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    Saturday, December 03, 2022

    Tipping Point

    STREAMING TIP

    Mr. Harrigan’s Phone

    Netflix

    Despite its supernatural premise, based on a Stephen King short story, “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” is an eerie, wonderfully acted coming of age story about teenaged Craig (Jaeden Martell), who earns money for college by reading classic books aloud for the titular, misanthropic millionaire (Donald Sutherland). Craig introduces the reluctant old man to the wonders of technology via a cell phone. In turn, Harrigan — who became rich partially through ruthless tactics — teaches the young man some hard but perhaps necessary lessons about the Real World. Each benefits from the other, but it turns wonderfully dark when Harrigan dies. Symbolically, Craig tucks his mentor’s cell phone into the coffin. And when Craig encounters bullying and some uncomfortable situations, he begins to get phone calls from six feet under.

    — Rick Koster

    MOVIE TIP

    Don’t Worry Darling

    Everyone involved in this flick should be glad that director Olivia Wilde and star Harry Styles got together. It gave it a middling movie a public awareness that it wouldn’t have otherwise had. “Don’t Worry Darling” is a slow-simmering thriller that calls out for a writer and director with the deft touch of, oh, a Jordan Peele. Instead, the script is in desperate need of cutting; the first segment, in which we and the main character know something weird is going on but aren’t sure exactly what, goes on way too long before it gets into the meat of the matter. And the way that Wilde directs the tense sequences and the outright scares are heavy-handed. Florence Pugh plays a young wife who lives with her hubby (Styles) in a 1950s-style candy-colored community in the desert. But what exactly is the company the husband works for creating? The ultimate answer is intriguing and puts all that has come before in a new perspective. Pugh holds the whole enterprise together with a performance that is by turns tough and tender, and always reflecting the character’s inquisitiveness.

    – Kristina Dorsey

    BOOK TIP

    The Quaker

    Liam McIlvanney

    I was admittedly skeptical when I came across this title in the Yale Book Store — not just because they should never have given a goof like me access, but also because a book by someone McIlvanney won the McIlvanney Prize. Turns out the award is indeed named after the author’s late father — who was an elite mystery writer Across the Pond — and I must say young Liam earned it. This is the debut in a series about a closeted Glaswegian Detective Inspector Duncan McCormack. It’s 1969 and he’s brought into a homicide unit that’s stalled in its hunt for a serial killer called The Quaker. Posthumous first-person chapters from the victims, a subplot involving a jewel heist, gritty and atmospheric descriptions, and a compelling, artfully drawn hero all combine in a fashion that, award aside, would make the Old Man proud.

    — Rick Koster

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