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Diary of events

A Nest of Vipers – Montalbano

A Nest of Vipers

Businessman Cosimo Barletta is found dead in his holiday home, with a gunshot to the head. Montalbano’s investigation reveals a series of unexpected facts about the man’s life and death – starting with the discovery of an archive of photographs of young women and continuing with the autopsy results, which indicate there might have been more to the man’s killing than had initially met the eye. Salvo meets with Barletta’s disowned son Arturo, and is helped in his investigation by Arturo’s mysterious sister, Giovanna.

Montalbano, the kindest cop in Italy started his day sharing freshly made coffee and offering a hot shower to a man who had slept on his balcony all night. The mysterious man left for his home as Salvo was distracted by a telephone call telling him there had been yet another murder. Barletta had had a thing for young women and his murder may be linked to this or to his son’s worry that the inheritance is being frittered away.

Livia arrives unexpectedly and suggests that Salvo gives his spare clothing to  Camastra the vagrant who slept on the balcony. Salvo is less than pleased as some of the pieces are favourites or gifts from his housekeeper Adelina.

Meanwhile the young girls Barletta has been involved with may well have been blackmailed by him. Photos of them in various undressed poses give Mimi something to think about as he compares them to mug shots of known criminals and women he has known. One of them, Stephania, seems to have genuinely liked Barletta and knew nothing of the blackmail photos. Salvo holds her photos and Stella’s back when he sends the evidence over to the prosecutor.

Cannoli always looks so enticing to Salvo even in the morgue. Discussions about the cause of death don’t seem to put either man off the creamy dessert.

Salvo and Livia seems much closer than normal but even so, she calls him a stronzo several times when he misspeaks. The translation in the subtitles is “jerk” which is not exactly correct.

Barletta’s daughter seems to have set her cap at Salvo which sets the cat amongst the pigeons. Salvo’s inability to say no is as inexplicable as his locked front door while his balcony door remains  open to all and sundry.

The vagrant holds a key piece of information that allows Montalbano to draw the investigation to  close even if the conclusion will shock the unprepared viewer.

 

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Montalbano – The Mud Pyramid

The Mud Pyramid

A man’s body is found inside an industrial pipe on a building site. Montalbano and Fazio manage to identify the victim and try to contact his missing wife. Meanwhile, journalist Lucia Gambardella reaches out to Montalbano with information on a local corruption ring involving fraudulent building contracts.

In Italian with English subtitles.

 

So, it does rain in Sicily. The thunderous opening scene masked a shot between the shoulder blades to a mysterious man in his underwear trying to ride his bicycle to escape into a large concrete pipe. His body was found by workers the next morning 18 metres from the entrance. Montalbano, who is claustrophobic, can’t investigate in situ so the body is brought back outside. Salvo is convinced the man must be a local who lives nearby.

Meanwhile Mimi can’t speak to a woman at the station as she is yet another of his former lovers – this time one who spurned him. A woman who immediately has Montalbano’s admiration.

Guiciu Nicotra is the discovered corpse, identified by his facial scar. Inge his German wife is said, by an older neighbour, to be a slut happy to receive guests. Inge is dead too, still in the house awaiting discovery according to Salvo’s theory. The only problem is, no body is discovered and a later phone call claims she is back in Germany.

A female journalist meets Salvo on his balcony – that view enhanced by glasses of vino. Who wouldn’t say yes to that? Her investigation is based on collapsing buildings and subsidence, and who exactly is to blame.

A gloved guest has been living with Gerlando and Inge, a fugitive who knows his prints are on file.

Piscopo is in the hospital being protected by Salvo when pantomime thugs arrive with guns but Salvo bravely chases them off and receives a concussion for his trouble.

A secret  basement in the garage of Inge’s house is discovered but Inge remains illusive. A safe full of money appears to be the motive, but is it?

 

 

Montalbano – A Delicate Matter

Watch

 

Salvo is back in Vigata, Sicily! Livia will have to get used to coming home to Salvo not being there when she comes home from work. The many faces of Livia are somewhat confusing for the audience so it is as well they make the character names obvious in the exposition of the first scene with them both. “Exasperating!” as Livia would say. (Played this time by Sonia Bergamasco.)

