Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Movie:  The Adjustment Bureau
Like/Don't Like:  Liked

This had all the right elements - an interesting story, good acting (I like that Emily Blunt.  I think she has spunk.), and a fast pace without being too fast that it confuses you.

Matt Damon plays a political hopeful who's life takes a turn he did not expect.  He later finds out the source of that unexpected turn in the form of men in suits and fedoras who call themselves the Adjustment Bureau.  They've been making slight alterations to his life course and he's fighting against it in order to stay with Emily Blunt.  It was way more romantic than I expected (I was anticipating a straight action flick), but when do I complain about romance?  I thought it was sweet.

Now lets, just for a moment, give three cheers for suits and fedoras!  I'm going to sound 80 here but don't you wish men wore suits more often?  They just look so sharp.  And you cannot go wrong with a gray fedora.  It's a class act all the way.

The House at Riverton

Book:  The House at Riverton
Author:  Kate Morton
Like/Don't Like:  If only I had known I would be so bored with it I would have quit reading

Let's talk about foreshadowing for a sec.  I feel it is a device bested used in small, subtle amounts.  If it's going to be used it needs to be just enough to give the reader an inkling that something is coming without making them try to guess what that something is through the entire story.  One of my least favorite phrases to read in a novel is, "If only we had known what we know now." It gives the entire book away.  Suddenly, I know that there's going to be a twist so I miss out on it because I'm anticipating it. When a twist comes I want to be so surprised that I go back and reread it to catch any hints that might have been there.  What I don't want to do is shrug.  There was a lot of shrugging going on while I was reading.   

So there was a lot of foreshadowing in this book.  And absolutely zero surprises.  Which made reading it a bit of a drag.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  You don't even know what it's about.  This 98 year old woman Grace is recounting her time as a maid in a big fancy English house during and just after World War I.  She is intrigued by and mysteriously drawn to the family she is serving and the story really becomes more about them than her.  There are quite a number of subplots and characters, none of them adding anything to the actual story.  There is a lot of telling and not a lot of doing.  All that foreshadowing felt like a weak substitute for what was happening in the moment - which was very little.  There just wasn't a whole lot of action.  And I could barely muster any feelings for the characters.  They were so underdeveloped, I felt like they were just there to move the story along and get to the big climactic ending - which wasn't nearly as climactic as it could have been.  The whole thing felt really contrived and a lot was sacrificed for an ending that was a let down.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bombay Bistro

Restaurant:  Bombay Bistro
Location:  8851 Central Ave., Montclair CA  91763
Like/Don't Like:  Delicious

This is another Restaurant Club pick.  And like all that came before it, there were a lot of things to love.  Specifically their ginger garlic coconut sauce that we had in two of the dishes.  So tasty!  We ordered garlic naan, lamb kabab, chicken tikka masala, chicken shaquidi, aloo gobi, and malai kofta.  The naan was not as garlicky as I like it, and the lamb kabab was a little overcooked although the flavor was terrific.  Everything else was fantastic.  The sauces were so good, really balanced and you can have as much or as little spice as you like.  We asked for something between mild and medium and all agreed it was just right.  The service was great and the prices weren't that bad.  They have a lunch buffet for $9 which could be a real bargain and a great way to sample everything. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

84 Charing Cross Road

Book:  84 Charing Cross Road
Author:  Helene Hanff
Like/Don't Like:  Loved.  So loved.

Katie, remembering my love for the movie, found a copy of the book at the going-out-of-business sale at Borders this afternoon and brought it home to me.  Within an hour it was read and wept over. 

This slim volume of a decades long correspondence between an American writer and a British bookseller is in every way a charmer.  Helene is spunky and sassy and loves books.  And Frank has that dry British wit that kills me.  It is so sweet to see their friendship develop over the years.  It made me wish I had a long running correspondence with someone.  Any takers?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Angels and Demons

Movie:  Angels and Demons
Like/Don't Like:  Rome - like.  History lesson and icky things - don't like.

Wait, didn't this movie come out like a gajillion years ago?  Right.  It did.  But it takes me a while to get around to things.  I'm the late bloomer of movie watching.

Anyway, this movie would have been a little unbearable for me had it not been set in Rome.  I love Rome.  Have I told you that?  I've been to so few places in the world but Rome is one of them and, I don't know, maybe it was all the gelato and pasta I ate, but I think it's a magical place.  Nearly every scene was set somewhere I'd strolled through and at the end I called up my traveling companion Cynde and screamed, "Have you seen Angels and Demons?  That scene where the priest gets burned alive? It's in the chapel we were nearly killed in front of by a speeding yellow Ferrari being chased by the police!"

But that, my friends, was its only redeeming quality for me.  Fond memories of gelato and near death experiences.  It also stirred up other memories - the ones from when I read the Davinci Code and said out loud on multiple occasions, "ENOUGH, you enormous wind bag!"  Because if Robert Langdon isn't the most insufferable character out there, I don't know who is.  Nobody likes a no-it-all.  It was one thing in a book to expound upon everything, because information needs to be given and there's plenty of time and space to give it in.  But it's a joke in a movie.  When the only dialogue there is consists entirely of information to catch you up on the Illuminati, arcane Catholic protocol, and ancient religious shenanigans, the movie is going to struggle.  Plus, it was predictable.  I guessed the bad guy from the start.  And many of the plot points in between.

But oh, those memories of gelato.  Let's all go to Rome!

The Help

Movie:  The Help
Like/Don't Like:  As with the book - Liked (ish)

I completely forgot that I saw this movie last week (which, I suppose isn't much of a recommendation).  I felt about it pretty much the same way as I did about the book - it could have been cut down.  And it solidified a feeling I had about the book that I didn't recognize when I read it - it could have gone deeper.  Maybe I would have been fine with the length if hadn't painted everyone so ... (oh, heavens, I just about typed "black and white." how about...) one dimensional.  This is such a complex issue and everyone seemed to be clearly on one side of the fence or the other.  It could have used a little depth.

But that being said, it was still a decent film.  I laughed, I cried (because when don't I cry, and also, racism - gar!  It makes me want to spit.)  There were some legitimate moments in it that made it worthwhile.