Film Notes: Whiplash (2014) directed by Damien Chazelle

USA /106 minutes / color / Bold Films, Blumhouse Productions and Right of Way Films  Dir: Damien Chazelle Pro:Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, Michel Litvak, David Lancaster Scr: written by Damien Chazelle Cine: Sharone Meir Film Editor: Tom Cross Mus: Justin Hurwitz Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang, Chris Mulkey, Damon Gupton Release Date (Spain) 16 January 2015. Spanish title: Whiplash

MV5BMTU4OTQ3MDUyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTA2MjU0MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_ Synopsis: Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory where he receives his training. Marked by the failure of his father literary career, driven by delusions of grandeur, Andrew has ambitions to become one of the greats.Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons), an instructor well known equally for his teaching talents and his terrifying methods, leads the best jazz ensemble of the Conservatory. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers him into his band. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection soon spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability and his sanity.

Damien Chazelle on what is and isn’t ambiguous about Whiplash by Tasha Robinson

Begoña and I had the opportunity to see Whiplash last night. The film is based on  Damien Chazelle owns experiences in the Princeton High School Studio Band and centres in the relationship between an obsessive jazz student and his abusive instructor. The film lived up to my expectations. Although I fully agree with Richard Brody when he writes that ‘certainly, the movie isn’t “about” jazz; it’s “about” abuse of power’.

Whiplash premiered in competition in the US Dramatic Category at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 16, 2014, as the festival’s opening film. Sony Pictures Worldwide acquired the international distribution rights. At the 87th Academy Awards, Whiplash won Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Supporting Actor for Simmons, and was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. (Source: Wikipedia)

You can find below two completely different reviews:

Getting Jazz Right in the Movies by Richard Brody (The New Yorker)

The Hollywood Reporter review by Todd McCarthy

Review: Doll (An 87th Precinct Mystery) by Ed McBain

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Pan Books Ltd, 1976. Format: Paperback edition. First published in 1965. ISBN-10: 0330248235 ISBN-13: 978-0330248235. 160 pages. 

6006618 A young woman a model by trade is murdered in her house while her small daughter plays with one of her dolls in an adjoining room. The elevator operator of her apartment block, a man known as Cyclops because he lost one eye, gives a very detailed description, of the man he saw entering the apartment, to detectives Steve Carella and Bert Kling. The owner of the modelling agency, where she was working, matches the description given and detective Kling behaves very aggressively with him. This irritates Carella and, after a strong verbal confrontation between both detectives, each one walks off separately. Shortly after, Carella resolves the case by his own but is kidnapped before being able to say a word to anyone. The following day Carella’s car appears completely charred. In its interior has appeared the body of a man beyond recognition. Everyone, fearing for the worst, believes that Carella has died. Detective Meyer Meyer takes responsibility for the case and detective Kling is relieved from his duties.

The fact that the story is concentrated in a single crime, makes of Doll a police procedural rather unusual. The reader will be well informed of what has happened at all times but the identity of the perpetrator and his motivation will remain hidden until the last pages. This will keep us hooked to the plot. The story is nicely told and the investigation is quite realistic and extremely professional in all aspects, particularly regarding the police work and forensic analysis. However, in my view, the story lacks of some strength and has some inconsistencies. But anyway it’s been a very satisfactory read that I recommend.

My rating: B (I really liked it)

For a more favourable opinion see what my friend Sergio has to say about Doll at Tipping My Fedora.

Ed McBain was one of the many pen names of the successful and prolific crime fiction author Evan Hunter (1926 – 2005). Born Salvatore Lambino in New York, McBain served aboard a destroyer in the US Navy during World War II and then earned a degree from Hunter College in English and Psychology. After a variety of jobs, he worked for a literary agent, where he learned about plotting stories, When his agent-boss started selling them regularly to magazines, and sold a mystery novel and a juvenile science-fiction title as well, the both decided that it would be more profitable for him to stay at home writing full time.  Under his own name, Evan Hunter, he is the author of a number of novels, including The Blackboard Jungle. As Ed McBain he has written the highly popular ‘87th Precinct’ series of crime novels.