Montalbano is visiting Livia in Boccadasse when he is called back to Vigata to investigate the murder of Maria, a 70-year-old prostitute – as well as disturbing accusations at an elementary school.

Mimi as usual is overly keen to interview an attractive female witness and goes down the route of deviant sex as the motivation/explanation of the murder. Salvo is unimpressed by this and also the American style of victim/suspect photos on the wall of the police station. Catarella has a theory about the son of a prostitute being the client.

Of course things are more complex than that. Maria has been preparing for retirement with her husband and as a waiter he won’t stop working until she does as he wants to have the continued respect of the community, not one associated with being a ruffian who lives off immoral earnings.

Meanwhile a young male teacher is rumoured to be overly affectionate towards the young daughter of a fellow teacher. The woman is living alone with her daughter while her husband works away from home. The young male is good looking and unblemished until this new rumour takes hold.

Salvo learns to send picture attachments in his phone and Mimi’s latest infidelity is discovered due to leaving his gun behind.

Adelina takes it upon herself to teach Livia to cook and Livia’s new dog takes over the household more and more.

One suspect ends up dead narrowing down the possibilities.

Salvo, of course, solves the case while we feast our eyes on the scenery.

Salvo Montalbano Luca Zingaretti
Giuseppe Fazio Peppino Mazzotta
Livia Burlando Sonia Bergamasco
Mimi Augello Cesare Bocci
Catarella Angelo Russo
Pasquano Marcello Perracchio
Nicolo Zito Roberto Nobile
Teresita Gaudenzio Miriam Dalmazio
Maria Castellino Ileana Rigano
Serafino Lollo Franco
Preside Vasilico Sebastiano Tringali
Mimmo Tavano Giancarlo Barbara

 

The Levelling

 

Trespass Against Us

The film Trespass Against Us starring Michael Fassbender  revolves around the Cutler family who live a life of chaos and criminality centred around their caravan site. The film jolts the audience into this life from the first moment when we see a young boy sitting on his father’s knee while driving over a field chasing a hare. In the car are others of the Cutler gang whooping for joy and egging each other on. Car chases and wanting what is best for the children are recurring themes in the film. Fassbender portrays the gentler criminal who agrees with his wife that his children should get an education, something he never had. His lack of ability to read has heavily impacted on his life leaving him no option but to follow the ways of his father who is not a likable character. Despite the appearance of poverty the Cutler family have access to lots of money due to their willingness to pull off another heist.

At the heart of the story is control and family love and knowing who really is acting in the best interests of their son.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/27/trespass-against-us-british-gangster-movie-michael-fassbender

GRO Coffee

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I have been to GRO Coffee three times now and hesitated about writing a review because they always seem to be busy and the business appears to be doing well but there’s something just a bit off about the way things run there that makes me feel it’s not as good as it could be. One of my companions today said that the staff were all different so possibly the regular staff were on holiday which would explain the following  experience.

I arrived first and waited for my  friends. During the time it took for us all to assemble the menus arrived but the table wasn’t cleared. The plates, cups, glasses etc sat there accusingly and after 15 minutes they were finally taken away but crucially the table was not wiped and remained sticky to the touch.

 

The order was taken and after some time we asked for the table to be cleaned. A further 25 minutes passed before the order came out and it was the wrong sandwich that was delivered. Finally we got what we asked for –  Eggs Benedict, a breakfast sandwich and an omelette. The tea and coffee had arrived earlier and was a tad cold by then. We noticed that several people had given up waiting to order and had left but the staff didn’t even notice as others arrived soon after. We ordered more tea and coffee and all in all were in there for two hours. A brunch shouldn’t take that long.

