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The Fleet’s In ~ A Painting by Paul Cadmus

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The Fleet’s In by Paul Cadmus

Paul Cadmus was an American painter who lived from 1904 to 1999. His works combined elements of eroticism and social critique to produce a style referred to as magic realism.

The 1934 painting The Fleet’s In shows U.S. sailors having a good time on shore leave. It aroused some controversy in its day, not only for its depiction of the navy but for its obvious sexual connotations that fed into the myth of navy life.


Multigraph Photograph

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Multigraph of handsome man

Multigraph Photograph ~ 

This undated old photograph demonstrates the photographic technique known as “multigraph.” The unusual effect is achieved with one single exposure, using mirrors.  



One Hundred Years of Solitude ~ A Capsule Book Review

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One Hundred Years of Solitude cover

One Hundred Years of Solitude ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp 

The novel One Hundred Years of Solitude was written by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014), first published in 1967, and translated to English in 1970. It tells the story of seven generations of the Buendía family, whose patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, founds the town of Macondo (the city of mirrors that will reflect the world around it) in search of a better life. Ursula, José Arcadio Buendía’s wife (and first cousin), lives for 130 years and is a dominant character in the life of the family. (Incest is a recurring theme throughout the novel.)

One Hundred Years of Solitude can be read and enjoyed as merely a chronological sequence of events in the lives of the Buendia family, but it helps to know something of the underlying meaning. Gabriel García Márquez uses a fantastic fictional story as an expression of reality, with myth and history overlapping. Myth serves as a vehicle to transmit history to the reader. For example, the characters in the novel experience the Liberal political reformation of their colonial way of life, the arrival of the railway, the Thousand Days’ War (1899-1902), the corporate hegemony of the “banana company,” the cinema, the automobile, and the massacre of striking workers.

The inevitable and inescapable repetition of history is a dominant theme in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Márquez reiterates the metaphor of history as a circular phenomenon through the repetition of names and characteristics belonging to the Buendía family. The characters are controlled by their pasts and the complexity of time. Throughout the novel the characters are visited by ghosts that are symbols of the past and the haunting nature that the past has over their lives.

Another major theme is solitude. Macondo is in the remote jungles of the Colombian rain forest. The solitude of the town is representative of the colonial period in Latin American history, where outposts and colonies were, for the most part, not interconnected. The Buendías, isolated from the rest of the world, grow increasingly solitary and selfish. With every member of the family living only for himself or herself, they become representative of the aristocratic land-owning elite of that period in Latin American history.

Whether you’re interested in the political and historical implications or not, One Hundred Years of Solitude is still a multi-layered and entertaining story with many interesting characters. (Sometimes the names of the characters are difficult for the reader to keep straight because of the repetition of names.) José Arcadio Buendía and his wife Ursula are parents of José Arcadio, Colonel Aureliano Buendía, and Amaranta. Colonel Aureliano Buendía is a warrior and revolutionary leader. He starts thirty-two unsuccessful wars and fathers seventeen sons by seventeen different women. All of the sons have the name Aureliano with their mothers’ last names. He marries Remedios Moscote while she is still a child; she dies soon after the marriage during her first pregnancy.

Rebeca is the orphaned daughter of Ursula’s cousin who comes to live with the Buendías. She carries the bones of her parents in a bag and eats earth and whitewash off the walls. She eventually marries her adoptive brother José Arcadio and lives a life of seclusion after his death.

Arcadio is José Arcadio’s illegitimate son, a schoolteacher who assumes leadership of Macondo after Colonel Aureliano Buendía leaves. When Liberal forces in Macondo fall, he is shot by a Conservative firing squad.

Aureliano José is the illegitimate son of Colonel Aureliano Buendía. He joins his father in several wars but deserts to return home to Macondo because he believes he is in love with his aunt Amaranta. He is eventually shot to death by a Conservative captain midway through the wars.

Santa Sofía de la Piedad is a beautiful virgin girl who marries Arcadia Buendía. After her husband is executed, the Buendías take her in, along with her children.

Remedios the Beauty is Arcadio and Santa Sofía’s first child. She is so beautiful that several men die of love (or lust) for her. She is so naïve that she is perceived as being mentally retarded. Too beautiful and perhaps too wise for the world, she ascends into the sky one afternoon while folding a white sheet.

