Thoughts on Film: Bad Moms

 

Sometimes it’s good to be bad.

That’s what our overworked heroine Amy Mitchell discovers in the new female driven comedy “Bad Moms.”

Now with the end of the Summer movie season approaching, I’m finding my options to be a bit limited. Sure there is Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne, but where I live, movie going is very expensive and that’s not including the popcorn.

Nonetheless, with a very rainy Saturday and with after work activities, I made my way to my favorite movie theater on the Upper West Side, hoping I made a good choice.

The film focuses on a trio of moms in the suburbs of Chicago. Amy, played by Mila Kunis, is a part-time worker at a coffee company, run by some stereotypical lazy millennials and still is a full-time mom. Her two kids Jane (Oona Lauernce) and Dylan (Emjay Anthony) are polar opposites, Jane’s the overachiever and Dylan, at a very young age, has all the markings of a slacker in progress. Her husband Mike (David Walton) is as inattentive to his kids as a 1950’s father so there’s no hope there. In fact he’s finally busted for having a cyber-sex affair.

After having the day from hell, Amy is late to the school’s PTA meeting lead by uber-mom Gwendolyn, an icy Christina Applegate. Gwendolyn, declares Amy should head the ‘bake-sale police,’ as punishment for being late. Amy, fed up with what has happened, declares no and heads to the first bar she finds.

There she meets Carla, a hilarious Kathryn Hahn, a single mother and is soon joined by Kiki, Kristen Bell a stay-at-home mom. The three share their mom fantasies and complain about trying to be the perfect mom.  The next morning, Amy begins to rebel against mommy-hood and takes a personal day. Going to the movies, having brunch, telling her boss to f*** off from a meeting and even getting Jane to relax at a spa.

She even catches the eye of one of the dads, widower Jesse, Jay Hernandez, who’s had a crush on her and is the epitome of the hands on dad. Everything seems to be going well until Gwendolyn, sensing a threat, tries to squash the rebellion of bad moms. Will Amy, Carla and Kiki save the day or would they be forever enslaved to mommy-hood?

To start the film has a good premise and the three leads work very well together. While watching Hahn’s character Carla, I began to imagine Melissa McCarthy’s character Megan from “Bridesmaids.” Loud, unpredictable and yet fiercely loyal to her friends. Carla, as crazy as she is, is someone I want in my corner.

For a comedy, the film keeps an even pace, but it’s all too convenient plot left me wondering if the writers, who are men, really managed to scratched the surface. And even though they wrote the film as a paen/apology to their wives, I wonder if they actually read the script aloud to their wives who could have at least given them some pointers.

The film’s overall message is that you can get loose but not too loose. You can drop the deadbeat husband but must pick up the next available man. You can rebel against the system but you must take control of it until the next rebel comes on the scene.

That’s not to say the women in ‘Bad Moms’ lose the battle of mommy-hood. In fact they have some wins and there is a balance back to the force. But in a weird, roundabout way they argue, a bad mom is the best mom.

Best Moments and Lines*:

“A mom party is the best because it always ends at 11 p.m.”: Amy

“I think you just got be pregnant”: Jesse after he comments Amy on her sexual performance

“You took weeks off to morn the loss of John Snow”: Amy on her colleagues at work.

“I have six of these before 10” : Martha Stewart, commenting on her Jello Shots at the impromptu party that Amy throws to counter Gwendolyn.

Bad Moms is rated  R- Restricted. Contains several cuss words, sex jokes and drinking. Yet only one hangover and Martha Stewart’s Jello Shots.   

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Thoughts on Film: All-Female “Ghostbusters” answers the call.

Who ya’ gonna call!

As far as remakes go, they’re only two camps a remake can fall in; they’re sloppy homages to the original with little originality or ones that try to rise to the occasion and bring a new generation into the fold yet fall a little short.

That being said the new “Ghostbusters” film, I’m happy to say, falls into the latter camp. It might not quite top the original in people’s hearts but it’s most dynamic change, an all-female team, is not a liability.

This re-boot of the beloved 80’s franchise keeps many of the tenants of the original in balance with a new look and attitude, that’s leaner, focused and even zanier than the original.

As the story goes, Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wigg) a professor approaching tenure at Columbia, thought she buried her ghost searching past and her book “Ghosts from our Past: Literally and Figuratively,” behind her. Only to be dragged back in by the book’s co-author and former best friend Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), who now works at a junior college.

