My second contribution to Stephen King Revisited went live today: Second Coming, my historical essay about ‘Salem’s Lot.
We had a getaway weekend in Austin. The weather wasn’t great, so we didn’t get out and about all that much, but we stayed downtown and had a fine dinner at the original Eddie V’s.
We’ve seen a batch of movies over the past week or so, too. First, we saw A Walk Among the Tombstones, starring Liam Neeson and based upon the Matt Scudder novel by Lawrence Block. It’s a decent adaptation, though of course Scudder has been amped up a little. Not quite into superhero mode, but a cut above the ordinary human being Scudder is in the books. It was an interesting choice to step into the series so late in the game. In the early books, Scudder is still drinking. Eventually he quits and attends AA meetings regularly. This movie introduces his Irregular companion, TJ, though he came into the book series sooner, and ignores Scudder’s companion Elaine and his long-time underworld friend, Mick Ballou. Some decently threatening antagonists.
Then we saw Rudderless, which is one of those films that you should not read about very much before you see it. It stars Billy Crudup as a man who lost his son and later reconnects with him when his ex-wife delivers a box of demo CDs of songs the son had written and recorded on his computer. He teaches himself a song or two and decides to present them at an open mike night, where he encounters another young man (Anton Yelchin from Hearts in Atlantis) who shoe-horns his way into Crudup’s life, convincing him to form a band with him and a couple of friends. This is William H. Macy’s directorial debut, and it also stars Macy’s wife (Felicity Huffman) and Laurence Fishburne, with Selena Gomez in a small part that could have been played by just about anyone. We were surprised by the reaction some reviewers had to the film. It delivers a hell of a wallop 3/4 of the way through that changes everything. It definitely provides food for thought, but I won’t say anything more about it than that.
We saw White Girl in a Blizzard, the story of a teenage girl whose bored and restless mother (played by Eva Green) vanishes one day. Christopher Meloni plays the father. The story jumps around in time, with the daughter (Shailene Woodley) coming of age and going off to college, only to have the past stirred up for her again each time she comes home to visit. She gets involved with the investigating officer (Thomas Jane) and gets naked a lot. I’m not quite sure what the movie was really supposed to be about. The ending comes as no big surprise (well, maybe a small surprise that shakes up expectations) and then it just sort of dribbles off into nothing. It has a bit of that Gone Girl vibe, but only a smidgen.
Finally we saw Magic in the Moonlight in which Colin Firth plays a pompous magician who also debunks shysters and frauds in the roaring twenties. A friend challenges him to find out how a supposed psychic played by Emma Stone is doing what she’s doing, so he travels to the Côte d’Azur to spend some time observing her communicate with the dead. It’s a Woody Allen film, perhaps one of the few of his that I’ve enjoyed, although it did have its slow moments. It’s amusing that Firth’s character is totally baffled by Stone’s shenanigans and even comes to believe that his worldview is totally wrong. The solution to the mystery is fun, but the ending is pretty much a foregone conclusion from the moment Firth and Stone’s characters meet up. An amusing distraction for a rainy afternoon.