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Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Endings (TV Series created by David Caspe)

Alex leaves Dave at the altar on their wedding day, forcing the couple's friends to choose which side to take...

Starring: Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr., Casey Wilson

Why the love for this TV series: From the pilot it looks like another "bride leaves groom at the altar" case, but as the story unfolds, the plot actually turns out unlike what you usually see on TV, with pretty funny lines.
I have heard Damon Wayans Jr describe this as "an edgier Friends with a black dude in it", but I have to disagree, since "Happy Endings" seems unusual. It is still about friends, but with different views on life and experiences, and the characters may be a little over the top, but that is what makes it so much fun to watch!
I relate more to Penny Hartz, although I am mellow and shy while she just goes for it without being afraid.
I also recommend watching a few episodes to really get the feel for the show, but you will not be disappointed.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Christmas Wedding (James Patterson and Richard Dilallo)

The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the presents are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill's wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby's four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They have not celebrated Christmas together since their father's death, but when Gaby announces that she is getting married - and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day - she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.
But the wedding is not the only surprise - there is one more unexpected gift, and it could change all their lives for ever... Merry Christmas everyone!

Quote: "As I'm sure is the case for you guys, not a day goes by that I don't think how unfair it was that he was taken from us. How stupid, really.
Oh, damn, I was afraid this might happen. A waterfall is coming."

My thoughts on this book: This was a good Christmas read, it left me with a storm of emotions and I really loved the ending, but as far as James Patterson books go, I was disappointed. I love his stories for the suspense and crime scenes, while this was just a light tale of a wedding taking place at Christmas. The only suspense bit was knowing who the groom would be, which I did not find very interesting.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Valiant (George Webster, Jordan Katz, George Melrod)

This animated comedy, directed by Gary Chapman, tells the story of a lowly wood pigeon named Valiant, who overcomes his small size to become a hero in Great Britain's Royal Air Force Homing Pigeon Service during World War II. The RHPS were recruited to fly vital messages about enemy movements across the English Channel, whilst evading brutal attacks by the enemy's Falcon Brigade.

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese, John Hurt, Rik Mayall, Olivia Williams, Jonathan Ross, Sharon Horgan

Why I loved this film: Yes, I am 34 and I still love animated movies! This is another cute character filled animation, yet very charismatic and fun to watch.
I loved the way they used information from WWII and adapted it to the film, such as the female mouse from the French Resistance, named Charles De Girl. Bugsy was Ricky Gervais in all his essence, funny as only the man himself can be, kept me laughing throughout the whole movie. Valiant was the cute little pigeon who turned into the hero at the end, a very predictable outcome.
Overall, it was a cute and funny movie to watch filled with different, animated and very lively characters, plus some suspense in the middle.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

R.I.P. Cesária Évora

Cesária Évora passed away today at the age of 70. The "Barefoot Diva", who always performed without shoes, died in the Baptista de Sousa Hospital in Mindelo, on her native island of São Vicente, Cape Verde.
Cesária Évora had retired in September because of health problems. In recent years she has had several operations, including open-heart surgery last year.
Saudade (in Portuguese) or Sodade (in the Creole language of Cape Verde) is a word that cannot be translated into English, but carries a lot of meaning. It is the feeling of losing somebody or something (and her most famous song):

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tick Tock (James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge)

What to do when someone is recreating the crimes of infamous killers from New York's history? The city has never been more terrified!
A rash of horrifying crimes tears through New York City, throwing it into complete chaos and terrorising everyone living there. Immediately, it becomes clear that they are not the work of an amateur, but rather a calculating, efficient, and deadly mastermind.
Detective Michael Bennett is called from a seaside retreat with his ten adopted children, grandfather, and beloved nanny, Mary Catherine. Not only does this tear apart their first vacation since Michael's wife Maeve died, but it also leaves the entire family open to attack.
Bennett enlists the help of a former colleague, FBI Agent Emily Parker. As his affection for Emily grows into something stronger, his relationship with Mary Catherine takes an unexpected turn. All too soon, another appalling crime leads Bennett to a shocking discovery that exposes the killer's pattern and the earth-shattering enormity of his plan...

Quote: "How could one person not only seek revenge and twisted, freaky peekaboo thrills but also relish inflicting pain all at the same time?
He couldn't[...]. It didn't make any goddamn sense."

