Netflix Selection: After Life and Paddleton

Ricky Gervais has found himself, or put himself, in the news again talking about snowflakes and people getting easily offended. While I agree with him about people being a little too quick to jump the gun on what they think is offensive nowadays, he has been spouting the same stuff for well over a decade now. However, it is always good publicity when a new show comes out. Today I’ll be going over his new show After Life and the indie comedy Paddleton that he is not affiliated with.

After Life

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Gervais plays Tony, a miserable, suicidal man mourning the death of his wife. He has a penchant to say horrible things that pop into his head because, as he sees it, he’s going to be shaking off his mortal coil soon. He works at the local free paper and is nasty to his boss who happens to be his brother in law, and everyone else who crosses his path.

I liked the show. I enjoy Gervais, especially as David Brent and in his animated show from a few years ago with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. I appreciate that he is not everybody’s patronising cup of tea. He doesn’t do himself any favours with his constant harping on about offensive material, although i do agree, and the amount of fat jokes aren’t helping him with anyone.
All in all though, I’d recommend this show and would urge people to leave their sensitivity at the door. It is a tad bit predictable but that last episode is worth it.  It’s not for everyone, but the sweet moments are tearfully emotional and the jokes are  barbwire sharp.

Paddleton

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This indie buddy-comedy starring Ray Romano and Mark Duplass is another one that hits in the feels. Romano and Duplass are Andy and Michael, two socially awkward neighbours turned best friends. They hang out every night, watch Kung Fu movies, eat pizza and play a made up game derived from squash called Paddleton. Michael is diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer, sending the two on a roadtrip for a special kind of medication which lands the two in an emotional, funny and charming look into friendship and love.

As everybody knows I enjoy almost everything I watch. This was no different, although I wouldn’t say I was hooked. It is very slow and the hijinks the guys get up to on their trip are marred by their ineptitude at talking to women and people in general.
There are some poignant moments that are totes, dare I say, emosh, but I’d give it a skip. You won’t miss out if you miss this one.

I’ll be back Sunday with a Paddy’s Day post and/or Monday with more reviews/news and sports.

Netflix Selection: Umbrella Academy and Russian Doll.

The digital streaming behemoth has had a great start to the year. After producing some dubious figures and some questionable stats about the viewing figures of a number of shows, Netflix has come good again with a selection of Originals, their own personally funded and produced shows, and new additions from established artists.

The Umbrella Academy

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The first of these shows that I watched was Umbrella Academy. Revolving around a group of unwilling superheroes who were plucked from their mothers at birth by the eccentric and mean Sir Reginald Hargreeves, the story centres on the apocalypse and how life, or the end of all life, pulls you back to the ones you are closest with; in this case, your superhero brothers and sisters.

I really enjoyed this show. 10 episodes at 55 mins approx. each might seem like a lot but it flowed easily enough. There was a spot around episodes 6, 7 and 8 that dragged a bit but the end of the 8th episode and the final two installments are superb.
Robert Sheehan plays Klaus, one of the troubled supers, almost like a supercharged Nathan from Misfits. He is so effortlessly funny, flighty and camp while also developing as a character throughout the season. Although his accent doesn’t stay true the entire time, much like his role as Darren in Love/Hate, he still steals the show for me.
Aidan Gallagher as Number Five was also a joy to watch, as was Mary J. Blige as one part of a fiersome hitman team out to get Five. Colm Feore’s turn as the madcap billionaire was fun to watch in flashback scenes, even if you did feel for the neglected heroes.

I’d definitely recommend this show to most people and would urge you to power through the mid season lag.

Russian Doll

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Another show that deals with the marching of time and also the reset, is Russian Doll. Natasha Lyonne stars and produces in this show about Nadia, a thirty-something New Yorker who spends her nights drinking, smoking and doing whatever she wants. It is her birthday, and after going home with a smooth talker, she gets knocked down while running across the street for her cat. In the blink of an eye she is back up at her party the night before while all the other guests carry on as normal.
Nadia thinks she is on her own until she meets Alan in a hurtling elevator shaft before impending death. He reveals he has the same affliction; they both die and reset to the same point in their lives. The two go on to try and solve their problem, learning some dark truths about each other and themselves along the way.