José Arcadio Segundo and Aureliano Segundo are twins born to Arcadio and Santa Sofía. José Arcadio Segundo plays a major role in the banana workers’ strike and is the only survivor when the striking workers are massacred. After the massacre, he spends the rest of his days studying the parchments of Melquiades (a history of the family written in Sanskrit, which is mentioned repeatedly throughout the novel) and tutoring the younger Aureliano. (The two twins die at the exact same time.) The twin brother, Aureliano Segundo, marries the beautiful and bitter Fernanda del Carpio and takes as his mistress Petra Cotes. After the long rains (four years, eleven months and two days), his fortune dies up. He begins searching for buried treasure, a pursuit that nearly drives him to insanity. He dies of throat cancer.

Renata Remedios, who is called Meme, is the second child and first daughter of Fernanda and Aureliano Segundo. To placate her mother, she learns to play the clavichord as well as a professional performer. When Meme falls in love with a mechanic named Mauricio Babilonia, her mother has him shot as a chicken thief and sends Meme off to a convent, where, a few months later, she gives birth to Mauricio Babilonia’s child. Her mother, Fernanda, takes the baby (Aureliano) and claims he was a foundling who came delivered in a basket to cover up her daughter’s promiscuity.

José Arcadio II (the only possibly gay character in the novel) is raised by Ursula, who wants him to enter the priesthood and become pope. He studies in Rome but doesn’t become pope. He eventually returns to Macondo and discovers buried treasure, which he wastes on lavish parties and escapades with adolescent boys. He plans to set up his nephew, Aureliano Babilonia, in business but is murdered in his bath by the adolescent boys, who ransack his house and steal his gold.

Amaranta Ursula is the third child of Fernanda and Aureliano. She never knows that the Aureliano Babilonia, the child sent to the Buendía home, is her nephew, the illegitimate child of Meme. Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano Babilonia become best friends in childhood and enter into a passionate affair when they are older, in spite of Amaranta Ursula having a husband, Gaston. Amaranta Ursula has a baby by Aureliano, which is born with a pig’s tail, as was prophesied. This baby, which is eaten by ants (also according to the prophesy), is the last of the Buendía line. As the line dies out, the town of Macondo is destroyed in a hurricane.

One Hundred Years of Solitude has become a classic of world literature and is the most famous work by Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel García Márquez, who died in April 2014 at the age of 87.

Copyright © 2014 by Allen Kopp

Thank You for Choosing Alien Abduction

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Thank You for Choosing Alien Abduction ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

“State prison death house. Mullendorfer speaking.”

“Hello there. My husband is supposed to be electrocuted at midnight tonight and I wanted to know if there’s been a stay or if the governor has granted a last-minute commutation.”


“Cherry Wiley.”

“Your husband’s name is Cherry?”

“No, I thought you meant my name. My husband’s name is Clement Wiley.”

“Hold on a minute. I’ll check and see if any new information has come down on that.”

“Thank you.”

“It looks like, um…”


“It looks like, um, Clement Wiley has opted for alien abduction.”

“Oh, he didn’t tell me that!”

“About eleven-thirty he’ll be taken up to the roof and at midnight they’ll pick him up.”

“I wish I could be there to see it.”

“No witnesses are allowed. There’s really nothing to see, anyway. The alien spacecraft doesn’t come close enough to see it. They send a beam of light down and pull the condemned man up through it. Don’t ask me how it works.”

“What will they do to him?”

“That’s something we never know. The only thing the aliens promise is that the condemned will be treated humanely.”

“Well, I guess it’s better than frying in the electric chair, isn’t it?”

“Some people think so. It’s a matter of taste, I guess.”

“If it was you, would you choose death in the electric chair or alien abduction?”

“Between you and me. I mean, completely off the record, I think I’d take the electric chair. It’s just too uncertain what they do to humans on an alien planet. They might cook them and eat them. They might use them as laboratory animals. Who knows? They might treat them like kings.”

“Do you know what planet he’ll be on?”

“No, I don’t. If I could pronounce the name, I wouldn’t remember it for five seconds. All I know is that it’s not in this solar system.”