Despite herself, Erin encounters a ghost at an old mansion with Yates and her assistant, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). Their encounter is posted to YouTube as proof but both are fired from their position. Realizing if they had proof, people would actually take them seriously, the ladies decide to go into research on their own.

Added to the team is MTA transit worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), who had a separate paranormal encounter of her own while at work and Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), their handsome yet dim assistant.

As they experiment with new tactics of ghostbusting, thanks to Holtzmann’s insane cache of weapons, they deal with a mysterious occultist named Rowan (Neil Casey). Rowan is silently planning an apocalyptic new world order to make himself a god. They also deal with a reluctant city government trying to deny the existence of ghosts “Men in Black” style. And we thought the guys had it rough.

Kristen Wiig as Dr. Erin Burnett

The cast gels remarkably well with each of them contributing zingers almost every minute of dialogue. Even the sit down with the mayor, played by an equally charming yet stern Adam Garcia, provided some gags.

Wiig is surprisingly good at playing the straight person in the film and her character has a slowly evolving arc from frumpy professor to kick-ass ghostbuster. McCarthy, on the other, serves as cheerleader-in-chief, which doesn’t have much in the comedic department but she gets to be possessed by a ghosts which was crazy in it of itself but showcased her physical comedy.

Melissa McCarthy as Abby Yates and Lesile Jones as Patty Tolan

The can-do attitude of the women on the film is as constant as it is infectious for they battle not just the ghosts but the even the men who get in their way.

The film’s true breakout character however, lies with Holtzmann; who McKinnon gives an inspired performance for young women everywhere. The fact that she is quite possibly the first queer Ghostbuster adds a new dimension to her character. It might be easy to compare her to Egon but no she is her own woman and it’s no surprise that her character will be the one that future queer women will look upon her and have their sexual awakening.

Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann

[Sidebar: Dear Sony please give Holtzmann a girlfriend so queer women are better represented in film. It will make us, the movie going public, happy to see something new and say suck it to meninmists everywhere!]

The cameos, some worked well, like Bill Murrary’s which he played a debunker of the supernatural and Ernie Hudson playing Tolan’s uncle who loans them their car. Dan Akroyd’s cameo was perhaps the most New York thing in the movie which he plays a cabbie and Sigourney Weaver as Holtzmann’s mentor symbolized the official passing of the torch to the new generation. The best one however, goes to the late Harold Ramis who is a bust in the beginning of the film.

Chris Hemsworth as Kevin Beckham

Of course when I said try earlier in the post I meant that the reboot has a few missed opportunities. Compared to the original, the film saves much of ghost-busting towards the end of the film a missed opportunity of sorts, since the first film used a montage of them finding ghosts as a way to show their rising popularity.

Their choice of filming in places to fill in for New York, while important for expanding the Ghostbusters universe, also subtracts from the setting since New York has always been a major character in many films. The adventures from the first two Ghostbusters had that classic ‘only in New York’ quality which gave their plots a sense of time and place the current one sort of lacks.

Another missed opportunity, is perhaps the most obvious, the characterization of Patty. While Jones herself defended the decision of the working-class origins of her character it still would have been nice if she still could have been a scientist and still be well Patty.

I left the theater wishing more was done for her since she has definitely more screen time, compared to Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore, who by the way had the best lines in original.

The only redeeming quality is that Patty comes up with a few ideas that contribute to the team effort and is extremely protective of the team, particularly to well you guessed it Holtzmann.

Fieg is great as a comedic director but he is not an action director nor do I want him to be one. If there is to be a sequel, please let someone direct the action scene’s, it worked well for “West Side Story” and they had 11 Oscar nominations to prove it.

However, considering how much of the deck was stacked against them, this Ghostbusters rises to the occasion, reminds us that we all can be Ghostbusters and that films that are remakes can also break ground. But most importantly I just wanna have fun at the movies.

So, “Who ya gonna call???!”

Grade B

Ghostbuster is rated PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned. Light cussing, but inventive use of the middle finger, a theater manager who screams like a girl and ghosts in green, blue and Pilgrims?   

Who view’s it best: Brooklyn Vs. Manhattan Bridge

Ok so if you guys remember from last year I did something of a mini series on the best views of the Manhattan skyline. This is a continuation/re-boot of that series. Over the last few months, I’ve been visiting two iconic New York City bridges over the which bridge is better at skyline views. The Brooklyn or Manhattan B

It’s the battle of the bridges

To start, each bridge is unique in their design and their place in the city-scape. They also provide the visitor a different viewpoint of the city, specifically if it is geared towards Lower Manhattan.

