The Handmaiden

By Park Chan-wook
Rated by Zachary C
Jun 8, 2018

The Handmaiden, a Korean film adaptation of the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, is the newest film from one of the most daring directors in cinema.

The plot follows a Korean woman hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress as part of a plot to defraud her of her wealth. It is a classic con, but is subject to a bevy of twists and turns, as the handmaiden develops feelings for her mark and everyone has their own designs on the situation.

Misdirection is accentuated as the movie replays many of the major plot points from alternating perspectives: the heiress, the handmaiden, and the con

The Honorable Woman

By Hugo Blick
Rated by Katie S.
Dec 10, 2015

Change is a difficult process for anyone, but imagine if you were trying to change your father's munition company, which historically provided bombs for Israel against Palestine, to a firm focused on assisting with stability in the Middle East. Impossible, right? Nessa and Ephra Stein are attempting to do just that in this intense mini-series that follows their lives after a Palestinian businessman, whom they have selected to win a major project with their company, commits suicide. Nothing is as it seems--including, most importantly, everyone's relationships with each other. Secrets are

The Hunt

By Vinterberg, Thomas
Rated by Megan C.
Apr 16, 2015

What are the limits of friendship? The Hunt explores this question when a misinterpretation of facts unleashes a chain of consequences in a small town in Denmark. Lucas, a newly divorced father and kindergarten teacher, is tested to the limits of his emotional endurance as he slowly becomes an object of suspicion and mistrust among his coworkers, the townspeople, and even his closest friends. The plot builds to a level of exquisitely wrought tension that keeps you holding out for some kind of relief as Lucas reaches his edge.

This film has many strengths but what stood out most for me was

Aug 17, 2015

Published in 2014 this book is an updated version of Kathleen Peddicord’s How to Retire Overseas: Everything You Need to Know to Live Well Abroad. The two authors have extensive experience living in Latin America, as they moved there to work for International Living magazine in 2001. This edition does a good job of going over all of the basics of moving abroad, including the factors you should seriously consider before making a move.  It is very detailed when it comes to the Central and South American countries that offer the best options for expats.  Each of these countries gets its own

The Laughing Monsters

By Denis Johnson
Rated by Michelle H.
Mar 30, 2015

Roland Nair is a NATO operative traveling in Africa. He’s assigned to follow Michael Adriko, a Congolese who happens to be his close friend.  Michael has a plan that involves a rock disguised as processed uranium, and Nair is both horrified at the madness of the idea and attracted to the cash it might promise.

Africa isn’t good to either of these men, and they’re not especially good to each other or even anybody else. They’re struggling with something none of us could get right – a malaise so deep that their judgment is wrecked in every direction.  If anyone has low standards, it’s these

The Lunchbox (DVD)

By Ritesh Batra
Rated by Caitlin T.
Apr 30, 2016

Director Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox is a must-see movie for food enthusiasts. Ila, played by the stunningly beautiful Nimrat Kaur, is a lonely housewife in Mumbai, India who desperately wants to please and attract her emotionally distant husband. Every day she takes great efforts to prepare his lunch in a unique (at least in our western culture) stacked tin lunchbox which is picked up by a local delivery system and brought to him at work. Our story opens with this lunchbox being delivered to the wrong person, a Mr. Saajan Fernandez, played by Irrfan Khan. Saajan is an equally lonesome man on

The Marco Effect

By Jussi Adler-Olsen
Rated by Hilary S.
Oct 24, 2014

Marco, a 15-year-old boy, just wants to be a regular citizen and go to school. But his uncle, who is head of their clan, only sees these dreams as trouble. Forced to steal and beg for money on the streets, Marco secretly does all he can to better himself and learn as much as he can. When he overhears plans to cripple him, forcing him to abandon his dreams and tow the line, he knows he must escape. In his hours hiding from his Uncle and the rest of the clan, Marco makes a terrible discovery. Wanting to do the right thing brings his path  across Carl's more than once.

The Marco Effect is the

The Portrait

By Antoine Laurain
Rated by Maryana K.
Nov 17, 2017

The Portrait follows the journey of Pierre-François Chaumont, a married Parisian attorney. As a boy, Pierre is influenced by his uncle to become a collector of objects. He begins with scented erasers, but quickly raises the level of sophistication and moves on to antiques. By the time the reader finds Pierre in present day, his collection is massive and a point of contention between him and his wife. It is his latest purchase, a portrait of a man, which really puts their marriage on shaky ground. As a result of a heated auction bid, Pierre pays way too much for the piece, but he has to have it

The Red Notebook

By Antoine Laurain
Rated by Sarah A.
Apr 17, 2016

I read a good review of The Red Notebook on the Brit blog, We Love this Book and decided to give it a try. A Parisian woman, Laure, is mugged outside her apartment and her expensive leather bag is stolen. The assailant disposes of the bag in a nearby dumpster and it is found by a neighborhood bookseller, Laurent. With the wallet and any other identifying items taken, Laurent is intrigued with the remaining contents of the bag, including a little red notebook and is determined to find the owner. Francophiles and fans of The Little Paris Bookshop and The Elegance of the Hedgehog will want to

The Silkworm

By Robert Galbraith
Rated by Hilary S.
Nov 17, 2014

Private Detective, Cormoran Strike gets roped into taking a case by Leonora Quine to locate her missing husband, with a somewhat dubious promise of payment by Quine's editor. In pondering why he's taken on such a ridiculous case, Strike comes to realize that he did it out of sheer boredom. Coming off the fame of solving the headline grabbing murder of Lula Landry (see: Cuckoo's Calling), Strike has made a bit of a name for himself amongst the rich and want-to-be famous. Trouble is, the only investigative needs they have are following philandering spouses and girlfriends. When what appears to

Dec 3, 2014

My original reaction to this series was acerbic (see below). But now that I have watched all 4 seasons of The Tudors, I believe it’s worth sticking it out. It grows on you. The characters grow deeper and more complex. I actually learned a lot about the period, especially what turns out to be the very significant religious clashes of the time. The series does well in showing how each queen made her mark in history. So despite my original review, I’ve decided it’s worth some eye rolling to see the history of King Henry VII’s reign come alive.

Original Review:

Although I’m a fan of many of


By Kristina Ohlsson
Rated by Hilary S.
Jan 8, 2016

A mother has missed getting back on her train, leaving her sleeping child alone onboard. Now someone has taken the child off of the train near Stockholm, snatched from under the nose of the train staff, who were supposed to be looking out for her. What caused the mother to leave the train for so long in the first place, and how could the staff have missed the girl leaving?

Frederika Bergman is relatively new to the Stockholm police force. She is an analyst who has joined the special investigative team of star detective Alex Recht. No one is sure if Frederika is cut out for police work