Posts Tagged ‘Robin Williams’

These are a few of my favorite books

March 15, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
March 16, 2015

Author’s note: Recently, a young acquaintance who was working on a school project asked me what my favorite book was. I sent this e-mail and then realized, Hey, this would make a great blog post. I’ve made a few relatively minor changes to the text, and — well, here it is. Enjoy! MEM 

“What’s your favorite book?” is a great question to ask someone! It’s hard for me to answer, however, because I love so many different books.

I am extremely fond of Tales of Pirx the Pilot, an anthology about a future astronaut written by the late Polish author Stanislaw Lem. (This book was published in Poland in 1968; it was translated into English and published in two parts. I refer here to the first volume, 1979’s Tales of Pirx the Pilot; the second volume, More Tales of Pirx the Pilot, appeared in 1982 and is also excellent.)

Pirx’s adventures are often kind of comical: In the opening story, a very persistent fly gets caught in Pirx’s capsule on his first solo rocket flight. Sometimes, they’re dull — Pirx’s first duty assignment in outer space is essentially watching two scientists who don’t really need any help at a very quiet observatory on the far side of the moon.

The protagonist is a bit bumbling and ordinary, but at the same time he is hard-working, stubborn and kind of charming in a quaint way. Also, Pirx manages to escape some genuinely dangerous situations. We can’t all be Captain Kirk from Star Trek (my favorite TV show when I was a kid), but I like to think that there’s a little bit of Pirx in everyone.

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Policeman, prey, protégée: Christopher Nolan puts Al Pacino in uneasy alliances in the psychological thriller ‘Insomnia’

February 21, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 21, 2015

When Insomnia opens, renowned homicide detective Will Dormer doesn’t know that his life is spinning out of control. But over the course of Christopher Nolan’s 2002 psychological thriller, Dormer comes to realize that he is a man who is badly lost, in a moral sense if not a geographical one.

Al Pacino headlines the cast as Dormer, a veteran Los Angeles cop who has been dispatched along with his partner to a small Alaska community where the local police are baffled by the murder of a teenager. The unclothed body of the victim, 17-year-old Kay Connell (Crystal Lowe), was found in a garbage dump; the corpse was bathed and otherwise treated in such a fashion that no physical evidence remains to implicate any suspect.

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Some degrees of separation: Not entirely random notes about Ben Affleck, Dennis Lehane and Christopher Nolan and blogging

December 19, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 19, 2014

One interesting thing about blogging that I learned this fall is that it helps me make connections — often completely unexpected ones.

I don’t just mean the kind of free-association stuff that happened in my car — well, in my head while I was driving — Wednesday night, which I wrote about yesterday. I mean things like actor-director Ben Affleck’s connection with novelist Dennis Lehane.

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‘One Hour Photo’ exposes one man’s shattered psyche

August 29, 2012

During the short prologue of the 2002 feature One Hour Photo, a detective sits down in an interrogation room with Sy Parrish. What, the officer asks the sad-sack loner across the table, did Will Yorkin do to get you so upset?

The rest of this gripping 90-minute movie is dedicated to answering that question — and to explaining just what Parrish ended up doing to Yorkin. It’s soon evident that Parrish’s psyche is as badly cracked as the windshield of his car, and writer-director Mark Romanek does a masterful job of developing suspense as the main character moves closer and closer to the breaking point.

Will Yorkin is a handsome and successful young businessman with a picture-perfect life. He and Parrish have never met, but the latter is intimately acquainted — or so he believes — with Yorkin, his lovely wife, Nina, and their adorable 9-year-old son, Jake.

For more than a decade, Nina has brought all of the family’s film to be developed at the “Sav-Mart” discount store photo lab that Parrish runs. To fill the void in his life, the friendless Parrish has obsessively collected, framed and mounted the Yorkins’ vacation, birthday and other snapshots over the years. He drives by their sprawling modern house and pictures himself as good old “Uncle Sy,” someone who has a place in their hearts and lives.

Sy’s boss, Bill, knows that something is amiss with his buttoned-down photo lab manager; he warns Sy to shape up, but it doesn’t help. As Sy’s life spins out of control, he works harder and harder to insinuate himself into Nina, Will and Jake’s hearts. And when he discovers that the Yorkin family isn’t as perfect as he thought, it seems Sy might stop at nothing. Read the rest of this entry »

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