Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The United States of Leland


More philosophy than story, but has a good impact. Is the murder of the human spirit as "bad" or "wrong" as the murder of a human body? The movie provides questions of this type, with no answers; definitely a cerebral experience, and worth struggling with. 5 stars from me.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gigantic

Napoleon Dynatite after college. Different actors. Same aura. Will it hold up as well? We'll see; but if you loved DN, you'll probably enjoy this at least once.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Whale Rider


5 Stars

A beautiful and heart-wrenching film. You don't find these gems too often. It gave me some real insights on my own relationship with my son and helped remind me that he can teach me a thing or two. Be sure to watch the extras! You'll probably be impressed with how they did the special effects.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Step Brothers

2.5- 3 Stars

Absolutely unbelievable and silly. Farts, burps, hitting, and other vulgar shenanigans. Just the humor my husband enjoys.

Eh. Can I get a chick flick now?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Death At A Funeral

4 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this unique film. Although entirely humorous, it managed to delve into the oddball characters and humanize them, even in very peculiar circumstances. Just watch it, you'll see!

The Last Samurai

3 Stars (at most)

I was hesitant to watch this film, but it got a fairly high rating on Netflix so I decided to give it a shot. The film itself was done well, beautiful settings, etc. I'm not a big fan of swords and knives and all that "bloody" stuff, so I had to close my eyes during certain parts to avoid having nightmares later. My biggest problem with this movie is how it romanticizes war and history and probably isn't anywhere close to accurate. I'll try to briefly explain without completely ruining the story. A white "American" is the hero. In Japan. In 1876. As a Samurai. I think that about sums up my issue. Hollywood, honestly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Royal Diaries - Marie Antoinette


5 Stars

This book belongs to an entire series of Royal Diaries. They are meant for young readers, and not very condensed, so it was a quick read. It was a series of diary entries, some of it fiction but many parts based on real facts. The author did a lot of research and created a story that shows the less glamorous side to being a queen. She even includes a small history lesson in the last few pages. I had heard the name Marie Antoinette before many times, but never stopped to take note of who she was and what her story was about. This book, while short, was fun, educational, and entertaining.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood


I can't rate this book. This book is my absolute favorite novel of all time (so far :P). I cried at the end yes, but I also cried many times before reaching the end. Parts of it read like a poem. The descriptions and detail in this book make the story REAL. The author, Rebecca Wells, wrote it with raw, fearless emotion. It made me long for experiences I've never had, and ache for experiences I've had but have no more.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

I've Loved You So Long



We don't like a lot of the hollywood movies, so we watch British whenever possible. Sometimes the accents are difficult, and there aren't always subtitles; but the drama is produced in a much more intelligent way. This movie is French, so we were very happy there were subtitles. The ending was predictable right from the very start of the movie; but that was okay. The movie was excellent not because of the ending, but because of the journey to get there. All the characters are made interesting, and the performances are perfect. The story is centered around Juliette, who was released from prison after 15 years at the beginning of the movie. The obvious questions like 'what exactly is prison', and 'what exactly is freedom' are dealt with in a much more subtle manner than hollywood would treat it; and are not contained in the dialogue but in the vision of the director and cinematographer.





Now for the cynical American stuff. You'll notice the first trailer says "first official trailer". Posted by some xenophobe, obviously. Should say "first official american trailer". You know, like a mobile home park. So, I included the French trailer. The trailers give a good flavor of the beautiful background choices made to subtly accent the story in the foreground.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Measure of a Lady



5 Stars

I just finished the second half of this book last night after reading it for about two hours straight. I got lost in it, completely forgetting that I was reading in the first place. I loved it. I loved it from the beginning, and I loved it the rest of the way through. While the ending was somewhat predictable, the means of getting there was not. The setting takes place in San Francisco during the gold rush. The author actually did a ton of research and included several actual historical events into the story in such a graceful way, there was no reason for me to believe that ANY of the details were made up. Her writing and descriptions are beautiful, and the story was very clever and entertaining.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hot Fuzz

3 stars?

