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I love going to the movies. (Never would have guessed that, huh?) And when I don’t like a movie, I usually feel more disappointment than anything.

That was the case with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the Academy Award-nominated film directed by Stephen Daldry that considers the aftermath of 9-11 through the eyes of a young boy (played by Thomas Horn) who has lost the father (Tom Hanks) that he adored. Most of the movie is made up of a kind of treasure hunt; the son finds a key amongst his father’s things, and sets out across New York City to figure out what the key unlocks, hoping that it will also reveal some secret about his father that can make bearable the pain of his loss.

My problem with Extremely Loud was there were few things that happened in the movie that I believed; it just stretched credibility too far, and I found myself identifying plot holes and wondering about the competence of the kid’s mom (played by Sandra Bullock) rather than being caught up in the experience. Extremely Loud is, I think, supposed to be a kind of fairly tale juxtaposed against a real tragedy, but it just seemed contrived and simplistic, and just didn’t work for me.

But I feel bad about that.

The great thing about DVR technology is that when two shows I like are on at the same time, I can just record one and watch the other ... which is exactly what I find myself doing on Tuesday nights, when “Justified” comes on FX at the same time as “White Collar” comes on USA. Both are great examples of what cable television seems to do better than the networks - they tell interesting stories through the eyes of quirky protagonists, and allow the narratives and actors to breathe.

“Justified,” based on characters created by the great Elmore Leonard, is terrific TV, taking place in rural Kentucky and focusing on the exploits of US Marshall Raylan Givens, portrayed with steely charisma by Timothy Olyphant. He’s surrounded by a colorful cast - both good guys and bad guys - and the dialogue crackles, just like the source material.

“White Collar” is basically an updated version of “It Takes A Thief,” but it has great and sophisticated verve and a wonderful cast including Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, Tiffani Thiessen, and Willie Garson. It is escapism through and through, done to a stylish turn.

Speaking of Elmore Leonard...I’ve recommended this before, but I want to do it again. If you’ve never read it and you do any sort of writing for a living, you need to read his “Ten Rules of Writing,” which is available from Amazon and in e-book form. It is a great primer in how to write, and I won;t be giving anything away if I tell you one of them, which happens to be my favorite:

Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.


One more entertainment-related recommendation...

On iTunes, there is a new podcast called “Here’s The Thing” that features Alec Baldwin conducting entertaining interviews with people who include Michael Douglas, GOP political strategist Ed Rollins, Chris Rock, and “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels. They’re wonderful, and each one has left me wishing for more ... and they are a great distraction when I’m working out on the elliptical machine.

Two great wines for you this week...

the 2008 Altos Nevados Malbec from Argentina which manages to be robust and smooth all at the same time.

the 2009 Domaine Gerovassiliou G Malagousia, from Greece, a white wine that I enjoyed last weekend at a wonderful Greek restaurant in NYC called was perfect with grilled octopus, but I imagine it would be pleasurable with any seafood or salad.


That’s it for this week...

Next week, I’ll be attending - and moderating two panels - at the annual National Grocers Association (NGA) convention in Las Vegas. If you’re there, I hope you’ll come by my sessions and say hello, or just grab me on the exhibit floor.

Have a great weekend.

KC's View: