Best Books & Fabulous Films

Reviews and More

American Hustle

By Kai-Arne Zimny

“As far as I could see, people were always conning each other to get what they wanted. We even con ourselves. We talk ourselves into things. We sell ourselves things we maybe don’t even need or want by dressing them up. We leave out the risk. We leave out the ugly truth.”  – Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale)

Photo Credit: Wolg Gang

New Jersey, late 70s – Fraudulent duo Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser aka “Lady Edith Greensly” (Amy Adams) get caught in the act by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Smelling an opportunity for fame and recognition, the agent decides to offer the crooked couple a dishonest deal that would force them to gather incriminating evidence against four other people. To avoid prosecution, Irving and Sydney agree, not knowing the object of the FBI’s investigation: several corrupt congressmen, ruthless mafia boss Victor Tellegio (Robert DeNiro), and most spectacularly Camden’s popular and big-hearted mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). Polito’s ambition to create jobs by revitalizing Atlantic City’s casinos might make him susceptible to bribes by a fake Saudi sheik. A game of deceit and conflict ensues, not making Irving’s personal dilemmas – evolving around his unpredictable wife (Jennifer Lawrence) and his beloved adoptive son – any easier …

Read more »

Beatriz at Dinner: Comedy, Tragedy, Portrait?

By Bobbie Kirkhart

We first see Beatriz (Salma Hayek) going through morning chores, feeding her dogs, and lighting a candle for deceased loved ones, including her dead goat. She’s in a rush to her work in a holistic healing firm. Her last patient of the day is a house call for a massage for Kathy, a wealthy woman in a gated community.

After the house call, Beatriz’s car won’t start, so Kathy invites her to stay for the small dinner party she’s hosting for her husband’s business associates.

It’s the stuff of comedy, a movie you’ve all seen before: The wealthy matron invites an employee to an important dinner party she’s hosting for even wealthier associates. We have rollicking fun watching the crude manners of the outsider exposing the pomposity of the wealthy. At the end, everybody realizes that the simple ways of the poor employee are superior to the smug frivolity of the privileged. Everybody is happy. Everybody learns something.

Spoiler alert: They didn’t go that way.

Read more »

Safety First!

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Photo Credit: Tangqiu☺

Many of you might remember Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio together on the big screen, surrounded by water and ice. While “Rose” whispers last words of love in the freezing air, “Jack” sinks to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. And despite their coldish, blueish skin we feel nothing but warmth witnessing those eternal words of love. And – without a shadow of a doubt – we know that his life ends, but their love doesn’t.

Eleven years after Titanic (1997), Kate and Leo are back, this time as a married couple in Revolutionary Road (2008), the film adaption of Richard Yates’ novel (1961) of the same name.

Read more »

Watch and Write! Writing the TV Drama Series

By Kai-Arne Zimny

 

“To create a television show out of thin air, without anybody paying you,

requires a certain amount of delusion, and that’s taken me very far.”

Matt Weiner, creator of Mad Men

 

Do you regularly watch a TV series? Probably yes.

Have you ever considered writing one? Probably not.

But if you like TV series and love to write, you might want to reconsider. The recent serial television landscape is diverse and of a quality as never before. And production studios are beginning to open their gates a tiny crack to meet an ever-increasing demand for series ideas and concepts.

In her book, Writing the TV Drama Series:  How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV, television writer and screenwriting teacher Pamela Douglas offers an approach to learning how to slide through that crack and gain insight into what’s lurking behind those gates.

Read more »

School Ties: A Film Review

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Photo credit: Daderot (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It’s 1955. David Greene (Brendan Fraser), a Jewish boy from a working class family, leaves his home, the industrial city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to go to a prestigious New England prep boarding school for his senior year. His ticket in? A football scholarship since David is an outstanding quarterback! “Don’t tell people any more than they need to know,” the school team’s football coach advises David upon arrival, hinting at the social gap between David’s future schoolmates and blue-collar people like David and himself.

However, David is neither able nor willing to hide his social background from his school and teammates, boys from rich families across the board. Despite the differences, he is able to bond with them and even become popular quickly. However, just as quickly he is confronted with the sad truth that there’s yet another difference the boys won’t be willing to overlook that easily – that he’s Jewish.  Read more »