Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Expendables 3 - Good Movie

I talked last Friday about how I didn't like Guardians of the Galaxy, so I thought I'd mention today that I did like Expendables 3. For the most part. Sure there were flaws, but if you are in the mood for an action-packed adventure, that doesn't get too heavy, and has a lot of big name action stars, then Expendables 3 is the movie to go see.

It had one of my favorite actors, Jason Statham, and that was reason enough for me to go see it. It's a Sylvester Stallone vehicle, but that's not a problem. Sylvester seems to get along with a lot of actors, and that's something I can respect. Even Wesley Snipes, who I haven't really liked in the past, was good in this movie. They even made a joke in the dialogue that poked fun at his past arrest for tax evasion. I thought it worked. In fact, the whole movie worked.

It's great to see an ensemble work so well together. Besides Statham, Snipes, and Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Harrison Ford, and even Mel Gibson had roles in the movie. Mel Gibson, who's been vilified in the media in recent years, seems to have found a new niche for himself. As the heavy. I saw Machete Kills on TV recently, and he was the heavy in that movie, too.

And sure enough, he's the heavy in Expendables 3. He makes a good heavy. You couldn't really gauge his effectiveness as a heavy in Machete Kills because Machete Kills was a tongue in cheek movie. Not a heavy movie for a heavy. But even though Expendables 3 wasn't so heavy either, it wasn't tongue in cheek. He was convincing as the bad guy. It worked.

My only problem with the show was that it was predictable. All the bad guys get killed, which I don't have a problem with, and none of the good guys get killed, which I also don't have a problem with, except for the fact that it makes it predictable. It makes the movie more light. Not light as in comedy type light, but just not realistic, not gritty, not heavy type light. The drama suffers as a result.

Don't think I want to see good guys get killed. I don't. But that's where the drama lies, the heavy element, the grit. Tragedy is an element that is important in a story. In Expendables 3, there was no tragedy. Everything ends up hunky dory. Everyone survives the thousands of bullets flying everywhere, the bombs blowing up, the C-4 explosions, the carnage, the battles, the everything. No one gets a scratch. But that's not entirely true. One of the good guys does get wounded. And he's in the hospital, fighting for his life. But he pulls through, of course. So he's no worse for the wear as it turns out. All hunky dory.

But again, it's just a fun movie. Bottom line, all the bad guys get killed and all the good guys don't. So what's wrong with that? If you just want to have fun, nothing's wrong with that. And that's why it was a good movie. Not great. Not memorable. Not a classic by any standard. Just a good movie to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon with your wife and two sons. Like I did yesterday. That's all.

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