Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My year-end recommends

by Dietrich

In crime fiction, this year’s reading highlights for me included Dennis Lehane’s The Drop, published in 2014. The story starts with the main character finding a dog in a trash can, a good deed with consequences coming right behind it. It’s a great book by one of the best. And there’s The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos, published in 2018, about a guy struggling to do the right thing after making some bad choices. Published in 2015, I also want to recommend Sing a Worried Song by William Deverell, a great addition to the Arthur Beauchamp series, a legal thriller about the beloved attorney winning one in the courtroom, while a case from his past comes to haunt him. 

I also dusted off a couple of crime classics that I love to reread from time to time: James Crumley’s The Right Madness, and Sideswipe by Charles Willeford, are both are among the best.

Outside the genre, I reread a couple because they’re just that good: Jack Keroauc’s Big Sur, partly because of Kerouac’s great writing style, partly because it’s set in one of my favorite places. I read it traveling to the Monterey Peninsula on a rocking train down the West Coast which seemed most appropriate. I also reread True Grit by Charles Portis, an author with a great voice and an equally great sense of humor, bringing to life the story of Matty Chaney and Rooster Cogburn.

Right now, I’m reading Vancouver Noir, and although I’m slightly biased since I have a story in this compilation, I’m really enjoying this one. It showcases some of the great local talent we have on Canada’s West Coast, and it’s part of the Akashic Noir series, this one edited by Vancouver’s own Sam Wiebe.

Since films are stories too, I thought I’d mention some that I enjoyed this past year. 

First off, there’s Darkest Hour, which is actually from last year, a story we’re all familiar with, one of certain defeat turning to victory. Gary Oldman sure brought it on in his brilliant portrayal of Winston Churchill. A well-deserved Oscar performance.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is another great film from late last year, with performances by Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson that I could just keep watching over and over. And if you’re a fan, there’s another great performance by Woody Harrelson in The Glass Castle

And I, Tonya, a film based on a true story that comes off like a black comedy, has Allison Janney doing an amazing portrayal of Tonya Harding’s mother. I also thought Margot Robbie was brilliant in the starring role. 
The Coens were back this year with The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. I expected quirky, funny, dark and violent, and I wasn’t disappointed. What I wasn’t expecting were the six separate tales of the American West that make up the film, but it all works in typical Coen fashion. I loved the characters portrayed by Tim Blake Nelson, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson and Tom Waits.

Another one based on a true story, Victoria and Abdul was an excellent film, a story about the unusual friendship of aging Queen Victoria and a young Indian clerk, with the kind of great performance one would expect from Judy Dench. 

All the Money in the World is also from last year, and it’s the story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty’s grandson. And Christopher Plummer sure deserved all the nominations for a role he took over on some very short notice. He’s equally great in 2018s Boundaries, a story about a mother coming to terms with her pot-running father.  

Final Portrait is another film I found well worth watching. Geoffrey Rush sure delivers in his role as the artist Alberto Giacometti. And director Stanley Tucci takes a real and insightful look into a great artist’s process.

This is my last post for 2018, so I’d just like to say thank you to everyone at 7 Criminal Minds and to all our regular readers, and I’d like to wish everybody a great holiday season and all the best for the coming year.


Paul D. Marks said...

Some great choices, Dieter. Especially like including Kerouac and Three Billboards.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Paul.

col2910 said...

I, Tonya and Three Billboards were great. The Coen flick is on the radar. You can't beat a bit of Hoke and Willeford!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Colman. True about Hoke and Willeford.