Written, produced, and directed by Jonathan Caouette, Tarnation (***) is a powerful autobiographical documentary. Mr. Caouette cleverly weaves music and images into a moving tapestry about his life and his mother’s lifelong struggle with mental illness.

Daniel Silva, Gabriel Allon, and John LeCarre

Daniel Silva and Gabriel Allon and I have to mention John LeCarre

My Dad and others have recommended author Daniel Silva as a good read. Here are his books involving secret spy Gabriel Allon and a link to his website:

The Kill Artist

The English Assassin

The Confessor

A Death in Vienna

Prince of Fire

The Messenger

The Secret Servant

The Moscow Rules


When it comes to the secret spy genre, the reigning king has been in my opinion John Le Carre. His books seem to appeal more to readers who are interested in character development, morality and ambiguity, and tragedy. For anyone interested, they should start with The Spy Who Came In from the Cold and the introduction to George Smiley.

Tokyo Story

The film Tokyo Story (1953) (****) is a subtle masterpiece about Japanese culture in the early 1950s. Subtle, because the themes of the movie — aging, estranged adult children, the bustle of urban life, death — calmly build throughout the film, which runs about two hours and 15 minutes. A masterpiece, because it treats the characters, the locations, and the themes with careful and considerate generosity. In the hands of a lesser director, the film would have become tiresome, or maudlin, or would have created exacting ill-will about some of the children. The film needs some patience — the movie starts slowly, perhaps too slowly for film-watchers accustomed to intense action and the onslaught of computer graphics — but that patience is rewarded for those who have it. Strongly recommended.

Klaatu barada nikto

While watching “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951 version) (***1/2) my son and I immediately recognized the failsafe words “Klaatu barada nikto” from “Army of Darkness” (****). If you believe the so-called experts (and we do) “Klaatu barada nikto” is the most famous phrase in science fiction. It has been referenced repeatedly in popular culture. We will ignore the substantial Wikipedia article entry on the subject and plant our own flag here, now.

Where the Trite and the Profound Mingle