Film Notes: Live by Night (2016) directed, written, co-produced and starring by Ben Affleck

US / 129 min / Color / A Warner Bros. release of an Appian Way, Pearl Street, in association with RatPac-Dune Entertainment Dir:Ben Affleck Pro: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Todd Scr: Ben Affleck based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane Cin: Robert Richardson Mus: Harry Gregson-Williams Cast: Ben Affleck, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Chris Cooper, Sienna Miller, Remo Girone, Robert Glenister, Matthew Maher, Miguel J. Pimentel, Anthony Michael Hall, Titus Welliver, Chris Sullivan, Max Casella, Kristen Annese, Larry Eudene, Derek Mears Synopsis: What you put out into this world will always come back to you, but it never comes back how you predict.  Taking fatherly advice is not in Joe Coughlin’s nature.  Instead, the WWI vet is a self-proclaimed anti-establishment outlaw, despite being the son of the Boston Police Deputy Superintendent.  Joe’s not all bad, though; in fact, he’s not really bad enough for the life he’s chosen.  Unlike the gangsters he refuses to work for, he has a sense of justice and an open heart, and both work against him, leaving him vulnerable time and again—in business and in love.  Driven by a need to right the wrongs committed against him and those close to him, Joe heads down a risky path that goes against his upbringing and his own moral code.  Leaving the cold Boston winter behind, he and his reckless crew turn up the heat in Tampa.  And while revenge may taste sweeter than the molasses that infuses every drop of illegal rum he runs, Joe will learn that it comes at a price.  (Official website)  Release Dates: 13 December 2016 (New York City, New York), 27 January 2017 (Spain) Spanish title: Vivir de noche  IMDb Rating: 6.5.

Here’s what Affleck told about the production (Source: Collider):

“This is the first movie I’ve made that was really constructed on purpose. I wanted it to feel classic, like it could have been made in the ’70s or even the ’40s, not doing too much cutting, not having very tight close-ups, allowing scenes to play and giving the actors space to play across the frame. But also we’re aware of contemporary audiences’ acclimation. The grammar of film is different now. So it was a challenge.”

Here’s the official synopsis for Live by Night (Source: Collider):

Live by Night” is set in the roaring `20s when Prohibition hasn’t stopped the flow of booze in an underground network of gangster-run speakeasies. The opportunity to gain power and money is there for any man with enough ambition and nerve and Joe Coughlin, the son of the Boston Police Superintendent, long ago turned his back on his strict upbringing for the spoils of being an outlaw. But even among criminals there are rules and Joe breaks a big one: crossing a powerful mob boss by stealing his money and his moll. The fiery affair ends in tragedy, setting Joe on a path of revenge, ambition, romance and betrayal that propels him out of Boston and up the ladder of Tampa’s steamy rum-running underworld.

Recently, Begoña and I had the opportunity to watch Live by Night a film I have enormous difficulties to comment. Despite the fact that I didn’t get bored, I can’t say it got me excited. It’s true that it has many good things but, as a whole, it doesn’t work well. I’s hard to understand the behaviour of the main character, and is far from clear the development of the script and last but not least I personally don’t think Ben Affleck to be the most appropriate actor for that role.

The Hollywood Reporter film review

Official website

Review: The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien, 1931 (Inspector Maigret #3) by Georges Simenon. Trans: Linda Coverdale

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

Penguin Classics, 2014. Format: Paperback edition. First published in French as Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien by Fayard, 1931. This translation first published in 2014 by Linda Coverdale. ISBN: 978-0-141-39345-2. 138 pages. This novel has been published in previous translations as The Crime of Inspector Maigret, 1933 (tr. Anthony Abbot) and Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets, 1963 (tr. Tony White).

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (2)The back cover blurb reads: It all started yesterday. Or did it begin a year ago? All Maigret knows is that the shabby traveller he was following has committed suicide in a hotel room. As he delves further, a ten-year-old secret begins to emerge –one that some people will do anything to keep.

My take: In a cheap Bremen hotel, Chief Inspector Maigret is the unexpected witness to the suicide of a man at the room next door. Maigret was observing his movements through the keyhole of the door that separated both rooms. Maigret is not far -in fact he is quite close – from thinking that he’s just killed a man. It all begun the previous day in Brussels where Maigrest had been sent for consultation with the Belgian police about some Italian refugee who had been expelled from France and whose activities were now cause for concern. In fact Maigret himself can`t quite understand still why he was following that man. The fact is that the man in question took that decision after realising that his small and cheap suitcase had been replaced by another one exactly the same, that was filled with old newspapers. However Maigret, who was expecting to find inside the man’s suitcase the evidence to prove that the man in question was a dangerous criminal, perhaps a murderer, was able to find only a worn-out man’s suit and some dirty laundry. To further complicate matters, the suit was too large to belong to the owner of the suitcase and soon it became clear he was travelling under a false identity. Perhaps motivated by a certain sense of guilt, Maigret is determined to find an explanation to all this. 