Historically, Lower Manhattan was the center of New York until the 20th-century. So both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges reflect that as well as connecting to Downtown Brooklyn which it’s central business district was, much larger in the past.

This post is not to pick a winner, you can decide that for yourself. I’ll be updating the post as time goes on as perspectives change. In the meantime, I will show you what I’ve observed about walking both bridges.

Brooklyn Bridge 

Let’s take a look at the Brooklyn Bridge. The most famous and recognizable of the two. Opened in 1883, the bridge has the unusual aspect of placing the pedestrian walkway both above the traffic and in the middle of the bridge. This maximizes the visual impact a visitor has on the view. To the west, is the new One and Four World Trade Center, with number Three rising. While classic skyscrapers like 20 Exchange Place and 70 Pine, symbols of Roaring Twenties hold court further south and deeper still are Ellis, Governors and Liberty Island.

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Lower Manhattan skyline behind Brooklyn Bridge wires.

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The Manhattan Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge.

To the north, the Empire State Building still dominates the skyline despite new construction that will eventually match or surpass it. The idea that a building would dare to over take the city’s true vertical representation so close is something I will have to grapple with as I get older.

Other landmarks include 30 Rockefeller Plaza, (no I will not call it the Comcast Building still prefer GE or RCA if your an OG), Metlife/Pan Am Building, The Chrysler Building, The New York Life Building, the original Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower, the New York Times Building and lastly 432 Park Avenue.

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Despite holding court in solitude for nearly nine decades, the Empire State Building is getting some taller neighbors.

The Brooklyn Bridge is perfect except for one thing, it’s too damn crowded. When the walkway was built, it’s popularity was underestimated. In fact, a stampede was started less than a week after the bridge opened due to a rumor that the bridge was going to collapse! While a minority of people actually commute via walking on the bridge, tourists and photography lovers such as my self make up the majority of walkers.

To make matters worse, bicyclists have the north-facing side of the walkway and it’s an unpredictable. From bike tours to causal and hardcore bicyclists, accidents can happen. So if you want to get that shot, look both ways and judge the speed of the bike.

While their have been proposals to add more space on the bridge next to the existing pathway, for now they are just proposals so if you truly want a good shot walk it early in the morning or late in the evening once everyone has gone home.

Manhattan Bridge 

Just under a mile to the east lies the Manhattan Bridge. Compared to most bridges that stick to just one color, the Manhattan Bridge has two, blue and white and is an all steel affair compared to the elegant yet contrasting steel and stonework of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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When you have the walkway to yourself #goals

That being said, the Manhattan Bridge was never meant to pretty, it was meant to be crossed, by walking, biking, driving, or taking public transportation. This could be proven in the position of the bridge walkways, for which they are two, one on the north and the other on the south side.

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Views

The south side has some of the most sweeping views of Lower Manhattan. You get everything the buildings, the Statue of Liberty and oh yes there’s that Brooklyn Bridge right in the thick of it.

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Lower Manhattan from the Manhattan Bridge.

The north side has New York’s Housing developments built during the mid-century as slum clearance in the foreground. The Empire State Building and the midtown skyline is in the background. Had the projects not been built, the gradual rise from short to tall buildings would have appeared natural. In order for you to get a sense of that, walk all the way to the Manhattan side of the bridge.

The immediate skyline is also going to change. One Manhattan Square, a new luxury development that replaced a supermarket, is currently going up. It is a deeply unpopular project and has been stopped twice on safety grounds. The fact that a 800+ tall building is being built so close to the waterfront, on reclaimed land, should have been under tighter scrutiny, but somehow this one made it through the needle.

While the Manhattan Bridge’s iconic vantage shot of the Empire State Building under it’s lower arch appears safe, questions about saving such views have come up before with the erection of the Pierhouse on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge. That is something I’ve covered in my previous post on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and it’s views. It seems that history will repeat itself but with a taller and garish building. So time is of the essence to document this soon to be lost view.

One downside to the bridge is the loss of the 360 degree view that the Brooklyn Bridge has over the Manhattan Bridge also with four subway tracks roaring across the bridge it can get very noisy. However, the noise and the lack of visible entry points of the walkway gives the visitor more space and leisure time to savor the view.

