Philip Kerr’s Detective Bernie Gunther

Are you a fan of ‘locked-room murder mysteries’?

You know the kind. Some one had been expected and was a no-show. Phone calls go unanswered, and these days – ditto for texts and emails. After a forced entry into a house/condo/apartment/room, a body is discovered. In a room that has been locked from the inside. Windows, if there are any, are locked, all the air conditioning vents sealed, and the floor boards secure.

At this moment. we now have a ‘who done it’ paired with a ‘how did they get in or out’?

Fictional detectives have dealt with scenarios like this for years, and quite often. However in real life, we don’t see this kind of event very often.Today’s detectives have it far easier by rarely, if ever, having locked-room-mysteries appearing on their dance cards.

Supposedly (actual sales charts are not readily available) the first of these kind of stories, to have made a substantial impact as far as book sales go, was Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841). Closer to our present times, but still a bit further back in years, are writers who have successfully mined this sub-genre of detective fiction that are the most notable are John Dickson Carr and Agatha Christie.

However neither are currently alive, each died almost 40 years ago, so we shall have no more new works from them. Now, meaning currently, mystery writer Philip Kerr has taken on the challenge of this kind of story.

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NY Rangers Have a Date With Stanley

Above are the covers of Friday’s New York Post. Of course there’s the question of taste in their headline,  but what they really mean is that – after a 20 Year wait, the Rangers are Finally Back in the Stanley Cup Finals!

For the first time since 1994, the New York Rangers will return to the NHL’s Stanley Cup Championship Series. It’s been twenty years and that’s a long time between visits. In 1994 I was alive and well, living in Manhattan on the Upper East Side. I’m still alive and well, and have left the New York winters for the sunny West Coast of Florida – Sarasota to be specific. But I still root for the Rangers, and even though I don’t watch hockey often these days, I saw every minute of this game.

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Highway (2014)

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In Bondage…She Found Freedom

Imagine then the daughter of a rich and powerful industrialist with strong connections within the corridors of power. It is just four days until her wedding. Her name is Veera Tripathi and she feels stifled, or trapped. On an impulse, she asks her fiancé to pick her up in his car later that night, so she can sneak out and they can experience some freedom. They weren’t eloping, and as the fiancé tells Veera – he’d rather they were in their homes than cruising around in the middle of the night.

They eventually stop at an all night convenience store/filling station. Veera steps out of the car, against her boy friend’s wishes. Just to stretch her legs. Maybe use the restroom. She had no idea that by doing so, the rest of her life would change forever.

Veera unknowingly had stepped out of the car and into an ongoing robbery. Shots are fired, the thieves come rushing out and see her, a lone woman standing there. They grab her, and use her as a shield to make an escape.

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The Love Punch

So film director Joel Hopkins sits down and over a lengthy period, writes a new screenplay. Some producers like the script and buy it and hire Hopkins to direct it as well. Now Hopkins hasn’t done a lot of films. In fact, his last effort (in 2008) starred Emma Thompson who was paired with Dustin Hoffman. They called it Last Chance Harvey.

So Hopkins offered this film to Thompson and she signed on. She would be paired with Pierce Brosnan. The title, The Love Punch doesn’t give you a clear indication of what the film is about.

Thompson’s Kate and Brosnan’s Richard were married long enough to have produced two kids both now in college. But Richard, a corporate honcho didn’t quite buy into monogamy, so they’ve been divorced for a while. Apparently, the divorce was amicable and so, they remained friends.

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Night Train to Lisbon

The words of Amadeo DeAlmeida Prado – Imagination is the last refuge.

I’m not sure how I found this film, Night Train to Lisbon. Maybe it is because I am always looking around in the foreign film section on Netflix. But I am happy to have seen this remarkable film.

Jeremy Irons plays Raimund Gregorius, a Swiss college professor teaching and living in Berne. His wife had given him the heave-ho a while back, so now he lives a solitary life. His students aren’t much interested in the words of Marcus Aurelius (Raimund teaches Ancient classics in the languages Latin, Greek, and Hebrew) and to amuse himself, Raimund plays chess against himself.

On a rainy morning, as he is walking to work – he sees a young woman standing on the railing of Berne’s Kirchenfeld Bridge, an apparent suicide about to happen. Some how he shouts, runs towards her, and rescues her. He takes her with him to his class, but during his lecture, she leaves. All that is left behind is her red leather coat. He quickly leaves the class, having seen her walking away through the classroom window, as he hopes to return her coat to her.

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Chef (2014)

There’s a lot to like about Chef. First of all, it is great film if you are someone who likes to cook and enjoy the food experience in all its infinite variations. There’s even a term called food porn used by aficionados of movies about cooking and great food.

It is a buddy film. It is a road film. It is a film that without being about sports – has the likeable ‘sporting motif’ of a successful guy whose career ran off the rails, but he gets his shit together.

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The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

Robin Williams stars as Henry Altmann in The Angriest Man in Brooklyn. The title is self-explanatory and pretty much aptly describes Henry who we will learn angrily dislikes almost every thing there is in life. As the film begins we have a lovely tranquil scene of a man with his wife and two small boys enjoying a day in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. It is September, 1989. The scene ends with Henry saying I am so happy.

Flash forward 25 years to 2014. An older and far from happy Henry sits in his car, stuck in a traffic jam at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. He is fuming. We get a voice over spoken by Mr. Williams (as Henry) who gets even angrier when a small car pulls up next to him.

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Paris Countdown aka Le Jour Attendra

For some reason, Paris Countdown begins unexpectedly in a desert near  Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Two guys, Victor and Milan, driving a Ford Ranger turn off the dusty road and soon park the car. They are in the middle of nowhere which in this case is the wide open spaces.

No one will be able to sneak up on them. We will learn later that because they were in serious debt – they owned a bar/disco on the Seine River in Paris – and the place wasn’t doing that well – one of them, Milan, agreed to get them in the middle of a drug deal as a way to get them out from under their debt.

They are to deliver money to a cartel chieftain called Serki. Serki arrives in his car, and shortly thereafter so do the Mexican narcs. Victor and Milan are beaten up, and tortured until they give up Serki. As they leave the police, Victor tells Milan that he never ever wants to see him again.

Serki

Serki

Flash forward ahead and it is six years later. Serki has been released from prison and he’s out to get Butch and Sundance, sorry, make that Victor and Milan. Victor had been approached and had been told that his family would be spared if he ratted out Milan’s location. Only he could not rat out his lifelong friend since they were boys – with the last six years notwithstanding.

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Queen (2014)

Queen (2014) asks the question: What’s a girl to do?

Queen is about a woman called Rani (which means Queen) and she’s played by Kangana Ranault, who is simply wonderful as a conservative young woman who after being a dealt a cruel card, mere hours before her wedding, is off to discover new worlds, new adventures, and herself.

Here’s your setup for Queen: The wedding plans already are in full motion: caterers, decorators, florists, food, clothing, music – all have been contracted for, paid for, and are on hand and at work. With the wedding less than 48 hours away – what happens?

The groom bails.

He tells the would-be bride that he just cannot marry her, and he would have left her sitting teary-eyed in a coffee shop – only she ran out first. What a classy guy – he breaks off an engagement two days before the wedding, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, he gives her the bad news in a coffee shop!

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