 

It appeared to me that there were too few experienced staff on duty to deal with a warm summer’s day crowd, which is a shame. There is a garden at the back which is popular with young families because of a play area and there are comfortable couches to sit at inside and they are very dog friendly if the number inside today were anything to go by. Brunch for one person comes in around £12 but if you are in a hurry to go somewhere else and get out to enjoy the Scottish sunshine you may feel a sense of frustration if today was typical of the service one can expect. The staff could not be faulted for friendliness but the efficiency is lacking at the moment, judging by today’s efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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https://www.facebook.com/grocoffee/

Burnt

Burnt is a sublime film set in the world of the culinary adventure that is Michelin star restaurant life. The protagonist Adam Jones – Bradley Cooper – is a recovering drug addict who had glory in his youth when he excelled in Paris. He tells the audience he was nearly as good as he thought he was. Having gone to London to try and recreate this success after two years of sobriety the film follows the hero’s journey narrative construct of Campbell. Other characters include rising chefs, old loves, new possibilities and enemies who might be friends and friends who might be enemies.

Cast includes Sienna Miller, Uma Thurman, Emma Thomson, Daniel Bruhl, Omar Sy and Henry Goodman. Because of the world of international cheffing the languages veer between English, French and Italian with subtitles but modern audiences will find this a joy rather than a chore.

As one would expect the dishes themselves are also the stars of the show but there is a nice little bit of product placement in Burger King used to explain the concept of consistency and quality for the worker versus the 500% mark up charged for quality cuisine elsewhere in the city.

If you like your heroes flawed and enjoy the road to redemption, give this film a view. The decision about the success or failure of the journey to the third Michelin star is so subtly done that I needed to rewind to be sure.

burnt

Solace

Solace is a cross-genre film which meshes the notions of serial murder investigations with psychic ability. There are three main protagonists played by Anthony Hopkins, the reluctant psychic, Abbie Cornish an FBI agent with a background in psychiatry  who bears a passing resemblance to the psychic’s dead daughter  and Jeffrey Dean Morgan who is the FBI agent Hopkins has previously worked with. The psychic ability is presented as both a blessing and a curse as Hopkins can see everything from the past in a series of montage images and projected futures just by touching the person or an object. Imagine having the ability to read a letter which has been written just because you are holding a pen and that will give you an idea of how special the character is meant to be. The projected futures play out according to whether Hopkins intervenes or not. The imagery of the future is sometimes unhelpful and the montage of Atticus/Cross/Bottle breaking/Antagonist that he receives early on doesn’t really help until right before it happens. It’s a case of knowledge not necessarily being helpful.

About an hour into the film it becomes clear that the antagonist is also psychic and actually better at prediction than Hopkins has been up to this point. Played by Colin Farrell, he can pinpoint the precise time that the police will discover a body and uses this to make it difficult to catch him. His motivation, although questionable is also understandable but not one Hopkins can agree with.

There is, of course,  a showdown in a public space. There is death and a final reveal. Solace was apparently conceived to be a follow up to Se7en and watching it, it seemed to me that it was supposed to be a pilot for a TV show using different actors but perhaps not.

The reviews of this film when it came out were not very favourable but I liked it. It’s a Monday evening kind of film rather than a weekend blockbuster but still worth a viewing.

 

Trailer

While My Eyes Were Closed – Linda Green

I picked this up as a buy one get one half price deal and hadn’t heard anything about it beforehand. It is a “number 1 best seller” according to the blurb by an author who has written The Mummyfesto, 10 Reasons Not To Fall In Love and The Marriage Mender amongst others.

The story revolves around a busy mother, Lisa, who takes her child Ella to the park to play hide and seek before going home after picking her up from her parents’ house. When she is walking towards the tree to do her counting to 100 she takes a quick call on her mobile then continues to let Ella hide by finishing the count as promised. When she opens her eyes she can’t see her little girl and after looking in all the usual hiding spots asks for other people in the park to help her. Eventually she calls the Police and at this point the sinister nature of the disappearance plays out.

Each chapter is written by different characters – the mother Lisa, the abductor “The Piano Lady” and the abductor’s son. Because the reader finds out early on who took the little girl this is another whydoneit but there is a conceit towards the end that didn’t work for me because it was all so obvious. Personally I think that if you are going to use a “reveal” scenario then the reveal should be more of a shock and not one guessable towards the first third of the book.

Another pool read for all that.

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