Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Brass Verdict

Book Review : The Brass Verdict
Author : Michael Connelly
My Rating : 3 out of 5 stars

Michael Connelly has written numerous best selling mystery books - based on 3 main protagonists - the detective Harry Bosch, or the lawyer Mickey Haller or the reporter Jack McEvoy. "The Brass Verdict" is a Mickey Haller (or called the Lincoln Lawyer) book with a guest appearance from other 2 characters as well. That was the main reason for me to try this out as my first Michael Connelly book - 3 in 1 !

A movie producer is arrested and being charged for a double murder of his wife and her lover. The first lawyer hired by the movie producer is also murdered and the case lands on the laps of Micky Haller. As he starts building his defense, naturally he realizes that there is more than meets the eye. Giving any more synopsis, would give out some surprises.

As a mystery, this is quite decent and well-structured. Everything falls neatly in place by the end, nothing seems forced, there are no logical holes and the conclusion is quite satisfying.

What made me give this only 3 stars is they way clues are tied together. In spite of being written as a first person account - we are not given enough insight into the mind of our protagonist. Of course complete insight will mean no surprises, but some of the real investigation is done by Haller's helper and we are never told what he discovered. We just hear the deductions made by Haller. The best mysteries are where the reader has almost the same amount of information as the investigator, but it's presented in such a way that the reader is never sure how to tie it all together - till it's explained by say someone like Hercule Poirot.

Nevertheless, this is a very nice book to read. Connelly excels at building a real multi-dimensional character of Haller - who is far from perfect. He takes his time, so the book may feel slow to some. To me the character development was a big plus point. We are given a nice tour of how the justice system really works, and the subplots are interesting too.

I definitely recommend this book. Personally, for the next book by Connelly, I would read a book from his other series - featuring detective Bosch - than by the same Mickey Haller.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Attack of the Frogs !

I have an epidemic of frogs in my backyard. There are harmless to plants, but there are just too many. But I cannot kill them, because they are "aaawwww so cute".  Now they are expanding their territory and climbing over walls and windows !

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Big Bank Theory

The only real financial journalist in the country happens to work for the comedy channel ! Why is it only Jon Stewart's responsibility to catch someone lying ? This time it's The Bernanke who is lying about "printing money".

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Big Bank Theory
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Invention of Lying

Movie Review : The Invention of Lying
Directors: Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson
Genre : Comedy
Released : October 2009
Starring : Ricky Gervais, Jenifer Garner, Rob Lowe
My Rating : 6 out of 10

"The Invention Of Lying" is a very rare comedy that can make you ponder as much as it can make you laugh.

They idea is innovative. Imagine a world where no one ever lies - because they simply cannot ! It's not a matter of choice for the people in this alternative universe - they just speak the truth. All the time. Even when it's the harshest thing to say.

Mark (Ricky Gervais) is a loser who works in a movie producing company. We meet him as he is going on a blind date with an attractive woman Anna (Jennifer Garner). First look, and she announces to him that he is not good enough for her. But out of politeness they go to a restaurant where the waiter tells him that she is way out of his league. This is how people talk to each other in the movie. Not in an insulting tone, but politely stating things as they are. It's a simple and cruel world.  And it's hilarious.

Mark discovers by accident that he can lie - and things get very interesting. Instead of using that ability to lie for his own petty benefits, he starts using it to comfort people. What an idea ! Saying things that are not true can help make someone feel better. Note that there is no such words as "lying" or "truth" in their vocabulary. And there is no word for "God" either.

That's where the movie transcends itself from being just a comedy. It's a funny take alright - but the viewer cannot escape the questions that are being posed in an indirect way. The entire notion of Mark's "Man in the sky", relies on just make-believe statements in order to make people feel better.

That's what I mean when I say, the movie forces you to ponder as much as it can make you laugh. Is lying all that bad if it makes you feel better ? Is that the basis of all religions ? If these unverifiable beliefs actually help people live their life, is that a justification enough for spreading them ? Of course, a comedy movie cannot be expected to answer those questions - these debates have been going on ever since humans developed an ability to introspect. I prefer these subtle questions far more than the extravagant philosophical discussions spawned by the "Matrix" trilogy.

This turns out to be a double edged sword. As much as it helps the movie rise to a different level, it also makes it a bit unwieldy. The comedy sputters and the movie gets very unfocused in the end.

Nevertheless, Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner, both make it work. Their acting is spot on. I recommend this movie - it's short, funny and thought provoking. It's not for kids.
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