I’ve also reviewed: 

Sadie When She Died
Cop Hater
Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here

The 87th Precinct at The Thrilling Detective Website

The 87th Precinct at Wikipedia

Muñeca (Un misterio de la comisaría 87) de Ed McBain

Una joven modelo de profesión es asesinada en su casa mientras su hija pequeña juega con una de sus muñecas en una habitación contigua. El operador del ascensor de su bloque de apartamentos, un hombre conocido como Cíclope porque perdió un ojo, da una descripción muy detallada, del hombre al que vio entrar en el apartamento, a los detectives Steve Carella y Bert Kling. El dueño de la agencia de modelos, donde ella trabajaba, coincide con la descripción dada y el detective Kling se comporta de forma agresiva con él. Esto irrita a Carella y, tras un fuerte enfrentamiento verbal entre los dos detectives, cada uno se marcha por separado. Poco después, Carella resuelve el caso por su cuenta, pero es secuestrado antes de poder decir una palabra a nadie. Al día siguiente, el coche de Carella aparece completamente carbonizado. En su interior ha aparecido el cuerpo de un hombre irreconocible. Todo el mundo, temiendose lo peor, cree que Carella ha muerto. El detective Meyer Meyer asume la responsabilidad del caso y el detective Kling es relevado de sus funciones.

El hecho de que la historia está concentrada en un solo delito, hace de Muñeca un procedimiento policial algo inusual. El lector estará bien informado de lo que ha sucedido en todo momento, pero la identidad del delincuente y su motivación permanecerán ocultas hasta las últimas páginas. Esto nos mantendrá enganchados a la trama. La historia está muy bien contada y la investigación es muy realista y muy profesional en todos los aspectos, sobre todo en relación con el trabajo de la policía y el análisis forense. Sin embargo, en mi opinión, le falta de algo de fuerza a la historia y tiene algunas inconsistencias. Pero de todas formas ha sido una lectura muy satisfactoria que recomiendo.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó mucho)

Ed McBain fue uno de los muchos seudónimos del exitoso y prolífico autor de novela negra Evan Hunter (1926 – 2005). Nacido Salvatore Lambino en Nueva York, McBain sirvió a bordo de un destructor de la Marina de los Estados Unidos durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial y luego se graduó en Inglés y Psicología por el Hunter College. Después de diferentes trabajos, trabajó para un agente literario, donde aprendió a elaborar historias, Cuando su agente y jefe comenzó a venderlas regularmente a revistas, y vendió una novela de misterio y un título de ciencia ficción juvenil, ambos decidieron que sería más rentable que se quedara en su casa escribiendo a tiempo completo. Bajo su propio nombre, Evan Hunter, es  autor de varias novelas, entre las que se encuentra The Blackboard Jungle. Como Ed McBain ha escrito la popular serie de novelas policíacas sobre la comisaría 87, ‘The 87th Precinct’

Anteriormente he reseñado:

Sadie When She Died
Cop Hater
Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here

OT: Pruno 2013

20150812_145224 I’ve been long looking for a Ribera del Duero that could meet my quality and price requirements. As regular readers of this blog know, as a general rule, I try to comment wines below a €12.00 price tag. Finally I have found this amazing wine, at an affordable price that can very well compete with more expensive wines.

  • Winery: Bodegas Villacreces (Grupo Artevino) Carretera Valladolid-Soria, km.322, 47350 Quintanilla de Onésimo, Valladolid. The estate covers a total expanse of 110 hectares, some 64 of which are vineyards. Positioned on a meander of the river Duero, the vineyard is divided into 15 plots that are farmed separately. The plots contain Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapevines interspersed with century-old pine trees of huge environmental value.
  • Phone: + 34 983 680 437
  • Winemaker: Lluis Laso
  • Website:
  • Brand: Pruno Production: 275.000 bottles of 75 cl.
  • DO: Ribera del Duero 
  • Type: Red wine aged 12 months in 3-year-old French barrels (Darnajou and Taransaud) 
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Alcohol: 14 %
  • Grape Variety: 90% Tinto Fino and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Vineyards: It comes from 64 hectares of their own vineyards located in the state of Finca Villacreces planted around 1980 at 710 meters above sea level and with a north-south orientation. 
  • Soil Type: Loamy-sandy soil.
  • Bottle Size: 75.0 cl.
  • Price: Available at €9.90 in different wine stores.
  • My wine rating: 93/100 (A wine of outstanding or superior quality) NEW!

“I’ve loved this wine in the past and the 2013, a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 12 months in French oak, is stunning, simply over-delivering in so many different ways. This wine, which offers up copious quantities, of blueberry, black raspberry and black currant fruit, licorice, graphite and meaty notes, offers fabulous aromatics, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, beautiful, pure texture and a long, heady finish with subtle oak. What’s amazing is the French oak is all two-year-old, super-expensive Darnajou barrels. For $20 this is another amazing offering from Spain and from importer Eric Solomon.” (The Wine Advocate)

For additional information click at enterwine.

Review: Seeking Whom He May Devour by Fred Vargas

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Vintage Books, 2008. Format: Paperback. First published with the title L’Homme à l’envers in 1999. Translated from the French by David Bellos. First published in Great Britain in 2004 by The Hervill Press. ISBN: 9780099515975. 360 pages.