But if you want to get higher you can take a cab or a double decker tour bus on the upper level which can give you the 360 degree view you are missing on the lower level. It’s pricey and you can’t immediately get off the bus once you’ve done the round trip but as a former worker of those buses, under the right circumstances, it can be one helluva view.

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The Upper Level view.

So who’s the winner well walk it and comment below.

Follow me on Instagram @ayindestevens for past and present shots of these landmarks and on twitter @AJStevens50 on some unrelated tweets of me getting stuck on the subway haha. 

Thoughts on film: Miles Ahead

First things first, April is Jazz History Month, perhaps the only month in the year dedicated to an American musical art form. That being said, three films about iconic Jazz performers, are being released, during the span of a month. The one I saw was “Miles Ahead.”

Named after a Miles Davis album, the film stars Don Cheadle as Davis in a semi-biographical film, that takes the rule-book of biopics and chucks it out the window.

When the movie opens, Davis is siting for an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. The interviewer, asks Davis a question which prompts him to pick up his trumpet, and soon we are whisked to his New York home where he is working on new music.

Music that could give him a comeback, if Davis would stop stonewalling.

The Davis we are seeing are from his lost years. Hobbled by a degenerative hip and drug addiction, Davis shuffles around his shabby home, filled with booze, drugs and other pieces’ of refuse of a man lost in his own mind. One character calls him, “jazz’s Howard Hughes,” due to his hermetic lifestyle.

That stupor fades away when Davis encounters David Braden (Ewan McGregor) a writer, who also happens to come from Rolling Stone magazine. Davis is angered by Braden’s invasion into his domain but, Braden claims that Davis’ record company, Columbia Records sent him to write the comeback piece. Davis, who also has a bone to pick with his label over a $20,000 check, brings Braden along for the ride.

Over the course the film, Davis and Braden, talk, smoke, snort cocaine, and chase some sleazy d-bag producer Harper Hamilton, (Michael Stuhlbrag) who steals a tape that contains Davis’ new material.

Watching Cheadle’s Davis is at times, illuminating because we see privy to Davis’ genius as a performer, his ability to find which note works best with his compositions, for album’s like “Sketches of Spain” and “Someday My Prince Will Come”.

Album Cover of “Someday My Prince Will Come” with Davis’ wife Frances Taylor as the model. (Image from https://themenight.wordpress.com)  

The album cover of “…Will Come,” serves as one of the triggers for Davis’ flashbacks to his relationship with his first wife, Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corindealdi). Taylor an accomplished dancer in her own right, serves as a muse of sorts, and through the flashbacks we see how Davis shines albeit at the expense of Taylor.

While there is a mutual love between the two, it is not enough to save Davis from slowly destroying himself, first with women, then with his abuse towards Taylor and finally his hip begins to give out.  His hair and clothes transition from the suits and sophistication of the 50’s and 60’s to the wild and counter-culture inspired of the 70’s, which appears to be befitting to Davis’ nature. They are other flashback triggers, but this one sticks out due to Davis’ regret of the past.

McGregor himself, holds his own as the wily journalist Braden, who begins to see why Davis wants to be alone, but also can’t quite resist making a few dollars off of Davis’ fame one way or the other. Midway through the film, I begun to question Braden’s involvement with the whole affair. Is he really there for the story, or is he there just for the ride and some cocaine he managed to score for Davis. A dealer who also happens to be a fan.

Don Cheadle as Miles Davis and Ewan McGregor as David Braden about to score well something… (image courtsey of http://www.cinemaclock.com)

The viewer might also wonder if this is all real or is this in someone’s head. I’m not entirely sure what is the right answer, but the only person who knows that is Miles Davis.

Cheadle dodges the tried-and-true tactics of biopic format by pretty much doing the movie his way. Cheadle also used Indiegogo as a fundraising platform for the film, perhaps to zero in on some die-hard Davis fans so that they too felt invested in the story. The plot feels fresh and plausible despite its improvisational feel which might be a stumbling block for some viewers.

If they tried this under the standard biopic formula, Davis who come off as wooden and inaccessible, something he himself disdains. It might get the facts down in a linear fashion, but Cheadle covers the bases enough so that it still is a biopic while still getting Davis right.

Cheadle also does not put Davis’ death date at the end of the film because Davis’ spirit is in those who jammed with him and those who came after him, the innovators, the artists, the genius, the ones who could speak his language and continue jazz to the next generation.