“Since he’s not being electrocuted, I guess there’s a chance that I might see him again someday.”

“I think the chances of that happening are very slim, ma’am. The planet is very, very far away. Even if he’s alive out there somewhere, I think you should probably give up all hope of ever having any contact with him again.”

“He’s always been a rat and a no-good skunk and now he’s a murderer, but I love him in spite of all that. He has his good qualities. He’s a human being, too, you know.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Maybe someday in fifty or sixty years, if I live that long, I’ll look up and see him coming toward me on the street and he’ll look just the same as he does now.”

“I guess you might say that anything is possible, ma’am.”

“I don’t suppose you could bring him to the phone and let me tell him goodbye, could you?”

“I’m afraid not, ma’am. That’s against regulations.”

“Of course. You have your regulations.”

“The time for goodbyes is past.”

“You know what? You sound like a really nice person. Kind of sympathetic, like. Not just an unfeeling machine. I’m glad I got you instead of some jerk.”

“I’m the only one here right now, so it’s me or nobody.”

“Well, I’ll be crying myself to sleep tonight, thinking about all the good times my little Clemmie and I had before he went to prison. I hope he has a real nice life on that planet where he’s going. I hope he’ll be with good people where he’ll be treated decent and given a fair shake.”

‘Yes, ma’am.”

“He’s had a hard life here. Since the day he was born. I don’t blame him for choosing alien abduction. Maybe he’ll have it better there than he’s ever had it here.”

“There’s always that chance, I guess, ma’am.”

“Maybe he’ll find a way to get a message to me to let me know how he’s getting along there.”

“It can’t hurt to hope, ma’am.”

“I’ll bet you’ve got a sweet wife, haven’t you?”

“Yes, I do.”


“A boy and a girl.”

“Well, you give them a big hug and a kiss for me, will you?”

“I’ll do that.”

“Before they take Clement tonight, tell him I’m thinking about him. Every night of my life I’ll go outside and when I look at the stars I’ll see him. I know that someday we’ll be together again in the life that comes after this one.”

“All right, ma’am. I’ll tell him.”

“You won’t forget?”

“No, I won’t forget.”

“Well, good night, then. And thank you ever so much for your kindness.”

“Not at all, ma’am. And you have a really pleasant night now. Goodbye.”

Copyright © 2014 by Allen Kopp

Go Home and Forget About Me

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Go Home and Forget About Me image 6

Go Home and Forget About Me ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp 

Nothing so jarring as the ringing of the phone at midnight. Fitzie Garston reached for it before she was fully awake and overturned the lamp and knocked her glasses to the floor where they dodged handily underneath the chest of drawers. She would have to get the yardstick to fish them out.

“Yes!” she said when she had managed to get the receiver over her ear, a little too loud and too eager.

“Mother?” a faraway voice said.


“Nobody calls me that anymore.”

“Who is this?” she asked. “Do you know what time it is?”

“I go by the name Lewis now.”


“I know you were asleep and I’m sorry to startle you this way but I need your help.”

“Where are you?” she asked.

“I’m downtown. Right here in the city.”

“Well, why don’t you come home, then, and…”

“I can’t come home. That’s the problem.”

“What problem?”

“I can’t explain fully now, but I’m being held prisoner in a way.”

“Who’s holding you prisoner?”

“They’re not exactly holding me prisoner, but they’re keeping me here until they get something I have.”

“What is it?”

“It’s a package that I left at your house one day when I stopped by and you were gone.”

“You mean you were here when I was out and I didn’t even know it?”

“I still have the key, mother. Remember?”

“Oh, yes. The key.”

“Are you listening to me? Are you hearing what I’m saying?”


“After we hang up, go into my old room. Go to my old beat-up desk and open the bottom drawer on the right. Have you got that?”

“Bottom drawer on the right.”

“Underneath some old books and things in the drawer is a small, square package wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string. I need you to bring it to me as soon as you can.”

“Do you mean now? Tonight?”

“I’m really sorry to have to ask you to do this, but I’m afraid there’s no other way.”

“What’s in the package?”

“I can’t tell you now, except to say that it’s terribly important.”

“I think I should call the police.”

“No! Don’t do that! That’s the worst thing you could do right now.”


