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Category Archive for 'Film connection'

James Sallis’s novel Drive, the story of a man who works as a stunt driver by day and as the driver of getaway cars by night, is full of violence, and the body count in the book and film is extremely high, some of the deaths coming at the hands of Driver as payback for egregious betrayals. At the end of the novel and film, Driver leaves this life behind and drives off, seriously wounded. Driven, its sequel, begins six years later. Driver has been keeping a low profile under the pseudonym of Paul West in Phoenix, and he has been successful in avoiding trouble—and in falling in love with Elsa. Suddenly, without warning, he and Elsa are attacked at 11:00 a.m. on a Saturday. Driver manages to disable one attacker, but the second one fatally stabs Elsa before Driver takes care of him. He has no idea who the attackers are or why. In the course of the next few weeks, several more attacks occur, but, still, Driver has no idea who is behind the attacks or why. Eventually, the trail leads to New Orleans, but his connection remains obscure. As one of Driver’s friends comments, “Do the dots connect? Could be all random. Separate storms. And in the long run what does it matter?” Fans of the book and film of Drive will enjoy seeing how Driver’s life evolves after that novel concludes.

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Matt King, who is a descendant of a Hawaiian princess and the haole who married her and inherited her land, could “sit back and watch as the past unfurls millions into [his] lap,” but he prefers to live on his own salary as a lawyer. The primary beneficiary of the family land trust, Matt is now trying to decide what to do with the land on behalf of his cousins and family, since the trust is in debt and the demand for prime land in Hawaii is enormous. His wife lies dying after a boating accident, and his daughters are out of control. The author’s insights into Matt’s conflicts and his self-examination during his long vigil over a wife on life support, along with his daughters’ understandable tumult, provide some emotional resonance, even as moments of dark humor provide some respite from the tension. The subplots are well developed, and the conclusion is satisfying, if thin. Just released as a big film starring George Clooney.

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Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo’s latest novel is a stand-alone, not part of his Harry Hole series, and it provides yet another example of Nesbo’s immense talent as a story-teller. In this novel, however, Nesbo lets his darkest, most deadpan humor loose in a wild but carefully constructed mystery in which the several sections of the novel parallel textbook recommendations regarding interviewing and hiring candidates for executive positions – seemingly a straightforward process. Nesbo turns the whole thing all on its head, however. Nesbo’s “headhunter,” Roger Brown, though much in demand both by individuals looking for new opportunities and by corporations seeking the perfect new president, is a loathsome human being, but he is as close to a “hero” as one gets in this page-turner. He has powerful enemies who are at least as clever, at least as opportunistic, and certainly as amoral at he is. By limiting his focus to these characters, however, Nesbo frees himself from the limitations of a police procedural and can take his story in new directions, omitting the law entirely from almost all of the action, and creating a plot in which Roger Brown and his enemies essentially play a game in which the “king of the chessboard” is the person who survives.

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Author Helen DeWitt expresses her admiration, at one point, for “the type of person who thinks boredom a fate worse than death.” And she obviously writes for this type of reader as she performs amazing literary and scholarly acrobatics in this unique and energetic novel which never flags–and certainly never bores! Main character Sybilla is the hard-working, single mother of Ludo, a 6-year-old genius who gobbles up even the most complicated subjects, seemingly overnight, and DeWitt incorporates many esoteric subjects here–Japanese language, Greek verbs, Icelandic verse, Fourier’s analysis, Arabic, astrophysics, and tournament chess, bridge, and piquet, among other things—as she describes their intellectual daily life together. Despite Sybilla’s arcane subjects and complex ideas, DeWitt manages to write so entertainingly about them that they enhance, rather than obscure, the human story at the heart of the novel, when Ludo studies Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai and then set tests for seven men, one of whom might by his unknown father.

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Drive, though the most brutal film I have ever seen, is nevertheless very worth seeing for those with the fortitude to deal with the darkness and graphic cruelty. Nicolas Refn, a Dane who won the Cannes Film Festival Award as Best Director for this film, creates a tight and spine-tingling drama of a character known only as Driver (Ryan Gosling), a young man who works as a Hollywood stunt driver by day and as the driver of getaway cars at night. A man who is emotionally scarred from some unspecified trauma in the past, Driver (Ryan Gosling) is cold, unflappable, and just what a career criminal wants in his getaway driver. Opening with a robbery scene followed by a high octane chase scene, as Driver and two robbers avoid the police and two helicopters, the film then shows Driver returning to his almost bare apartment and meeting pretty Irene (Carey Mulligan) in the hallway. A strange love story runs parallel with dramatic scenes, chases, shootings, and all kinds of mayhem, but as the film develops, the viewer comes to see that Driver has his own bizarre sense of ethics, and a real desire to help Benicio, Irene’s young son. Drive is a dark and violent but complex literary novel. As a film, it is also violent but far more earthbound and simplistic, with no real subtlety except in Gosling’s acting.

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