I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie and I'm still not entirely sure what I think about it. At first it had us in stitches with its off-the-wall humor, but slowly it turned into some kind of bad horror/cop fighting film. It went from funny to disturbing and left us wondering, "what the heck was THAT?" Out there, for sure. I wouldn't say "don't watch it," but if you do, don't turn around and say I didn't warn you!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Waking Ned Devine


4.5 Stars

This is a slightly older movie set in Ireland that I had seen before, but forgotten I'd seen it! Worth watching more than once. Unique and fun. Plus, naked old men are always hilarious.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Kid Could Paint That


4 Stars

A very interesting documentary following a little girl and her family as she becomes famous for her paintings. It took a twist I wasn't expecting. I don't think the producer expected it either. Made me want to be very careful about what I get Parker involved with in the future.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Forgetting Sarah Marshall


4.5 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Yes, we all knew what was going to happen, but the getting there was so fun it didn't matter. I laughed out loud several times!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Skipping Christmas


I enjoyed the beginning of this story almost immediately. It seemed to be a story about nonconformity, and I was all for it. Then it took a turn, which I expected only because I knew there had to be some kind of irony on the way, but really was not prepared for. I was disappointed by the twist and felt cheated and let down just like the main characters. But then another twist that I was not expecting at all made me fall back in love with it and almost brought me to tears. If this story hasn't been turned into a movie yet, then it should be. It should be one of those cheesy Christmas movies that gets shown on television every December.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wasted - Marya Hornbacher


5Stars

It took me a while to finish this book, mostly because of the anxiety it caused me to feel. When the author described something beautiful, it made me want to be there to experience it myself, but when she described something horrible, which there was plenty of, it made me want to sprinkle holy water everywhere and curl up under a blanket. The author's dark and dysfunctional perspective of the world made me feel better about my own perspective, even lucky. The only way the ending can be considered a happy one, is if you compare it to the previous details of her life.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dying Young


5 Stars

This move was so terribly cheesy and romantic and sad. It will make you feel sorry for yourself, and possibly even cry. I loved it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lucky Number Slevin

3.75 Stars

This is one of those thriller movies that doesn't reveal everything until the very end, but by the time you get there you've figured it out anyway. I really like Bruce Willis and had high hopes for the movie. But it was kinda gory, of course. And the heroes are bad guys. The main character was fun to watch, don't get me wrong. Strange and somehow like-able dude, but all the people in the movie have some serious lack of morals. Big turn off. Yes the "good" bad guy "wins" in the end, but there's nothing triumphant about that. Left me feeling empty, sad and a little sick.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Gone Away World


2.5 Stars
by Nick Harkaway

Parker picked this book out at the library for me one week when I couldn't find some books that Sarah recommended on this blog. I tried to finish this book. I really did. I got about halfway through it over the course of six weeks. It was a little painful. The author is obviously intelligent (and very British) and his language skills are incredible; but I didn't get the story. At all. It was too weird even for me, a big fan of Stephen King. I think it appeals more towards men; to be more specific, men who like science fiction. If the author didn't go off on these huge tangents all the time, I might have finished the book. It wasn't awful, just... tedious? Yes, that's the word.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kinky Boots


4 Stars

Although the romantic side storyline was predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film. It was unique in that even though it seemed so odd, it felt like this could really happen (and apparently did). The characters in the movie were great. I'd recommend it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Onion Movie


2.5 stars

I am a fan of theonion.com. Great humor. The movie, on the other hand, was not worth seeing. I fell asleep watching it! The part I did see had some haha moments, but nothing that had me in stitches. Eh.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dry


3 Stars

This book was fairly entertaining. I enjoyed the sarcasm the most. The problem with this book is that I have read another book about an alcoholic who goes to rehab called, "A Million Little Pieces" and "Dry" doesn't come close to being as entertaining....even though it is non-fiction. Neither of those books are for the easily offended or "faint of heart", however "Dry" was just that, a little dry. 