Lyonne is fantastic as the witty, clever and self-sabotaging Nadia, still suffering from her mother’s abuses and struggling to see a happy ending. I haven’t watched OITNB but she is brilliant in this, playing the tough talking, streetwise New Yorker with ease.
Charlie Barnett plays Alan, Nadia’s unfortunate companion in their horrible situation. He is the polar opposite to Nadia; he is clean, rigid and sticks to a schedule. He is also hiding some mental health issues and refuses to face them, prompting both to wonder why they are in this mess. Barnett comes alive when he shows real emotion and both Lyonne and he work well together.
I enjoyed this show also, partly because it was set in New York and I got to live vicariously through the characters and remember my time there. A word of warning, though, is that the show gets incredibly dark in the last three episodes. The show is not for everyone.

Tomorrow I will review Ricky Gervais’ After Life and the indie buddy-comedy Paddleton, starring Ray Romano and Mark Duplass.

 

 

 

Captain Marvel

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The newest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe hit our screens last Friday. Excitement surrounding the Avengers storyline has been high over the last number of years and with Endgame being released next month I wasn’t so sure that this was a necessary movie to release right now. I’m pleased to say that I was completely wrong.
The Marvel films are always enjoyable to watch, mixing action and humour effortlessly. Pithy one liners are a constant and the final face off between the goodies and the baddies are worth the two hour build up. Captain Marvel had all of these in droves while also putting a new spin on some aspects of the filmmaking process.

Captain Marvel tells the story of Vers (pronounced Veers), played by Brie Larson, a Kree soldier being trained to defeat a race called the Skrull, shapeshifters, in an intergalactic war. She has gaps in her memory and can’t remember her life before a Skrull attack six years ago. When she is captured by these shapeshifters and they reveal more about her past she follows them to C-53, Terra, or good old Earth. She meets two young agents, Fury and Coulson and begins to learn her true identity as the first hero of the galaxy.

All in all, I thought the movie was very good. It wan’t as funny as Thor: Ragnarok but was definitely funnier than most of the other films in the MCU. After talking to my friend about the movie, we agreed that if Captain Marvel is to save Tony from almost certain death in space then we cannot wait for the riposte and the banter between the two.
A big part of the movie I liked is that it set a good pace for the story. Due to the fact that Vers has no memory before six years ago and is already imbued with awesome powers we skip the hour/hour and a half of build up and figuring out who she is and who she can become. While this does in fact happen later in the movie, Vers already has her powers, knows how to use them and just gets on with it!
The soundtrack is also perfect. The movie is set in 1995, so the songs chosen are a mixture of Rock, Grunge and Pop/RnB. What a mixture! There is an epic scene between Larson and Anette Bening where Nirvana’s “Come as You Are”, plays. The title of the song is poignant in that moment in the film but it also just fits so well with what is happening on the screen.

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Larson is fantastic as Vers. She plays the soldier/piolet/saviour with confidence and is at ease with other big names such as Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson and Bening. She has won an oscar after all!
Samuel L. Jackson, CGI’d to be twenty years younger in this movie and with both of his eyes, is a scene stealer as always. He and Larson bounce off each other and the characters are like old friends at the end of the movie.
Ben Mendelsohn plays one of the villains of the piece, Talos, a Skrull captain. Although their ability to shapeshift is unnerving and their appearance is undesirable, Mendelsohn is hilarious in this movie. I do have a friend who shall reMuireann nameless who found the Skrull’s attractive. In case anyone wanted to know.

I have read a lot of mixed reviews about this chapter of the MCU. Many, like I did origibnally, thought it was unneccessary and would be forgettable. I only went to see the post credit scene which ironically wasn’t worth staying for, but I’m glad I went.
Reviews I have read since have said it is forgettable and that she isn’t a likeable hero. I respectfully disagree on that count as like all Marvel movies, she has serious help from those around her. The difference is that in the end, she realises her true potential and is powerful enough to do whatever she wants.

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This film is an empowering movie for women without claiming to be one. Anna Boden directed this alongside Ryan Fleck, while Boden, Fleck and three other women wrote the screenplay and the story. Pinar Toprak composed the score, making this Marvel’s first ever film composed by a female. These real life women alongside the fictional powerful female characters in this story make this a film worth watching.

 

San Francisco

Just before I made the move back home I took a short trip to San Francisco. A friend of mine had lived there for a year or so and had been telling me how great it was, so I was keen to see the place. Other friends of mine had made the big move across the states to the West coast and I wanted to see them too before i left. Brian and Joanne were getting on great there and Brian, or Broan as I affectionately call him was a massive help to me when I first moved to Woodlawn. I decided to impose upon them for a weekend without their consent, so everyone was happy. They had just returned from a Christmas break to Ireland and I was due to arrive the following Friday, a mere five days later. That was plenty of recovery time for them and I knew they’d appreciate putting me up and showing me the sites.

