READ THE WORLD – Denmark: The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Copenhagen Detective Inspector Carl Mørck has been taken off Homicide to run a new department for unsolved crimes and he’s not happy about it. Soon things get busy when his first case concerns Merete Lynggaard, a politician who vanished five years ago. Everyone says she’s dead, he thinks they’re right. But that might not be the case, and Merete’s time is running out.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a detective thriller and The Keeper of Lost Causes did not disappoint. Carl is one of those typical cranky detectives who doesn’t work well with others, his colleagues don’t really like him but they still ask his advice on difficult cases, but he’s still a decent person who’s good at his job. It’s great to see bits of the case come together because as the reader you sometimes know more than Carl but you never get the whole story till the final chapters.

Carl Mørck’s department is in the basement of police headquarters and it’s just him and his assistant Hafez el-Assad. They’re an odd combination and provide some moments of humour. Assad is Syrian so he doesn’t always get how things work in Denmark but he’s never portrayed as stupid, in fact he’s a great help to the case, seeing things others don’t. It was really nice to see how Carl respected Assad’s religion, getting a floorplan of the station so Assad knew which direction to pray – the religious aspect of Assad’s life was so natural and just a part of him and no one made a big deal of it.

Assad is a very likeable character with some hidden talents, I enjoyed seeing him and Carl slowly start getting to know each other, each dealing with each other’s unusual habits and personal traits. Carl is definitely a character I didn’t like to start with but he grew on me, especially because he has a very dry sense of humour and is often brutally honest.

The Keeper of Lost Causes is a proper-page turner, there were revelations at the end of most chapters and a sense of desperation as the novel progressed as you learnt more about Merete and the horrible situation she’s in. 5/5.

REVIEW: Coin Heist (2017)

coin-heist-movie-posterWhen the principle of Dennington Prep is arrested for embezzling school funds, his son Jason (Alex Saxon) hatches a plan with three other students to do the impossible and steal from the U.S. Mint in order to save their school.

Coin Heist is a heist film (the title gives it away) but it still has some high school and family drama in it that instead of taking away from the main story, it enriches it. The four unlikely friends who come up with this plan on paper look very much like the usual high school stereotypes, but through good performances and a well-written script, the film slowly shows that they are all more than the reductive labels put on them by the genre.

Benny (Jay Walker) is the footballer whose scholarship goes down the drain when the schools’ funds disappear, Dakota (Sasha Pieterse) is the grade A student who would really rather perform, Jason is often seen as a slacker but he turns out to think quick on his feet, and Alice (Alexis G. Zall) is the hacker who doesn’t want people to see her vulnerability. They are all more than their stereotypes and seeing how their relationship grows is a pleasant surprise.

Coin Heist also has a brilliant soundtrack. It’s almost reminiscent of the 80’s teen movies sometimes, it has some techno tracks and indie music that all fits with the story so incredibly well.

Coin Heist is a fun film, with a solid cast of characters committing a clever heist that you don’t tend to see in the genre. It might be a smaller scale heist but it’s no less fun and still has the usual twists and turns seen in the genre. 4/5.

REVIEW: Thick as Thieves (2009)

thick as thieves movie poster1Veteran art thief Keith Ripley (Morgan Freeman) recruits younger crook Gabriel Martin (Antonio Banderas) to help him pull of one final job and steal two Fabergé eggs to pay off the Russian mob.

Thick as Thieves is heist film that aims for big things but doesn’t quite manage it. The heist itself is offers some interesting action pieces, especially the bit with laser-sensors, but the set up and big-reveal is overly-complicated. Instead of being satisfied with the double-crosses and the big reveal, you are left more bemused by the whole thing.

As well as the heist itself, Ripley and Martin also have to deal with the local police force led by Lieutenant Webber (Robert Forster) and the FBI breathing down their necks. It is a race against time and a game of cat and mouse that slowly reveals there’s more players than you’d expect on the board. Some of the reveals you’ll see coming while others are more of a surprise, that being said while the direction is good the script does feel a bit convoluted at times.

The highlight of Thick as Thieves really is Morgan Freeman and his chemistry with Antonio Banderas. Whenever Freeman is on screen you’re instantly focused on him and he’s just as charming as Banderas. Unfortunately their presence isn’t enough to make it anything but a mediocre heist film.

If you’re a fan of the genre you might want to check it out as it does have some fun moments but it’s nothing really new. 3/5.

REVIEW: Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn

tokyo heist elenasquareeyesWhen Violet goes to stay with her artist father over the summer, she never expects to be embroiled in a hunt for a missing priceless sketch by Vincent Van Gough. The sketches are stolen from her father’s client and are held ransom for a painting that hasn’t been seen in decades and until they find it, all their lives are in danger. With her friend Reika, Violet search for the missing van Gough takes her from Seattle to the streets of Tokyo to the beautiful Kyoto. As the mystery deepens and the danger heightens, Violet isn’t sure who to trust – all she knows is she has to find the painting and the criminals before it’s too late.

I loved the whodunit aspect of Tokyo Heist. While “heist” may be in the title, the story really follows the aftermath of the original heist as Violet tries to figure out what happened. There’s a lot of people who seem as if they are hiding something and then there’s the involvement of the Japanese mafia and who could possible know or want to work with them.

Violet is an interesting character. She loves art and Japanese culture but her love of manga and use of Japanese words in her everyday lexicon makes it seem like she’s fetishizing the Japanese culture. It’s a bit awkward, especially at the beginning as Violet feels like she knows everything about Japan but when she arrives in Tokyo it’s a shock to her. It was quite nice to show that while Violet definitely had an interest in Japan and manga, she didn’t really know as much as she thought she did. (more…)

REVIEW: Boyz n the Hood (1991)

boyz n the hood elenasquareeyesFollows the lives of Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.), Ricky (Morris Chestnut) and Doughboy (Ice Cube) in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles as they try to grow up and survive in a world where drive my shootings are an everyday occurrence.

Boyz n the Hood was John Singleton’s directorial debut and he wrote the screenplay. To have put together a film that’s funny, shocking and heartfelt as your first film is such an achievement. There’s also a chilling sense of suspense throughout the film as you are constantly worried about the fate f these three young men.

Through Tre, Ricky and Doughboy you see what life is like in a world where gun violence but you also see that all three men are very different. Ricky and Doughboy are brothers, Ricky is the smarter one who has the chance to go to college through a football scholarship while Doughboy is the older brother who is more of the stereotypical guy who is lazy and violent and has no real aspirations. Tre is their childhood friend, Ricky’s best friend, and really he is more of a brother to the two of them. Tre’s relationship with his father Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne) is a highlight of the film as you see him moving to live with his father when he is a child and how his father’s guidance helps him grow up and not make rash decisions. (more…)