a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Dementia’

Louise Penny Has Done It Again!”A Great Reckoning” Is Great!

A Great REckoningI admit it! I’m an unabashed Louise Penny fan! And I’ve read every single one of her terrific mystery/crime novels about Quebec’s former Chief Inspector of the Surete, Armand Gamache, but with her newest one, “A Great Reckoning” she’s done it again! “A Great Reckoning” is great! The best so far. She’s really topped herself! I haven’t been able to do anything since I picked up this 12th book in her Gamache series.

I could not put it down!

And neither will you! It’s what a page-turner should be. Suspenseful, taut, fast-paced, totally absorbing and thrilling with a capital “T”.

I’ve read an early critic’s edition, as it were, so there are limits to what I can and can’t say. I can’t quote from it, but I can say there are beautiful descriptions of her beloved Quebec and the irresistible village of Three Pines. You really want to move there and retire, just like Gamache & his devoted, smart, beautiful wife Reine-Marie have. Except of course, it’s a fictional location where corpses and murders abound. And it’s in Quebec, where it’s almost always snowing.And her descriptions of the food Olivier & Gabri prepare in their adorable bistro ~ MOUTH~WATERING!

Also writing about a thriller like this is difficult, because you can’t reveal any of the mysteries, or you’ll spoil it. And suffice it to say that there’s a LOT to spoil. There are twists upon twists, and a really bang-up unguessable conclusion. And all your favorite characters, the colorful Quebecquois townspeople, are all back, Clara, Myrna, Ruth Zardo and her pet duck, Rosa. And the gay couple to end all gay couples, Olivier & Gabri, and their wonderful bistro/B&B, that you’ll wish you could dine at and stay at. But alas! They’re all fictional! But that’s the sign of great writing. It all comes alive for you, Penny tells her stories so well.

Taken altogether as one massive novel, it reminds me of “War and Peace”! That’s how the Gamache series  deepens and grows on you.Throughout the twelve preceeding novels(and you really should read all of them, in order, if you can), the characterizations just build and build and build til you feel you know Clara & Myrna & Ruth etc.,etc. It’s like visiting old friends, in their loveliest of homes. But you can read the Gamache series of mysteries and enjoy them as stand alones, too.

This mystery is set in the Montreal Police Academy, which has made Gamache its’ head and lured him out of retirement, and the scenes shift between the school and Three Pines, but I will say no more than that. No spoilers here! “A Great Reckoning” hits stores August 30. But you can pre-order, mais oui!

And as strong and suspenseful as “A Great Reckoning” is, it’s even MORE amazing how quickly after Penny’s last Gamache book ,N.Y. Times bestseller “The Nature of the Beast”, came out. Less than a year! How does she do it? But then that’s the timetable Agatha Christie kept to and Louise Penny is nothing if she’s not a modern, French-Canadian Agatha Christie. Miss Marple had St. Mary Mead and Gamache and co. have Three Pines. Murder mysteries set in small, cozy, seemingly idyllic villages.

And when you read her acknowledgements at the end, she heart-breakingly reveals that her much-loved husband Michael has gotten dementia. And they live together in a small village in Quebec’s townships. but it’s not Three Pines. So her writing this wonderful, complicated thriller so FAST and so WELL is even more amazing! That she wrote this great book in the middle of all this personal sorrow and tragedy is astonishing. All my best to Louise and to Michael, too.

#Louise Penny # Three Pines # Inspector Gamache # Murder Mystery#Agatha Christie #Canada # Montreal # Quebec

A GRRRReat Day for “The Artist”! Bad day for George Clooney…

So Super Tuesday of the Awards Season has come and gone and the faster-than-they’ve ever been, the Speedy Alkaselzters of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle named “The Artist” Best Picture and its’ unknown-in-America director Michel Hazanaviscius, Best Director! Yay! But what does this alll MEAN?

Sasha Stone at www.awardsdaily.com and Tom O’Neil, the guy who started all this Oscar madness, at www.goldderby.com both point out that only five times in the past 20 years have the Oscars and the New York Film Critics agreed.

But it must be a VERY happy day over at the Weinstein Company! And at chez Hazanaviscius! The champagne corks must be popping! I mean, not only is this bon-bon of a movie in BLACK and WHITE, it’s also SILENT! And FRENCH! Or French made! And I can NOT name a French movie that has gotten THIS close to Oscar before.

