Blog Posts by Uncle Will

Posted by Uncle Will on 10/14/14
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Looking for a movie whose mission might make you feel good to be alive? Try actor/director Jon Favreau's latest creation Chef.  It is loosely based on the book L.A. Son : My Life, My City, My Food  by Master Chef Roy Choi. This movie has all the necessary ingredients:  a great soundtrack, perfect casting, clever script, a lovable kid, fantastic editing and if you like to cook, there's tons of tips. 
This movie has been categorized as a road-trip-flick, but it is much more. It tries to show the importance of following one's dreams, no matter what the cost.  
Before sitting down to watch this film, just make sure you've had a big meal, or you're gonna have to plan on pausing it before it's over, to run to the kitchen.
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/04/14
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Looking for something different to watch that is not the latest, mass-produced, run-of-the-mill product of our Hollywood Film Factory?  A film that is off-center, dark, disturbing, thoughtful, well-acted, and futuristic? A film whose script, at times, is reminiscent of a Seth MacFarlane Family Guy TV episode?

Look no further. The Rover is directed by Australia's David Michôd, whose first film, Animal Kingdom, won 39 international awards in 2011.  

The Rover stars Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. It's a little like Mad Max meets The Road. The setting is recent future Australia, 10 years after some sort of apocalyptic event. Pearce is a loner who has his car stolen by three desperate armed men who just committed a violent robbery and are running from what appears to be the local martial law. They have just left a 4th gang member, Pattinson, for dead, at the scene of the heist. The two stars join forces and pursue the 3 villains.

