Rants, Raves & Reviews – Getting Off (the Don Tait Story) by Veronique Mandal

38084558._SY475_The play on words in the title of this book, Getting Off, tells a lot more than the story of A Criminal Lawyer’s Road to Redemption. Windsor author Veronique Perrier Mandal not only shares the life story of our city’s most storied lawyer, Don Tait, but her personal interactions with the notorious legal eagle. This is a rags to riches roller coaster story that boldy tells all.

More than just a journalist, professor, RN, actor and playwright, Mandal examines her own spirituality while learning everything there was to know about a simple man whose demons came in all forms of addictions – power, money, sex, drugs, and booze to name a few. A local census would prove that Tait was loved and hated equally by friend and foe. They came in the form of reporters, cops, lawyers, judges, and even bikers and drug dealers.

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Rants, Raves & Reviews – The Irishman

imagesAt three and a half hours, I”m glad we watched this movie on Netflix at home and not at the movie theatre – I would have needed at least two bathroom breaks. Honestly, there’s no reason to see this flick on the big screen. There’s no special cinematography to gawk at, but if you’re into seeing blood spatter left by the guy who paints houses, then go for it.

Being a fan of gangster films, and hearing of the star-studded cast and special aging effects, I was a bit hyped and looked forward to seeing this movie. For me, it was a let-down. Granted, the cast and acting was top-notch but the plot steered us toward certain events in history and then left us hanging. Millennials and those unaware of politics and history will be totally lost.

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Rants, Raves & Reviews – ‘Having Faith’

Finding Hope Author Edmond GagnonThey say having faith keeps you positively motivated, with a great outlook on life. For me, ‘Having Faith’, means my next book, the sequel to ‘Finding Hope.’ Norm Strom fans and readers have pondered the open ending of Hope and asked what happens next, and if there would ever be a sequel.

Finding Hope has been my best-selling novel so far, with Border City Chronicles closing in fast for second place, catching quickly up to Rat. So, for all you murder, mystery, and serial killer fans out there, this next one’s for you. I’m happy to announce I’ve just cracked the 10,000 word mark and am on a roll.

In this story Norm will be joined by the hot black homicide detective from Detroit, Abigail Brown, who was the main character in ‘Knock-Out’, the last story in Border City Chronicles. She will take the reigns again, on her home turf, in the gritty bowels of downtown Detroit, hunting a serial killer. Who will it be this time?

 

Rants, Raves & Reviews – Midway

imagesBeing a lover of war movies, I had to see the new ‘Midway’ movie on the big screen. And since the genre’s not Cathryn’s favorite I brought a buddy. The previews looked amazing, especially with today’s CGI technology and special effects. I knew the battle scenes would be explosive, literally. I was also anxious to see how the new movie stacked up to the 1976 version.

Unlike many American-made war films this story is told and viewed from both sides, the United States and Japan. It’s about the battle of Midway, which turned the tide of war in the South Pacific during WWII. As in the earlier version, the movie starts with the attack on Pearl Harbour – the decisive blow that forced the U.S. into the war.

The story was a bit choppy. It covered a lot of material and tried to focus on the personal lives of certain soldiers, along with naval strategies behind the scenes. There was plenty of action and battle scenes to carry the movie past the two hour mark. It didn’t drag on but definitely outlasted my popcorn.

The acting was good but there were only a few recognizable faces in the cast – unlike the ’76 version with its star-studded ensemble. That version also used actual battle footage which brought a sense of realism to the movie. In this new installment viewers get a look at director John Ford on the island of Midway, while he films the 1942 publicity documentary of the same name.

Overall the movie was good, but it felt lacking and got a 7 out of 10 from both my bro-friend and I.

Rants, Raves & Reviews: Judy

imagesWhere were the new movie releases this past summer? And I don’t mean the remakes of superhero flicks. I’m talking about good drama or even action movies – blockbusters that used to debut in July or August, or even September. Are they saving all the good movies for November, just in time for Oscar nominations perhaps? It would seem so with the list of releases set for this winter season.

Cathryn and I couldn’t remember the last time we went to a movie so we were happy to get out and see Judy, with Renee Zellweger portraying the famous singer Judy Garland. The previews looked enticing and the reviews raved about Renee and the story.

I didn’t know much about Garland prior to the movie, other than her performance in the Wizard of Oz. The film is about her life during and after Oz, and it taught me a lot. Considering what the movie executives did to the young actress, it was no surprise that she died at the age of 47.

The story was bleak at times, but many hollywood biographies usually are. As she was in real life, the movie Garland was likeable and easy to root for. Zellweger nailed the part and will surely win some awards for her performance. I felt as though I was on an emotional roller coaster following this woman’s life. The ending was heart-warming and a tear-jerker.

