31 July 2014

July Movies

Nebraska: B and I both liked this one. Kinda sad story about aging and life and loss of expectation.  a 6.

Nothing Lasts Forever: have you heard about the "lost" Bill Murray movie from the '80's?  this is it.  I watched it so you don't have to!   it was pretty bad. Bill Murray as a flight attendant on a flight to the moon was the best thing in it.  Dan Akroyd as an armed tunnel worker was the second best thing.  The story was nonsensical.  a 2.

Room 237:  a documentary about all the theories people have about what The Shining was really about.  It was fascinating.  The filmmaker never showed the various people but only had their audio playing over Kubrick films, The Shining and others.  Every theorist was so sure their theory was correct and never questioned that the fact that they believed it.  But each person saw their theory from their own background.  The guy who was a WW2 history scholar saw the movie as a Holocaust film.  The guy who grew up in the western US saw it as an indictment of America's treatment of Native Americans.  Really interesting.  a 5. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wonderful Wes Anderson movie.  While this movie had a pretty tight focus on the two main characters, it still explored Anderson's theme of families of choice.  It was beautifully acted and had amazing sets.  a 7.

White House Down:  Ok action movie, liked it better than Olympus Has Fallen even though Channing Tatum can't act.  a 4. 

The Bourne Legacy:  Better action movie. Jeremy Renner can act!  a 5.

Captain Phillips:  a movie that B said "was disturbing".  It is disturbing, though I can't quite put my finger on why.  You feel bad for everybody involved and I'm not sure you're supposed to?  a 6. 

Fargo: Not the movie but the TV show.  I tore through it over a weekend.  I absolutely loved it.  I loved the good guys, the bad guys, and even the idiots in between.  I enjoyed how my sympathies changed over the course of the series.  a 7.

19 July 2014

Middle Grade Batch

Quickies! 

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman- of course this one was awesome.  really funny story about a dad's adventures when he goes out for milk for the kids' breakfast.  a 6. 

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen- A perfect "boy" book.  Teen boy is the only survivor of a light plane crash.  He has to survive in the woods of Canada alone, with a hatchet as his only tool.  I thought the ending was a little too deus ex machina but on the whole it was not bad.  a 5.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis: book about an African American girl, Deza Malone, growing up during the Depression.  This wasn't a book for me.  The girl is our first person narrator but never really does anything, just speaks about all the things that happen around her.  She's very naive. Also, she kept saying "geologically" when she meant "geographically" and it really got on my nerves.  a 4.

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell: trying to review this now I can't remember most of the plot.  Emmy is a girl who's been more or less abandoned by her rich parents.  She has an evil nanny taking care of her.  The class rat begins talking to her and Emmy sets him free, which starts all the adventure of the book. I guess since I can't remember what happened besides the very basic facts, I must not have liked it that much.  a 4. 




15 July 2014

Two novels, Intertwined by Theme

I read two books recently that I felt were a wonderful pair to read at the same time.  Both take place in England and cover portions of the 20th Century.  Both concentrate on women's rights, roles, and expectations during this time.  Both were fantasy/sci-fi novels that deal with multiple lifetimes. 



 My Real Children by Jo Walton is the shorter book.  Patricia was born in 1926 and it is now 2015.  She now has dementia and lives in a nursing home.  She's remembering back over her life but remembers two separate lives.  In one, she got married young, left her work behind, had a miserable marriage and four children.  In the other, she didn't get married, entered a long-term relationship with a woman, was incredibly happy, and had three children.  It isn't just her personal history that is different.  In the married timeline, things for the world are better: the Cold War ended earlier, people were more accepting (gay marriage became legal) and there are moon colonies.  In the unmarried timeline, things were definitely worse: there was a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia, the moon has missiles on it. 


Life after Life by Kate Atkinson is more intricate.  It takes place a little earlier; Ursula was born in 1910.  She keeps dying though and restarting her life, sometimes living longer, sometimes dying earlier. Like in a video game, if you had to start at the very beginning whenever you died. She has a few childhood problems (the Spanish flu throws her for a loop) but it is really World War 2 that much of the book takes place.  She lives it on both sides, German and British. 

I guess what struck me were the severe limits placed on women's lives and how hard things were for them.  I mean, I know, logically, that things were very different back then, but just seeing how awfully Patricia and Ursula are treated in parts of their various timelines was kinda shocking.  It makes me just want to go around and hug women over 60.  

I really enjoyed both books.  I really recommend both!  Each gets a 7!