The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman: There's a lot of unnecessary repetition going on in this book, which is kind of weird.
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie: Christie certainly had a talent for coming up with unique premises for mystery novels, I'll give her that much.
Mini-reviews of The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer, The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman, The Heir by Kiera Cass, and Noblesse Oblige by Cynthia Smith.
Sour Grapes, directed by Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell
If you've run out of art crime documentaries to watch, why not watch something about wine fraud instead? This doc investigates Rudy Kurniawan, a "wine expert" who came of nowhere and defrauded dozens of rich white guys with bottles of fake wine, to the tune of at least $33 million. The private investigator hired by David Koch poetically called Rudy "the Great Gatsby of millennials."
This documentary has everything: a charismatic kid with a mysterious past, fancy wine, a billionaire with an underground cellar larger than two or three average American homes put together and hidden behind a secret passage (say what you want about David Koch, but at least he's doing filthy rich right), an adorable French winemaker somewhat inaccurately dubbed "the Sherlock Holmes of wine," Wall Street d-bags being out-wine snobbed by Robert Parker ("You like this? It tastes like swamp swill to me"). But even though it's obvious what Rudy's game is from the beginning of the doc, a mystery still remains: who funded his entree into the world of fine wine, and who profited from his success? Definitely recommend this one!
Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang, directed by Kevin Macdonald
Cai Guo-Qiang is a famous Chinese artist who uses an unusual medium: fireworks. You might remember his work from the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, although that's probably not the best example, artistically speaking. This documentary specifically chronicles Cai's 20-year quest to create a ladder in the sky connecting heaven and earth, while delving into his life and past projects.
The strength of this documentary is the gorgeous cinematography, which captures Cai's work from large-scale firework displays to "studies" painted with gunpowder. The work itself is really cool and innovative, as if he's sculpting with light and powder. Still, some people question if Cai has sold out his artistic integrity to the Chinese government. Even though I had to read large sections of the movie, it still wasn't boring. Really a fantastic portrait of an artist and his life that doesn't shy away from criticism, either.
Bad Santa 2, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Christina Hendricks, and Kathy Bates
I never saw the first Bad Santa, from what I can gather based on this one, the franchise is about grouchy, depressive nihilist who uses the role of "Santa" as a front for criminal activity.
If you're looking for a heartwarming holiday movie, this isn't it. I kind of wish I had mind bleach for this one, actually. Is Christina Hendricks that desperate for work now that Mad Men's over? If she is, I will willing start a charitable fund to keep her from making another movie like this one. I would say this movie was pretty bad, not because it wasn't funny or because of the gratuitous cursing, sex, and general disgustingness, but because underneath it all it all rang weirdly hollow? Like they were going through the motions of being bad rather than channeling true nastiness. IDK, I'm not a Bad Santa expert.
This week in heidenkindom:
I hope all you USA-ers had a good Thanksgiving. I certainly tried to. There was pumpkin pie, at least. Now I have to try to think of gifts for everyone and I'm coming up with a complete blank.
Get ready for December Food Fest at Book Bloggers International! I have some excellent guest posts lined up, but if you still want to participate I'd love to fit you in. Just drop me a line anywheres on the interwebs.
Bonne nuit and have a good week everyone!
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