So it’s unprecedented and unbelievable, but not by Sasha and I who called it as soon as we saw it. She, in Cannes, and I, in Montreal! At the Montreal Film Festival! What a beautiful moment that was!

And I described earlier how exciting the NY Press junket was. In this blog, just a little while back, I said that I felt Oscar’s presence in that room. Or rather suite of many rooms. Everyone was just so happy that day! But there was the little(or not so little, really) golden guy’s overwhelming presence in the air!

I knew I was surrounded by winners but the alllll knew it too. It was a nonpareil feeling, vraiment! Bien sur!

And since this is the first announced major award of the season, it may have more impact than any other NYFCC’s awarding has ever had before.

Famously the NYFCC moved up its date to be BEFORE the National Board of Review which is set to announce on Thursday. Will they rubber stamp the NYFCC? Or will they differ? Well, they may choose a different Best Actress than Meryl Streep. They could choose Michelle Williams’ wonderful Marilyn. But their choice of La Streep shows that yes, indeed, she is the front-runner in that category and NOT Viola Davis. Also, strangely, it’s a movie that hasn’t even opened yet and won’t for a couple of more weeks.

Oh, and not so strangely, “The Iron Lady” is ANOTHER Weinstein opus. I mean, it’s just incredible!

Also incredible is that David Fincher’s American re-make of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” got NO-THING from the NYFCC. And this is the movie that made them move their date YET AGAIN to accommodate seeing this just-finished film.

Also everyone and his blogging brother was saying it was  a war between “The Descendants” and “The Artist” and now…”The Descendants” lost big time all over the place. It got NO-THING from the NYFCC and also George Clooney did not get a Best Actor Nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards. Yes, THEY were announced today, too, and Sasha has all of them over at www.awardsdaily.com And her take on what all this means.

I think, personally it means nominations for all these winners. It REALLY helps Albert Brooks who got Best Supporting Actor for “Drive”. And “Drive” which I liked immensely seemed to be slipping off the pundit-o-sphere. But Albert’s back and I think IN. And yes, he WAS really scarey in that movie! He was playing a gansta. No, I’m not kiddin’! He really was! People forget what a good, solid actor is underneath the rest of his many talents, but the NYFCC with this award has reminded everyone.

This is not necessarily the case for the lovely Jessica Chastain who wins for THREE movies. But which of these three “The Tree of Life”, “The Help”, and “Take Shelter” is the Academy(and the Globes and SAG, etc. etc) going to choose to rally behind as THE ONE. The Academy only allows for one film per nomination.

Like for instance, the National Board of Review can give Jessica the same Supporting Actress award for all those movies, too.

But the Oscars have to pick just one. It seems like “The Tree of Life” is the one with the most life in it. It tied the Gotham Awards last night for Best Picture with “Beginners” Yay! For Mike Mills! And for Christopher Plummer! “Beginners” also got Best Ensemble at the Gothams! And “The Descendants” AGAIN got nothing.

I tell you as well made as I felt “The Descendants” was it was ultimately extremely depressing.
So we can almost write “The Descendants” off our lists. And it seems Brad Pitt is now the movie star to beat for Best Actor, since he won here for “Moneyball” and “The Tree of Life”(yup, there it is again!) As I wrote earlier in the Comments Section of Awardsdaily tonight, I REALLY DON’T WANT TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT “TREE OF LIFE” but it seems I have, too.

People keep bringing it up, primordial ooze, dinosaurs and all. RIDICULOUS film! But Brad Pitt’s and Jessica Chastain’s ’50 Texas husband and wife WERE lovely. I’m just surprised to find people remember them and remember them so strongly.

So now it’s Brad Pitt v. Jean Dujardin with George Clooney running on the sidelines, huffing and puffing, like he does so memorably, in his Mad Dash scene in “The Descendants”…trying to keep up.

Well, we’ll see what the National Board of Review does. They, too, may pick “The Artist” but I’m betting Best Actor, Actress and Supporting will be different. But Jessica Chastain may score again with them because she’s got those multiple movies. Seven I think, behind her this year.

But congratulations to all these winners, and let me do a final shout out to winner of the Breakthrough Director Award Dee Rees for “Pariah” and also to Adepero Oduye who received an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress for “Pariah” Both were my guests at TIFF this year.

And you can see them and ALLLL “The Artist”s on my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

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