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Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Writer's Life 7/1 - Allies

In the mid '60's action began to be more important story in films than story. These days many film-makers seem to fear the audience will bolt if there is a long pause between explosions and gun play. Allied (2016) returned to old-fashion cinema - except for one element - offering an interesting narrative with only brief segues into thrills. Drama is at the forefront. Set during WWII, the story begins with a secret agent parachuting into the desert outside Casablanca. He conspires with another to assassinate a high-ranking Nazi official. They fall in love, settle in London, and have a child. A year or so later, the male is taken from his desk job and ordered to undertake a harrowing mission. The turn the story took had me questioning the logic of what occurred previously. Still, many movies have entertained despite implausibility, and this one falls into that category. Brad Pitt has never been better, playing a Canadian serving Her Majesty, and Marion Cotillard has added another sterling performance on her path to being one of the all-time greats. Robert Zemeckis directed, continuing his impressive run at the helm of many popular films. Steven Knight, a veteran of both the big and small screen, wrote the screenplay, which was not based on a novel, which was surprising. Unfortunately, he included a superfluous element. The hero's sister also is serving in England, and is seemingly involved in an open Lesbian affair no one questions. Is this an accurate portrayal of the times - pre-D-Day, or is it a Hollywood teaching point on how everyone should behave, something that occurs regularly in prime-time network TV programs? Homosexuality has always existed and the stigma it once carried has diminished considerably. Still, I believe that for many the acceptance is grudging, look-the-other-way, not as blithe as the creators of Tinseltown fare would lead one to believe. Anyway, 80,000+ viewers have rated Allied at IMDb, forging to a consensus of 7.1 of ten, which seems right. Made on a budget of $85 million, it returned $119 million worldwide. It runs two hours, and is for those who prefer drama to action. Here's a still of the leads:


Business continues to stink at the floating book shop except for one aspect - book donations. My thanks to the gentleman who bought All Things At Once by Mika Brzezinski, the only sale of the day, and also to the woman who swapped several books in Russian. Unfortunately, the current batch of those, 30 or so, is not impressing browsers. Late in the session a middle age woman approached and asked if I wanted books. The Salvation Army wouldn't come to pick them up and the library refused them. It's nice to have allies. While I was closing shop she went to her apartment across the street. It started to rain. I spotted her just as I closed the trunk of the old Hyundai. I hustled across the street so she wouldn't have to dodge traffic on busy Bay Parkway. She handed me two medium size boxes and a paper bag. I put them on the back seat. It was pouring as I drove home. It abated as I parked the car. I sat in the back seat as the precipitation increased to monsoon-like and sorted through the new batch. The selections are mostly fiction, a blend of serious and popular work. I didn't bring any home. The street inventory is now even more outstanding. Will it spur sales? I'm not optimistic.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

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