In different places of the French Alps, not far from Mercantour National Park, several sheep have appeared with their throats savagely shattered. It seems obvious that it has been the attack of an animal with extraordinary strength; maybe a dog or a wolf of sheer size, as had not been seen before around this area.  These attacks have also reached Les Éscarts at Saint-Victor, where Suzanne Roseelin runs a sheep breeding farm. She believes it’s been the work of a werewolf. This seems to be confirmed when Suzanne is found dead, butchered in a similar manner. The local police turns a deaf ear to this suspicion and Suzanne’s shepherd, a very old man known as “Watchee” and her adopted African son, a lad called Soliman, decide to take matters into their own hands and to go out in search of the alleged killer. Their suspicions have fallen on Massart, a loner who has just disappeared, leaving behind him a map with a route that includes all sites where the sheep were found butchered. Since neither of them knows how to drive, they request the assistance of Camille, a friend of Suzanne, to drive a rickety lorry used to transport livestock. Camille earns her living composing music and working as a plumber, and not long ago has settled to live in Saint Victor with her present partner, a Canadian who is shooting a documentary film on wolves at Mercantour National Park. All three depart willing to find the presumed werewolf, Massart, until they realise they’re always one step behind him. Then, Camille decides to call for help her old flame Adamsberg.

Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg #2) is a peculiar book, even for the standards set by this series. Adamsberg’s involvement in the plot takes place when there are less than 150 pages to finish the book and, some of the regular characters don’t even appear in this instalment. In any event, Vargas is faithful to her traditional structure in the sense that following a number of bizarre incidents generally rooted in ancient legends, there are several murders to which one cannot easily find a rational explanation. At the end, Adamsberg will find the solution to the case using an eccentric but highly effective deductive method, where everything fits perfectly well without resorting to inscrutable explanations. In the current panorama of crime fiction Fred Vargas shines with her own light in my view, even if this is not a widely accepted opinion. I’ve read most of her books in the series if not all and, having said that, I have not found Fred Vargas at her usual standard in this novel. It has several superfluous pages, there are some repetitions, and only when Adamsberg finally gets involved into the plot, I’ve begun to enjoy it. In any case I look forward to the last two books in the series that I still have outstanding, Have Mercy on Us All (Commissaire Adamsberg #4) and her last instalment, Temps glaciaires /Ice Age (Commissaire Adamsberg #10). 

My rating: C (I liked it with a few reservations) 

Fred Vargas is the pseudonym of the French historian, archaeologist and writer Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, often written by mistake “Audouin-Rouzeau” (born 1957 in Paris). Her ‘roman policiers’ (rompol) have won four International Dagger Awards from the Crime Writers Association, in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2013. She is the first author to achieve such an honour. In each case her translator into English was Sîan Reynolds, who was also recognized by the international award.

I’ve also reviewed:  

The Chalk Circle Man (Commissaire Adamsberg #1)
Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand (Commissaire Adamsberg #6)
This Night’s Foul Work (Commissaire Adamsberg #7)
An Uncertain Place (Commissaire Adamsberg #8)
The Ghosts Riders of Ordebec (Commissaire Adamsberg #9)

Seeking Whom He May Devour has been reviewed at The crime segments (NancyO), Euro Crime (Karen), Euro Crime (Maxine), Bitter Tea and Mystery (TracyK), Books Please (Margaret), Mysteries in Paradise (Kerrie) among others.

Vintage Books

Simon & Schuster

Viviane Hamy

Fred Vargas: History Behind Paris’s Curious Thrills?

El hombre del revés de Fred Vargas


En diferentes lugares de los Alpes franceses, cerca del parque nacional de Mercantour, varias ovejas han aparecido con sus gargantas salvajemente destrozadas. Parece obvio que ha sido el ataque de un animal con una fuerza extraordinaria; tal vez de un perro o de un lobo de enorme tamaño, como no se había visto antes en esta zona. Estos ataques también han llegado hasta Les Éscarts en Saint-Victor, donde Suzanne Roseelin dirige un  criadero de ovejas. Ella cree que ha sido obra de un hombre lobo. Lo que parece confirmarse cuando Suzanne es encontrada muerta, descuartizada de una manera similar. La policía local hace oídos sordos a esta sospecha y el pastor de Suzanne, un hombre muy viejo conocido como “Watchee” y su hijo adoptado de origen africano, un muchacho llamado Soliman, deciden tomar las riendas del asunto y salen en busca del presunto asesino. Sus sospechas han recaído en Massart, un solitario que acaba de desaparecer, dejando tras de sí un mapa con una ruta que incluye todos los sitios donde fueron encontradas masacradas las ovejas. Como ninguno de ellos sabe conducir, solicitan la ayuda de Camille, una amiga de Suzanne, para conducir un camión destartalado utilizado en el transporte de ganado. Camille se gana la vida componiendo música y trabajando como fontanero, y no hace mucho tiempo se ha instalado a vivir en Saint Victor con su pareja actual, un canadiense que está filmando un documental sobre los lobos en el parque nacional de Mercantour. Los tres salen dispuestos a encontrar al presunto hombre lobo, Massart, hasta que se dan cuenta de que están siempre un paso por detrás de él. Entonces, Camille decide pedir ayuda a su antiguo amor, Adamsberg.

