Weekend Picks

Alex Ross Perry Picks

One fresh and two eclectic films for a weekend I hope to be remembered as summer’s golden exit.

Golden Exits

Nick has settled into a safe existence in a small pocket of Brooklyn, where he currently toils on an archival project for his father-in-law. Soon, 20-something Naomi arrives from Australia to assist Nick for the semester. She has no acquaintances in the city beyond a loose family connection to a music producer who lives in the same neighborhood. For the few months she spends around Nick, Buddy, and their families, Naomi’s presence upsets the precarious balance holding these two households.

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Queen of Earth

Catherine has entered a particularly dark period in her life: her father, a famous artist, has recently died, and on the heels of his death she’s dumped by her boyfriend James. Looking to recuperate, Catherine heads out to her best friend Virginia’s lake house for some much-needed relaxation. Tranquility eludes her, however, as she’s instantly overcome with memories of time spent at the same house with James the year before.

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Listen Up Philip 

Anger rages in Philip as he awaits the publication of his second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city by the constant crowds and noise, a deteriorating relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley, and his own indifference to promoting the novel. When Philip’s idol Ike Zimmerman offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, he finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favorite subject: himself.

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Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Mountain Master of Sha-TinThe Mountain Master of Sha Tin by Ian Hamilton

Ava is thrust into a violent and volatile situation when her good friend, Xu, the Mountain Master, asks her to settle a triad war that has broken out in Hong Kong because he is too ill to leave his bed. She is forced to work against her arch enemy Sammy Wing and his nephew Carter – the new Mountain Master of Sha Tin – as they attempt to regain control of Wanchai.

Hamilton provides a comprehensive summary of Ava’s adventures to this point, providing any new reader with enough backstory to make the events in this novel understandable. However, I always recommend that one reads a series from the beginning as there are often subtle references in previous novels that become germane to subsequent stories.

The violence is ramped up in this novel and Ava is forced to do things that she’d rather not have to. Uncle’s presence is felt more than it ever has been since he died, almost as if he is reassuring Ava that she is following the right path. Her years of working as a forensic accountant have trained her well in approaching complex problems and she falls back on the tricks of the trade that she polished to perfection with Uncle by her side.

Offsetting the violence, Hamilton provides a subplot involving Pang Fai, Ava’s friend and lover, which opens the door to some interesting potential plots. I wonder if he’ll incorporate them in his next novel, The Diamond Queen of Singapore, due out in July 2020.

4 Daggers
Joanne gives this “4 daggers out of 5”

Weekend Picks

Theatre Ed.

If you can’t make it out to enjoy the charm of the Fringe, stay at home and have a little theatre binge.

Me & Orson Welles

What a whirl, what a world! High schooler Richard Samuels lucks into a role in a daring Broadway production of Julius Caesar. Cues, staging, rehearsals, romance, rivalries; he has a lot to learn. And the first thing to learn is never upstage Mercury Theatre’s genius director, 22-year-old Orson Welles.

Topsy-Turvy

Tensions abound and the music swells in the story about the famous musical team of Gilbert and Sullivan. The two men who were extremely different in size and stature were even more different in temperament and style. Yet, they still managed to create memorable theater. This is the story of the making of one of their most famous collaborations, The Mikado.

 

Jane Austen in Manhattan

Rival theater companies compete to produce their own unique versions of Jane Austen’s childhood play, ‘Sir Charles Grandison’. George Midash buys the play’s manuscript at Sotheby’s for Pierre, the head of the avant-garde theater troupe. Another troupe, headed by the traditional Lilianna Zorska, strives to produce their own version of the play. In her first role, a young actress is manipulated by Pierre to join his company. When Lilianna decides to match wits with Pierre, events begin to mirror those that occur with the play itself.
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Barry

A hitman from the Midwest moves to Los Angeles and gets caught up in the city’s theatre arts scene.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Lost manThe Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Australian Outback is a punishing environment even for those who know it well and respect it.  So how did Cameron Bright come to be where his body was found – at the legendary stockman’s grave – without any provisions or even a vehicle to get him safely back home?  This is the major question that is posed by this standalone novel by Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature.  And this is the question that Nathan, the oldest of the three Bright brothers, tries to find the answer to. 

Harper’s ability to create such tangible atmosphere in her novels is critical to how the reader reacts to the whole story.  Here we suffer the heat and dryness of the Outback to the point of thirst; feel the grit of the sand between our teeth; and feel the sweat as it soaks into our clothes.  We can only imagine, in horror, what Cameron felt while slowing dying in the heat and relentless sun.

In The Roar of the Crowd by Janice MacDonald, one or her characters says: “literature teaches us that subtext and back story is where everything really happens”.  This couldn’t be more true than it is in this novel. Despite being estranged from his family for ten years, Nathan is determined to solve the tragic mystery surrounding his brother, Cameron.  But there are so many secrets and so much pain to get through…

Make sure you add this book to your list of “must reads” along with Harper’s first two, if you haven’t read them already.

5 Daggers
Joanne gives this “5 daggers out of 5”.