Weekend Picks

Movies about Making Movies

Check out these movies about making movies (both real and fictional) for a glimpse of the behind the scenes drama that makes for onscreen magic.

8 1/2

Guido Anselmi, a film director, finds himself creatively barren at the peak of his career. Urged by his doctors to rest, Anselmi heads for a luxurious resort, but a sorry group gathers—his producer, staff, actors, wife, mistress, and relatives—each one begging him to get on with the show. In retreat from their dependency, he fantasizes about past women and dreams of his childhood.

Adaptation

A love-lorn script writer grows increasingly desperate in his quest to adapt the book ‘The Orchid Thief’ by Susan Orlean.

Becoming Bulletproof

A diverse group of disabled people from across the U.S. take on leading roles in a magical rip-roaring costume drama Western, filmed on vintage Hollywood locations. This riveting film within a film immerses us in a dynamic, inclusive world of discipline and play, raising questions about why we so rarely see real disabled actors on the big screen.

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

A chronicle of the production problems — including bad weather, actors’ health, war near the filming locations, and more — which plagued the filming of Apocalypse Now, increasing costs and nearly destroying the life and career of Francis Ford Coppola.

Monday Evening Book Club | September Selection

Five Wives by Joan Thomas

“Book club only” print copies are available at the downtown location of the Library. To pick up a copy, visit the Information Desk on the 2nd floor.

Register here to discuss this riveting, wrenching account of evangelism and its legacy.

The Monday Evening Book Club meets on the second Monday of the month at 7:00 PM via Zoom.

In the tradition of The Poisonwood Bible and State of Wonder, a novel set in the rainforest of Ecuador about five women left behind when their missionary husbands are killed. Based on the shocking real-life events

In 1956, a small group of evangelical Christian missionaries and their families journeyed to the rainforest in Ecuador intending to convert the Waorani, a people who had never had contact with the outside world. The plan was known as Operation Auca. After spending days dropping gifts from an aircraft, the five men in the party rashly entered the “intangible zone.” They were all killed, leaving their wives and children to fend for themselves.

Five Wives is the fictionalized account of the real-life women who were left behind, and their struggles – with grief, with doubt, and with each other – as they continued to pursue their evangelical mission in the face of the explosion of fame that followed their husbands’ deaths.

Five Wives is a riveting, often wrenching story of evangelism and its legacy, teeming with atmosphere and compelling characters and rich in emotional impact.

Further reading

Interview: Why Joan Thomas wrote about the wives of missionaries killed trying to convert Ecuador’s Waorani people | CBC Books

Interview: The Chat with Governor General’s Literary Award Winner Joan Thomas | 49th Shelf

Review: Left Behind: A novel look at an evangelical mission | Literary Review of Canada

Review: Into the wild: Novelist’s latest offering a riveting fictional account of missionaries’ plight | Winnipeg Free Press

An Uncommon Victory for an Indigenous Tribe in the Amazon| The New Yorker

Watch & Listen

Interview: The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers – Nov. 30, 2019: Joan Thomas on Five Wives

Interview: Author! Author! with Joan Thomas and Jane Urqhart | Kingston WritersFest

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Transient Desires
by Donna Leon

Commissario Guido Brunetti is in an uncharacteristically sullen mood as we encounter him in the opening pages of the thirtieth installment of Donna Leon’s award-winning series. Is it because he laments the trajectory of his life, based on last night’s meeting with old friends? Perhaps he’s reached the tipping point with his children who take him so much for granted? Or is it the endless line of tourists who seek to swallow up everything good about the city he loves? Whatever the cause it foreshadows the horrendous events that are about to consume most of his time and energy.

Two women, with multiple injuries, are found unconscious on the dock outside the emergency room of the Ospedale Civile early in the morning. It’s determined that their injuries are the result of a boating accident while they were joy riding with two young Italian men. But why abandon them when it was just an accident?

As Brunetti and his colleague, Claudia Griffoni, continue their investigation they encounter the very darkest side of criminal behaviour and the most heinous of crimes.

Joanne gives this book 4 daggers out of 5!

