Category Archives: Films

The Words

Maybe I’ve been living under a rock; I just saw a trailer for the new movie The Words. As a writer, any movie trailer that puts that much emphasis on words intrigues me.

From the site: Starring Bradley Cooper, Oscar®-winner Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde and Zoë Saldana, the layered romantic drama The Words follows young writer Rory Jansen who finally achieves long sought after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There’s only one catch – he didn’t write it.  As the past comes back to haunt him and his literary star continues to rise, Jansen is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man’s work and for placing ambition and success above life’s most fundamental three words.

I’m definitely going to see this, but I predict that because of its subject, it won’t exactly be a blockbuster.

Abraham Lincoln: CGI porn – a post written by my friend Hobbes

Imagine someone made a porno about Abraham Lincoln.  Replace the sex scenes with CGI action sequences.  Throw in an undeservedly large production budget, and you’ve got Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Except the porno at least would have been funny.

Given the outrageous title and premise, you might expect a zany, campy romp through history.  Nope.  Not a laugh in sight.  The non-action scenes are as dull and solemn as a documentary about the Pope – except it’s not educational, either.
Going into the movie I wondered how they were going to make such an crazy idea work.  As it turns out, they don’t.
The secret-life-of theme works best when it adheres closely to historical reality, and then fills in the bits lost to history with speculation, ideally leaving you with a sense of plausibility, given the underlying premise.  This movie doesn’t make the slightest effort to creatively fit the fiction to the fact; it just takes the lazy way out, rewriting damn near everything we already know about Lincoln and the Civil War to make room for its uninspired plot.  Some examples:
-Lincoln’s mother and son didn’t die tragically of illnesses – they were killed by vampires.
-Jefferson Davis secretly enlisted vampires to fight for the Confederacy, and one scene even shows the charging rebels (who are actually vampires) turning suddenly invisible right before the astonished eyes of the soon-to-be-routed Union troops – leaving students of the Civil War to wonder why a force with immunity to normal weapons, superhuman strength and the power of invisibility didn’t go on to take Cemetary Hill that day.
-Lincoln never dated Anne Rutledge, but adhered to the life of monkish celibacy required to hunt vampires until meeting Mary Todd – at which point the celibacy requirement conveniently went away.
-Mary Todd Lincoln herself did not become an erratic, depressed neurotic after the death of her son, but a strong, Rosie-the-Riveter sort of wartime hero who by the way kicked some vampire butt of her own.
Oh, and as to how Abe discovered his inner Buffy powers: a little-known fact about humans is that Joe Average can chop down an 80-foot pine with one swing of an axe as long as he has enough *hate* in his heart to channel into the effort.  (Well, at least the movie doesn’t commit the error of moral pandering.)
I won’t even bother getting into the poorly-scripted dialogue and equally poor acting.  The cinematography is mediocre, about on a par with the old Dukes of Hazzard TV series.  Honestly, the only thing that *doesn’t* suck about this movie is the CGI.

People watch pornos for the sex: lousy script, bad acting, who cares.  This movie is like that.  If you’re into CGI porn, go for it.  If you’d rather see a decent movie, this isn’t one.

Harry Potter Hype by a Non-fan

What is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 like if you aren’t a fan? This is the blog of a woman on a mission.  A mission to see the show after not having seen any of the films or read any of the books since the first of each.

Disclaimer: This was my third stop of the evening and I had a huge tanker of beer sitting between me and my incredibly attractive date.

While my earlier Harry Potter post may lead you to believe I’m one of you trendy Harry Potter-loving nerds, I’m not; the truth is that I’m just a big admirer of J.K. Rowling’s business acumen. I’m not not a fan, mind you – I just read the first book, said, “It’s cute,” and shelved the thing. I didn’t think the movie was cute at all. I thought it was downright disappointing after the vibrant world that I’d imagined, chalked it up to the way of things, and moved on.

Well, here’s what I thought of the movie: It was flashy, visually mesmerizing, and it really ticked me off because I just found out that Ron and Hermoine are together. Um, excuse me? Emma Watson is much, much too cute for Ron or Rupert Grint (apologies to Rupert and all of his cult followers), and I hope that in some of the upcoming releases, she realizes this and kicks him to the curb. Hermoine is obviously meant to be with Harry. (Ginny who? He doesn’t even hang out with Ginny, she just makes random appearances when nothing important is going on.) Harry and Hermoine, now- power with depth, and a much shorter attractiveness gap to bridge.

As a standalone movie, this really wasn’t half bad, but I guess the other pieces of the puzzle might enrich it further. Here’s my conundrum: I didn’t like the first movie (though the book was alright) but I liked the last a lot. Do I read the books or watch the movies, or leave it alone now that it’s over and the Libran-o-meter has tipped towards “like”?

By the way…. do these make anyone else anywhere on this whole planet think of Narnia?

Reading Material for the Season

I loved reading ‎the Hunger Games. I picked it up on the recommendation of a friend and took to it in ‎keeping part of my current favorite genre -preteen fiction. As novels go, I do love me some ‎good Tom Clancy and Charles Dickins is peerless, but I have really come to enjoy the lightness ‎and ease of kids’ books. ‎

As Summer reading goes, this one is a real stand out piece that will satisfy your thirst for ‎action, tension, interpersonal drama, a little bit of romance and science fiction. What it won’t ‎do is last for more than a few days.