“You don’t want to know. Just believe me when I say it’s better not to get the police involved.”

“You’re in some kind of trouble, aren’t you?”

“Brilliant deduction, mother.”

“I wish your father were here. He would know what to do.”

“Get dressed, get the package out of the drawer in my room and  bring it to me. After this is all over, we’ll have a nice visit and I’ll explain the whole thing.”

“All right, Lloyd.”

“My name is Lewis now. Try to remember that. And don’t drive your car down here.”

“Why not?”

“It can be traced and, besides, you’re not familiar with the streets in this part of the city and you’ll get lost. That’s the last thing we need right now.”

“I could take the bus.”

“Buses stop running at midnight. I think the only thing for you to do is to call a cab. That’s better than the bus anyway, isn’t it? More comfortable?”

“I suppose so.”

“You won’t fail me now, will you?”

“No, I’ll do what you ask. It’s just that…”

“Just what?”

“I don’t like going out by myself this time of night.”

“Don’t be a goose, mother. The cab driver will be with you the whole time. Just tell him to bring you to the Imperial Hotel at the corner of Ninth and Dominion. Will you remember that?”

“Ninth and Dominion.”

“That’s right.”

“That’s the slums, isn’t it? The poor part of the city they used to call Skid Row?”

“You’ll be fine mother, believe me. You’ll be back home in less than an hour and back in bed. I’ll come around tomorrow and we’ll talk the whole thing over.”

“All right.”

“Now when you get to the hotel, come up the stairs to room three-twelve. I don’t think the night clerk will give you any trouble, but if he does tell him you’re delivering a package.”

“Dominion Hotel, Ninth and Imperial, room three-twelve.”

“No, mother! The Imperial Hotel at Ninth and Dominion! Go get a pencil and some paper and write it down.”

“I don’t need to write it down. I’ll remember.”

“Are you sure?”


“And don’t let yourself be distracted. I’m counting on you.”

When she hung up the phone, she kept repeating the words I’m counting on you over and over in her head. He had counted on her so many times before and she had always come through for him, but wasn’t it terribly unfair that she had never been able to count on him for anything?

He had always been a difficult boy. Always in some trouble or other. Not like anybody else in the family. Suspensions from school for fighting and stealing. Finished high school in juvenile detention. After school, in and out of jail. His mother and father didn’t know what to do with him. He blamed her for Lloyd being the way he was; she coddled him too much, he claimed. She had two children die before Lloyd was born. When Lloyd came along, she wanted to make sure he had every advantage that a mother could give him. She wanted the world to love him as much as she did. She spoiled him, gave him money, always bought him anything in the world he wanted, put him above every other consideration. And what good did any of it do? She was a failure as a mother. In her more despairing moments, she believed she would have been better off if he had died, too. Still, though, she was his mother, and she would do whatever she needed to do to help him.

In the long intervals that she didn’t hear from Lloyd, she subscribed to the no-news-is-good-news theory. He would be all right, she said. He just needed to grow up, and when he did he would be the kind of son she always wanted him to be. He would come back home and live with her. She would cook and clean for him and make his life as comfortable and secure as she knew how. And when it was time for her to leave the world he would be there to see to things, to call up the funeral home, to mourn for her and to see that she was placed in the grave alongside his father. And on the other side of her grave was a grave waiting for him to claim as his own when the time came, if only he wanted it.

After dressing herself in dark-colored, going-downtown-after-midnight clothing, she went into Lloyd’s room and retrieved the package from the desk drawer. She placed it in a brown canvas book bag to make it easier to carry and went downstairs and called a cab, which arrived in less than five minutes.

Sitting in the back seat of the cab, she paid little attention to the labyrinth of dark streets, and in a few minutes the cab pulled up in front of the Imperial Hotel at Ninth and Dominion. She paid the driver and got out and the cab sped away. As easy as if she did it all the time.

The lobby of the hotel was deserted. She slipped past the desk clerk, who seemed not to notice her, and went silently up the stairs to the third floor. She found room three-twelve and knocked.

“Who is it?” a voice called from behind the door.

“Is Lloyd Garston here?” she said.


“His name is Lloyd but he goes by the name Lewis.”

