Check the Calendar

In an effort not to offend, certain education bureaucrats have managed to offend everyone. Headline from “NJ school district removes all holiday names from academic calendar.” Don’t count on things getting less silly.

Friday night’s movie fix courtesy of Netflix by mail soared on a personal level but came up short on a broad message. 99 Homes (2014) is all about the ruthless process of eviction. Andrew Garfield stars as a talented, out of work handyman who loses his house. By a stroke of luck, he goes to work for the bank employee who conducted his eviction, played by Michael Shannon, who never shies away from an unflattering part. Soon the handyman is seduced by the money he’s earning, becomes a minor partner and conducts evictions himself, fighting off the guilt it engenders. Things come to a head when he is ordered to deliver a forged court document that will save a billion dollar project. While it is perfectly feasible that individuals would perpetrate such an act, it puts the kibosh on any anti-capitalist argument the narrative wishes to convey. Until that point, nothing the evictors do is illegal. It can be argued that the rules are tilted to favor the powerful, but that is a failure of government, not capitalism. How many of the evicted are victims of bad luck or swindlers, as opposed to bad management of personal finances, is not clear. There is also no mention of those who simply abandon properties. Still, this is compelling, gut-wrenching drama. I know I’d never be able to evict even someone clearly in the wrong. I have trouble enough asking for a couple of bucks per item at my curbside book shop. The flick was directed by Rahman Bahrani, who has broad experience in the movie business: 20 credits as a Producer, 20 as a Director, 17 as a Writer and nine as an Editor. He collaborated on the screenplay with three others. Despite its major fault, it is refreshing to see serious, intelligent work in cinema. Bahrani received a screenplay adaptation Oscar nomination for The White Tiger (2021). Shannon has two supporting nominations to his credit, Garfield a best actor nod. Tim Guinee as an evictee, Clancy Brown as an exec, and Laura Dern (three supporting nominations, one Oscar) as Garfield’s mom bring their usual excellence to the proceedings. 31,000+ users at IMDb have rated 99 Homes, forging to a consensus of 7.1 on a scale of ten. It runs short of two hours. It fared miserably at the box office, returning less than two million on a budget of eight million, a huge gap for DVD sales and rentals and streaming to cover. The money a film makes is not always a good indication of its value. Leftists and those who appreciate literate drama would appreciate 99 Homes. Here are the leads in character:

A person is not supposed to feel cold in June. The forecast said partly cloudy. Mother Nature didn’t supply the sunny part. For the second straight day I packed up a bit early as, expecting at least a little warmth, I’d not to brought a jacket. My thanks to the kind folks who bought and swapped books. There were no donations today, so the inventory saw a sizeable and necessary reduction. Here’s what sold: Nine books in Russian, A Stranger Is Watching by Mary Higgins Clarke, the first four volumes in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King; First Born by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter; Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert; All the Luck: Poems Celebrating Love, Life, and the Enduring Human Spirit by Sydney Eddison; The Art of Speed Reading People: How to Size People Up and Speak Their Language by Barbara Barron and Paul D. Tieger; and Eden by Stanislaw Lem.

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vic fortezza

I was born in Brooklyn in 1950 to Sicilian immigrants. I’ve had more than 50 short stories published world wide. I have 13 books in print.