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Weekend Notebook

By admin Published: January 6, 2012

If you happen to watch WEWS's new Saturday-morning newscast (which premieres at 6 a.m. tomorrow), you may catch a segment with me talking -- in less than 80 seconds -- about three recent books. One is the Pauline Kael biography I have posted about below; the others are Diane Keaton's memoir and the massive, two-volume collected lyrics of Stephen Sondheim (with illustrations and commentary). I want to say more about those two books but time and energy have been in short supply of late. But I expect to get to them soonish. And there's a Keaton anecdote involving Dana Delany that I think goes to the heart of the book in some ways.

I am also working on a post about two current movies, "The Descendants" and "We Bought a Zoo," which may sound like an odd pairing until you consider that: both involve men who have lost or about to lose their wives, who have two children, the older of which is deeply troubled, and who are awkwardly trying to understand what the rest of their lives may be like. Both movies have some merit, but "The Descendants" is far the superior -- subtler, more rich in its characters, more willing to see life in very complicated terms. I will try to explain in more detail later.

I have also been working my way through films with Oscar potential (a list that also includes "The Descendants"), and gave recent looks to both "Young Adult" and "J. Edgar." Each is a flawed film, and each has a couple of engaging performances -- Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt in "Young Adult" and Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer in "J. Edgar." More, too, about this in a longer post.

Could I also say that my favorite current commercial line is the text in the Nissan truck ad which says that trucks can't snowboard? A great use of an obvious consumer warning to make an ad a bit more entertaining. Although you know someone in the audience is thinking, "I bet my truck could. Let's find out!"

In Saturday's Beacon Journal (and, I hope, Ohio.com) I have a HeldenFiles touching on some of the recent and pending changes in local TV.

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