Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Weekend Entertainment Recs for Seniors & Others

Novel: Field of Prey by John Sandford

I really enjoyed this latest installment of the Lucas Davenport series and read it virtually non stop till done. I even kept reading with the drops in my eyes while at the doctor's office being evaluated for cataract surgery! All of my favorite elements of the Prey books, all set in Minnesota, were in this volume. First, Lucas, of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, was front and center in the whole murder investigation. Sometimes there are so many other characters that Lucas isn't "on" enough. Not so here. Plus there is a really vicious serial killer at large. 

Lucas once again works with local law enforcement in the small towns. These small places in Minnesota in both the Flowers' and Davenport books are fascinating. I have come to love the state through these books. Next, Letty, his adopted daughter, appears frequently in the story. Letty is just about to leave for Stanford for college and Lucas realizes she is going to go into law enforcement. (I just know we've got a Letty spin off series coming and I have been waiting for years for it.) We even get a bit of Virgil Flowers who, as usual, is towing his boat behind him. Virgil also works for the Bureau and has his own excellent series. 

There is one new character, a female deputy sheriff in the small town. The serial killer becomes obsessed with her and that becomes a very interesting part of the book. If you enjoy all of this author's books, as I do, then most of the favorite elements from those books is to be found in this one. He was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist before becoming a crime novelist. 

I recommend reading Sandford's books in order in both the Lucas Davenport Prey books and the Virgil Flowers' books. The list of those books in order is hereI've read most of these books in print but I have listened to a few on audio instead. Both formats are equally good. Sandford's books, including this one, are available for instant download as an ebook or audiobook at Amazon, iTunes, Audible and the Overdrive Public Library App.  I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Fargo the tv show

This is loosely based on the fantastic movie of the same name which was done by the Coen Brothers. This tv series is also their production. If you love their work, and I do, you will love this series. These are the same kinds of quirky people located in the tundra of Minnesota-N.Dakota whom we met in the movie version. It is snowing all the time seemingly but they have adapted. They all hunt, ice fish, know everyone in their environs and are as deadpan as can be. They all love guns. These people are not like anyone you or I know unless we also live in that section of the country.

Fargo the movie had a put-upon everyman played by William M. Macey and Fargo the tv series has one as well, named Lester. Both characters take a turn towards the criminal when their families humiliate them one time too many. Lester becomes murderous yet at all times still remains a wimp insurance salesman. Everyone in town went to high school with him and knows him as a wimp.

The sheer genius aspect of this series was adding Billy Bob Thornton to the cast. He is absolutely ideal as the stone cold killer drifting into town who takes Lester under his wing. There are also some less intelligent killers apart from Thornton who reprise the dolts from the movie version very well.

There is a woman deputy sheriff as well but this time she is single and somewhat interested in her police counterpart from Duluth. He is a bit of a doofus, played by Colin Hanks, but with a sharp as a tack teenage daughter.

I am definitely watching the rest of the series based on these early episodes I've been watching. The series should be a major hit in 2014 for the FX channel. I can tell it is a quality production every step of the way.

This tv series is available for instant viewing at Amazon and iTunes. I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Movie: The Desk Set (1957)

with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy 

When you have two brilliant actors, a great script, a fabulous wardrobe, etc., is it any surprise that the movie has survived the test of time as a classic? Tracy is an efficiency expert. Hepburn is the research employee he may be replacing with a computer. These two are dueling together the entire time, including a classic scene up on the company's New York City roof where he gives her an IQ test. She passes it brilliantly. Her late 1950s wardrobe is classic and gorgeous, based on the looks brought in by Dior in that era.

Gig Young plays Hepburn's sometimes boyfriend who takes her for granted. Tracy moves in on their relationship starting with being caught in the rain with Hepburn. They get into robes, Gig Young walks in and hilarity ensues. Even though the work place has changed radically since this time, the universals between men and women remain the same so the movie is not dated.

In playing these roles, Tracy was 57 years old with a full head of white hair and Hepburn was 50 years old. It is so refreshing to see him paired in a romantic comedy with someone of his generation rather than with a woman between 20 and 35. It was not considered radical at the time to make a romantic comedy with these two actors at this age.  In our own time only Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton come to mind for doing the same.

For fans of the late Nora Ephron, it is worth noting that the film's script was written by her parents. Nora followed her parents into screenwriting and then branched out to directing.

This film is available for instant viewing at Amazon and iTunes. I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Music: The Idler Wheel by Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple grows by leaps and bounds artistically!

I was listening to the listeners's top choices podcast on NPR and this album place very high, It was noted, however, that it has not sold wildly well. I have now listened to the whole album and I can understand that if someone has never listened to experiments done in music that this might turn them away. For example, she uses dissonance, atonality, nontraditional instruments, a voice on key that is nevertheless moving all over the musical spectrum. Plus it is wildly emotional. If one only listens to melodious music played and sung the way it has been for decades, this can be quite jarring. She even hits tribal music although it sounds like it emanated from the very early Irish instead of Africa. I think it is a great musical undertaking. Even the cover art is wonderful. Apple puts new meaning in the phrase "musical artist." I highly recommend this album.

This album is available for instant downloading at Amazon and iTunes. I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

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