Tag: Mystery

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 with character development) and its humour is rooted …

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 …

2016, Movies

The Limehouse Golem (2016, Juan Carlos Medina)

This is an atmospheric and entertaining period mystery/horror film that struggles with both telling and tone but which is mostly entertaining. My biggest issues were with the time-hoping – there are flashbacks throughout the film and flashbacks within flashbacks, a particular pet peeve of mine – as well as with the tone of the very …

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 Kill …

1839, Books, Fiction

Oliver Twist (1839) by Charles Dickens

Two different reviews! I first read this as a tween and I honestly didn’t remember much of it at all. Though I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Dickens, it’s pretty tough to say anything bad about this story. It’s so unbelievably canonical I have trouble putting it into words. List off a mystery …

2010, Movies

Shutter Island (2010, Martin Scorsese)

This is an excellent crime thriller / psychological thriller that once again shows off Scorsese’s ability to handle any kind of material and make it convincing. (This is a plot that is really outside his typical wheelhouse.) It also features one of the best performances of DiCaprio’s career (which is really saying something), a performance …

2011, TV

The Bridge (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 …

2012, Movies

Jack Reacher (2012, Christopher McQuarrie)

This is one of those ‘the hero is perfect and everyone is against him’ movies. And there’s been a lot of them, and they’re pretty tired. But this is a little better than many of them as it is quite well directed – there are a few slow reveals that are well done – and …

2011, Movies

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

Putting aside the film’s complete diversion from the source material… The thing I liked most about the original was Downey’s Holmes, who finally felt like the real Holmes (even if the film around him was nothing like the stories). And there is some attempt to keep that up, though it is minimal: Holmes’ costumes are …

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 …

2009, TV

Bored to Death (2009)

This is an amusing-to-hilarious – depending on the episode – comedy that is perhaps a little too rooted in the Brooklyn of the early 21st century for its own good. The scenario is utterly implausible but it is absurd enough so that we stop caring about that and focus more on the sort of meta-hi-jinks that …

1983, Books, Fiction

1934 (1983, Farrar Straus Giroux) by Alberto Moravia

I have written before about my love-hate relationship with Italian movies. But I can’t say that I have had this same experience with Italian literature, at least until now. Until now, I have genuinely liked the few Italian novels and short stories I have gotten my hands on. It seemed to me that what I …

2007, Personal, Travel

The Mussel Mystery

So, my limited research about the freshwater mussel has led me to find that indeed there are “small freshwater mussels” in the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin regions. But the thing is, the mussels I found were not in any way “small,” (for example, they were probably 15-20 times the size of the zebra mussels I …