The Poe Shadow (2006) by Matthew Pearl

This is a novel about a fictional lawyer investigating the death of Edgar Alan Poe. I appreciate the effort that went into this to make it historically accurate. And I appreciate that, instead of writing a work of scholarship, he tried to make it exciting by writing a novel.

2007, Movies

Gone Baby Gone (2007, Ben Affleck)

Someone whose name I cannot remember once formulated a concept of “Male Morality” and “Female Morality.” Now, this is a little too much of a generalization, but the idea is that “Male” morality is what is Right, what is Moral, the principle of the thing – i.e. strict adherence to moral codes and law whereas …