Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Rembrandt’s Angel - a mystery thriller by Steven M. Moore

Greetings, commies!
This is probably my last post for 2017. Let's wrap it up with a challenging and stimulating thriller by Steven M. Moore Rembrandt's Angel.

A Neo-Nazi conspiracy threatens Europe.
Esther Brookstone’s life is at a crossroads. A Scotland Yard inspector who specializes in stolen art, she’s reluctantly considering retirement. A three-time widow, she can’t quite decide whether paramour and colleague Interpol Agent Bastiann van Coevorden should be husband number four. Decisions are put on hold while she and Bastiann set out to thwart a neo-Nazi conspiracy financed in part by artworks stolen during World War II. Among the stolen art is the masterpiece “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a work Esther obsesses about recovering.
The case sends the intrepid pair on an international hunt spanning several European countries and the Amazon jungle. Evading capture and thwarting death, Esther and Bastiann prove time and again that adrenaline-spiked adventures aren’t just for the young.

My thoughts
There are so many elements that set this book apart from the typical Dan Brownesque mystery/thriller. First of all, it it set in the near future, 2020s. At first I thought it was a typo and then realized it was deliberate. There are vague references to certain political and economic reforms in Europe, but the overall ambiance is not post-apocalyptic. The most unique feature about this novel is the female protagonist, Esther. If you are tired of female leads who look like sexy French art students or Playboy bunnies, Esther Brookstone is delightfully refreshing, as she defies cliches. A 60-something going on 35, a three time widow (rather suspicious) and still open to new romantic adventures, childless, feminine yet able to hold her ground in a male dominated profession, she is like a female version of James Bond. I am so grateful that Esther does not have a chip on her shoulder and doesn't engage in long tirades about how hard it is to be an older female. Thank you, author, for sparing me the feminist rant. Esther has a Peter-Pannish quality to her. Now, what makes this novel challenging is the location hopping. Just wanted to throw it out there. The author does his readers a service by listing all the characters in the introduction. But if you are reading a Kindle version, it will be hard to keep going back and checking who is who. So I recommend reading this book when you are able to focus on it, not when you have three other novels in progress.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Wuthering Heights 2011 - racially charged torture porn

Greetings commies!

Sometimes you come across a cinematic equivalent of a second trimester abortion, and this particular adaptation of Wuthering Heights is just that. I watched it on my iPhone while on a business trip in Italy. There are so many things wrong with it, I had to share them.

There are several notable figures flipping in their graves, from Emily Bronte herself to Martin Luther King. Nothing spells "social responsibility" like having a hysterical white woman slack, kick, lick and step on a black man. The ethnicity of Healthcliff never was verified, but it is implied that he is of Romani descent. Substituting a gypsy for a black man is a bit of a stretch. I don't know if the director wanted to make the story somehow more "relevant" to modern audiences. Either way, the attempt failed miserably. If anything, it trivializes racism. A black man in the English moorland sticks out like a sore thumb. The Earnshaws are reduced to a bunch of filthy, violent rednecks. I almost feel this movie should have been done as a modernized version, set in the American south, with a poor white family fostering a black kid. It would have been more convincing. I will not even comment on the casting and acting. Catherine's eyes cannot decide if they are brown or blue, and the chicken pox mark on her forehead keeps moving as she gets older. All in all, this particular adaptation is a lame piece of racially charged torture porn.