Recommended diversions

Before The Devil Knows Your Dead

I’m a little surprised that this gem of a movie is not getting more attention, but I was able to catch it last week at the Fine Arts theater in Asheville, and it is just superb. The cast is first rate, headed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, and Ethan Hawke, and if you haven’t already heard, the movie was directed by Sidney Lumet, who is 83-years-young and just won one of those Lifetime achievement awards a couple of years ago. The influence of some of the younger directors — especially Tarantino — on Lumet is apparent, but not really a distraction, and it could be argued that the last act of the movie, in which two brothers conspire to rob their parents’ jewelry store, takes a workable premise off the deep end. Even so, the performances alone are worth the price of admission, especially Hoffman’s. He may not get the press that the heartthrobs get — DiCaprio, Pitt, Cruise, Depp — but he is gradually establishing himself as the best actor of his generation.



Please excuse another plug for this great show, now nearing the end of its second season on Showtime. With the majority of HBO’s signature shows now gone, “Dexter” is the only show that we actively look forward to and truly relish each week in my house. I was not all that confident that the writers could come up with an intriguing storyline after the first season’s tour de force, but somehow they have managed to equal, or perhaps even best, it. Michael C. Hall must get an Emmy nomination next year for his portrayal of the title character. He simply must.


Five Minute Poetry

We do this fairly regularly in my creative writing class, and it is so much fun that I thought I would share it here. The idea is that you get a small group together and everyone contributes one word of their own choosing. Then, each person has five minutes to compose a poem, with the only stipulation being that the poem must include all the words. The poem can rhyme, or not, be serious, or not, make sense, or not. Believe it or not, we get some pretty good poems out of the exercise sometimes, and it is always good for exercising the imagination — think of it as a little literary windsprint — and good for a few laughs as each person reads his or her poem after five minutes. Next time you’re in a small group with time on your hands, give it a try.

— By Chris Cox

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