Published on: May 23, 2014
I know from experience that we have a lot of movie fans reading MNB, and a subset of this group includes people who love The Shawshank Redemption
, a movie that is much-loved by filmgoers in general (and one of the chapters in "The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies").
Well, if you fall into any of these groups, I'd recommend you read a story in this morning's Wall Street Journal
entitled "The Shawshank Residuals," which looks at the movie's enduring popularity, how its profitability reflects the changing realities of movie economics, and examines the irony of the fact that when Shawshank
was released, it underperformed.
It is a fascinating story, and you can read it here
As mentioned here a few weeks ago, Reed Farrel Coleman will be taking over authorship of the Jesse Stone series of novels, which were begun by Robert B. Parker and, after his death, continued by Michael Brandman. The Brandman novels were okay, but betrayed the fact that the author's roots were in TV and movies, having written, produced or directed the Jesse Stone TV movies that starred Tom Selleck. Writing a movie is a very different talent than writing a novel, and Brandman never quite made the leap; if the books succeeded at any level, it was because Jesse is a character with enduring audience appeal.
I'd never read any of Coleman's work, though he is an accomplished novelist, so I downloaded a copy of his "Redemption Street," which takes place in 1981 and features a former street cop named Moe Prager, who has retired from the force because of injury and now helps his brother run a Manhattan wine shop. It is an excellent piece of work, dark in all the right places and featuring a main character who, in the best tradition of the genre, has to face the mysteries of his own life while trying to bring some sort of resolution to a long-festering crime. Coleman's a real novelist, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he brings to the Jesse Stone series. (I met him recently, and he told me that while he respects Parker's work, he is not reverent about it … and so he's almost certain to put some spin on his fastball. Which the series needs.)Neighbors
struck me as emblematic of the state of the US film comedy. It has a good set-up (what happens when a frat house moves into a nice middle-class neighborhood), and strong actors (Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne, playing thirtysomething new parents who are not quite comfortable with their new identities as nice middle-class suburbanites). But beyond that, it is a ramshackle affair - funny in spots, very funny in others, but seeming to lurch into raunchy humor whenever things get slow.
I like raunchy humor just fine - Animal House
and Blazing Saddles
are two of my favorite movies, though I'm aware that they are 36 and 40 years old - but Neighbors
doesn't seem to have any sort of guiding intelligence. It could have been much, much better…