Weekend Picks

Getaways Gone Wrong

Once in a while everyone needs some time away to relax and recharge. Sometimes these trips are awesome. And sometimes….well, they don’t quite go as planned. These movies might make you consider swapping your next getaway for a more staid staycation.

National Lampoon’s Vacation

Clark Griswold is on a quest to take his family on a quest to Walley World theme park for a vacation, but things don’t go exactly as planned.

Us

Husband and wife Gabe and Adelaide Wilson take their kids to their beach house expecting to unplug and unwind with friends. But as night descends, their serenity turns to tension and chaos when some shocking visitors arrive uninvited.

The Descent

After a tragic accident, six friends reunite for a caving expedition. Their adventure soon goes horribly wrong when a collapse traps them deep underground and they find themselves pursued by bloodthirsty creatures. As their friendships deteriorate, they find themselves in a desperate struggle to survive the creatures and each other.

L’Avventura

Claudia and Anna join Anna’s lover, Sandro, on a boat trip to a remote volcanic island. When Anna goes missing, a search is launched. In the meantime, Sandro and Claudia become involved in a romance despite Anna’s disappearance, though the relationship suffers from guilt and tension.

Deliverance

Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Bryant & May: Oranges and Lemons
by Christopher Fowler

Fowler’s Bryant & May series is a trivia lovers’ dream.  Filled with arcane and esoteric facts they’re a treasure-trove of the weird and wonderful, the fantastic and fabulous.  

When the Speaker of the House of Commons is nearly killed in an absurd “accident” involving a van unloading oranges and lemons, the investigation is turned over to the Peculiar Crimes Unit.  However, they’d been disbanded and had all gone their own way.  Scrabbling to get them back together and finding a new center of operations is no mean feat!  They are joined by a new recruit – Sydney – a young woman who seems to “ring a bell” with some of the team.

Meanwhile the perpetrator of the incident involving the Speaker has upped his game and now has a murder to answer for.  But he is not finished yet as he continues his barrage on churches following the lines of the old nursery rhyme: “Oranges and Lemons”, and adding to his list of the murdered and injured. Bryant pulls out all the stops as he consults the magicians, white witches and sundry others of his followers to complete the picture of the murderer and bring him to justice.

Clever twists and turns and surprises around every corner make this episode in the annals of the PCU as entertaining as those that have gone before.  The quirkiness and eccentricity of the characters provides a laugh on every page.

It’s a great read from the very first page.

Joanne gives this book 5 stars out of 5!
Joanne gives this book 5 daggers out of 5!

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Moonflower Murders
by Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz is a master at whatever he sets his hand to doing.  Whether it be creating the TV series Foyles’ War and Midsomer Murders or writing the Alex Rider series for young adults, or creating the intricate and challenging puzzles such as are found in Moonflower Murders.

Moonflower Murders is a book within a book and both present intricately detailed murder scenarios.  Linking the two books is retired publisher Susan Ryeland who once represented the late Alan Conway, author of the fictional Magpie Murders and Atticus Pund Takes the Case.  

When Susan, now living in Greece and working at a hotel, meets the Trehernes, they ask her to help find their daughter, Cecily who has gone missing.  On the Suffolk coast and on the same day and in the same hotel as their daughter’s wedding some years previously, a horrific murder had taken place. Alan Conway subsequently wrote a book about the murder (Atticus Pund Takes the Case) and her parents believe that Cecily found something in the book that exonerated the man convicted of the murder, and has now put her life in jeopardy.  Susan knows that she needs to return to England to help find Cecily.

Moonflower Murders is clever, brilliant, and a wickedly good puzzle.   It most definitely is a 5 bloody dagger read!

Joanne gives this book 5 stars out of 5!
Joanne gives this book 5 daggers out of 5!

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

Still having trouble concentrating long enough to read a full novel?  Well here are a couple of great anthologies, containing short stories from some of the greats, as well as a riveting podcast from the U.K.