The best line of the film also sums up the films mantra “If you’re gonna tell a story, man, come with some attitude.” If Davis was alive, he would approve of this film and it’s  unique ‘approach’ of telling this story.

 

Thoughts on TV: Younger Returns For Season 2

Oh the fun they are going to have. Photo from Pinterest

IT’S BACK!!!

“Younger,” the critically acclaimed comedy about a 40-something, rediscovering her life by being a 20-something again, returns to TV Land for its second season.

For those who were living under a rock, the show’s main character, Liza Miller (Sutton Foster), a recently separated suburban housewife, returns to work in publishing with a catch; she’s pretending to be 26, when in fact she’s 40. At the end of season one, her boyfriend Josh (Nico Tortorella) found out the truth, and things were somewhat left in the air but, it looked as if Josh was coming around to the idea.

Now Liza has to navigate the new reality of her relationship with Josh and still keep the secret from her co-workers, Kelsey (Hillary Duff), Diana (Miriam Shor), and Charles (Peter Hermann) at Empirical Publishing.

Complicating matters, her daughter Caitlin (Tessa Albertson), has returned from India, and knows nothing from her new life.

TV Land was nice enough to show two episodes, “Tattoo You” and “The Mao Function,” for the second season premiere, and it appears the show has not lost its touch. Some of the funniest lines from I’ve heard from the show so far have come from these episodes.

In “Tattoo,” Liza welcomes her daughter Caitlin but has not told her about her new life as a 26 year-old single woman. Josh on the other hand is unresponsive and blows her off after an attempt to straighten things out between them. In fact his text makes it sound as if he broke up with her!

Diana is still trying to get her hooks onto Charles, and when a dentist of Bobby Flay (yes the Bobby Flay) tries to make a move, Trout sends her to New York hell, Time Warner Cable! We knew Trout was cold but damn that was genius.

Kelsey meanwhile, is attempting to bring Empirical Publishing some millennial flavor, by making a book from the Tumblr account, “100 Things Women Think About While Giving Blowjobs.” The idea get shot down by Trout, but at least we get this delightful clapback from Kelsey, “I wouldn’t classify oral sex as pornography.”

Score one for positive sex! However, the idea gets picked up by a rival publication, which is leaving Kelsey feeling frustrated, and feeling unwanted.

Finally, when Liza discovers Caitlin’s new tattoo, she inquires where she got it, and figures out it was Josh who gave her the tattoo!

After confronting Josh about the tattoo and the fact he broke up with her via text, Josh admits that he didn’t know it was her daughter but, states he didn’t break up with Liza. When Liza asks about the text, he explains that it was Caitlin that prevented him from seeing her at the bar, and texted that they couldn’t meet because of ‘work’. Liza points out the grammatical error, she works in publishing after all, and Josh, surprisingly he fesses up to it.

Now we know from season one that Josh isn’t always that bright but, he and Liza make up, and for now Liza and Josh are back on. So does that mean everything all is hunky dory? Nope, Caitlin is looking at them making out through the window, and oy that must have been awkward for her.

This leads us to “Mao Function” where more of the groundwork of season is being laid. First, Caitlin heads back to Jersey with her father David (Paul Fitzgerald), so for now, that problem is at bay but, like Maggie I think she will return to give her mother an extra dose of drama.

On the other hand, Josh is learning the ups, kicking ass at trivia night, while Liza learns the downs, the very annoying age comparisons Josh makes, of spilling the beans. This make Liza question the whole situation even more. How can she have a relationship if Josh can’t respect the age difference rather than make cracks at it?

Kelsey has lost another client to a rival publishing company but her former client offers her the chance to jump ship. So naturally she asks Liza for advice. Kelsey explains to Liza that without Charles, she wouldn’t have her shot as a book editor, but she feels undervalued because of her age. Turns out ageism can go both ways.

During the function, Josh gets a taste of what Liza had to deal with when she kept her age close to her chest. When Kelsey, Lauren, and Thad ask about the breakup, he had to come up a lie to explain their break-up was over a deceased cat. Josh leaves the function in confusion and before Liza can deal with that problem, she has to deliver a manuscript to Charles.

Charles reveals to Liza that he is aware of Kelsey’s offer and asks Liza what he should do to counter it. Liza, ever the good friend, puts in a good word for Kelsey and suggests that Kelsey should be given something that plays to her strengths.