Cathryn and I both enjoyed the movie. She gave it a 10. I gave it an 8.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

HollywoodI think Cathryn and I may have felt this way about the last Quentin Tarantino movie we went to see; it sucked and was one of the worst movies we’ve ever seen. The best part of the movie was the soundtrack – lots of great songs from the 60’s and 70’s. Those responsible for set locations and wardrobe did a great job in reviving memorabilia and the fashion of the time.

To be fair we enjoyed some of the acting and the interaction between Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. Small parts or cameos by other big names weren’t enough to make this movie enjoyable. It started out slow and continued to painfully drag along right up until the explosive ending that was completely different than the real life events it mimicked.

Two other people in the audience left about half way through the yawner and we both considered following suit. I almost nodded off twice. Cathryn finally bailed about fifteen minutes before the ending which I thought was completely ridiculous. The whole movie was too long and drawn out.

In considering the little things we liked about the movie we’re each generously giving this flick a 2 out of 10.

Rocketman

rocketmanI had to think about this movie for a couple days to let it sink in. Given that time to mull it over I have to say I was not impressed by Rocketman – the story of Elton John. Cathryn loved the movie so this review will give you both perspectives. She liked the music selection and thought the actors playing John as a child and adult (Taron Egerton) did a fabulous job.

The film accurately mimicked many of the rock star’s wild and crazy outfits, but made no attempt to play his music in the order the songs were released. Theatrical creativity must have been the point since the song lyrics were used to describe the events of the artist’s stage in life. Oddly enough, it was Bernie Taupin who wrote the lyrics and Elton added the music.

For me the story dwells too long on Reg Dwight’s (Elton John) woe is me childhood. They show us how he came up with his stage name – the second half taken from John Lennon, but that fact in not true. Granted, John was executive producer of the movie, but he obviously decided to portray his life as he perceived it and not as how it actually happened. Thus there are other historical inaccuracies.

I was also unimpressed with the movie being a fantasy musical. I thought it took away from many of the great songs that I love. Nothing in the reviews I read said anything about the format. Overall the movie was still entertaining with a couple of zen moments to put you in the zone.

I rated it a 5 and Cathryn a 10 out of 10.

John Wick – 300 (Parabellum)

parabellumI use the number 300 instead of 3 – for the third installment of the John Wick, the master assassin. Seeing the film with an action-appreciating buddy, we couldn’t keep track of the bad guys killed by Wick. He commented later that it was the highest body count he’d ever seen in a movie, a bold statement considering other slaughter movies we’d seen, like Rambo 3 or Hacksaw Ridge.

I’ve always liked Keanu Reeves and that includes his John Wick character, but I started to chuckle after his first 30 or 40 kills. The man deserves credit for the way he handles himself in the action sequences – basically a two hour long chase and fight scene. He masterfully handles an assortment of weapons that must have taken hours of practice to successfully operate.

If you don’t mind a few dozen blood-spattering head shots and an overly violent plot, this movie could be for you. I do find it odd though, in this day and age, how movie makers can present us with such mindless slaughter, and add a dry touch of humor to make the film more entertaining. In a way this movie reminded me of the Walking Dead – the bad guys weren’t dead until you shot them in the head, in many cases more than once.

Enough about the violence. The movie has a highly paid all-star cast, perhaps to give the flick some credibility with movie buffs. I have to say I was shocked at the other online reviews I read from sites like Roger Ebert and company. So maybe it was just me…and my buddy, who thought there was enough carnage to call the John Wick movies a trilogy and leave it at that.

Cathryn could never have sat through this movie with her eyes open. I don’t think my buddy was too impressed. For the sake of mindless entertainment I give it 5 out of 10.

The Guardian -Nicholas Sparks

the guardianThe Guardian 
by Nicholas Sparks (Goodreads Author)

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Edmond Gagnon‘s reviewMar 07, 2019

 

First of all, this is not the type of book I normally read, but it was either this novel or choosing one written in Russian or German. My choices were limited while on the island of Zanzibar.
I recognized the authors name and his award-winning novel The Notebook. Maybe it was the movie that won all the awards, either way I knew it as what I call a ‘chick flick.’
I sucked it up and started flipping pages, literally, right off the bat I found the plot sappy and the characters predictable. But I carried on, thinking I needed to broaden my genre horizons.
It may have been a bit painful at times, but one of the characters was a Great Dane who captured my attention. I guess the story was okay, but the interaction between characters and the resulting relationships reminded me of high school. Are there really that many simple-minded and gullible people out there?
I trudged on and managed to finish the book, but wasn’t happy with the ending. Without spoiling it I’ll leave it at that.
I’m sure many women readers will love the book. What can I say, I’m a guy.