Pearce's character has so much baggage that it would make even Paris Hilton blush. The interesting thing about this film is that it takes its time to unpack all that baggage. Pattinson appears to be valiantly trying to distance himself from his past pretty-boy parts (as in the Twilight Saga). This performance showcases a dramatic range that will shock his fans and critics.
This a stark film with an unforgettable ending.  
Posted by Uncle Will on 07/03/14
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If you love intelligent scripwriting, thoughtful plotlines and powerful performances you must watch HBO's True Detective starring Matthew McConaughey & Woody Harrelson.
Louisiana detectives Rust Cohle & Martin Hart are polar opposites. Both are damaged goods with plenty of baggage. They join forces over a timespan of 17 years to track a serial killer. The cast is killer. The score is perfect. The setting drips with southerness. The chemistry between McConaughey & Harrelson is unbelievable.
If you haven't heard about this series yet, it is time to hop on the wagon.  Once you're hooked, keep checking for Season 2 to show in our catalog. . .awaiting your hold. 
Posted by Uncle Will on 05/23/14
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In 1993 writer/director Jane Campion won an Oscar for her screenplay The Piano. This film was not your typical Hollywood drama. It was a little off-center. Some thought it a little too quirky.
If you like quirky, you'll love this BBC 7-episode miniseries: Top of the Lake which was directed by Campion. It stars Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss as a damaged Australian homicide detective, who while visiting her cancer-ridden mother, is assigned to investigate the disappearence of a 13-yr old girl who has a deeply imbedded secret. 
The performances are top-notch. . .especially those by Academy Award winner Holly Hunter and War Horse's Peter Mullan. The scenery is breathtaking and the humor is ebony. This program is the equivalent of a page-turner. Make certain that you have plenty of popcorn before putting it into the DVD player.  
Crime Drama
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/28/14
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The Hunt is the most powerful film I've seen this year. International film star Mads Mikkelsen stars as Lucas, a kindergarten assistant teacher whose life is beginning to turn around. He has a new female friend that is supportive. The custody suit for Marcus, his teenage son, is progressing positively and appears that he'll soon be awarded said privileges. Suddenly Lucas is the victim of a innocent lie. Before he can even grasp the social significance of that spiraling lie, he becomes an outcast in his small community; a foul foe in the eyes of all his friends and acquaintances. He's forced to hunt for the truth.
This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year (2014) and Mikkelsen won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. Overall this film has been nominated for 40 international awards and has won 30. This Denmark drama (originally titled Jagten) is shown in Danish with English subtitles. It has an R-rating and runs 115 mins. 
The next time you are looking for something worthwhile to watch, this film would be worthy of the time spent.
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/07/14
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Lillyhammer is not just another fish-outta-water-story. It is more like a whale-outta-puddle-tale. 
Steven Van Zandt stars in this comedy series about a New York mobster-turned-informant who enters the Witness Protection Program and requests the title town of Lillehammer, Norway as his future home. What transpires is a hard man's adjustment to the simple, cold life of an idyllic Norwegian town (population 27,000) and the townsfolk's adjustment to his self-entitled "American" ways.
American gangster, Frank Tagliano, only knows one way of living his life. He fell in love with a remote village while watching the 1994 Olympics, which were hosted in Norway. Frank knows that his only hope for survival, after ratting out his new boss, is selecting the last place on earth that his enemies would guess that he is hiding. What he doesn't realize is that the climate is mostly frigid; the people are cordial, but like sheep; and the customs and norms are alien to his past experience. The by-product is a clever situation comedy where the plot outcomes are usually foreseen, but the process is worth the time expended in watching.
"Little Steven" Van Zandt, if you are not a TV fan of The Sopranos, is also the lead guitarist with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. This multitalented man even provides several soundtrack songs to his show. After checking out the first season, look for Season 2 to be in our catalog soon.
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/24/14
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Winnie the Pooh is not the only character that got his nose caught in the honey jar. Take the background story of Bernie Gunther - before the war started, he was a highly respected homicide investigator in Berlin. Once the Nazis took control, Bernie had to swallow his pride and political beliefs in order to survive. His comfort level went from a possible 10 to well below zero.
Gunther's goal became to stay below the radar of the maniacal regime that was slowly destroying his world. He was forced to wear a uniform and become part of the military machine. He went from being the Berlin Bull to the Wehrmacht Wimp.
In March of 1943, the Wehrmacht High Command sends their prized criminal investigator to Smolensk to verify if thousands of Polish officers were executed and buried in a frozen field. Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, smells a possible public relations coup. If Goebbels can get proof that the Russians mass-murdered thousands of defenseless enemy officers, the world's spotlight, fixed on the Nazi nation's atrocities, will dim drastically.
The last thing that Gunther wants is to be anywhere near the spotlight.  He has positioned himself well offstage and only wants his world back - as it once was. When he lands in Smolensk, no one is happy to see him...not the Germans in command of the invasion force, nor the Russians aiding them. Even the Gestapo resents an "outsider" being assigned to investigate a matter that appears to have no major consequence in the Fatherland conquering Mother Russia.
Resentment leads to murder and cover-up. Gunther is forced to make some difficult decisions to remain breathing; however, he finds time to fall hopelessly in love with one of the forensic team sent to aid his investigation. . .but even that small prize has its steep price tag.    
Philip Kerr has written several books in this series. It is not important to read them in order, since the outcome of WWII is well documented. The writing is rich and the characters are complex. If historical fiction is what you are looking for and you haven't tried Kerr yet, it is well worth the experience.
Posted by Uncle Will on 01/21/14
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Who's excited? I'm excited! Found a new suspense/mystery/thriller author. His name's Dan Smith and all four of his published books will soon be available for checkout in our catalog: Dry Season; Dark Horizons; Red Winter; and The Child Thief (which is the subject of this review). 
The setting is a remote valley, in the Ukraine, post WWII. The narrator is Luka, a darkened veteran of many Russian armies and many more bloody battles. What made him a survivor was the dream of returning to his hidden home, his enduring wife and the three children he's not seen in years. 
It's hard times indeed in his small rural community. The elements are brutal and the food scarce. Firearms were banned by the new ruling class; however, Luka was able to smuggle home his beloved rifle, which is the main tool he uses to put food in the stomachs of his loved ones. Everyone in his community lives in daily fear that they will be discovered by the Stalinists and placed in forced labor camps. 
While out hunting with his twin sons, Luka discovers a man, near-death, pulling a sled carrying two dead children. Common sense says why buy trouble...leave the man and the children to the wolves. But Luka is a humanitarian and brings the dying stranger into his home to heal him. When the community leaders learn that the dead-sled-children were abused, tortured, and likely used for feeding, they go on a killing frenzy themselves. Shortly thereafter, Luka's niece is kidnapped. It becomes clear to Luka that there's a stalking demon nearby and this steely soldier swears to track and rescue the child...but at what cost?
This book has a real feel to it.  The narrative is strong and the characters believable. It transported me to the frozen tundra where I did not want to leave until scores were settled.
Posted by Uncle Will on 12/23/13
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The following are the top 5 books I read this year:
#5 - Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen
Hopefully, the start of a new Florida series book by one of the masters of the witty mystery.
#4 - Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe
Sequel to The Hum and the Shiver does not disappoint.
#3 - NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Stephen King's son's imagination and writing style pick up where his old man's left off.
#2 - The Fire Witness by Lars Kepler
Third book in series by Scandinavian couple featuring Sweden's modern day version of Sherlock Holmes - Investigator Joona Linna.
#1 - Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
New York Times best selling mystery author's first stand-alone novel about loss and redemption.
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/29/13
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Enjoying dark comedy or gallows humor (as it was originally referred to) is an acquired taste. It is said that when the condemned man climbed to the top of the gallows, where the noose was placed around his neck, he was asked if he had any last words--he quickly responded:  "...Look at all this rotted wood. I don't think it's safe up here..."
Violet & Daisy is a dark comedy. It has been placed in the "Action" genre in the stacks, but this is misleading. Sure, there are a couple of shoot-'em-up scenes; however, they play mostly for comic effect. The gunplay just enhances the absurd world that our two heroines exist in.  
Violet is played by Alexis Bledel, who grew up starring in "Gilmore Girls" for seven years on TV. She is the brains and brawn of a pair of professional hit-men. Daisy is the younger, less experienced partner, who is played by Academy Award-nominated actress, Saoirse Ronan. Together, the two are hired by Danny Trejo to take out sad sack Michael, who has such a strong death wish that he double-downs on his likelihood to die.
Michael is played by James Gandolfini, the actor who died last June at the age of 51. Michael is trying desperately to atone for his bad behavior as a widowed father, and ameliorate his teenage daughter's resentment. His wife, (her mother), passed away years back and Michael failed in his fatherly responsibilities...or at least failed in his daughter's eyes.   
Violet & Daisy are motivated by high fashion and a lack of conscience. The contracts they fulfill buy them pretty clothes. The secret to their success seems to be that they never have to have any contact with their victims. Who knows what would happen if they ever had to make eye contact or worse yet, speak to their victims before "poppin'em."  Maybe a movie might be made about that!       
dark comedy
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