Murder on the Railways contains stories from Agatha Christie, Elmore Leonard, Leslie Charteris, Ken Follett, Maeve Binchy, Roald Dahl, Ruth Rendell, and many more.  For railway buffs, it doesn’t get better than this, and for the general mystery lover, you’ve hit the jackpot here!

The Television Detectives’ Omnibus brings us stories from the likes of Orson Welles, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Margery Allingham, Colin Dexter, Dorothy L. Sayers, and more.  Each story is a gem in itself, bringing to life, so succinctly, some of our favorite sleuths.

I’ve been listening to a podcast called SHEDUNNIT (shedunnitshow.com) recently and find it very interesting.  Caroline Crampton, the creator of the series, discusses the golden age of detective fiction. Each new installment deals with a different topic, whether it be a particular author, themes in detective fiction, or the reconstruction of a real life crime.  

There are at least a couple of stories in each of the anthologies that earn 5 daggers.  The SHEDUNNIT podcast is a definite 5 daggers!

Joanne gives this book 5 stars out of 5!
Joanne gives some of the stories and the SHEDUNNIT podcast 5 daggers out of 5!

Murder by Milk Bottle
by Lynne Truss

Truss’ second Constable Twitten Mystery is a combination of “The Keystone Cops” meet “The Carry-On Gang” in a performance in an old English panto!  It’s a complete and utter silly farce!  Some might find it TOO silly, but one cannot help but laugh at many of the antics that take place during the August Bank Holiday weekend of 1957.

Truss’characters are more like caricatures than personages.  There’s Constable Twitten: painfully naive when it comes to matters of the heart; Inspector Steine: self-absorbed and totally oblivious to what’s going on in his own station house; and Sergeant Brunswick: the bumbling and dim-witted officer who cannot see the “forest for the trees”.  Only Mrs. Groynes, the police station charlady is a fleshed-out character and yet we know that she is not what she seems to be!

When three seemingly unconnected people are murdered by being bashed over the head with milk bottles, it’s up to this bumbling lot to solve the murders.  Their unorthodox methods are worthy of great guffaws but would certainly not be sanctioned by either Morse or Gamache!

Illustration of 3 bloody knives, with only 3 of them coloured in. The other two are just grey.
       Joanne gives this book 3 daggers out of 3!

One Arranged Murder
by Chetan Bhagat

Keshav and Saurabh are business partners as well as flatmates and best friends. That is until Keshav falls in love with Prerna and wedding plans are being made. When things go awry, Keshav turns to his best friend for help and the two of them collaborate on solving a grisly murder.

Steeped in customs, food, and culture, Bhangat creates a colorful depiction of life in Delhi.  Initially I would reach for my dictionary (Google) for the definition of some of the words used in the telling, but slowly it became easier to understand what was meant through the context of the sentences and paragraphs.  With occasional laugh-out-loud passages and descriptions of the day-to-day interactions of family members, the story unfolds methodically and keeps the reader’s attention.

Joanne gives this book 3 daggers out of 3!

Remain Silent
by Susie Steiner

This is the third book in the Manon Bradshaw trilogy.  I’m saddened by this fact because I’ve grown to love the characters that have been brought to life on the pages of these books. 

Manon is trying to juggle her family life with her husband and two kids while working part-time on cold cases.  While on a walk with her two year old son, Teddy, she comes across a young migrant found hanging from a tree.  She quickly heads home to report it, knowing somehow that she’ll be the one to investigate the case.  What she doesn’t know is that she’ll soon be dealing with the issues of illegal immigrants, racism, and xenophobia. As SIO on this case now, Manon has even less time to deal with issues at home until her husband, Mark becomes seriously ill.  

At times dark and disturbing, this novel reflects what is happening in so many countries today, showing to what ends people will go to in order to try for a better life.  

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is that while Steiner was writing it, unbeknownst to her, a tumor was growing in her brain.  How interesting that part of this story-line reflects what was happening to Steiner, personally.

A highly recommended series: 5 Bloody Daggers for each: Missing, Presumed; Persons Unknown; Remain Silent.

Joanne gives this book 5 stars out of 5!
         Joanne gives this book 5 daggers out of 5!