El hombre del revés aka El hombre al revés (Comisario Adamsberg # 2) es un libro peculiar, incluso para los estándares establecidos por esta serie. La participación de Adamsberg en la trama tiene lugar cuando faltan  menos de 150 páginas para terminar el libro y, algunos de los personajes habituales ni siquiera aparecen en esta entrega. En cualquier caso, Vargas es fiel a su estructura tradicional en el sentido de que, tras una serie de incidentes extraños generalmente arraigados en antiguas leyendas, hay varios asesinatos a los que no se puede encontrar fácilmente una explicación racional. Al final, Adamsberg encontrará la solución del caso mediante un método deductivo excéntrico pero muy eficaz, en el que todo encaja perfectamente bien sin recurrir a explicaciones inescrutables. En el panorama actual de la novela negra Fred Vargas brilla con luz propia en mi opinión, incluso si esto no es una opinión generalmente aceptada. He leído la mayoría de los libros de la serie si no todos y, dicho esto, no he encontrado a Fred Vargas a su nivel habitual en esta novela. Tiene varias páginas superfluas, hay algunas repeticiones, y sólo cuando Adamsberg finalmente se involucra en la trama, he empezado a disfrutarla. En cualquier caso, espero con interés los dos últimos libros de la serie que aún tengo pendientes, Huye rápido, vete lejos (Comisario Adamsberg #4) y su última entrega, Temps glaciaires/Tiempos de hielo (Comisario Adamsberg #10 ).

Mi valoración: C (Me ha gustado mucho con ciertas reservas)

Fred Vargas es el seudónimo de la historiadora, arqueóloga y escritora francesa Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, a menudo escrito por error “Audouin-Rouzeau” (nacida en 1957 en París). Sus “roman policiers” (rompol) han ganado cuatro Premios Internacional Dagger de la Asociación de Escritores británica de novelas de misterio en el 2006, 2008, 2009 y 2013. Ella ha sido la primera escritora en conseguir este galardón. En todas las ocasiones, su traductor al Inglés fue Sian Reynolds, quien también fue reconocido con este galardón. 

He reseñado con anterioridad:

El hombre de los círculos azules (Comisario Adamsberg #1)
Bajo los vientos de Neptuno (Comisario Adamsberg #6)
La tercera virgen (Comisario Adamsberg #7)
Un lugar incierto (Comisario Adamsberg #8)
El ejército furioso (Comisario Adamsberg #9)

Ediciones Siruela

OT: Pago de Valdoneje Viñas Viejas Mencía 2013

I’ve become increasingly fond of the Bierzo red wines (Mencía varietal) and have uncorked recently this Pago de Valdoneje Viñas Viejas 2013, the top wine of the winery. Unfortunately, there is very little reference to this wine in the winery website or in any other place online and, since it was given to me as a present, I don’t even know the price or where can be purchased. The information available on the Internet relates only to the 2011 vintage, has a different label and the type of bottle has also been changed. The price of the 2011 is (was) around €12.95. I’m afraid it was a very limited production.20150809_144746

  • Winery: Vinos Valltuille S.L. Calle de la Fragua, s/n. 45530 Valtuille de Abajo, León, España
  • Phone: + 34 987 562 165
  • Winemaker: Marcos Garcia Advisor: Raúl Perez
  • Website:
  • Brand: Pago de Valdoneje Viñas Viejas 
  • DO: Bierzo.
  • Type: Red Crianza Wine aged 11 months in French oak barrels and 9 months in the bottle, before their final departure to the market
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Alcohol: 14 %
  • Grape Variety: 100% Mencía.
  • Vineyards: Located on slopes facing south at a height of 700 m above sea level. The grapes for this wine come from 90 year old vines.
  • Soil Type: Clay with extensive presence of sand
  • Bottle Size: 75.0 cl.
  • Price: It was a present and I’ve not been able to find any reference online.
  • My wine rating: 94/100 (A wine of outstanding or superior quality) NEW!

20150809_144810 An outstanding wine from the Bierzo region 100% Mencía.

Other Pago de Valdoneje wines (easier to find) are:

Pago de Valdoneje

Pago de Valdoneje Roble

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