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I had my last day in work on Thursday of that week. I made the trek back to Woodlawn from Manhattan, relieved to be free of any more responsibilities in the Vanguard. I caught a few hours of shuteye, packed my bag badly once again and wearily made my way to Newark that next morning.
I arrived into San Francisco international airport that Friday evening, still stunned by the beautiful views from my window seat as we flew over Nebraska. I ordered an Uber and made my way to Locksley Ave. Hugo was my driver and after a few minutes confusion as to where he was picking me up we made our way to Brian and Joanne. Hugo talked the ear off me the full forty minute drive, telling me his life story and all about how he was also a concierge in a previous life. He talked, I laughed, he talked, I stayed silent, he talked, I gave grunts and one word replies, he still talked. He got five stars.

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That first night was great. I caught up with two old friends and we went for food in a Caribbean/Brazilian/ethnic resturant. I remember no names of the places I was in because I am lazy and meant to write this last month. We barhopped for a while, drinking Sangria and Vodka Cokes by the jugful. A bar called Milk had so many cutouts of Elvis Presley and impersonators of the King. I put two and two together, got 5 and put it down to San Fran being a cooky place. Not once did it cross my mind that it might be an Elvis themed night. Great lad all the same.

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Along with the weekend came all the sightseeing. We did the lion’s share on the Saturday. We walked down to Haight street, where we were the night before and got a bite to eat, myself and Joanne getting Mimosas and cocktails like all girls do on their hols.
Brian drove us first to the Twin Peaks (LOL). The views were unreal, spreading out over the whole city. In the distance, a tiny speck of land turned out to be Japan. I couldn’t believe it, we were that close to the other side of the world. I had my doubts but Brian explained to me that Earth is flat despite the fact that the globe is round. I was happy with that and happy that Brian would never lie to me. Would you Brian?

Liar then drove us out to one of the viewing points for the Golden Gate bridge. It was awesome up close and the pictures don’t do it justice. I got my picture in with the Holly Bough too, so I was even happier. We could’ve walked it but I only brought a half zip and my nipples were cutting glass. Very dangerous on a windy day.

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That evening we drove out to Sausolito. It is a stunning, picturesque little town that you can reach by car or via ferry from fisherman’s wharf. Right on the edge of the water, droves of tourists took photos perilously close to the deep blue. The city was visible off in the distance, as was Alcatraz, the famous prison that hosted Al Capone and believe it or not, Clint Eastwood.
Japan too loomed large in the background and in my mind.

We had a night on the tiles that night, painting San Francisco red. “But we want blue!”, the San Franciscans cried. We cared not. Brian, Joanne, Sarah and I laughed and roared into the night, painting every square inch of wall red, not forgetting our primer.
San Fran is a great night out in all seriousness but for any New Yorkers that are heading there, last call is 2AM and not 4AM. Be wide.

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Sunday was supposed to be full of sights and tourism too, but after seeing the Golden Gate, the Twin Peaks (LOL), along with Lombard street and the house where Mrs. Doubtfire was filmed, as well as a hangover that would kill a Belgian Blue, we decided to just keep drinking.
Pints of Blue Moon, several shots of whiskey and board games came out in favour of sightseeing and I think we were all a happy bunch.

I did a bit of solo sightseeing on the Monday. After rising from the cot in the early afternoon I made my way to Haight street where I grabbed a bite to eat. I bought a few t-shirts and postcards because that’s what people do on holidays. I hopped in an Uber and travelled down to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
I decided to stay put and have a look around. I was transfixed by the Mechanical Museum where arcade games and old attractions were on display and available to use. There was a whole village that was powered by 75 cents. I must add that it is a miniature village made of wooden figurines, but after you put in the money and walk around the glass display it is just amazing. Countless characters have their own individual movements, some even interacting with others.
There was a Simpsons arcade game, basketball games and shooting games, but I was taken in by the slow moving, intricate depictions of different scenes like the one I just described. Despite all that San Francisco has to offer I would tell everyone to go to that museum, bring a roll of quarters and just have a blast.

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After a last supper with Bi-Bri and Jo-Jo, I flew back to Newark late that night. I didn’t really have time then to think about my experience in San Fran as I had five days to pack and prepare for moving home. After taking two months to get off my arse and write some long-winded spiel about the craic we had there, I know I’ll definitely be back there, I’ll definitely be back for longer and Brian and Joanne are fantastic hosts. I’m willing to look past the fact that they lied to me about the geographical location of Japan in relation to San Fran. Dishonor on your families.

