The Lincoln Lawyer

[Amazon Link] I'm working my way through the novels of Michael Connelly. This one, originally published in 2005, is his first to feature lawyer Mickey Haller.

Mickey practically invites us to not like him. He's a criminal defense attorney, skilled in finding loopholes, technicalities, and cop-sloppiness, all in order to minimize the legal damage to his (almost invariably) guilty clients. He skates on the edge of lawyer ethics and financial ruin. His office is a Lincoln Town Car, because he's continually on the move between various LA County jails and courthouses. Also on his mind are two ex-wives and a young daughter he doesn't seem to be able to find time for.

Here's the thing about Connelly: although it would be easy for the reader to perceive Mickey as a money-grubbing shyster, Connelly manages to make him sympathetic and even likeable, right from page one. It's magic!

Things kick off when (seemingly) fortune smiles on him: his favorite bail bondsman hooks him up with a very rich client, who's been charged with a brutal assault against a woman. Mickey's subsequent investigation is centered around delivering a Not Guilty verdict, but it rapidly becomes obvious that there is more going on than meets the eye.

This was made into a pretty good movie last year starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey. I liked it quite a bit, but seeing the movie first did not degrade my enjoyment of the book.

Last Modified 2012-09-21 9:54 AM EDT

The Secret World of Arietty

[3.5 stars] The Secret World of Arrietty (2010) on IMDb [Amazon]

Thanks to John Lasseter and Pixar merging with Disney, the movies of the Japanese animation factory Studio Ghibli eventually make their way over to the USA, after the dialog has been redubbed by English-speakers. To our great benefit.

The movie is based on the 1952 kid's fantasy novel The Borrowers, written by Englishperson Mary Norton. So it's not just an American translation of a Japanese movie; it's an American translation of a Japanese movie adaptation of a British book. I'm sure this says something profound about multiculturism; if I ever manage to articulate it, I'll let you know.

The premise is that there's a secret race of wee folk that live by "borrowing" life's necessities from the "human beans". A young Borrower girl, Arietty, lives with her mom and dad, ensconced under the floor of a cozy country house inhabited by a nice lady and her housekeeper.

Things change when the lady's nephew shows up to spend a few quiet weeks while waiting for heart surgery. He almost immediately catches a glimpse of the careless Arietty. He won't rest until he's figured out what's going on.

Probably more important than the plot and characters: this is one gorgeous movie to just look at. Like other Studio Ghibli productions, every single scene is rendered with beauty and imagination.

Consumer note: if you watch this, I recommend turning on the English subtitles even if you can hear the English dialogue just fine; there are occasional interesting differences. I think I heard somewhere that some significant rewriting of the dialogue is done to make the spoken words fit the animated characters' mouth movements.

Last Modified 2012-09-21 9:56 AM EDT