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Steve Shannon

Book Reviews: 'House of Earth' & 'No Revolution Anywhere'

A place of their own?

House of Earth, by Woody Guthrie. Harper Collins, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-06-224839-8.

Guthrie, America's famous working-class troubadour, who died in 1967, presents in this novel, completed in 1947, a realistic picture of a couple struggling to survive in the Texas Panhandle during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Film Review: J. Edgar

In J. Edgar, Leonardo Di Caprio, under Clint Eastwood's direction, gives a thoroughly credible performance as FBI Chief, J. Edgar Hoover. Di Caprio portrays him as the paranoid, vindictive, delusional, hypocritical (he refers to Senator McCarthy as an opportunist) and egotistical man that he was; certainly not high on the list of guys you'd want your daughter to marry.

Film Review: Jumping the Broom

Jumping the Broom is a black (and you can bet there’s no pun intended) comedy about class distinction in America’s black community.

Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) a successful lawyer, from a wealthy family, falls for Jason (Laz Alonso), a Wall Street wiz-kid, whose mother Pam (Loretta Devine) is a postal worker. Tensions flare the day before the wedding, when the two families meet for the first time. Pam feels ultra defensive, especially when she observes the Watson’s home on Martha’s Vineyard, which she compares to the Kennedy compound. When she says grace at supper, the evening before the wedding, Pam sets the tone for the movie by being blatantly insulting.

The crux of the matter becomes her insistence that the ‘Happy Couple’ “Jump the Broom” This dates back to when African slaves were not allowed to marry and jumped over a broom, which was the equivalent of a ceremony.

The Company Men

This was at first a personal matter for writer and director, John Wells. Having seen his brother-in-law, an electrical engineer, struggle after being laid-off, the plot follows the misfortunes of three executives employed at G.T.X. a major shipbuilding company, whose head honcho, Jim, played by Craig T. Nelson, made $22 million bucks in bonus payments the previous year. “We work for the stockholders now,” Jim reminds his underlings as he prepares to fire thousands of workers.

Tommy Lee Jones is Gene, Jim’s old college room mate who helped him build the company up from scratch. Gene thinks of G.T.X.’s employees as if they were family and it hurts him deeply when he’s required to inform “relatives” their services are no longer required. In an early scene, Jim’s wife requests the use of the company jet, a luxury she won’t enjoy for much longer, to go from Boston to Palm Springs to get in some shopping.

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