Friday, April 10, 2015

Catching Up

Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark (pen-name of Donald E. Westlake) (1971): Alan Grofield, occasional co-thief with Westlake/Stark's anti-hero Parker, gets one of his own adventures here, an often grim series of events clumsily but murderously orchestrated by a sociopathic heist planner with no idea how to successfully set up a big heist. Grofield, who needs money for his summer theatre company (!), turns down the seemingly incompetent Myers' offer to join his gang for a brewery heist, thus setting off a country-hopping series of criminal events. Details of the planning and execution of a competent heist not involving Myers are especially fascinating. Recommended.

Neighbors: written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien; directed by Nicholas Stoller; starring Seth Rogen (Mac Radner), Rose Byrne (Kelly Radner), Zac Efron (Teddy Sanders) and Dave Franco (Pete) (2014): Amusing, raunchy tale of a battle between a fraternity run by Zac Efron and young couple Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen, who've just had a baby and now face the horrors of having a frat move in next to them. Could be sharper, but it passes the time. Lightly recommended.

The Giver: adapted from the novel by Lois Lowry by Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide; directed by Philip Noyce; starring Brenton Thwaites (Jonas), Odeya Rush (Fiona), Cameron Monaghan (Asher), Jeff Bridges (The Giver), Meryl Streep (Chief Elder), Katie Holmes (Mother), and Alexander Skarsgard (Father) (2014): Film adaptation plays fairly freely with Lowry's award-winning novel, but nonetheless remains a fairly enjoyable tale of a future dystopia. Jeff Bridges is solid as usual as the literal keeper of memories for a post-apocalyptic society which carefully regulates emotions and emotional attachments. Recommended.

The Superman Chronicles Volume 8: written by Jerry Siegel; illustrated by Joe Shuster, Fred Ray, Leo Nowak, Jack Sikela, Ed Dobrotka, Paul Cassidy, and others (1941-42; this collection 2010): Superman battles an unfrozen caveman and an electrically super-charged Lex Luthor in this volume of his early adventures. Jerry Siegel's interest in science-fiction tropes also manifests in a battle between the Man of Steel and an army of evil mermen, a ray that can age or de-age people, and the electricity-wielding threat of the Lightning Master. Stories written just before the United States entered World War Two feature the Man of Tomorrow battling saboteurs from Napkan (a thinly veiled Japan) and defeating the forces of aggressive European country Oxnalia (an even more thinly veiled Nazi Germany, complete with an Adolf Hitler lookalike as leader). Recommended.

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