Secret Life Of Bees

Mom read the book, and raved about it so much I had to read it. Excellent book. Didn't expect a lot out of the movie, but it's actually a pretty good film. Sure, it can't match the writing, but it's a different medium. I would have liked to have seen it stretched out a few more hours to focus more on depth; but the story gets exposed. Maybe not a "must-see", but I do not think you'll regret the time you spend with it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jeff Dunham: Spark of Insanity

4.5 Stars

This guy is a super talented comedian who can throw his voice like I've never seen before. I didn't realize until watching the extras that he designs and creates his own dummies, too! Seems like a normal middle-aged fellow... until he opens (or doesn't) his mouth. Be prepared for Walter... he steals the show. I just have to say, Jeff Dunham's wife is either a saint or just plain dumb for putting up with him!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

'Tis


5 Stars

I really really liked this book. I had never heard of Frank McCourt before, but I had heard of "Angela's Ashes", which I have yet to read. "'Tis" is Frank McCourt's memoir. His account of his life from his childhood in Ireland, to his arrival and survival in New York. Throughout his life McCourt seems plagued by his tendency for paranoia and disappointment with his life, and somehow I found this to be comforting and extremely funny. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Enchanted

4.5 Stars

This could be one of those films for which you have to be in the mood to appreciate the humor, but I personally laughed several times throughout this film. It's absolutely purposefully silly and satarizes Disney to a whole new level (and yet it ends up taking the predictable route and incorporating a Disney ending). Boy, I didn't realize how annoying Disney cartoon characters were until brought into the "real" world. Too ridiculous!

Michael Clayton

4 Stars


How to describe this film? Remember Erin Brockovich with Julia Roberts? Well, pretend Michael Clayton is a lawyer (or not?) for the company she went after. This is a flip side of the story, with much bigger twists and turns. It was one of those thrillers that slowly unfolded, hooking you with the, "huh?" factor in the beginning, wondering if you were missing something until they finally would reveal an answer, and then another. Not exactly a believable film, but fun to navigate.

The Man Who Sued God

3 Stars


The concept of this movie was very interesting, but I had a hard time getting past the lack of cinematic oomph, so to speak. If this movie had been made in the 70's or 80's, I could excuse it, but it was made in this decade! OK, so it was an independent film from Australia without a huge budget, but even so, the poor filming and laughable special effects took away from the story for me. But all in all, still worth a rental just to find out how a guy goes about suing God!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

We've been enjoying this television series on DVD, originally from HBO. It's great to watch a movie without chase scenes. The author of the book is a great historical writer, and it would be great to see the same team produce some of his other books. The visual performances here are not exactly top-notch, but it doesn't hurt the intelligence of the script, most of which has been culled from historical documents, letters and diaries, as well as newspaper accounts from the day. Definitely worth watching once, the series feels more realistic than many histories I've watched about the 'founding fathers'.

I've read many of these words before, and the verbal acting is really done quite well. I may make myself some audio files from the movie to see if they work better in an mp3 player than on the screen. There are times common phrases we've heard many times from history are filled with humor based upon the sly verbal performances. Both the main character (John Adam) and Benjamin Franklin get a lot of good cracks in. My favorite role here is Abigail, and I would love to see this team work on an off-shoot based upon her diaries, etc. She has some great lines here, as does Thomas Jefferson.

I'm interested in renting more movies/historical dramas like this if anyone knows of any.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Crossing Into America, The New Literature of Immigration

Edited by Louis Mendoza and S. Shankar

3.5 Stars

This book is a collection of works revolved around immigration in America. It is divided into three sections. The first two sections are collected works from various authors: short stories, poems, and small pieces from novels. There were many beautiful pieces in here that I found compelling, but there were some that also left me befuddled as to what they had to do with the theme of the book. One of such pieces was a contribution by one of the editors... hmm... The third and last section is a mixture of newspaper articles, editorials, a round table discussion and some essays. Overall, I appreciated the idea of the book and gained some insight that I otherwise wouldn't have had, but I have to admit that some parts were rather dry and I had to read it in bits and pieces over a long period of time before I finally got through it.

The Last Gift of Time


3 Stars

I read this book hoping to get a bit of wisdom out of it, since I always assume the elderly have lived long enough to know what is really important, and that I can somehow tap into it and live a fuller life. There was a lot of rambling that I didn't care for, about people that the author had known, or looked up to. She included details about their lives that didn't interest me much, and did not provide any insights. What I did get out of this book was her perspective on feminism. She considers herself a feminist, and shared several ideas that I had not yet thought or heard of. I also appreciated that she cherishes literature and solitude.  

