Archive for September 2016

Friday Flicks: Sully

No Comments »

America has a complicated history with airplanes. They started as a luxurious means of travel and represented the core of mankind's exploration of the world. They represented the best of what we were capable of if we put our efforts toward a common goal. Later, they became the weapon of choice as terrorists executed the largest attack in the history of the country. Suddenly, planes became the ammunition in our darkest nightmares. In his latest film Sully, director Clint Eastwood portrays an event of American heroism that explores the complexities of an unplanned aircraft landing in a post 9/11 world.

Tom Hanks plays captain Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger the pilot who managed a miraculous landing of US Airways flight 1549 into the Hudson River. With all of the passengers and crew surviving the unlikely ordeal, Sully is quickly labeled a hero. But as the NTSB begins their standard investigation of the crash, evidence from the wreckage brings Sully's actions into question.  He trusts his gut, but models appear to show the event could have been avoided. With his entire career set to be judged on a few fateful minutes of extraordinary circumstance, Sully struggles to defend his legacy while acclimating to his new role as an American hero.

Following his hit American Sniper, director Clint Eastwood once agains chronicles the story of a real life hero. Like his previous film, the events of 9/11 cast a shadow over the entire proceedings. Images of the doomed plane gliding through the New York skyline eerily recall the famous news footage from that September morning. But like Sniper, Sully is more about average Americans rising to the occasion than any darkness that terrorism elicits. Despite knowing the end result, the faithful recreation of the water landing left me on edge of my seat. The efforts of the ferry drivers and emergency response teams in the direct aftermath of the incident are reverently portrayed as a tribute to the services of these ordinary heroes.

While Aaron Eckhart as co-pilot Jeff Skiles and Laura Linney as Lorraine Sullenberger dutifully fill their supporting roles, there is no denying that this movie belongs to Tom Hanks. As he's done time and time again, Hanks disappears into the role of an everyman in an extraordinary circumstance with ease. He captures the emotional complexity of Sully with a subtlety that makes you forget that you're watching a movie. Based on Highest Duty, the autobiography of the real life Sullenberger, Sully is a film that respectfully tells many sides of the story while never losing the focus on its main character. The film checks all the boxes of a potential awards season contender and serves as another solid notch in Eastwood's storied career.

Autumn in Oxford by Alex Rosenberg

1 Comment »

Tom Wrought is being framed. Life hadn't been easy up to this point, but he never expected it to get this bad. A Pulitzer prize and colloquial respect as a historian did little to protect Tom from the hysteria of McCarthy's crusade against communism. Black-listed and humiliated, Tom relocated to Oxford where he found the love of his life Liz. The only problem. . . Liz is married.

As the affair of Tom and Liz progresses, the two become soulmates. But the bliss of love is soon interrupted by the sudden murder of Liz's husband. The poor man is pushed in front of a train on the London Underground, and Tom is the prime suspect. The authorities see the event as a cut and dry case of "the other man" killing the husband out of jealousy. Despite the clear motive, Tom adamantly proclaims his innocence.

Lucky for Tom, Liz believes him. She hires a young lawyer to defend him and to get to the bottom of who would frame him. As the story unfolds, we learn secrets of Toms past that have the potential to unearth an even larger conspiracy of global proportions.

In Autumn in Oxford, author Alex Rosenberg crafts a deliberately plotted thriller that is riveting from start to finish. I was reminded of the works of Joseph Kanon, especially The Good German, as I read this historical novel that was full of twists and turns that come with Cold War espionage. The characters are intricately drawn and help to keep the pages turning even when the action stalls. It was particularly refreshing to have two women, Liz and her solicitor, take the reigns of the investigation, especially given the time period of the story. Autumn in Oxford is a novel that could have benefited from one final editing pass, but ultimately the heart of the characters and intrigue of the plot elevate the book into a fascinating and engaging read.

For more information, visit Amazon, Goodreads, and TLC Book Tours.

(2016, 28)

If this sounds like a novel you would like to read, enter to win a copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours and Lake Union Publishing. US entries only. No P.O. boxes please. Winner will have 48 hrs from contact to respond. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Storm Front by John Sandford


"There're not many angels around anymore. Not in my work."

The Virgil Flowers series by John Sandford is one of my all time favorites. Flowers, a quirky investigator who has his own way of going about his job, is one of the most charismatic and unconventional leads in a popular mystery series. His long hair, obscure music group t-shirts, and cowboy boots make him instantly recognizable by wardrobe alone. His reputation as maverick investigator who solves "the hard ones" places him in some of the most dangerous situations that the state of Minnesota has to offer. Storm Front finds Flowers in an investigation that has stakes reaching far beyond the jurisdiction of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Elijah Jones is in the biggest trouble of his life. For years, Jones has cared for his wife who suffers from Alzheimers. Now, as he faces his own terminal cancer diagnosis, Jones sets a plan in motion that could potentially keep his wife cared for long after he has died. During a recent archeological dig in Israel, Jone's team discovered an ancient artifact that seemingly alters history dating back to the Bible. He smuggles the artifact home to Minnesota in the hopes of auctioning it to the highest bidder and securing the wellbeing of his wife for years to come.

Enter Virgil Flowers. He is busy investigating a petty case of local fraud when his boss Lucas Davenport gives him a call. Shortly after, Flowers is at the airport picking up an Israeli expert who he will assist in retrieving the artifact. But Israel is not the only party with interest in the relic. The history and religion altering implication of the ancient stele has a host of parties from around the world racing to retrieve it. From an American television personality to a notorious terrorist, it seems like everyone wants to get their hands on the artifact. This leaves Virgil in a unique situation. Is an ancient rock really worth dying for?

As with the previous novels in this series, it is really fun to read about Virgil Flowers working out a case in his unique way. John Sandford writes with a crisp urgency that makes Storm Front a real page turner. That being said, this is the first novel in the series that I didn't come out of wanting more. The plot of this book strays a bit to far from reality for me. The globe spanning historical implications of the premise seem more fitting to Dan Brown's Robert Langdon than Virgil Flowers. Flowers seemed so out of place, in fact, that I found myself more interested in the subplot of antique lumber fraud than the main story. Some have suggested that Sandford may have employed another author to help him write this novel. Whether this is true or not, Storm Front, is an installment that does not reach the height of the novels that preceded it. For the sake of his fantastic character, I hope this novel does not mark the beginning of a decline in what remains one of my favorite series.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.

(2016, 27)

Powered by Blogger.