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Saturday, April 08, 2017

Hide and Seek (James Patterson)


This is a trial that has electrified the world. Not only because the defendant is Maggie Bradford, the woman whose songs have captured hearts across the globe. And not only because the victim is Will Shepherd, the internationally admired athlete. But also because people are saying that Maggie has murdered not just one husband, but two.
In Maggie's world - the world of fame and celebrity - things are never what they seem.

Quote: "I used to daydream all the time about stuff like this happening. Everybody does. So this had to be a crazy daydream, didn't it?"

My thoughts on this book: It was OK. The main problem was that the first 2/3 of the story were a woman telling us all about her life, particularly her love life. This was pretty boring as I do not read James Patterson for a woman's description of her beautiful wedding or how each new guy in her life made her feel so special. The ending is more classic Patterson with some good action, mystery, and twists.
Not one of his more exciting books, but the ending will probably make you forget how boring the beginning was.

Going in Style (Directed by: Zach Braff; Written by: Theodore Melfi and Edward Cannon)



Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, three lifelong pals risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.


Starring: Joey King, Morgan Freeman, Ann-Margret, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Christopher Lloyd, Matt Dillon, John Ortiz, Josh Pais


Why I loved this film: What a fun movie! It had the cinema crowd laughing out loud all the way through, an unexpected ending, and a real-life situation. What more could you want?
I definitely recommend it for a fun afternoon/evening!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Denial (Directed by: Mick Jackson; Written by: David Hare based on the book by Deborah Lipstadt)

Based on the acclaimed book 'History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier', Denial recounts Deborah E. Lipstadt's legal battle for historical truth against David Irving, who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In the English legal system in Defamation, the burden of proof is on the accused, therefore it was up to Lipstadt and her legal team to prove that the Holocaust occurred.

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius, Alex Jennings, Harriet Walter, Mark Gatiss, Will Attenborough

Why I loved this film: This is a fine film. Full credit to a great cast and director.
The Auschwitz scenes were the most chilling of all, and despite knowing the outcome, I found the courtroom scenes really thrilling. When Mr. Justice Gray asks whether David Irving might not have denied the Holocaust in good faith the shock is quite electrifying.
The tensions between Deborah Lipstadt and her legal team are very intense particularly after a Holocaust survivor is not allowed to speak in court, so Lipstadt assures her that 'The voice of the suffering will be heard'.
The voice of the suffering was indeed heard.
However, Denial is also a terrible warning. Holocaust denial has spread through the internet and Irving claims that 'Interest in my work has risen exponentially in the last two or three years. And it's mostly young people.'
Based on current world events, it seems like history could repeat itself.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A United Kingdom (Directed by: Amma Asante; Written by: Guy Hibbert and Susan Williams)

Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana causes an international stir when he marries a white woman from London in the late 1940s.

Starring: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Tom Felton, Jack Davenport, Nicholas Lyndhurst

My thoughts on this film: I went to see 'A United Kingdom' having only known of the movie and of the true story behind it from newspaper articles. It portrayed a true story, which to me raises its value. The lead actors were superb. They unfolded the story with emotional restraint.
You could see that this film was produced and directed with respect for the story, for the real people behind the story, and for us, the viewers.
Totally worth watching!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Cujo (Stephen King)

Cujo is a huge Saint Bernard dog, the best friend Brett Camber has ever had. Then one day Cujo chases a rabbit into a bolt-hole. Except this is not a rabbit hole but rather a cave inhabited by rabid bats.
And Cujo falls sick. Very sick. And the gentle giant who once protected the family becomes a vortex of horror inexorably drawing in all the people around him.

Quote: "It would perhaps not be amiss to point out that he had always tried to be a good dog. He had tried to do all the things his MAN and his WOMAN, and most of all his BOY, had asked or expected of him. He would have died for them, if that had been required. He had never wanted to kill anybody. He had been struck by something, possibly destiny, or fate, or only a degenerative nerve disease called rabies. Free will was not a factor."

My thoughts on this book: I have never watched the film, so I am merely writing this review from having read the book.
Most of this story feels like Stephen King is just filling in time... until the last 100 pages. I think that he took what was potentially an award-winning tale of terror and jammed as much into it as he could until it became one of his shorter novels.
That being said, Cujo is a really powerful book in some places. While I did not care much for a lot of the things surrounding it, the core is pretty terrifying and heart-wrenching. No one wants their beloved family pet to turn on them, and a rabid dog trapping a woman and her child in a car for DAYS is damn well horrifying.
The writing is good and the ending packs a huge punch. I surely did not see that coming.
The ending to this story certainly made up for the very slow beginning.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The 89th Academy Awards

Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel

BEST PICTURE: Moonlight

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: Emma Stone (La La Land)

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Viola Davis (Fences)

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Zootopia

CINEMATOGRAPHY: La La Land

COSTUME DESIGN: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

DIRECTING: La La Land

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE): O.J.: Made in America

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT): The White Helmets

FILM EDITING: Hacksaw Ridge

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Salesman

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: Suicide Squad

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE) La La Land

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG): City Of Stars - from La La Land (Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: La La Land

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED): Piper

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION): Sing

SOUND EDITING: Arrival

SOUND MIXING: Hacksaw Ridge

VISUAL EFFECTS: The Jungle Book

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY): Moonlight

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY): Manchester by the Sea

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Singles Game (Lauren Weisberger)

When Charlotte 'Charlie' Silver makes a pact with the devil, infamously brutal tennis coach Todd Feltner, she finds herself catapulted into a world of stylists, private parties, and secret dates with Hollywood royalty.
Under Todd, it is no more good-girl attitude: he wants warrior princess Charlie all the way. After all, no one ever won by being nice.
Celebrity mags and gossip blogs go wild for Charlie, chasing scandal as she jets around the globe. But as the warrior princess' star rises, both on and off the court, it comes at a high price. Is the real Charlie Silver still inside?

Quote: "From here on out we'll be working on a mental makeover, if you will. I want aggressive. Go-getting. Intimidation. You think the men are walking around apologising for everything and hugging each other? Hell, no! And the girls shouldn't be either."

My thoughts on this book: I am not a particular fan of this story, to tell you the truth.
Let us start with the good parts: you learn a lot about the pro tennis circuit. Lauren Weisberger clearly did her research because she shows you all the particulars of travelling, uniforms, practice schedules, nutrition, and the like. You learn about the image manipulation, the press, and the dance of romance. This part is pretty interesting.
Now, about Charlie: she is not dull. She is just unoriginal. There is little to her that you have not read elsewhere. She has above average tennis skills, good enough to be on tour but not excellent enough to win a grand slam. Everyone in her life keeps telling her to just quit. And Weisberger limits the perspective of the book to Charlie's, so you really only know what Charlie thinks and what motivates her. What about her father, her brother, her (former) coach? What drives these people throughout the story?
One person who is quite happy to have Charlie compete is her new coach, who is straight out of Central Casting for 'Overbearing Brute'. Again, this is a character you have seen before in dozens and dozens of books. And so is the Hot Mediterranean Lover. In a cast of utterly unoriginal characters, Marco surely is the worst. He says and does absolutely nothing that distinguishes him from the others.
I will say this much: I did want to find out what happened. I wanted to know when, exactly, would Charlie grow up and what she would do after tennis was over.
The worst part of all had to be the ending. After dragging out the various dramas at play, the ending occurs so quickly that I was left wondering whether Weisberger had been held to a word count. What was that all about?