REVIEW POTPOURRI: Movies, TV and Christmas carols

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Killing Them Softly

I recently viewed a 2012 movie, Killing Them Softly, starring Brad Pitt as a gangland enforcer, James Gandolfini as a Mafia hitman and Ray Liotta as the host for a mob protected high stakes polka game, with a very good supporting cast.

The plot features a businessman in need of extra funds who hires two inept hoods to rob the polka game. They initially get away but then one of them brags about the heist to the wrong individual and the repercussions rear their ugly head.

Despite the constant foul mouthed dialog and jokes, and the super hideous violence (maybe because of it), the movie was a box office success, which doesn’t reflect well on cinematic tastes. Ever since the emergence of such directors as Martin Scorcese, Quentin Tarantino etc., audiences relish the stylized combos of bloodshed and comedy displayed in Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, the Sopranos series etc., while the craft of the old Hollywood classics such as Citizen Kane, The Best Years of Our Lives, Vertigo and In the Heat of the Night – to name a few examples – is tossed aside.

To their credit, Pitt, Gandolfini and Liotta delivered superb performances but the movie still left a bad taste.


A certain amount of graphic realism was seen in the CSI series, which ran from 2000 to 2015 and, after a six-year hiatus, came back as CSI: Vegas. The difference lies in the episodes being more edifying on the gathering and analysis of evidence found at crime scene and less of violence and foul language for its own sake.

I am more than halfway through the first season and particularly enjoy the acting of William Petersen, Jorja Fox, Marg Helgensberger and Paul Guilfoyle as the investigative team.

Especially interesting is the use of facial reconstruction as part of the forensics. One episode that stood out involves a woman’s skull found inside the crawl space underneath the basement of a house by the plumber repairing a leaky pipe and the reconstruction of her face using computer graphics, the recognition of the missing woman and the resulting arrest of her murderer.

Christmas Carols

A mid-’50s lp, Epic LC 3074, and entitled simply Christmas Carols, features very expressive a capella performances of a mixture of well-known and rarely heard season selections by the Royal Male Choir of Holland, a group that was founded in 1883 and numbers 170 men.

Bing Crosby

On June 22, 1950, Bing Crosby recorded a ten-inch Decca 78 featuring renditions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Teddy Bear’s Picnic that were captivatingly arranged, as was so consistently typical of Crosby’s sessions for Decca. In terms of quantity and quality, this singer with his over 4,000 recordings achieved a rare standard and sold more records than Sinatra, Presley and the Beatles combined.

Also Sinatra, Presley and the Beatles were among Crosby’s most loyal fans.


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