It’s a lightning fast read, so once you’ve devoured this set, ‎here are a few comparably enjoyable works of the genre:‎

‎We Have Always Lived in the Castle‎

Written by Shirley Jackson 1962‎

This is a disturbing tale of two sisters and their uncle who live holed up in their house, rarely ‎leaving for fear of the other inhabitants of their ordinary-seeming neighborhood. The backstory ‎is that some years before the story, their family had several other members murdered over ‎dinner one night. The prime suspect was the elder sister, but she got off on some lack of ‎evidence. The town never believed in her innocence, and deep animosity developed between ‎the surviving trio and their neighbors, a problem which is augmented by the psychosis of the ‎younger sister who narrates the book. ‎

A Single Shard‎

Linda Sue Park 2001‎

If personality studies and local color appeal to you, then you should check out some Linda Sue ‎Park. A Single Shard is the story of an orphan boy in ancient Korea who takes on work assisting ‎a potter in his village. Of all Ms. Parks’ excellent books, this one stands out especially to me ‎because of the endearing lead character. Orphan stories are hit or miss; they can be very sappy ‎or charming, and this one is well written.‎

‎The Thief of Always‎
Clive Barker 1992‎

If you like a story with a little of the creepy factor, Clive Barker has penned some decently dark ‎material. The Thief of Always is a monster that lures bored children in and devours them. ‎Reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, there is no explanation for the creature, except that it ‎seemingly exists to feed off little boys and girls who aren’t satisfied with what they have. It’s ‎unsettling like Pinnochio.‎

‎The Boy Who Reversed Himself‎
William Sleator 1986‎

Ignore the hideous cover. This is science fiction about a suburban girl named Laura. She ‎reluctantly befriends a neighbor boy whom, she learns, is somehow entrusted with ‎communication with the fourth dimension. Yes indeed. Alien creatures and strange landscapes ‎in tow, the fourth dimension is described as a set of directions which are so inaccessible to ‎common 3D humans that they can exist around us like a whole other world without our even ‎noticing. It’s creative and a fun read.‎

Catching Fire – More Hunger Games!

Katniss Everdeen lives in a dangerous world. Her district is one of twelve that is punished yearly for a previous uprising against the imperialism of the City of Panem by a perverse lottery which lands those teens whose names are drawn in a televised fight to the death, and for the impoverished families of the districts to gain further coal and grain allotments to survive, the children must enter must enter multiple times.

Spoiler Alert! If you don’t want the details from me, just buy the book, already, and read it yourself! I know many bookstores are sold out, but you can download it!

Katniss has already survived the Hunger Games once, along with Peeta Mellark, the good-hearted young man from her district that confessed to being madly in love with her before the games. Instead of being free to survive in peace with her extra supply of food, fuel and acclaim as they expected, the Capitol is furious that they have made the government appear foolish by humanizing the contestants with their refusal to kill one another, and neither of them are safe. Will they be thrown back into the arena again?

And what of Gale, her lifelong friend and hunting partner, who also has feelings for Katniss?

This book is equally as fascinating as the first, and even more fraught with tension and intrigue. Read it, read it!

The Hunger Games

I read this book in one night. And the second the next night. And the third, the one after that. Riveting, to the point of addictiveness. After being rendered virtually incapable of entertaining any thought outside the arena of these books for three days, all I have to say is that Suzanne Collins is a very talented lady. Granted, her plots aren’t unpredictable for those of us that read plenty of post-apocalyptic literature, but the way she writes! With a style similar to that of Margaret Atwood, but aimed toward a much younger target audience, these books are accessible and engaging for nearly any reader.

Since I was turned on to the books by my dear friend, Kirinjirafa, let me give you her take on The Hunger Games:

 With the impending end of two wildly popular book/movie series, it’s no wonder Hollywood has been quick to jump on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.  

This post-apocalyptic sci-fi follows sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen through a life or death survival contest.  The plot is rich in action and pathos; it’s easy to get pulled into the story, and hard to put the book down once you’ve started.

 Collins has an arresting technique in creating an instantly recognizable fantasy world. Her likeable main character is far from the stereotypical teenager without any compromise in believabilityEvery step Katniss takes in the book seems exactly as it should be. The environment around her rings true as well; for instance, the first ominous mention of “the reaping” occurs within a few paragraphs of the beginning, and we are immediately disconcerted. The reader can worry about the event without having to know what it is.

As a stand-alone piece of work, it’s a great investment of both the time and money.  Having read this first installment in the set, I’m already looking forward to the movie and hoping that the next two can deliver as much impact.  

Tune in tomorrow for my take on Catching Fire, the second book in the trilogy. And tune in each week for the next 5 weeks for Kirinjirafa’s thoughts on more exciting Summer Reading!

Harry Potter Returns?

Are you sitting down for this? Good. J. K. Rowling has announced [insert dramatic pause here] that her new site, Pottermore will open to the public at large in October with new DRM-free ebooks, downloadable to any digital device. You just fell off your broom, didn’t you?

And, the twist- there’s a “chance” to get in early. I guess we’ll all wait for the golden ticket. Meanwhile, brace yourself for another couple months of internet fan-fic.