February 29, 2008

Book Review: Drama City by George Pelecanos


If you take some elements of the tale Romeo and Juliet and set it in the contemporary urban setting of Washington, DC, you get Drama City. Lorenzo Brown is a reformed drug dealer out on parole, trying to make a new life for himself. His current job is to investigate dogs that may be mistreated or receiving negligent care. He does this job with a sense of purpose, righting the wrongs of his fellow man toward animals. We see Lorenzo as a gentle soul with nerves of steel. He is tough when he needs to be tough, retaining the street smarts he attained at the hands of his former "boy," Nigel.

Rachel Lopez is Lorenzo's parole officer, a job she does with an equal amount of purpose and kindness. She is not easy with her offenders, but she treats them with respect. Most of them respect her right back. By night, Rachel goes out drinking in the bars, initiating one night stands that give her temporary satisfaction. By day, she works her job and attends addict support groups.

We travel around the streets with Lorenzo and Rachel in alternating chapters. All seems well until a member of Nigel's street gang makes an error of judgment and unknowingly starts a turf war. The turf war will test Lorenzo's resolve to stay away from the people and life of his past. Ms. Lopez gets swept up in the madness, as well. Can these two lost souls, trying to escape from their past, find a way to heal in Drama City?

February 14, 2008

Movie Review: Judgment at Nuremberg and Beyond


Although Judgment at Nuremberg was made back in 1961, the questions raised in this film are as relevant today as they were back then. The movie is a fictionalized account of a real trial that took place in 1947. Judges that helped send Jews, liberals, and other "undesirables" to their deaths inside Nazi Germany concentration camps were put on trial for their part.

The names in the film are different than the true people involved. For more on the real trials, click here. The film focuses on the trials from the perspective of the head of the US tribunal in charge of the trial, Chief Judge Dan Haywood, played by Spencer Tracey. Haywood and 2 other charges have the heavy responsibility of trying and sentencing 4 German judges. Public interest in this trial was high, as you can imagine. The whole world seems to be watching what Haywood and his tribunal will do. Will they go easy on these men who at one time would have been considered colleagues? Will they really let them have it? Can they really blame the judges for carrying out their duties? Many Americans wanted the whole of Germany to suffer for the pain caused.

About half the film takes place in the courtroom. The other scenes, which are just as powerful, involve Haywood experiencing Germany as a tourist might.