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Fright Night

As I sit here with the brim of my hat as far down as it can possibly go, The Conjuring 2 playing on the TV in front of me, I have come to the conclusion that if a demon were to appear in front of me unannounced I would simply die of shock and probably defecate in my pants. I am no hero. If I saw a ghost or a banshee out late at night I’d run as fast as I could and I would never look back. There’s a real possibility that I would collapse dead from fright.
I saw Conjuring 2 with a friend and I covered my eyes while he covered his ears. We were one monkey short covering his mouth and we would’ve been on a poster. I just don’t like horrors and never have. I won’t lie and say that the adrenaline rush isn’t fun and there is a thrill from yelling and screaming every few minutes. What I don’t like is walking around a dark house late at night after having the bejaysus scared out of me. I don’t like walking by mirrors and thinking I am going to be snatched by a nun or an old lady out for my soul. I especially don’t like sprinting up the stairs in the dark as a demon tries to snatch my delicious booty.
Of course, then, I’ve seen countless horrors. Here are some of my favourite/hated horror movies I’ve seen.

Insidious

I know there’s like 4 of these movies now but I’ve only watched the first one. The simple reason being that the kid who gets taken into the shadowland or whatever realm he is in is named Dalton. Feck right off with that! Are ye trying to give a man nightmares for the rest of his life??
There are some supremely scary scenes in this film but the one that got me was the very end when all is revealed and the demon trying to catch Patrick Wilson’s soul or whatever it was after almost has him. Give it a watch if ye get a chance.

 

The Woman in Black

Horrors are great movies to bring girls to, in my humble opinion. I rented this from Xtra Vision back in the days when I had stable relationships with females and this film is creepy as f word. I haven’t rewatched it because I am a giant man child and as I said before, I hate horrors but this one is worth at least one look.

 

Crimson Peak
Another date, another horror movie. Jaysus, I’m such a lothario. Set in a Victorian England, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam lead an all star cast. Gore, jumps and a house that hunts you down are all you need. Not as scary as the others on this list but torrent it online or something. Don’t @ me.

 

Paranormal Activity 3
The Paranormal Activity movies brought the found footage genre back into the limelight. The first two were remarkable, although a bit funny at times. The scene in the second movie when the mother runs away from the demon only to be pulled back downstairs by her legs is downright hilaruous. However, there is nothing funny about the scene with the coven of grandmothers advancing towards the man with the camera towards the end of the movie. Anyone who has seen it will know what scene I’m on about and anyone who hasn’t seen it will also know because I’ve just described it perfectly. Journalism.

 

In Irish horror film news, the film The Hole in the Ground will be released in a few weeks. Seana Kerslake stars as a single mother in a new rural town who encounters a mysterious neighbour. She becomes paranoid and mistrustful and must also contend with her son who is becoming increasingly ominous and disturbed. There ya go, straight from IMDb.
Kerslake is well known on Irish television through her starring roles in A Date for Mad Mary and Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope. The latter is written by the fantastic Stefanie Preissner.
I don’t know anything about the director, Lee Cronin but if the hype and the trailer are anything to go by he has done an amazing job and will be a major figure in mainstream Irish cinema for years to come.
Check out the trailer and an interview with both Kerslake and Cronin below.

 

 

 

The Sound of Music

With the release for the upcoming film, Yesterday, a story about how the world forgot the Beatles and one man’s cash grabbing journey to bring back their songs, expected in the summer, I began to think about how music plays a role in our viewing experience. Obviously this isn’t a new thought but just imagine watching Inception without the ominous tones in the background, or watching The Lord of the Rings without the epic orchestras in Middle Earth. There wouldn’t be half as much enjoyment.
While the strings, woodwinds and the bass have a special place in my heart when it comes to cinema, I believe there’s nothing more brilliant than a movie that has a beautiful soundtrack of pop, rock and indie songs. Especially when songs are used at the perfect moment.
The catalogue of Beatle’s songs would be enough for two films and another hour of outtakes. I am interested to see what songs are used where and if indeed the trailer didn’t just show us what songs will be used. I’m sure there’ll be a montage where the main character is having the time of his life and all of the songs are rolled into one long medley. Obviously this will then be followed by some crushing revelation from a loved one or a stranger and he will have to rethink his new career choice. Does he go for the money or the love? Oh yeah, it’s in the feckin’ trailer. Predictable? Yes. Will I watch it? Of course. Are you going to get a list of movies with great songs at the right moment right now? Yes.

