Friday, September 5, 2014

Weekend Entertainment for Seniors & Others

Film: Light Sleeper by Paul Schrader, starring Willem Dafoe, Susan Sarandon & Dana Delaney
Writer-director Paul Schrader delivers his most satisfying film for me. He is even better known for his work when he solely screenwriters, such as for his unsurpassed "Taxi Driver," directed by his frequent collaborator, Marty Scorsese. For his own solo film though, this is my favorite. Schrader's film work is frequently compared to the late Robert Bresson's films. However, Bresson has always been a little too painterly for me. 

Schrader is painterly enough and to make it any more so evokes that dreaded word in film: slow. I frankly prefer this film to the Bresson films I've seen, which makes me a film heretic I realize. Urban alienation is at the core of this film, which is true of all Schrader's work, and Willem Dafoe plays a nocturnal drug dealer who doesn't get much sleep (hence the title), probably because his dreams remain so elusive from his grasp, as a metaphor for the overall film. Two women present the immediate conflict in the film.

Susan Sarandon plays a drug dealer who Dafoe works for and she tells him that they both need to get out of dealing. She plans to open a legitimate cosmetics business and seems capable of following through on the idea. She is the most in control of her life of the three main characters. Dana Delany plays Dafoe's former lover, who doesn't want anything to do with him because they were substance abusers together in the past. Although he's clean now, he still deals. But is her character as squeaky clean as she now proclaims to be? Dafoe needs to figure that out.

Further tension comes about from the eroticism between Dafoe and Delany plus the growing potential for eroticism between Dafoe and Sarandon. Dafoe is absolutely wonderful in this film and becomes a major romantic and erotic dream figure for the viewer regardless of what the viewer thinks of him vis a vis the two women. 

TV: The Escape Artist starring David Tennant

Actor David Tennant does an excellent job as a London barrister who is renowned for getting off criminals, especially murderers. Here he has an especially unsavory murder client whom we know is guilty. He again triumphs by getting him acquitted but he shows his disdain for his client by refusing to shake his hand as they part. His client is not about to let this snub go and shortly begins stalking the barrister and his family. 

This becomes a harrowing cat and mouse game as to which of the two men will triumph in this battle. How far this powder keg of a barrister-client relationship might go is the issue. UK crime shows are invariably excellent and this is one of the UK's very best with an outstanding actor at the helm. What is especially clever is that this is perhaps the most complained of matter in criminal law: lawyers who get criminals off. So to see the tables turned is a guilty pleasure many murder trial watchers will enjoy.

David Tennant and the creator of this show also did the big hit Broadchurch last year together. That was a crime show where Tennant played a detective assigned to solve a murder in a small seaside town. I enjoyed this show even more than Broadchurch.

Novel: Plot Against America by Philip Roth; audiobook by Ron Silver

Some of my favorite novels cover World War II. Some of those have imagined alternative outcomes to that war. No one has reimagined it like Philip Roth though. This is the difference when a major, Pulitzer Prize winning talent writes such a book: it is just awesomely brought to life down to the tiniest detail. He uses a brilliant premise, which is that Roosevelt was defeated by Lindbergh in the presidential election. Thus Lindbergh became our president. Although Lindbergh was a hero in this country because of his aviation exploits, he had some fatal flaws to becoming a politician. Like many aristocrats in England, he was a Nazi sympathizer and anti Semitic. And he becomes President at a time when Americans wants to leave this war to everyone else and follow our own isolationist bent. With this premise, Roth is off and running.

The late actor Ron Silver did the audiobook version of this novel. He did a total of three of Roth's novels and I wish he had done all of them. He was born to perform Roth's work. He did an absolutely brilliant reading of this book. In doing so he also made it easy to read because he performed his way right through the inherent literary slowness this kind of book can possess. So this is one of those books that I urge you to experience in audiobook fashion as Silver brings the book home to the reader in absolute triumph. When I finished this book, I felt as if I had been there during the Lindbergh presidency.  And it was nice to know that had only happened in my imagination, not in real life.

Music: Von: Der Adler Feat. Misen Soundtrack,

Jacob Groth (Composer), Misen (Performer) 

I guess I've helped more than hurt most users at Amazon with my reviews. I know this because the users more than returned the favor! One of my readers on Amazon wrote me a comment that if I liked these Scandinavian noir crime series, that I really needed to see The Eagle from Denmark. I did watch it and absolutely loved it. However, in addition to the show itself, is this absolutely beautiful soundtrack. There is a female soloist, Misen, with a voice which sounds like it goes with a soaring eagle. The song Forgiveness is the runaway hit from this album. However, the whole album is beautiful.  It was not easy to find. I bought mine on Amazon USA but through one of the marketplace sellers who was in Europe. 

Everything reviewed above is carried by Amazon, iTunes, Audible, the Overdrive app for your public library and most other outlets both online and in the real world. These are taken from my five star reviews at Amazon where I am a Top Reviewer. You may need to use a European Amazon to find the CD for the music.

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