La Belle Sauvage (2017) by Philip Pullman

Did you see the 2007 film Golden Compass with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman?

The movie tanked considering the US$180 million cost.

But the books are great. It was based on Pullman’s His Dark Materials series:

La Belle Sauvage is a fantasy novel by Philip Pullman published 2017, the first volume in a planned trilogy named The Book of Dust. Set around 12 years before the start of His Dark Materials

Reviews have been great for the start of the prequel.

I’d agree. It’s well worth reading.

My only criticism is the same one I have with all fantasy: deus ex machina. The plot twists are unexpected appearances of magical things unrestrained by any logic or rules.

It always seems a bit cheap, to me.



Murial Spark – Loitering with Intent

Muriel Spark’s Loitering with Intent (1981) was published when she was 64.

The novel is written in the first person, framed as a memoir, as Fleur Talbot, the celebrated writer, looks back, “in the fullness of [her] years”, to the weeks and months of winter 1949-50, when she was working on her first novel, living in a bedsit, supporting herself by working in secretarial jobs.

Guardian review

It is an excellent book. With an excellent plot.

If you are a fan of literature over fiction, I recommend it. The themes are still important in 2018.

It was made into a film in 2014. It’s 33% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

The Snowman (NorwegianSnømannen, 2007) is a novel by Norwegian crime-writer Jo Nesbø. It is the seventh entry in his Harry Hole series. …

Looking through cold cases, Hole realises that he is tracking Norway’s first known serial killer. …

I’d heard great things about Nesbø. He is an excellent author.

The book is complex and very suspenseful. I appreciated all the main characters.

One criticism. I’d say the book is about 30% too long. 30% too complicated. It would have been stronger if more succinct.

The Snowman (2017 film) should have been excellent. But critics panned it. I can’t imagine how they bungled adapting this fascinating story.

It’s 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.

T-bone steak at Rick’s Casablanca

Rick’s Café Casablanca …

My table.

Opened March 1, 2004, the place was designed to recreate the bar made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the movie classic Casablanca.

Set in an old courtyard-style mansion built against the walls of the Old Medina of Casablanca, the restaurant – piano bar is filled with architectural and decorative details reminiscent of the film …

As Time Goes By is a common request to the in-house pianist.

I splurged on a steak, the best meal I’ve had in two months on the road.

Casablanca the 1942 movie was filmed entirely in Hollywood. They never came to Morocco.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot

An excellent and important film. Very well done.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a 2018 American comedy-drama film based upon the memoir of the same name by John Callahan. …

Click PLAY or watch the trailer on YouTube.

All excellent, I thought.

Rooney and Joaquin are actually a couple in real life.

This is a biopic.

 John Michael Callahan (February 5, 1951 – July 24, 2010) was a cartoonist, artist, and musician in Portland, Oregon, noted for dealing with macabre subjects and physical disabilities.

He was an alcoholic paralyzed in a car accident age-21.


The Racketeer by John Grisham

My first Grisham, I believe.

The protagonist Malcolm Bannister, an African American and former United States Marine, is an attorney … is wrongly convicted and given a 10-year prison term. …

Bannister makes a deal with the FBI to give them the name of a killer, in exchange for his release and being made a member of the United States Federal Witness Protection Program …

It was the #8 best seller on Amazon in 2012.

I found it OK. … The plot not believable. Story telling good.

It doesn’t motivate me to download more Grisham.

The author hopes Denzel will play the character in a movie adaptation.


Duets (2000 film)

Jane and I both remembered this film fondly. We convinced Brian he should see it.

It was cheesier than I recalled. Paul Giamatti strong as the most important actor.

Duets has some charm. I liked Gwyneth Paltrow back then in films like this and Shallow Hal (2001).

Click PLAY or watch one duet on YouTube.

Duets is a 2000 American road trip film ….

The motion picture features an ensemble cast co-starring Gwyneth PaltrowPaul GiamattiMaria BelloScott SpeedmanAndre BraugherHuey Lewis and Angie Dickinson, among others

The movie “revolves around the little known world of karaoke competitions and the wayward characters who inhabit it. …