Me Before You (2016)

Anyone who knows me knows I’m more than a sucker for a romcom; I actively go searching for them and wallow in misery afterwards at how alone I am… wow, got deep very quickly. What am I even doing with my life? Lol jk, that’s a whole other post. Anyways, this particular book turned film tells the story of Lou, a happy young woman with no real direction in life or money, but she has her family and a boyfriend, even if they do drive her up the wall. Enter Will, the posh, rich local boy who lost the power of his body from the chest down after an traffic accident. He has become a negative recluse and Lou becomes his endlessly positive personal carer. Cue fights, snarky remarks-cum-flirting and obviously romance. As Lou travels to Switzerland to see Will for possibly the last time she looks out the plane window and Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” starts to play. I can’t find the exact footage but if you saw the film then you know how gutwrenching the choice of music is and how much you want to cry when seeing it for the first time. But I did not cry for I am man, and man does not cry. We hunt and drink for we are men*.

 

About Time (2013)

What a movie. What a concept. What amazing performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams. What a fantastic use of the song, “How Long Will I Love You”, originally penned by the Waterboys in 1989 and covered in this film by Sam Sweeney, Ben Coleman and Jon Boden. The song plays as a montage of Tim and Mary shows their blossoming romance. Of course, the film has much more poignant moments and delves into the question of time travel and its moral consequences, which is prevalent in any romance! Shout out to Keli for reminding me of this scene and inspiring this post. Go on Kel.

 

Gladiator (2000)

A bit of a break from my romcom filled life but the inclusion of this song at the very end of this masterpiece was a sublime piece of filmmaking, editing and songwriting. “Now We Are Free” begins to play right after the climactic fight scene between Maximus and Commodus. He lies there, dead, his prisoners freed and this absolute tune plays as Marcus Aurelius’ foresight that Maximus would be a far better leader than his own son Commodus rings true. He was a soldier of Rome and if he were around today, would have been a banging DJ.

 

Eighth Grade (2018)

I’ve written about Bo Burnham’s directorial debut already. It will undoubtedly be a contender for film of the decade, not just because of the director’s vision and script but because of the performance of lead actress, Elsie Fisher.
“Orinocco Flow”, one of Enya’s many instantly recognisable songs, has been used in countless films and is a part of numerous people’s Spotify’s Most Played of 2018 soundtracks. It is used flawlessly in this film. Kayla (Fisher) is scrolling through Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram before bed, watching a host of different videos and taking quizzes to find out what imaginary character she would be in a different life. The whole time her face remains expressionless, not registering one piece of emotion, even when one of the mean girls in school who she so desperately wants to be friends with invites her to her pool party. The scene is a perfect contrast to the song, so full of emotion and longing while Kayla longs to be a part of the mainstream and the cool kids.

 

Sex Education (2019)

OK, not a movie but one of the brilliant Netflix originals that has come out recently. Normally, I wouldn’t click on a new Netflix release for a couple of weeks, or even months. I don’t know if it’s because I’m  a bit of a snob with tv and don’t want to be a sheep and watch something that everyone else is watching. Maybe it is because I get quickly bored with tv nowadays and didn’t want to have it sitting in my ‘Continue Watching’ if I wasn’t going to finish it. In reality it is due to the fact that I will continue to watch Friends, The Office and Parks and Rec while leaving new shows pass me by. However, this show drew me in straight away. Probably because the letters ‘S’, ‘E’, and ‘X’, were emblazoned across my screen and I am a young male.
The show is funny, topical and fantastic. It introduces some new faces that will be on our screens for years to come and Gillian Anderson of ‘X-Files’ and ‘The Fall’ fame plays a sex therapist. Do with that what you will, guys and gals. The scene below is funny in the context of the show but also it reintroduces you to an absolute banger. Skip to 1:05 for the song.

 

List done. Watch now. Share please. Validate me.

 

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Review.

 

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“Back once again.” The reviews are back! Ger Canning has uttered this iconic phrase in countless G.A.A. matches broadcast on live television over the last number of decades. I reached out to him to ask would he record it for me so I could have it playing whenever someone opened an article of mine. Ger, ever the joker, replied via his family, agent and the Gardai, and said, “For the last time, leave me and my family alone. I rue the day I stopped and talked to you in Tesco in Mahon Point. Legal action will follow unless you stop cold calling me in the middle of the night. I don’t know how you got my house number. I am a human being and you are driving me insane. May God have mercy on your soul.” Ah Ger, what a chancer. If you’re reading this, I’ll get onto you later around 2 a.m. Keep the phone on!

