A Book And A Movie



This book is so good…

That I don’t want to tell you a single thing about it.

Now it’s fiction. So for those looking for instructions, the tome of a billionaire, this is not where you want to go. And if you’re looking for mystery, or macho, this is not a genre book. What it is is a story of a family, over generations. But it’s different from those heavy, multi-decade slogs. There are twists and turns, unexpected things happen. But mostly, you can relate, if not to individual characters, then the humanity.

“The Latecomer” is not highbrow, but it’s not lowbrow either.

It’s not short, it’s long enough for you to marinate and luxuriate in.

This is what you’re looking for in a reading experience, at least I am. Something that calls out to you, that you can’t wait to get back to, that is better than almost everything else happening in your everyday life.

It’s an adventure, it’s a journey.

You’ll be hooked right way…

Or you won’t.

I was surprised I got into it from the very first page. For a minute there, about two-thirds through, I thought it was going to disappoint me, but then it got back up to speed and… I wish there were more books like this.



This is the Sundance hit that was purchased by Apple for $15 million.

If you don’t have an Apple TV+ account already I do not recommend signing up just for this. But if you do…

Do you like Duplass Brothers movies?

It started a while back with Mumblecore. Greta Gerwig crossed over from that genre. These are films about people, situations, they aren’t made to be blockbusters and they aren’t. But they resonate the way most big screen product does not.

So what we’ve got here is an auteur… Cooper Raiff. Who wrote, directed and stars in the film. Unfortunately, he’s the worst actor in it, he’s pretty good, but sometimes when he leans his head sideways and smiles…well, let’s just say that he does that too much.

As for the rest of the cast…

Dakota Johnson is a phenomenal actress. I know she’s Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson’s daughter. But I never saw her in “Fifty Shades of Grey,” I haven’t seen almost all of her filmography. But she caught my eye in “The Lost Daughter,” she stood out in a cast of much better known actors. I did research after watching this flick and it turns out she’s Chris Martin’s girlfriend of a couple of years, and she was even a model, and she certainly is good-looking, but that’s not what seals the deal. It’s in her eyes, her smile, the way she looks directly at you, the way she inhabits the character, the way she’s alive. She seems like a girl you went to high school with. Who was not the icon, the good-looking prom queen, but somebody you had classes with, who was approachable, who you knew, who you didn’t get anxious hanging around.

So what we’ve got here is twenty two year old Andrew, who has just graduated from college and is clueless about where he’s going thereafter. He’s got a Tulane girlfriend who’s gone to Barcelona and he dreams of going to visit her there, but…

In the meantime he’s got a minimum wage job and he’s living with his mother and her new husband and his thirteen year old brother. Everybody considers him a loser. And he’s not so sure himself.

You’re supposed to be a world-beater. What happened to him?

His mother has compromised, married someone for security, played by Brad Garrett, who has aged and is better in this than in any other production I’ve ever seen him in. He’s not playing broadly for laughs, like in “Everybody Loves Raymond,” he’s inhabiting the role of a middle-aged person with his nose to the grindstone, who is convinced he knows how life works.

And then there’s the brother, David…

He wants to kiss a girl. This is so well done, he and Margaret have a relationship, which consists of dancing at Bar Mitzvah parties yet not talking. How does he bridge the gap? I remember this anxiety, and in truth I can’t remember my first kiss, but what do you do, how do you do it? Just jump in, ask for permission, or wait for them to speak up, express their desire, the hurdle seems insurmountable.

And Andrew ends up as a party starter at Bar & Bat Mitzvah parties. You know, the one with the toys, who gets everybody up on the dance floor to have a good time.

And there he meets Domino.

Terrible choice of name. That’s Dakota Johnson’s character. She’s a middle class New Jersey denizen, they have conventional names, the ones everybody else does, not monikers that connote a stripper as opposed to a housewife.

And… Andrew becomes fixated on Domino.

This is all in the hype, and it’s obvious, but…

There are so many real elements. 

Ever have a crush on someone older? And wonder if it’s real? And then freak out when you read the signals, when you’re delivered all your hopes and dreams?

This is what it’s like growing up as a man.

Not the kind you see in hip-hop videos.

As a matter of fact, I don’t see myself in any of today’s music or films. Everybody’s either macho, unable to express their inner feelings, or they’re tech nerds with glasses. But a regular guy, not cool, but not an outsider, who has feelings, and is unsure of themselves… That describes most men in America, which is why this film is such a revelation, it nails this!

Come on guys, you can describe every interaction with a woman you’ve ever had. You didn’t go on hundreds of dates, you didn’t score with hundreds of women. But there were a few where it seemed there was mutuality, you felt something between the two of you, and that feels so good, you never forget it.

You might even think back and wonder if you’d played your cards differently…

Or maybe if you hooked up with them today…

But those are fairy tales. People are not static, they evolve. And the reason it didn’t work out in the first place is usually the reason why it wouldn’t work now. But in your mind, you savor these moments, when you think about them you feel complete, equal to any other man on the planet. Yes, that woman you desired desired you, was into you! That’s better than any car, any watch, any physical object.

And this movie gets that across.

You’ll laugh out loud. At least I did.

But it’s not a complete comedy, there are serious elements.

It’s not a Judd Apatow film, even though his wife, Leslie Mann, is in it. Apatow’s films are comedies with a splash of heaviness thrown in, to make the point. Whereas as light as “Cha Cha Real Smooth” can be, there are moments of reality sprinkled throughout, this is not complete fantasy, you can see yourself, or someone like you, in the film.

In other words, this is a Duplass Brothers movie. In style. You may not have seen their films, but you might have seen their series on HBO, “Togetherness,” starring Melanie Lynskey, Amanda Peet and Mark Duplass himself. That got canceled. What did Jack Nicholson say, “you can’t handle the truth”?

But some people are only looking for the truth. And there is truth in “Cha Cha Real Smooth.” It’s imperfect, but I’d rather watch stuff like this than “Star Wars” spinoffs and Marvel movies any day of the week. As a matter of fact, I don’t even bother with those productions, I don’t want mindless escape, I want to feel like I’m part of the world, that I’m not alone, the only one thinking what I do.

Maybe you feel the same way too.

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