The door opened suddenly with a creak of hinges, startling her. A man whose face she could barely see in the dim light faced her. “Who did you say you’re looking for?” he asked.

“His name is Lloyd but he says he goes by the name of Lewis now.”

“It’s her,” the man said over his shoulder to someone else in the room.

“Let her in,” a deep voice said.

She found herself in a shabbily neat room with two large beds and two windows. One of the windows was open, a curtain billowing in the wind. Over to the right was a round table with chairs. A man sat alone at the table smoking a cigarette. He was middle-aged, balding, a small moustache.

“Come in,” he said, motioning for her to sit at the table.

“Is Lloyd here?” she asked.

“I don’t know no Lloyd,” he said.

“Lewis, then. Is Lewis here?”

“Well, he’s on the premises, but he ain’t in the room, as you can see.”

“I’m his mother. I have a package that he says is very important to him.”

“Do you know what’s in the package?”


“What if I was to tell you there’s nothing in the package but some useless papers?”

“I don’t understand.”

He laughed and stubbed out his cigarette, lit another one. “Would you like a drink?” he asked.

“I’d like a drink of water,” she said.

“Get the lady a glass of water,” he said to the man who had opened the door. “And make sure the glass is clean!”

When he brought her the water, she sat in the chair at the table and took a long time drinking it, stalling somehow, as if she might put off something terrible that she believed was going to happen.

“I want to see him,” she said.

“Not so fast!” the man at the table said. “You’ll see him. You just have to be patient.”

“I brought the package that he says he has to have and I want to give it to him myself.”

“All right. All right.”

He went to a phone between the two beds and picked up the receiver. “Bring him down,” he said.

In a couple of minutes the door opened and Lewis came into the room, accompanied by a very young man with a gun. Lewis’s hands were tied, but the young man untied them, keeping the gun in view all the time.

“Hello, mother,” Lewis said.

“Lloyd!” she said, standing up and taking a step toward him. “What is this all about?”

“I’m sorry to drag you into this,” Lewis said, “but I had no other choice.”

“You look terrible.”

“I know. I’ve been through a bad time.”

“Why? What’s the matter?”

“This bum owes me a bundle of money is what’s the matter,” the man at the table said with a smile.

“Why do you own him money?” she asked Lewis.

“It seems that our little friend was bitten by the gambling bug and his luck hasn’t been so very good lately.”


“Yeah, you know. Cards and dog racing and stuff like that.”

“Oh, Lloyd!” she said. “Is there any vice you haven’t been lured into?”

“My name is Lewis now. I told you that on the phone. I never liked the name Lloyd. It never did fit me.”

She took the package out of the bag and set it on the table. “I brought you this,” she said. “I hope it’s what you need to get yourself out of the trouble you’re in.”

“Thanks, mother, but I’m afraid it’s just a prop.”

“A prop? What do you mean?”

“The package isn’t anything. It was just an excuse to get you to come down here.”

“Why did you need an excuse?”

“It was my idea,” the man at the table said. “What mother wouldn’t come to the aid of her child? Calling after midnight, when you know the old lady is sure to be asleep, was just a little extra touch to make it more dramatic, if you know what I mean.”

She sat back down in the chair, beginning to see the picture. “How much?” she asked.

“Altogether about a hundred and ten thousand,” the man at the table said. “It’s really more than that, but I’m giving the kid a break since me and him are such great pals.”

“We were never pals,” Lewis said with a sneer.

“You expect me to pay the money,” she said.

“Lewis said he was sure you had the dough and would pay it willingly to save his life.”

“I’m sorry, mother,” Lewis said. “There was just no other place I could look to for that kind of money.”

“What if I don’t pay it?” she asked.

“Then this is the last time you see your son.”

“You kill people over a hundred and ten thousand dollars?”

“When it’s that much we do. If it was less—say a few thousand—we’d just rough him up, maybe break a couple of bones, and throw him in a ditch.”

“I’m going to the police.”

“And it wouldn’t do you a bit of good.”

“What if he gave you part of the money now and the rest later?”

“I’ve already tried that, mother,” Lewis said.

“We don’t work that way,” the man at the table said. “We get all of our money that’s owed to us and we get it all in one lump.”

“That seems terribly unfair.”