Why this book speaks to me: I am a big James Patterson fan. He really is one of the best thriller writers!
I am interested in detective work, not only what drives someone into committing a crime, but also how that person is caught (I should have been a detective in another life), so this book was a nice surprise for me because it not only went through the moves leading to catching the killer, but Mr. Patterson also decided to give a little insight on the most horrendous crimes from the 90's, making the story much more interesting.
I also must say that I read the last 150 pages in one go because this book was very difficult to put down!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Drive (Hossein Amini and James Sallis)


Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. A Hollywood stunt performer, who also earns his living as a wheelman, finds himself in deeper trouble than he has bargained for after a robbery takes a turn for the worst.



Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman)


My thoughts on this film: I am not really sure of what to make of this movie. There were high and low points...
Ryan Gosling is a brilliant and versatile actor, his moody character with a passionate and somewhat funny side was very well portrayed, some scenes seemed too difficult to maintain a straight face, but he did it very well!
Sometimes the pace was too slow and became a little boring, however the ending was worse than a butcher's shop - with blood everywhere -, where the different killings were so close together that after a while everyone in the cinema was just laughing whenever someone got killed. It actually became too gross to watch!
I also did not enjoy the end, it left me with the question: "This is it?"

Sunday, December 04, 2011

I know my first name is Steven (1989)


Corin Nemec as Steven Stayner
This is a film that really stuck in my mind ever since I saw it on the BBC back in 1990. It is the true story of American 7-year-old Steven Stayner, who, on the afternoon of December 4th, 1972, was approached on his way home from school by a man named Ervin Murphy, sent by Kenneth Parnell. Murphy, described by those who knew him as a trusting, naïve and simple-minded man, had been fooled by convicted child rapist Parnell into helping him abduct a young boy.
Murphy passed out gospel tracts to boys walking home from school that day and, after spotting Stayner, claimed to be a church representative seeking donations. He managed to convince the young boy into letting Murphy drive him home, then a white Buick driven by Parnell pulled up and Steven willingly climbed into the car. Parnell then drove a confused Steven to his cabin instead. Parnell molested Steven for the first time early the following morning.
After telling Parnell he wanted to go home many times during his first week with the man, Parnell told Steven that he had been granted legal custody of the boy because his parents could not afford so many children and did not want him anymore.
Parnell began calling the boy Dennis Gregory Parnell, retaining Stayner's real middle name and his real birthdate when enrolling him in various schools over the next several years. Parnell passed himself off as Steven's father and the two moved frequently around California.
As Steven entered puberty, Parnell began looking for a younger child to kidnap. On February 14th, 1980, Parnell and a teenage friend of Steven's named Sean Poolman kidnapped five-year-old Timmy White in Ukiah, California. Motivated in part by the young boy's distress, Steven decided to escape with him, intending to return the boy to his parents and then escape himself. On March 1st, 1980, while Parnell was away at his night security job, Steven managed to leave with Timmy. Unable to locate the child's home address, he decided to have Timmy walk into the police department to ask for help. Before he could successfully escape, the police spotted the two boys and took them into custody. Steven immediately identified Timmy White and then revealed his own true identity and story.
By daybreak on March 2nd, 1980, Parnell had been arrested for the abduction of both boys. They were reunited with their families that day. In 1981, Parnell was tried and convicted of kidnapping Timmy and Steven in two separate trials. He was sentenced to seven years but was out on parole after serving five years.
The title for the film was taken from the first paragraph of Steven's written police statement. The incorrect spelling of his family name is also therein.

"My name is Steven Stainer. I am fourteen years of age. I don't know my true birthdate, but I use April 18, 1965. I know my first name is Steven, I'm pretty sure my last is Stainer, and if I have a middle name, I don't know it."

The film starred Cindy Pickett, John Ashton, Corin Nemec, Luke Edwards, Ray Walston and Scott Curtis

Death: On September 16th, 1989, Steven's motorcycle collided with a car that pulled into traffic from a side road. Steven received head injuries that proved fatal. He died at the Merced Community Medical Center shortly thereafter. Over 500 people attended his funeral, including then 14-year-old Timmy White, who helped carry Steven's coffin into the church.

Dark Cloud: Steven's older brother, Cary Stayner, was convicted in the late 90's for the murder and rape of Carole Sund, her daughter, Juli Sund (15 years old), their travel companion, Argentinian exchange student, Silvina Pelosso (16 years old) and Yosemite National Institute employee, Joie Armstrong. He remains in death row.

Parnell: Kenneth Parnell was later on convicted again for attempting at a similar crime. In 2008, he died in prison at the age of 76.

The last survivor: Timmy White passed away on April 1st, 2010, of a pulmonary embolism. He was 35.