While Liza and Josh don’t fight about what happened at the function, he did suggest that Liza should at least tell Kelsey. Just when she was finally going to come clean to Kelsey, she bring big news! Charles gave her an imprint, or a division of Empirical to run herself and wants to bring Liza along for the ride! So that secret might stay under wraps for a while.

So what to look forward this season:

Potential Love Triangle. It’s clear Josh is going to be uncomfortable at times with the age difference and Charles is looking like a potentially better candidate in the love department. He values her input, he’s also a divorcée, and also has a kid so they’re areas of common ground. Also Trout will try to make a move and from what happened in “Tattoo” is any guide it only can go south from there.

Lauren + Maggie? Well it looks like Maggie is taking a dip in the younger pool. After Lauren made out with her under a drug induced haze, Maggie finally brought her to the loft. Does this mean Lauren, who is sexually fluid, willing to settle? Not sure where this leads to but it is nice that the writers are acknowledging an LGBT relationship. It was one of my gripes with season one, with the fact that while Liza and Kelsey were getting some action with their perspective partners, Maggie and Lauren were left out of the relationship department. I’m quite curious to see where this will lead.

The return of Martha Plimpton! There is one more person who know who Liza truly is and that is Cheryl Sussman (Martha Plimpton), a former colleague of Liza. She tried once to blackmail Liza to spy for her and while it didn’t succeed their last encounter did leave the door open for her return. I was not disappointed when she showed up in the promo for the rest of season two so I can’t wait for them to see where they take that next. All I know is it sounds like she will blow the whistle on Liza!

Will the truth come out? It’s not sure how but it’s implied that Liza will have to tell the truth to someone else in the cast. The two most likely candidates are Caitlin and Kelsey but potential dark horse could be Trout.  It would be in Liza’s best interest to get an ally in Empirical especially if Sussman goes after her again. Trout is the only other person who might have some leverage against her due to their personal animosity towards each other.

Most of all as long as the show stays fun and interesting, I will stay tuned to “Younger.”

Follow me on Twitter at @AJStevens50 and on Instagram at ayindestevens.

-AJS

Thoughts on Books… “Career of Evil”

 

U.K. jacket cover for “Career of Evil” 

Before you read further “Career of Evil” is the third in the Comoran strike series which debuted in 2013. The review for the first book “The Cuckoo’s Calling” here  in an article I wrote at my college paper. It should also be used for background on some of the characters and for continuity. Sadly I did not review “The Silkworm” when it was released last year.   

In Robert Galbraith’s (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) new crime novel, “Career of Evil,” pits London detective Cormoran Strike with three men from his past all with an ax to grind.

The story begins with the musings of the murderer, who is pained that Strike took away the everything from him and is now going to return the favor. With a sick and twisted game that seeks to tear apart everything Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott have worked hard to build in the past year.

And it all starts with a leg.

Robin arrives to the Strike private investigation office and picks up a package addressed to her and when she opens it, a severed leg tumbles out with lyrics from the song “Mistress of the Salmon Salt” by the band Blue  Öyster Cult. The lyrics were also a tattoo on Strikes mother.

Strike knows that the murderer knows his past and is going to use Robin to well strike back. He also further deduces that they’re three men are the most likely to have it out for them. Two of the men come from Stike’s past in the military, prior to the blast that blew his leg off and the third is none other than Strike’s stepfather, whom Strike is still convinced that he killed his birth mother.

Each man is morally depraved in their own ways, as the novel progresses you begin to understand who these men are and how they have affected Cormoran as a person. All of them on some level are sociopaths, narcissistic and manipulative creatures that are pure evil.

The killer wants to use Robin to be the linchpin of Strike’s downfall so its up to Strike and Robin to discover the killer’s identity before he can get to Robin.

However, the case allows several fault lines to surface, the first is the underlying romantic tension that exists between the two. Robin knows who Strike is, his unconventional past and understands him more intimately than his own friends after working for him for just a year. Strike likes his compartmentalized life but has discovered a kinship with Robin he hasn’t had with anyone except for perhaps his mother.

The other fault line involves Robin. it’s in this book we discover why she never finished college. She was the victim of a violent sexual assault and only survived because she played dead. The assault derailed Robin’s life for a year and it took away her confidence. Yet, despite that she has fought back and knows she’s a survivor.

