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Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Writer's Life 11/26 - Vory Scary

Every now and then there is a large disconnect between the general opinion on a film and mine. Such seems the case regarding Our Kind of Traitor (2016), which I watched last night courtesy of Netflix. It is a more realistic look at international intrigue than is commonly portrayed in cinema. There is only one explosion, minimal action and the violence is not graphic. The accent is on suspense. Although the narrative is grounded, the viewer must accept that an ordinary citizen will agree to help a Russian mobster he has known for about an hour. I accepted it and went along for the tense ride. Stellan Skaarsgard, who is Swedish, steals the show as the foul-mouthed, larger than life gangster. In a way, the story is reminiscent of The Godfather (1972) in that it pits the "honorable" don against a thoroughly evil modern cabal that includes politicians. Maybe what attracted me is that it is refreshingly unlike most contemporary thrillers, where the action is at a breakneck pace and credulity is almost completely absent. Ewan McGregor plays the poetry professor caught in the web, Naomie Harris, the current Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond series, his wife. Damian Lewis, of Homeland and Band of Brothers fame, is the agent trying to expose the criminals. The screenplay, adapted by Hossein Amini, was based on the 2010 novel by John le Carre. To my surprise, the director was a woman, Susanna White. It was her first theatrical work after 19 credits in TV. I look forward to her next movie. 8000+ users at IMDb have rated Our Kind of Traitor, forging to a consensus of 6.2 of ten. On a scale of five, I say four. My guess is that it would bore action fans. One of its strengths is that it is not as densely plotted as the most serious spy fare. And it runs only 108 minutes, another plus. It was a modest success at the box office, bringing in almost $11 million of a budget of four million, according to Wiki. The image above is what a member of the Vory would look like. It's the organization Skaarsgard's character heads, and it actually exists.

My alma mater, Western Michigan, finished the regular season 12-0 after a 55-35 win at home vs. Toledo yesterday. After squeaking out a one-point win at Northwestern in the season opener, the Broncos have defeated the rest of their opponents by at least 14 points. Now it's on the MAC conference championship Friday in Detroit vs. Ohio U., 8-4. If WMU wins, there is a chance they will play in the storied Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day. Yesterday Corey Davis became the career FBS leader in receiving yardage. Wow!

Just when it seemed he would live forever, Fidel Castro, 90, has passed away, more proof that only the good die young.

My thanks to the young woman who purchased Exchanges, my only sale of the day, and to my buddy Bags, who kept me company for about an hour, relieving the boredom.
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