The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien is the third book in the new Penguin Maigret series. Although occasionally it shows up in a different order in Maigret canon. This is probably due to the fact that the fist ten books in the series were all published initially in 1931. In any case the order in itself is rather irrelevant, at least when it comes to these first books. With regard to this book Maigret himself, when Sergeant Lucas asked him about this case, puts it this way: ‘I hardly know myself!’ the inspector exclaimed. ‘A very strange fellow died in a way that makes no sense, right in front of me – and that incident is all tied up in the most ungodly tangle of events, which I’m attempting to figure out. I’m charging blindly at it like a wild boar and wouldn’t be surprised if I wound up getting my knuckles rapped… …’ In a sense the story is more of a riddle than a detective fiction that tackles the issue of human motivations. The plot revolves around the psychology of the characters more than about the police action itself. I particularly liked the atmosphere in which the action unfolds. It’s not a whodunit, but rather an investigation to discover if there’s any crime behind the behaviour of certain characters. And though it might not be yet up to the best books in the series, I have enjoyed it very much. The main theme of the novel will be recurrent in Simenon’s work, there’s no greatest punishment for the criminal than the crime itself. To conclude I would like to point out that in this instalment the reader will find one of the earliest descriptions of Maigret:

Maigret was tall and wide, particularly broadshouldered, solidly built, and his run-of-the-mill clothes emphasized his peasant stockiness. His features were coarse, and his eyes could seem as still and dull as a cow’s. In this he resembled certain figures out of children’s nightmares, those monstrously big blank-faced creatures that bear down upon sleepers as it to crush them. There was something implacable and inhuman about him that suggested a pachyderm plodding inexorably towards its goal.

The idea of the story relates to a period in Simenon’s own past. He was born and spent his early life in Liège, and was one of a group of young men in the city, calling themselves “La Caque”, who had a bohemian lifestyle; they met to read aloud the works of writers which interested them, and they questioned conventional morality. They adopted the symbol of the hanged man. One member, a painter named Kleine, was found hanged on the door of St Pholien’s church: it was apparently suicide, but murder was suspected. (Source; Wikipedia)

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Georges Simenon was born in Liège, Belgium, in 1903. Best known in Britain as the author of the Maigret books, his prolific output of over 400 novels and short stories have made him a household name in continental Europe. He died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had lived for the latter part of his life.

About the translator: Linda Coverdale is an award-winning translator. She has translated many classic works of modern French literature into English. Some of the authors she has translated include Roland Barthes, Emmanuel Carrère, Patrick Chamoiseau, Maryse Condé, Marie Darrieussecq, Annie Ernaux, Hervé Guibert, Sébastien Japrisot, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Philippe Labro, Yann Queffélec, Jorge Semprún, and Patrick Volodine. In 2001, the French government awarded her the title of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres). In 2006 she won the Scott Moncrieff Prize for her translation of A Time for Machetes.

The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien customer reviews at

Penguin Classics publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page

Georges Simenon Website

Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien

Maigret of the Month: August, 2004

Tout Maigret

The Myth of Simenon  


El ahorcado de la iglesia (El ahorcado de “Saint-Pholien”, 1931) de Georges Simenon

La propaganda de la contraportada dice: Todo comenzó ayer. ¿O quizá empezara años atrás? Todo lo que sabe Maigret es que el miserable viajero al que estaba siguiendo se suicidó en la habitación de un hotel. A medida que profundiza más en ello, comienza a surgir un secreto de hace diez años, un secreto que algunas personas harán cualquier cosa por ocultar.

