Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Liberal Guilt Movie

Please Give features Catherine Keener as a New Yorker who makes her living buying mid-19th century furniture from heirs who are unaware of its value, and re-selling it at a large profit.  She feels guilty about her work and much more.  She lavishes money on the homeless while being frugal with her troubled teen-aged daughter.  She explores volunteer work, but doesn't actually commit to doing any because she becomes too emotionally involved with the clients.  She and her husband have bought the apartment of their elderly and unpleasant neighbor and are trying to restrain themselves from wishing for her demise so they can expand their apartment.  The movie gives an amusing look at the upper middle class and their desire for compassion - as long as it doesn't interfere with their living standard.

My rating:  **** (out of 5)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Evildoers in Scotland

Usually I save detective novels for when I'm sick and need some light reading, but I made an exception for When Will There Be Good News?  The four main characters have all been damaged by the premature loss of mothers and other family members.  When one of them is kidnapped along with her baby, all of them respond immediately with a ferocity that shows their determination to prevent an earlier tragedy from being repeated.

My rating:  **** (out of 5)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Artists in Love

World War I changed everything for the citizens of England, including the artists.  Life Class explores the effects of the war on several art students at the Slade School of Fine Art.  Two of the men enlist as ambulance drivers while Elinor Brooke resists pressure to volunteer as a nurse and continues to work at her art.

My rating:  **** (out of 5)

Monday, June 14, 2010

"War Dances"

Sherman Alexie's War Dances is a collection of short stories and poems.  The stories tend to be about middle-aged men, some of them Indians, living in the northwest and coping with everyday crises.  I liked the short stories a lot.  The poems - not so much.

My rating:  *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jane Austen in Connecticut

In The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Joseph, Betty Weissmann's husband of 48 years, has just left her for a younger co-worker.  The younger co-worker covets the Weissmann's upper west side apartment, so Joseph manipulates it so that Betty moves temporarily to a cottage in Westport.  She is joined there by her daughter Miranda, whose business as a literary agent has recently imploded due to her "Awful Authors" who have been found out writing fictitious memoirs.  Also joining them is daughter Annie, who fights an uphill battle to keep the extravagant Betty and Miranda in check.  Unlikely romantic entanglements ensue.

My rating:  *** (out of 5)