Friday, December 19, 2008

Definitely, Maybe

4.5 Stars

Definitely fun movie, maybe too predictable (just like my obnoxious play on words), but it is a romantic comedy, afterall. It reminded me a little of my all-time favorite romantic comedy, Love Actually (5 stars from me on that one). It did jerk some tears and laughs from me, and I'd definitely, well, maybe, watch it again!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Breath, Eyes, Memory


5 Stars

Reading this book was kind of like making a puzzle without ever seeing the picture. I felt like I was being given pieces to something, but I didn't quite know what to do with them. I even considered not finishing this book, since I worried that I might waste my time looking for answers or for a plot that wasn't there. Luckily I didn't give up. The answers did come, the story came together very beautifully, and it is now one of my favorites. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Letter To Three Wives


There's one scene in the house "on the other side of the tracks" that cracked me up for several minutes. In fact, I'm still giggling thinking about it. I won't give away the humor, but it's worth the 90 minutes to see it. The rest of the movie is worth seeing once. An early role of Kirk Douglas.

Fahrenheit 451

Classic

I realize this story is considered a classic for a reason, but I had never read it, and I want my say on it. I would recommend this story to those who love a good story, sure, but I would mostly recommend it to those who rarely, or even never pick up a book. The lesson, or main point I took away from it can be applied to many things in life, and to miss out on the meat of this story would be like eating cardboard for every meal for the rest of your life (minus the digestive consequences).

The Darjeeling Limited


5 Stars! 

This movie was awesome. It was a story of three brothers who lost their brotherly connection to each-other, and go on a journey to find it again. It could have easily been one of those predictable stories that comes with an extra large side of cheese, but instead it was very unpredictable, and funny in a quirky way, with only an appropriate mouse-sized chunk of provolone.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill


Enjoyable meditation on understanding the possibilities of freedom and our responses to it. How free is it, really? Does true freedom mean loneliness? Besides the meditation, you ain't seen nothing till you've seen Mingus dance (seen at the end of the clip below). Not a "must-see" movie, but you won't regret having spent time with it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

21

4.5 Stars

I'm not a gambler or Vegas buff at all, but I enjoyed this film from the "nerdy" aspect of using math to increase your odds of winning. Knowing this is based on a true group of MIT students makes it that much more interesting. The actors are well chosen and the writing is phenomenal. My favorite character was the nerdy goofball of a best friend who portrays high self esteem and yet has a realistic sense of self at the same time. He's not a huge player in the movie, but he helps make the movie have some character. Quick moving and quick-witted, this is a definite must-see!

The Importance of Being Earnest

5 Stars

This funny movie is adapted from Oscar Wilde's play of the same name. I hadn't seen or read the play beforehand, so I had no expectations of the film, but I haven't seen a Reese Witherspoon film yet that I didn't enjoy so I figured it was worth a shot. Both Jake and I thoroughly enjoyed the quirky humor and general silliness that ensued. The language is a little like reading Jane Eyre, though you shan't need to have your English dictionary nearby.

Autism: The Musical (2007)

This movie was powerful on several fronts. It showed the growth of parents of several years of dealing with a "special" child, it showed what children are capable of when people who believe in them are wiling to work with them, and it showed the realism of dealing with uneducated people day in and day out. Understanding that this is truly a civil rights issue, and not an issue of "weird kids" is brought to light in this documentary. The "coach" is not overly interested in civil rights, her issue is one of simply showing the humanity of children; but some of the parents in the movie used this knowledge to further explore the reality of the world around them, and how easy it is for society to neglect fellow members who do not have the money necessary to fight the system.

It's hard to know, since I work with "special" kids, and am the father of a down's syndrome child; but it's my bet this movie would be a good tool for all members of our world to look around and be more accepting of all mankind. One of my favorite parts of the movie was when Stephen Stills, when talking about himself and his child, could admit that he now saw why he used the guitar as a buffer between himself and the world.

Good movie.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Movie Reviews, Too!

Hi folks,

My Dad (Eartaste) suggested that we also add movie reviews on here too so we get ideas on what to rent from each other (and what to stay away from). Sounds like a good idea to me, so please, add movies too! Oh, and the blog site address has changed, so make a note if it's saved to your favorites or bookmarks!

Erin :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Age of Shiva

by Manil Suri

5 stars

A lovely (and sad) novel told from the point of view of a mother telling her son her story, their story. Bold and honest, I found myself shocked when I got to the end and realized the author was a male. The voice of Meera is so clearly female; it's amazing how intimately the author grasped motherhood and the mind and body of a woman.

