Classic Tale of Hockey Returns After a Long Hiatus

DATELINE:  Sordid Sports Fiction

kindlerinkrats

After twenty years and a long time out of print, the best novel on the sport of hockey has returned for readers, new and old. Rink Rats is a shocker still. It’s now an e-book and will be available in paperback soon.

Based on life during one college season during the 1990s, Mike Tortorella’s story continues to be controversial and revealing.  Mobie Monaco, the erstwhile captain of a rag-tag bunch that follows his lead into depths of depravity, narrates his life-story.

With hockey players enjoying a long-established reputation as the wild men of sports, you can certainly expect an adult tale of moral turpitude. Tortorella’s tale is a spiritual journey above all else, whether it is a quest for a championship, or a test of one’s moral character.

The story is built around the effort to commit every deadly sin they can encounter and break every Commandment that is set in stone. All the time there is an interesting parallel to Melville’s voyages. Far more metaphoric, the characters are like rats leaving a sinking ship, but are more familiar as the young players who hang around hockey rinks and become enamored of the lifestyle. This is NOT a young-adult novel.

The original story keeps its freshness and provides insights into the daily life, practice, and play on and off ice that can only come from someone who was there.

You may think the novel will only appeal to a certain fan of a political stripe, but self-knowledge is indeed a dangerous avenue to pursue. We aren’t sure how much of the tale is completely true—and how much of it is so unbelievable as to be utterly true.

These rough-and-tumble players are not figure skaters guilty of icing, but you will experience their notorious escapades. In the final analysis, as Tortorella’s book states, “The great shroud of the ice age rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.”  The human condition is indeed timeless as seen in one breathtaking season at a New England college.

 

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Rupert Everett as Sherlock Holmes

DATELINE:  No Deerstalker Here

Everett Holmes 

with Ian Hart as Watson.

We wondered back in 2004 why Rupert Everett’s fascinating take on Sherlock Holmes did not lead to a series. It was around the time that Jeremy Brett had passed on—and a new Holmes was certainly ripe for the picking.

Granada TV and PBS passed on Everett’s interpretation, much to our regret.

Instead, we had the dreadful Robert Downey movie version—and the marvelous updated Cumberbatch TV Sherlock.

Yet, for our money, the classic look and demeanor of Everett was delicious enough. In the Case of the Silk Stocking, not part of the canon, we had a story that was part of the problem. It dealt with sexual problems in the multiple murderer—and Holmes was brought up to date by Watson’s fiancée who now is an American psychologist.

The other problems with the story-line featured cruel mistreatment of women, largely teenage girls brutally killed in a fetish demeanor. Holmes does not help much with his misogynist attitudes that may be accurate, however off-putting. Indeed, when he intrudes on the bedroom one a teenage girl, it seems almost creepy.

On Rupert Everett these foibles work to the flaws of Sherlock.

Ian Hart’s Watson is a tad too smug, and Helen McCrory as his American spouse-to-be is too much a concession to political correctness.

We were delighted to see Michael Fassbender in an early, important role. But, the film belongs to Everett who makes Sherlock’s tired, drug-addled character quite intriguing. There is a sharp undercurrent of sexual malaise in this Holmes, played by the openly gay Everett.

What a shame he played the role only here. It’s a worthy effort in the history of Sherlock performances.

Hurricane Clint Eastwood Downgraded to Breezy

DATELINE: Better to Stay Lost

breezy

In his third directorial effort, back in 1973, Clint Eastwood took up the challenge of a romantic comedy.  It probably sounded easier than he expected because he had William Holden, even aging and falling apart, as his charming, cynical leading man.

This atrocity is called Breezy, rhymes with easy, named after the hippie free spirit who haunts William Holden. It might have been more hilarious if Breezy was a teenage boy. But Clint doesn’t eat sweets.

However, the moribund script features one fantasy hippie girl who believed in free love of the era. Perhaps it was realistic back in the early 1970s in L.A., but Kay Lenz presents one of the most annoying, anachronistic versions of a promiscuous teenager we have seen in decades.

We cannot figure out why Holden’s well-to-do businessman didn’t toss this annoying and cloying girl out on her keester when she first appears to panhandle and try to con him. Are all men victims of their sex drive?

That Holden falls in love with her seems to stretch credulity for a character who never has fallen in love with any woman.

On top of all this, we are then faced with the embarrassments of May-December romance being denigrated by every other character Holden knows in the movie script. Really, Clint?

We almost hoped Holden would turn into Dirty Sex Harry and shoot the whole lot of slut hustlers. Of course, it’s not that kind of film, alas.

If the saccharine hippie girl isn’t enough to rot the script, you have an overlay of Michel Legrand music. Apparently, Clint gave himself plenty of challenges to overcome. You may drown in movie sweetness, not typical Eastwood.

Clint fans knew better than the novice director—and ran away from this clinkeroo. This was not even a good character-driven story, though you can see how Eastwood wants to develop it. The film wastes William Holden– and Eastwood too.

Many critics in hindsight think this was Clint’s most “personal” film. We doubt it. He was still learning his craft by directing in an unusual setting and genre.

Destroying the film negative might be a better challenge to undertake. Clint likely chose to ignore the movie as time passed as an experiment in directing. This movie is a freak of his oeuvre.