Mi opinión: En un hotel barato de Bremen, el inspector jefe Maigret es el inesperado testigo del suicidio de un hombre en la habitación de al lado. Maigret observaba sus movimientos a través del ojo de la cerradura de la puerta que separaba ambas habitaciones. Maigret no está lejos -de hecho está muy cerca- de pensar que acaba de matar a un hombre. Todo comenzó el día anterior en Bruselas, donde Maigrest había sido enviado para consultar con la policía belga sobre un refugiado italiano expulsado de Francia y cuyas actividades eran motivo de preocupación. De hecho, el propio Maigret no puede entender todavía por qué estaba siguiendo a ese hombre. El hecho es que el hombre en cuestión tomó esa decisión después de darse cuenta de que su maleta pequeña y barata había sido sustituida por otra exactamente igual, que estaba llena de viejos periódicos. Sin embargo, Maigret, que esperaba encontrar dentro de la maleta del hombre la evidencia para probar que el hombre en cuestión era un criminal peligroso, tal vez un asesino, sólo pudo encontrar un traje de hombre desgastado y algo de ropa sucia. Para complicar aún más las cosas, el traje era demasiado grande para pertenecer al dueño de la maleta y pronto resultó evidente que viajaba bajo una falsa identidad. Tal vez motivado por un cierto sentimiento de culpa, Maigret está decidido a encontrar una explicación a todo esto.

El ahorcado de Saint-Pholien es el tercer libro en la nueva serie de Maigret publicada por Penguin. Aunque de vez en cuando aparece en un orden diferente en el canon de Maigret. Esto se debe probablemente al hecho de que los diez primeros libros de la serie se publicaron todos inicialmente en 1931. En cualquier caso, el orden en sí mismo es bastante irrelevante, al menos cuando se trata de estos primeros libros. Con respecto a este libro, el propio Maigret, cuando el sargento Lucas le preguntó sobre este caso, lo expresa de esta manera: «¡Apenas me conozco!», exclamó el inspector. “Un extraño sujeto murió de una manera que no tiene sentido, justo delante de mí – y ese incidente está todo ligado a la más chocante maraña de acontecimientos, que estoy intentando descifrar. Continuo a ciegas como un jabato y no me sorprendería si termino con una amonestación  … … ” En cierto sentido, la historia es más un enigma que una novela policíaca que aborda el tema de las motivaciones humanas. La trama gira en torno a la psicología de los personajes más que sobre la acción policial en sí. Me gustó especialmente el ambiente en el que se desarrolla la acción. No es un whodunit, sino una investigación para descubrir si hay algún crimen detrás del comportamiento de ciertos personajes. Y aunque tal vez no esté a la altura de los mejores libros de la serie, lo he disfrutado mucho. El tema principal de la novela será recurrente en la obra de Simenon, no hay mayor castigo para el criminal que el propio delito. Para concluir quisiera señalar que en esta entrega el lector encontrará una de las primeras descripciones de Maigret:

Maigret era alto y grande, sobre todo de espaldas anchas, constitución fuerte, y sus ropas comunes y corrientes acentuaban su aspecto robusto de campesino. Sus rasgos eran vulgares  y sus ojos podían parecer tan tranquilos y apagados como los de una vaca. En esto se parecía a ciertos personajes de pesadillas infantiles, esas inmensas criaturas grandes de aspecto sombrío que perseguían a los que dromían como para aplastarlos. Había en él  algo de implacable y cruel que hacía recordar a un paquidermo con inexorable perseverancia hacia su objetivo.

La idea de la historia se relaciona con un período en el propio pasado de Simenon. Nació y pasó los primeros años de su vida en Lieja, y formó parte de un grupo de jóvenes de la ciudad, que se autodenominaban “La Caque”, que tenía un estilo de vida bohemio; Se reunían para leer en voz alta las obras de los escritores que les interesaban, y cuestionaban la moral convencional. Adoptaron el símbolo del ahorcado. Uno de sus miembros, un pintor llamado Kleine, fue hallado colgado en la puerta de la iglesia de St Pholien: aparentemente se consideró un  suicidio, pero se sospechó que fue asesinado. (Fuente: Wikipedia)

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Autor y periodista belga, Georges Simenon abandonó los estudios secundarios por necesidades económicas y se dedicó a varios trabajos ocasionales hasta entrar a trabajar como reportero de La Gazette de Liège, trabajo que le permitió conocer los ambientes marginales de su ciudad y que le servirían para sus novelas. Simenon publicó por primera vez en 1921 bajo seudónimo, y un año después se instaló en París, viviendo ambientes culturales y bohemios. Viajó por todo el mundo haciendo reportajes y entrevistas. Tras la Segundo Guerra Mundial, viajó a Estados Unidos, en donde permaneció diez años, continuando con su labor literaria. A su regreso, se instaló en la Costa Azul y posteriormente en un pueblo cerca de Lausana. Simenon fue un autor prolífico, con casi 200 novelas publicadas, y es uno de los autores en lengua francesa más vendidos de la historia. Conocido principalmente por sus libros protagonizados por el Comisario Maigret, Simenon también practicó una prosa más intimista que fue reconocida al ser elegido para la Academia Real de Bélgica. (Fuente: Lecturalia)

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