Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Weekend Entertainment Recs for Seniors & Others










Novel: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Edgar mystery winner and rightly so!!!

The Edgar is the biggest award in the mystery genre, as awarded by the Mystery Writers of America. The big winner of the award this year is this novel. It reminds me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird. This is because it is narrated by a man now grown looking back to the summer of 1961 when he was a kid in the flatlands of the Minnesota River. He was a minister's son whose father was an extraordinary man. He'd been a lawyer before he'd been in WWII and returned wanting to be a minister. His congregation is a small town. He has a wife raised in a rich family who thought she was marrying a lawyer, not a minister, and two sons and one daughter. Back in that summer of 1961, a number of people died. 

But the author is not simply concerned with murders. This is a masterful depiction of fascinating characters in a distinctive part of America. The Minnesota flatlands are small town America with many citizens of mixed Indian and white blood. They still have small town musicales and everyone knows one another and hangs out at the swimming hole during the hot days. But one death after another begins to intrude into this family's and the town's life that summer and it makes for a fascinating story. 

Really, this is not just the best mystery of the year, this is the best book of the year. It is almost a disservice to call it a mystery. The author is well known for writing a mystery series involving a PI who was formerly the sheriff in this same Minnesota country. This, by contrast, is a stand alone novel. The Edgars' awards list is here. All of the nominees are worth reading.

This is 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.




TV: Midsomer Murders BBC Mystery
Excels at juxtaposing bucolic serenity with outright mayhem and murder!

This show does something particularly british. While America has always been known for its noir like mysteries and resulting film noir, the British have always excelled at making one comfortable, cozy and serene, sipping tea in a beautiful garden, and then unleashing murder and mayhem onto that scene. This is so british that no other country even tries copying it as a genre. This show exemplifies what is best in this genre and, best of all, puts satire, farce and humor over the whole rendition. Veteran actors play the detectives to perfection.

Case in Point: one of the episodes turns on a custom from centuries past when the gene pool got too inbred in these English villages. Thus, there would be a stag night when the men would go to another village to have a night with the women there to inject new life into the gene pool. Our intrepid detectives have to solve a case where this practice still occurs and the lead villain wears a stag head--it is an image you will never forget!

Another episode involves a convent and another image which will stay with you always is the younger detective dressed up like a nun to solve a murder at the convent.

I've watched all seasons of this show. They are all fabulous and all hilarious while also being legitimate mysteries. I also read the handful of novels upon which the series is based. They were also quite good but there are only a few of them.

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

Film: Crime D'Amour aka Love Crime (2010) 
French language with English subtitles

This was such a wonderful viewing experience. The French do such a marvelous job on film, getting nuances down to a story unlike any other country seems able to do. The film is in a business setting with two female executives. The top one is played by Kristin Scott-Thomas, the brunette. She is taking credit for the work of the number two executive, the blonde French actress on the box, Sagnier. When number two starts taking credit for her own work, number one starts fighting dirty, including using a man against her with whom they have both been sleeping. What is number two to do? The answer to this is absolutely fascinating and you will be unable to move away from the screen as the rest of the film unfolds. I just loved this film. If you've had a tough day and need a marvelous escape for the evening, this is the film to watch.

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











Music: Body Heat Soundtrack

I've always loved the film "Body Heat" so I was delighted to buy the soundtrack when it came back on the market in this re-recorded version. It brings the film back into your mind completely as you listen to it. Its main refrain throughout is sultry seduction in the Florida heat via saxophone, piano, violins and so forth, all via the London Symphony Orchestra. It is entirely instrumental. 

I must make one distinction though. Listening to a soundtrack is generally not like listening to a powerhouse soloist who absolutely knocks you out. I love listening to soundtracks but they are quite different from listening to the album of one of the top 100 solo singers or musicians in the world. 

Soundtracks make better mood and background music than theatrical music typically does. This is because the mood and tone remain consistent throughout whereas a live theater show can change pace, tone and mood rapidly. "Body Heat" fits exactly within what one can reasonably expect when buying and listening to a really fine soundtrack. 

If you want to discover whether you even like listening to soundtracks, this would be a good one for you to try as a sample. 

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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