I Hate Other People's Kids

by Adrianne Frost

3 stars

As Parker was pulling me down a non-fiction aisle at the library, I furtively spun my head in all directions looking at titles as quickly as I could and this is one of those funny titles that caught my eye. I took a second to grab it before I was tugged in another direction. I didn't know what exactly to expect when I opened it up as it advertised it as "a complete handbook for navigating a world filled with tiny terrors," but it was mostly just a humorous outlook on kids in public (think Samantha Jones from Sex and the City) . Being a new parent myself, I found myself mentally defending the actions of the children and their parents at times in this book, but when I realized the whole thing was just a joke, I laughed out loud quite a few times. A quick fun read, but nothing I'd say you'd have to read before you kick the bucket.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Edited by Ellen Bass and Louise Thornton

I cannot rate this book. The experiences of these women cannot be debased by stars. This was by far the most difficult read I've done in awhile. I could not read this in large chunks as sometimes I found myself holding my breath and I could feel the stress tense up my body. Other times the rage came on so fast that it engulfed me for the rest of the day. Some days I didn't dare pick up the book because I knew I was mentally weak those days and wouldn't be able to emotionally handle it. I grieved for these women. I grieved for my own past. I grieved at the thought of my own child going through something like this. And I grieved knowing that these things are still happening and probably always will happen to children everywhere.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter


By Kim Edwards

5 Stars

It is hard to imagine that Kim Edwards did not personally experience each of the situations and emotions that her characters did in this book. Her insights drew me close to each of her character's feelings of guilt, love, and anger, and I could not help but think that I was somehow a part of the story. She managed to depict the cruelty that people are capable of, and yet any anger I felt over the actions of the characters, was then washed away by sympathy for their humanity. I recommend this book to anyone in search of a deep meaningful tale.    

Friday, October 24, 2008

Eat Pray Love


Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

5 Stars!

In this book Elizabeth Gilbert somehow manages to give spiritual insights while maintaining a humorous, down to earth outlook on the daily events of her life. While reading this book, I was constantly intrigued by her journey through heartbreak, as she traveled around meeting random characters that all played an important role in her healing process. It was very entertaining, and I was saddened when I realized I was reaching the end.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bridget Jones Diary


Bridget Jones is a quirky, humorous character, who magnifies the stereotypes of women in today's society through her obsession over her weight, her diet, and her outfits, and is constantly plagued by bad hair days. Helen Fielding has told a witty and entertaining story through diary entries of her colorful character Bridget, who repeatedly gets caught up in sticky situations and never fails to make a fool of herself.  I would recommend this book, and its sequel, to anyone in search of a light and clever read.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq

by Christopher Cerf and Victor S. Navasky, Illustrations by Robert Grossman

3.75 stars

This book is mostly comprised of out-of-context quotes from "experts" in reference to Iraq and the war. Dripping with sarcasm, it is very one-sided and does a very good job of making our government officials and other "experts" look like idiots (not saying they aren't, but it's obvious what the aim was with this book just by looking at the cover). I did learn some new things from the book, but mostly it just confirmed what I had already surmised from living and breathing in the USA right now.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Woman Who Wouldn't

By Gene Wilder

3 Stars

Yup, Gene Wilder. The same actor you know and love from Blazing Saddles and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Apparently he is also a writer. I read this book in one sitting. An hour and 15 minutes later, the story was complete. Yes, sometimes less is more, but this lacked substance. I laughed a few times, but mostly the story is just silly while trying to be serious and seriously unrealistic. Cute is another word I might use to describe it. It might make a nice romantic comedy, perfect for a sappy Universal (or even Disney) picture. Maybe it's already been done?

The Story of A Marriage

By Andrew Sean Greer

3.5 Stars

This is an intriguing novel full of surprises and strange twists every step of the way, but somehow overall it doesn't ring true. Even for the time period it is set in, it hardly seems feasible that a woman so in love with her husband never has a single heart to heart with him, even after finding out his secrets, no, especially after finding out his secrets, through a third party whom she has no reason to trust. I wouldn't tell someone not to read it, as it does have some lyrical beauty and it has a unique way of pulling you in one direction and then flipping you around to see a whole other point of view and it really opened my eyes to my own misconceptions.