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Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Writer's Life 12/31 - Ice Harvest

A group of Hollywood heavyweights collaborated on The Ice Harvest (2005), which I caught up to last night courtesy of Netflix. I've been having little luck finding movies that interest me. Sara Stewart of the NY Post mentioned this as one of her favorite Christmas movies. It is as un-Christmas-like as can be, but that's okay as long as the story is interesting, and it is. The words above were written on the wall of the men's room in a strip club. Although the plot is familiar, there are enough quirky flourishes to keep it semi-fresh. Richard Russo and the great Robert Benton adapted the screenplay from a Scott Phillips novel. A mob lawyer and an associate embezzle two million bucks from gangsters, mayhem ensues.The cast is first rate: John Cusack and Billy Bob Thorton as the robbers, Mike Starr and Randy Quaid as henchmen, Ned Bellamy (the guy in fatigues in the Seinfeld lampoon of Platoon (1986) as the manager of the titty bar, Oliver Pratt as an annoying drunk, and Connie Nielsen as the cold-blooded femme fatale. Harold Ramis directed, a departure from the outright comedies he usually does. Although he has made several flicks that were successful financially among the 14 he has helmed, only Groundhog Day (1993) soars. I believe the intent by all the parties involved in The Ice Harvest was to create a Coen brothers-type classic. It falls short of that, but it is good, and it's only 90 minutes. Its greatest strength is the cinematography of Alar Kivilo. Although it is set in Wichita Falls, it was shot in Illinois. Something like that bothers me only when action supposedly set in NYC has obviously been shot elsewhere. The film did not do well at the box office. Made on a budget of $16 million, it brought in a little more than $10 million worldwide. It deserved better. 21,000+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 6.3 of ten. On a scale of five, I say 3.25. Anyone squeamish about violence, nudity or profanity should pass, as should those who are turned off by the downbeat. It is not a flattering portrait of the human race. I don't see how anyone can consider it a comedy, although there are amusing moments, but several commentators at IMDb found it hilarious.

They learn young. According to a blurb in today's NY Post, a six-year-old Arkansas toddler used the thumb print of her sleeping mom to unlock an iphone, then ordered $250 worth of Pokemon toys. When the woman later saw the notices in her her email, she assumed she'd been hacked. It will be interesting to see what this kid does with her life.

It was an unusual session of the floating book shop. Yesterday a man and a woman each said they wished to donate books - and both showed in the time frame I designated. It seemed that would be the only positive until young Nicole showed as I was just beginning to pack up. She'd selected two hardcover thrillers when she noticed my books. She bought Killing. Moments later a woman who has donated dozens of pictorials appeared and asked for illustrated children's books for her severely handicapped son. I had two available and offered them gratis. She insisted on paying. When I asked for a dollar, she pooh-poohed it and handed me a five. The woman is a saint. Thanks, folks. I sold 65 of my books on the street in 2016, 74 in 2015. I wish my web sales were as good. They were probably half that, most of them Kindles.

Happy New Year. Please don't drink and drive.
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