Monday, January 9, 2012

Super 8

Movie:  Super 8
Like/Don't Like:  Like - despite all the times I had to a cover my eyes

How did I not know that this is a scary alien movie?  I'm usually really up on these sorts of things, but I started watching this and was all, "Oh, early teen boys are so hilarious.  Elle Fanning has princess hair," which then turned to, "EEEEEKKKKKK!!!!!  Scary alien!!!!!!"  You all know what a delicate flower I am when it comes to scary things like aliens and guns and explosions.  I was tense through the last hour of the movie.

But it was still a really cool flick.  And I give that all to the kids.  Movie aliens have no problem eating adults.  But kids are generally safe in a PG-13 film.  I felt confident that none of them would have their guts sucked out.  Plus, I meant it about teen boys.  They're a riot.  It was a nice story with funny characters and cool effects.  It felt exactly like what a JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg movie should be.  Complete with too many lens flares (oh, JJ Abrams, enough! with those lens flares.  I nearly had an epileptic fit during Star Trek.)  And it had heart.  I liked that the alien other reasons for being so destructive other than just wanting to destroy Earth.  I suppose I'm grateful I didn't know it would freak me out so much because I never would have watched it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Captain America

Movie:  Captain America
Like/Don't Like:  Liked.  Truly.

This is the kind of action movie I can get behind - the kind where the weapons vaporize people instead of leaving bloody messes all over the place.  That way, I can imagine them being transported into a field of daisies and ice cream trucks.

Anyway, I actually did like it for more than just that.  There were some funny bits and the action wasn't too gratuitous (I get so bored with things blowing up) and it was packed with great actors (I love both Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones) and surprise cameos like that one guy who played Henry Tilney in that one version of Northanger Abbey I like, and that other guy who plays Willoughby in that one version of Sense & Sensibility that I like, and "IS THAT RICHARD ARMITAGE!!!???"  Which is what Katie shouted while I was busy looking down at my knitting and I had to rewind to verify.  Yes it was.  In a suit with retro glasses.  Sigh. 

The ending leaves a little to be desired because they're setting up for the Avengers, which I'm surprisingly looking forward to.  But it was action packed and fun to watch.  And all those people who were vaporized are now enjoying a refreshing Choco Taco in that field of daisies.

Thornfield Hall

Book:  Thornfield Hall
Author:  Emma Tennant
Like/Don't Like:  Wretched

Someone must have given this to me because in general if I'm going to pick up a knock-off of a classic (particularly of one I know so well as I do Jane Eyre) it has to come highly recommended.  But this has been sitting in my stack of to-be-read books for a very long time and I thought, oh, why not, and dove in.

I'll tell you why not.  It was rubbish. 

I love Jane Eyre.  If I believed in such things it would easily find a spot in my top 10.  So I'm a little biased.  But I think even people who haven't read the book would find this unbearable.  In it we get the point of view of Adele, along with a bit of Mr. Rochester and Mrs. Fairfax.  There were some serious flaws in the writing.  Continuity, for one.  I am a stickler for these sorts of things so I noticed right away when it says it is "nearly full dark outside" and then what is supposed to be a few hours later "turning dusk."  There were things like this riddled throughout.  Then there was the constant saying of names.  Does this bother anyone else?  Adele was always saying, "My mother, the celebrated actress, Celine Varens." like on every other page, even deep into the story, when we KNOW that she was her mother.  And Mrs. Fairfax was always saying, "While working at that magnificent estate, Thornfield Hall under the watchful eye of my master, Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester."  Yes, we know all of this!  And there was too much use of the old bait and switch.  A revelation would nearly be made but first you have to read through two pages of a flashback before getting to it.  It was frustrating.

But I suppose all of those can be chalked up to my own pet peeves.  So how about I give you some highlights of the story since I know you're not going to read it (because you trust me, right)(warning:  these may come as a shock to those who know Jane Eyre):  Adele becomes best friends with Bertha, Mr. Rochester's mad wife up in the attic; she hates Jane; she has a twin brother who was born just minutes before her but who has a different father (they were conceived on the same day but by two different men) but who is only briefly mentioned at the end of the book as an "oh, and by the way"; her mother (the celebrated actress Celine Varens, in case you have forgotten) didn't die but went off to Italy with a musician; and how about this one - Bertha didn't fall from the rooftop in the fire, that was Grace Poole. Mrs. Fairfax killed her much earlier, slipped Adele a mickey in order to convince her that she was the one who killed her, and later told all as she dangled a very pregnant Jane out of a window like she was some sort of Scooby-doo villain.  Then, realizing that the jig was up she lights the place on fire and throws herself out the window.  What the H?!

To top it all off, just three short paragraphs after all of this goes down, the phrase "and they lived happily ever after" is actually used and the book ends with a brief explanation of how Adele went on to become a celebrated actress, like her mother, Celine Varens.

I once caught a glimpse of a show about Anne of Green Gables the Much Later Years where Gilbert had died and Anne was hooking up with some guy named Gene.  It was blaspheme.  This felt the same way.  I could not shake the sour look off of my face for a good half hour after finishing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

Movie:  Sherlock Holmes:  Game of Shadows
Like/Don't Like:  Like.  Yes, I remember that I liked it.

Who's with me that the world has been given a gift in a clean and sober Robert Downey Jr.?  I feel like ever since he's cleaned up his act he's become a national treasure.  Okay, so that's a stretch, but I really like him in everything he does.  It's not like he's blessed with much of a range (he basically plays the same character in all of his movies) but he's fun to watch.  And I've grown accustomed to Jude Law.  And I like Sherlock Holmes in general, so this movie was a no brainer.  The perfect Christmas break movie.

That being said, it's been a week since I've seen it and it has almost completely left my brain and the only thing that remains of it is the vague sense that I liked it.  I liked that Moriarty was there and I thought their meet ups were clever.  There were some very funny moments.  And it moved along nicely.  And while I'm not that much of a fan of gratuitous special effects, the slow motion stuff was pretty cool, even though I was over it long before it finished. I did have to cover my eyes a number of times because I'm a delicate flower and don't go in much for punching and shooting and stuff like that.  But overall, it was fun.

Anansi Boys

Book:  Anansi Boys
Author: Neil Gaiman
Like/Don't Like:  It's Neil Gaiman.  Of course I'm going to like it.

Whenever I read Neil Gaiman I am reminded that there are people who tell good stories and then there are people who are good storytellers.  He fits into both categories but it's the second that I really care about.  I can't tell you how many times I have finished a book and said, "That was a good story but it was written by the wrong person."  Mostly, I want every story to be told by Neil Gaiman.  I saw him on a show a little while ago and he was asked to describe his genre and he said, "I like to think I'm just a writer," which made me love him even more. He gets what a lot of writers today don't, that the point isn't just to tell an interesting story, it's to tell an interesting story well, and when it's done well there is no need to categorize it into a specific genre.

Once again this has turned into a Neil Gaiman love-fest.  On to the gist.

Fat Charlie Nancy has just found out that 1.) his father has died in karaoke bar, and 2.) his father was a god, and 3.) he has a brother he didn't know about.  He finally meets his brother and trouble abounds.  The story had a great rhythm to it.  It flowed very nicely from one scene to the next and weaved in bits of old myths into a modern story with ease.  I got sucked right in and felt completely satisfied when it was done.  Yay.