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    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    Tipping Point: Our picks and pans

    BOOK TIP

    Everybody Knows

    Jordan Harper

    There’s a Holy Grail-type allure to writing L.A. Noir, and many have done so wonderfully: Walter Mosley, Dashiell Hammett, James Ellroy, Megan Abbott, Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, James M. Cain, Ross MacDonald ... But this Jordan Harper dude and “Everybody Knows” ... Holy hell! Mae is a “black-bag” specializing in damage and crisis control protecting the most depraved of Hollywood’s rich and powerful. When her boss, hinting at a side hustle that could make both of them wealthy, is murdered in front of her, she reaches out to her ex-boyfriend Chris, a disgraced and former member of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department now floundering as hired security. Is the murder a simple heist-gone-wrong by a wannabe gangbanger, or by pulling the threads do Mae and Chris unravel a spiderweb of wealthy debauchery that spans the city? Great, great stuff — and Harper’s stylistic majesty is absolutely amazing.

    — Rick Koster

    FOOD TIP

    Shunock River Brewery and Village Café

    North Stonington

    I expect to have to give breweries a bit of a pass when it comes to their food; their priority is beer, right? Well, I was happily surprised by how delicious Shunock’s wood-fired pizzas are. You can add a range of toppings; a friend and I went with sausage and mushroom, and it was faaaaabulous. (A 13-inch pizza is $16, with $2.50 additional for each topping.) I love the vibe of the venue, too, which is both rustic and cool. And, yes, the beer is mighty good.

    — Kristina Dorsey

    FILM TIP

    American Dreamer

    Prime

    Peter Dinklage plays Phil, the eponymous and increasingly desperate character who equates success/happiness with home ownership. But not just any home — it has to be a stately mansion far beyond what he can afford as a non-tenured economics professor. Then, Phil, whose serial missteps are reaching crisis level, runs across a wondrous estate for sale with a “live-in” clause. For a price he can barely scrape together, he moves into an apartment in the house and will live there until the elderly and childless owner, Astrid (Shirley MacLaine) dies, at which time he’ll inherit the property. The leads are funny and weirdly endearing (as is Matt Dillon as a realtor), and the plot gets complex as, suddenly, a series of Astrid’s children start turning up and Phil’s position as heir is suddenly a very precarious situation. “American Dreamer” had trouble getting theatrical distribution, and it has its uneven moments. But it’s clever, amusing and different and well worth an evening’s investment.

    — Rick Koster

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