16 Oct 2016
in Book Review
Tags: african-american cops, atlanta 1948, black cops, black policemen, book, books, complex, cop drama, cops, corruption, dark town, darktown, drama, gritty, important story, justice, lucius boggs, meticulously researched, morality tale, murder, murder investigation, murder thriller, murdered black woman, novel, police, police corruption, police drama, police procedural, racial prejudice, racism, raw, review, reviews, segregation, tangled web, thomas mulen, thomas mullen, thriller, tomas mullen, tommy smith, uncomfortable to read, well researched
Darktown is like a rose in the field of police procedurals. It deals with some thorny issues with respect to a vanguard group of African-American cops working in Atlanta in 1948. It’s a period in history where people were still reeling from the Second World War and it was before civil rights existed. This novel is ultimately a complex tale of morality that simultaneously feels like a TV series (especially one dealing with a murder investigation) and a classic story like To Kill A Mockingbird.
Lucius Boggs is the son of a preacher and one of the eight African-American men working in a special police force in Atlanta. He has a partner named Tommy Smith and together they walk and police their own unique beat. They have no squad cars, they do not work out of official police headquarters and they patrol their own native neighbourhood (it’s a different part of town to the one that is inhabited by the affluent white Americans.)
One night Boggs and Smith witness a drunken white man drive into a lamppost and assault his female passenger. These policemen call for help from some white cops. One of the men that turn up proves to be a corrupt and violent racist. The latter lets the perpetrator off the hook without even a slap on the wrist. Boggs and Smith become concerned and angry when they discover what happened that night and when they learn that the drunken criminal was the last person to see a murdered black woman alive.
Thomas Mullen constructs a rich and vivid tale about the ensuing murder investigation. It’s a tangled web where some crooked white cops despise and question the authority of their African-American counterparts. It’s also the scene of racial prejudices, a place where segregation is the norm and where it’s not uncommon for the characters to see race-related hate crimes. Some of these scenes make this book an uncomfortable one to read. But Darktown is also an important story and Mullen should be applauded for tacking this subject matter and for providing such a detailed backdrop for his characters. It’s obvious that this book has been meticulously researched.
Darktown is a gritty and raw murder thriller. It’s a page turner that will engage you and leave you guessing what’s around the next corner. This book is due to be adapted into a TV series starring Jamie Foxx and it should make for powerful viewing. Darktown describes a sad but true chapter in American history and Mullen has tackled some rather complex subject matter with great finesse. This novel is a well-written one that proves there is no black or white with respect to justice, just various shades of grey.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was won by the writer through a Bookstr giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.bookstr.com/book/darktown/9905939/
30 Nov 2014
in Film Review
Tags: ana ularu, banal, beautiful, betrayal, bradley cooper, corruption, david dencik, depression, drama, film, films, flash, follies, george pemberton, greed, jealousy, jennifer lawrence, lies, loyalty, meldodrama, north carolina, obsession, ordinary, period, period drama, power plays, pretty, review, reviews, rhys ifans, romance, romantic, ron rash, sean harris, serena, strange, sumptuous, susanne bier, toby jones, tragedy
Serena is an adaptation of a Ron Rash novel that at times is considered even too strange to be fiction. This period drama starts off as a sumptuous, romantic tale set in North Carolina during the Depression. It is a slow burn to begin with but in the final act it turns into a bizarre melodrama where a suspension of disbelief is not just recommended but essential.
The film is directed by Susanne Bier and sees Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) working together again. The former plays George Pemberton, an ambitious entrepreneur who is building his own logging empire. The latter plays the eponymous lead character, a spirited and independent woman who was never going to sit on her laurels, much less sip tea in society or do needlework.
The two characters have a whirlwind romance and the actors also share a noticeable chemistry. Upon meeting, Pemberton says, “I think we should be married” and in the next scene they are. When Pemberton brings Serena to his home and introduces her to the business (where he also declares that she is equal to any man there) this upsets his business partner, Buchanan (David Dencik) who appears to harbour feelings for the boss. Tragedy then strikes but the various subplots involving a corrupt sheriff (Toby Jones), a business manager (Sean Harris), a crazed logger (Rhys Ifans) and the mother of an illegitimate child (Ana Ularu) feel very forced and convoluted.
There is no denying that Serena is a pretty picture. There are lots of sweeping shots of misty mountaintops and forests and the costumes boast the flash and pomp of the era. But this style cannot redeem a film that began as a realistic-enough period drama from descending into full-blown madness or a preposterous melodrama of epic proportions.
The themes in Serena are interesting- from betrayal to obsession and jealousy via greed, many human follies are examined. But despite some great power plays plus corruption, lies and tragedies involving love and loyalty, this film simply isn’t as good as it should have been.
In all, this disturbing tale seems to skip over some aspects of the plot while granting too much time to other elements. The result is something that at its worst is banal and strange and at its best is just plain ordinary. This movie may have boasted some fine produce for ingredients but something got spoiled in the cooking.
Originally published on 28 November 2014 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2014/11/28/film-review-serena-usa-france-czech-republic-2014/
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