Robin, as it turns out has dreamed about being a detective since she was a girl. However, her family and fiance Matthew have tried to dissuade her for years. And while she has helped Strike in the previous books, Robin truly craves the need to solve this one with Strike and on her own terms. The book makes it clear she will not be victimized again. It’s the first time we see Robin rebel against Strike as she tries to assert herself as a partner and asset not a liability.

The final fault line is Matthew himself. It’s become quite clear that Strike and Matthew are the dominate men in Robin’s life. Neither of them like each other and worse still Matthew is quite apprehensive about Robin working for Strike. He takes every opportunity to belittle Robin’s decision to stick with Strike. The reason, is that he is threatened by the new-found confidence that comes with being in the detective business. Which proves that the biggest villains are often the ones in plain sight.

“Career of Evil” shows what Rowling does best, which is to create the world of the characters and our emotional reactions and attachment to the heroes and villains in the each installment. I’ll admit I hated Matthew more than the killer himself since you can’t prosecute an insecure twit but you can prosecute a serial killer.

Also Rowling has greatly improved on the series as she creates several twists and turns with this book. I honestly couldn’t figure out which one would be the killer even with the clues dropped when the story shifted to his perspective, a smart move on her part. There’s also a foray into a sub community of admires of Strike that we get into that you have to read to believe it but don’t judge it.

I wonder where they will go next?

Grade A

-AJS

P.S.  I also want my dear readers to stay tuned as I take on another project.  HINT: it involves walking.   

  

Thoughts on…“Supergirl”: The ladies finally soars onto TV.

Image courtsey of Movieweb.com

 Finally!

After months of teasing, it finally came, “Supergirl,” the new superhero television show on CBS premiered Monday. Starring Melissa Benoist as the titular girl with the cape.

And boy did they get off to a rousing start.

So as we all know, Superman a.k.a. Kal-El a.k.a. Clark Kent, was sent to Earth, for his protection and ours when the planet Krypton was destroyed. What we, according to Kara, Kal-El’s cousin, didn’t know was that she was sent to Earth to protect him. Since she was age 12, it was seemed to be the natural choice for someone to share a familial bond with.

Unfortunately, Kara gets delayed and winds up on earth 24 years later, only to discover that Kal-El has become the man he was destined to be, without any of her help.

So without a purpose, Kara resigns herself to a normal life in National City, with the identity of Kara Danvers, an assistant to media mogul Cat Green (Calista Flockhart). Kara longs to help others and when her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) is in danger she decides to open herself to the possibility to being a super hero.

And that’s the just half of the first 15 minutes.

After revealing herself, Kara discovers things about herself and the people around her are not as they seem. And unlike Superman, Kara has a host of extraterrestrial enemies from her parents past who somehow have made it to Earth and with Kara outing herself to the world she is now a target for those who have a grudge against her mother.

Seesh and all Superman had to deal with was an egomaniac with a penchant for real estate.

Since I have no access to this show prior to its broadcast premiere, I will reserve judgment for now since the pilot is just the first episode and I don’t have a clue where much of the story is going.

So judging from the pilot, the episode is structured like a hero’s Volume I Issue I, it’s the origin story of the major players such as the hero/heroine, their allies and also their enemies. More elements from the canon will likely be explored in subsequent episodes while also opening the door to new areas in the future.

For now most of the human characters, from co-workers Winslow “Winn” Schott Jr. (Jeremy Jordan) and James-not Jimmy yet-Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), are going to be the relationships Kara will be spending the most time with have been introduced.

Other than the paper, there is Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) Kara’s sister is a scientists who has been covertly been working for the secretive Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO) who have been monitoring extraterrestrial activity. She is somewhat resentful of Kara but realizes that she needs her sister to be herself. Otherwise what is she going to do all her life? Fetch coffee to the boss from hell, I don’t think so. After all the other man in the cape can’t do it himself.

The best dynamic is perhaps going to be Cat Green. Green needs Supergirl in order to keep the National City Tribune alive and needs Kara, Olsen and Schott to deliver the goods. She also apparently will likely keep them on their toes, especially Kara for reasons we will hopefully get to see if Kara will gain some form of backbone. It makes her a weird hybrid of Miranda Priestly of the Devil Wears Prada and Jonah Jameson from Spiderman. She understands money and she understands the medium so she takes this opportunity and runs with it.

As for Supergirl herself she’s not only leaning in she’s charging into her true calling and not only is she good at it, she’s alive!

I’ll return back to the show to see what happens.

To be Continued…