Now, onto serious stuff. The movie Can You Ever Forgive Me? caught my eye due to the many nominations the cast received across multiple academies and committees. Also, it was the only thing that I knew would be quiet at my local cinema, the Reel Picture Blackpool ( hashtag ad). I knew it wasn’t a comedy but with Melissa McCarthy leading and Richard E. Grant in a prominent supporting role I had a feeling there would be some comic moments.

McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a down on her luck author who has just lost her job for drunken behaviour, has a fraught relationship with her agent and is months behind on her rent. Israel does not have any redeemable qualities that we can see and is told by her agent that she, “…is not famous enough to be an asshole.” She has a sick cat that she cannot afford to take care of and the biographies that she is writing to stay afloat are on the sale rack. After selling a letter of a famous author toa bookshop owner played by Dolly Wells, she quickly realises that she could make a hefty profit by forging letters of other well known figures. She has made a living writing books about other people so she knows she can impersonate them in her letters.
She meets Jack Hock, played by Grant, at a bar in Manhattan, remembering when she first met him and he went to the bathroom in a closet (hashtag Jonny Melia, hashtag ad). Hock is hilarious, flamboyant and the perfect positive tonic to Israel’s cynicism and misery. After letting him in on her secret cash cow and after duping half of Manhattan’s bookshops and collectible dealers into believing her ruse, she and Hock come under the suspicion of the FBI. Sabotaging her rathionship with Anna, the bookshop owner and Hock himself, Israel is finally caught and sentenced to house arrest, probation and monetary restitution.
The movie ends with Israel and Hock reuniting in the same grimy bar they met in. They bury the hatchet and he agrees to let her write a book about their escapades, ever his funny, charming self. This never happened in real life but it was a good end to a fine movie.

The movie itself is enjoyable if a bit slow. The topic of literary forgery does not sound all that interesting but the revelations that there are seedy characters in the literary world such as Israel herself, made it an easy watch. The fact that the FBI were involved in her subpoena was amazing to learn. The dynamic between McCarthy and Grant was brilliant and really saved the movie from being a bore. That said, it dragged towards the end and I did find myself looking at the clock on my phone. While I know that with a film such as this the devil is in the details but if the movie was about fifteen minutes shorter then it would’ve been a small bit more enjoyable.
I couldn’t think of anyone that I would recommend the movie to after watching, but it wasn’t a total waste of an hour and forty minutes. If I was to give it a rating out of a number that I will make up right now, I would give it a 3.5/5. Some funny moments but I’m not sure if this book warranted a movie. That said, the performances of McCarthy and Grant saved this production and both, especially McCarthy, deserve their nominations.

 

The Changing of the Guard / 4 Train

Packed like sardines in an old tin can we push and squeeze and excuse me.
There are no ‘sorry’s here in the no man’s land that is the middle of the cart.
Hands cling to rails and heads are burrowed in books and phones
While homeless people tell sad stories that would break your heart
If you didn’t hear the same story two homeless people ago.
Oftentimes the same story is told with little differences,
Like instead of a sick son it is a girl or wife,
But people don’t care for any of these hindrances
Because we all have places to go and people to see
In this Amazon jungle of a city.

We hurtle along between 59th and 86th at breakneck speeds,
Planting our feet in position to sway with the machine
As the conductor announces a delay at Grand Concourse.
A collective groan rises up, everybody taking part
In this collective self-pity parade of head shakes,
Low mutters and sighs of frustration.
Eventually, finally, behind schedule as usual
the 4 train pulls into another station
That is full to the brim of students, teachers, laborers, preachers
And other professions that won’t fit on the train.

My calves begin to cramp as we wobble towards Burnside Avenue,
Still no sign of a seat or even a space to lean against a door
While veteran riders apply makeup and read books while the place rattles around them.
Train etiquette is still observed as space is made for the elderly, poor
And pregnant passengers as the sea parts for such weary travelers.
The carriage almost empties at Mosholu Parkway,
Leaving me the carriage to myself as we glide into Woodlawn, the last stop on this train.
I swap out with tired people at the opposite end of the working day,
An extremely exhausted changing of the guard as haggard looks are exchanged as
They begin their day and I am almost finished mine.