Thursday, April 24, 2014

From Sherlock to Schlock

sign of three

This is actually a good time to talk about the BBC series Sherlock, season three of which aired nearly two months ago in the United States. I’m guessing that just about everyone who is interested has already seen it. Something was very odd about season 3 of Sherlock. Seasons 1 and 2 generally got praise from both critics and audiences. People called the plotting clever (though I disagree about that, especially in regard to season 1), people loved Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, people loved the visual flairs that showcased Sherlock’s deductive prowess, people found the writing witty, and in general, most …continue reading

Quiet Charms in Batra’s ‘Lunchbox’


The Lunchbox, written and directed by Ritesh Batra, is a sort of love story set in contemporary Mumbai. Ila (Nimrat Kaur), a youngish wife and mother of a small daughter, is married to inattentive Rajeev (Nakul Vaid). In order to rejuvenate their marriage, Ila cooks her husband a delicious lunch and sends it to him at his place of work along with a note. (I gather it is common in India to have meals delivered from home or a restaurant to the workplace.) The delivery man mistakenly delivers it to another, older man, Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan). Khan eats the …continue reading

Sometimes Hollywood Gets it Right

Kevin James

At The American Culture we believe that American culture is not one big cesspool of decay and debauchery. In fact, although there is much to decry, there is also much to applaud, and if conservatives are going to “take back” the culture, or at least influence it to a much greater degree than we have in a very long time, we need to affirm cultural messages that spring from the better angels of our nature. Although Hollywood is a convenient whipping boy, there are rays of conservative light that shine in that liberal darkness, and one such product is a …continue reading

‘Ritual’ Mystery Novel Ruined by Cliches, Politics, Spiritualist Advocacy


I really like the reviewing work of Steve Steinbock in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Having taken over “The Jury Box” column from Jon L. Breen, Steinbock writes very good columns in which he shrewdly judges mysteries by their merits and gives you a good idea of just what you can expect from them. One review in particular caught my eye in the March issue of EQMM – it was a three-star review of Mary Anna Evans’ Rituals. The plot sounded like a don’t-miss concept: consulting archaeologist Faye Longchamp and her adopted daughter are working in the picturesque town of Rosebower, New York, …continue reading

When Harold Met Norm–The Real Harold Ramis


If you want to know a little more about Harold Ramis, the widely admired comic actor-writer-director who debuted in the 1970s on the classic comedy show SCTV (Second City Television), the comedian Norm MacDonald (my favorite contemporary comic) has tweeted an interesting and rather impressive reminiscence about meeting Ramis for the first time. Storify has the full (brief) anecdote; here’s a little sample: I have only been on 4 auditions in my life. Only once has a director asked to meet with me. It was Harold Ramis. I was living in New York, working on Saturday Night Live, and I …continue reading

Oscar Winner McConaughey Credits God, Family, Hard Work for His Success

Actor Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech for the Motion Picture Academy’s Best Actor award Sunday night was extraordinary in its mention of reverence for God, family, and hard work as the values that McConaughey believes to be responsible for his success. I thought his expression of these values seemed sincere and humble, and the combination of reverence and a sense of personal responsibility could be somewhat inspiring to young viewers in particular, if any watch the Oscar awards nowadays. One hopes that McConaughey’s films will reflect those values rather more directly in future, as today’s film viewing audience may not be …continue reading

Charles C. W. Cooke: Are Atheism and Conservatism Compatible? It’s Not So Simple

In God We Trust

A day or so after I’d written a piece about the implication of atheism for society in Dostoevsky’s  work, Charles C. W. Cooke wrote a piece at National Review Online titled,” Yes, Atheism and Conservatism Are Compatible,” with the subtitle, “You needn’t believe in God to believe in the American constitutional order.” It only has over 2500 comments as of this writing, so this is a topic of some interest to conservatives, and libertarians as well. It’s a fascinating piece written with a lot of verve by a man who doesn’t like the accusation that his atheistic faith commitments are …continue reading

Dark, Gritty ‘Mirror Image’ Offers Psychological Mystery-Suspense

mirror image

Dennis Palumbo’s novel Mirror Image is the first in a series of books about Dr. Daniel Rinaldi, a psychologist who consults with the Pittsburgh Police. His specialty is dealing with victims of violent crime, those people who’ve lived through a traumatic experience which continues to haunt them in their everyday life. People like Kevin Merrick, a college student who woke up one night to discover he was not alone in his residence, and discovered a burglar. Although the culprit was captured, Kevin continues to have the nightmares and the fears just aren’t going away… but Dr. Rinaldi is making real progress with …continue reading

Marco Rubio Tears Communism Apart After Democrat Praises Cuba

Tom Harkin is a Democrat from Iowa, and like other Democrats is a person of the left who has no fundamental problem with communism because it’s just a little farther down the progressive continuum from socialism. The fact that tyranny and human misery follows wherever communism is tried, well as the saying goes, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. So it seems Sen. Harkin visited the Island paradise of communist Cuba recently and came away darn impressed with their healthcare system. For Cuban Senator Marco Rubio (just like I’m Italian, he was born in Miami, his …continue reading

Dostoevsky, Prophet


I just finished reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Devils. It’s not for the faint of heart. I almost gave up a hundred or two pages in, but I was well rewarded that I did not. The beginning is difficult because there are so many characters and they are easily confused; Russians it seems, at least in the 18th Century, rarely call each other by their first name alone. First and middle name seem to be the norm, or just last name, and keeping that all straight was not easy. Nineteenth Century Russian politics can also be esoteric, so I found in reading …continue reading