“We’ll give you a couple of days to raise the money. We’re not animals. Mortgage your house or do whatever you have to do. And in the meantime we’ll keep Lewis here with us where he’s safe.”

“I don’t want you to do it, mother,” Lewis said.


“I know I’ve been nothing but trouble all my life and I don’t want to go on this way. I don’t mind dying. I deserve it.”

“I’ll pay it,” she said.

“I knew you would,” the man at the table said, “or I don’t know nothing about human nature.”

“Please don’t pay it, mother!” Lewis said. “Just get yourself a cab and go home and forget about me!”

“I’ll have the money for you within forty-eight ours,” she said to the man at the table. “Just tell me where you want it delivered.”

“No!” Lewis said.

He grabbed the gun that the young man was holding and pointed it at his head and pulled the trigger. The concussion knocked him over against the wall.

The man at the table stood up, knocking over the chair he was sitting in, and ran out of the room as though escaping a fire. The other two men, the man who had opened the door and the young man with the gun, ran out after him. The young man first picked up the gun where it had landed after Lewis shot himself.

She was alone in the room with her son. She knelt beside him and cradled his head in her arms, not minding the blood.

“I’m glad,” he said. “This is the best thing that could happen.”

“Don’t try to talk, Lloyd” she said. “An ambulance will be here in no time and you’ll be all right.”

“No, no, no,” he said. “Not Lloyd. Lewis. I need you to remember that.”

“What’s money compared to your own child?” she said, but she knew he had stopped breathing and didn’t hear.

Copyright © 2014 by Allen Kopp

The Lament for Icarus ~ A Painting by Henry James Draper

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The Lament for Icarus by Herbert James Draper

The Lament for Icarus by Henry James Draper

Herbert James Draper was an English Classicist painter who lived from 1863 to 1920.

The Lament for Icarus (1898) is Draper’s most famous painting. It shows Icarus from Greek mythology, surrounded by lamenting sea nymphs. His father, Daedalus, makes wings out of wax so that he and Icarus can escape from the island of Crete. Icarus flies too near the sun, though, and he plunges to his death when the wings melt.

The Hundred-Foot Journey ~ A Capsule Movie Review

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The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp 

An Indian family, the Kadams (father, three grown children and two smaller children), are displaced from their home and restaurant business in Mumbai, India, due to political unrest. Traveling in France, looking for a place to call home, they decide to stay in the little French village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val after their van breaks down near there. After living in the village for a while, they open a restaurant and call it Maison Mumbai. One of the grown sons in the family, Hassan, will be the chef. Hassan learned everything about being a chef from his deceased mother and is really good at which he does, but how will an ethnic restaurant fare in such an obviously traditional place, especially since right across the road is an established restaurant run by one Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren)?

Right away Madame Mallory is not happy about having an Indian restaurant so near her own establishment. She doesn’t like the music, the bright lights, the gaudy embellishments and the disruption. A sort of war erupts between the two restaurants, with Madame Mallory playing little tricks on the Kadams such as buying up all the crayfish from the market, while the Kadams counter with trying to lure some of Madame Mallory’s customers away. When Maison Mumbai is firebombed and Hassan’s hands are injured in trying to put out the fire, Madame Mallory suspects that one of her employees is behind the incident. She fires him and decides it’s time for her and the Kadams to come to some kind of an arrangement whereby they might all peacefully co-exist.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is about the clash of two cultures and how those cultures might benefit each other by way of a little understanding. The romantic complications are predictable and resolve themselves predictably. Since Hassan is handsome and young, he just has to have a love affair with a pretty French girl, doesn’t he? (The girl is a rival chef, so that adds another dimension to the story.) Toward the end of the story when Madame Mallory and Papa Kadam seem to be drifting toward each other romantically, it’s a little bit cringe-inducing, especially since there seems to be so little chemistry between them.

The accents in The Hundred-Foot Journey are difficult to understand for people who speak American, but if you like European-based “art” films and are a fan of Helen Mirren, you’ll probably enjoy this movie enough to make it worth the time and effort. The food is exotic and pretty to look at, even if you don’t know what it is. What is that purple thing that looks like the bottom half of a bird? Do I eat it or display it on my mantel?

Copyright © 2014 by Allen Kopp


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