No - the movies aren't mini, just these reviews. These are Netflix picks and tend to be not serious, throwaway fun. Brain candy - after work, after writing, after reading, after DVR'd shows. But there are a few gems and the first film listed here is well worth renting ... seriously ....
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a quirky really fun treat of a movie. Ewan McGregor is a grumpy/then charming professor who specializes in fishing. Emily Blunt is the assistant to a rich sheik who loves fly fishing and wishes to bring the sport to the Yemen. Kristin Scott-Thomas is the publicity person for the Prime Minister and is all over this as a "feel good" story. She's hilarious. Ewan and Emily are charmingly cute, and what transpires is interesting, typical, and then awesome. Put on your wading boots and go fishing for this movie. You'll chuckle a lot.
The Change-Up - I was pleasantly surprised by how much I laughed and enjoyed this movie. Yes, I picked it, but I thought it could end up being stupid. Instead Jason Bateman (married with kids guy) and Ryan Reynolds (hot single guy) are really good in this movie about "be careful what you wish for". Swapping bodies after a drunken evening proves eye-opening for both guys. Responsibility can bite and yet sooner or later you have to grow up. Check out this buddy flick and be amused.
Unknown - Liam Neeson stars in this mindboggling thriller. He regains consciousness after a problematic car accident and finds out a man is impersonating him, his wife is denying him, and folks are getting killed because of him. Suspend belief and just roll with the premise. Liam is always great and believable as a doctor, no wait -he's a trained killer, no wait - he's lost an identity and Diane Kruger helps him find it and love. It's a silly time waster and yet, stuff blows up, Liam drives fast, and I was entertained.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Those opening lines to The Age of Miracles introduce you to Julia, a sixth grader, who narrates for us and let's us see the new world through her eyes. What was once a twenty-four hour day is no more. The earth is slowing and the news people go crazy. Julia's mother is in a frenzy, her father isn't fazed. It's interesting to learn how various people, teachers, the school, neighbors,etc. react. Amidst the new trauma, Julia, at age eleven, is trying to survive pre-teen stuff, puberty, boys, and life.
The book blurb uses the words haunting and luminous. I agree. I loved this book and read it in one weekend, with a Wow as it ended. This portrait of a family against a backdrop of uncertainty, an altered world, is gripping. Folks decide if they are going to live by the twenty four hour clock, or go off time - just live with the sun rise and set and that changes daily. Sometimes there's darkness right in the middle of a day. It's unsettling and does make one think about the future, our planet, and life in general.
The Age of Miracles is well written and engaging with a light touch, humor, and drama. It's a quick engaging read - written with a deft touch. I'm jealous of the writer's skill.
Here's another excerpt (p. 29): Later I would come to think of those first days as the time when we learned as a species that we had worried over the wrong things: the hole in the ozone layers, the melting of the ice caps, West Nile and swine flu. But I guess it never is what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Prior to WWI, a colt is born and bought with the mortgage money by a poor English farmer. Albert, the sixteen year old son, bonds with this horse. He trains it, raises it, and vows he'll find the horse when it's conscripted into the British Army (the dad sold it for one hundred pounds - much of it will sadly go toward alcohol).
We see how the war affects the small village, the soldiers over in France at the Somme, and we root for Joey, the horse and for Albert (joins the Army) to reunite in peace some day.
The Handspring Puppet Company created magic - those were horses on that stage, done in an illusion of timing and skill. I had to shake my head in one scene to make sure I could believe my eyes. Then the illustrations of war along with strobe lights and explosive sounds had the audience ducking for cover, and cringing at the barbed wire scene.
War is hell, but the love of a boy/man and his horse know no bounds. Triumph of spirit trumps evil any day. The play War Horse is memorable and striking. If you can catch it on Broadway or a touring production, I highly recommend an evening of serious stage magic storytelling.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I realize that on the other side of fall winter looms. Nonetheless, I'm ready for mums in bloom, pumpkins on the stoop, and a harvest moon. Here's a poem I wrote in contemplation of autumn.
leaves crunch underfoot
acorns plunk, squirrels rustle
wrestle nuts to hide as
German shepherds behind fences
growl warnings as I pass
calm, tranquil, I stride the
mindful of peace
aware of nature’s din
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
I'd seen Deborah Crombie's name and books in the library, read reviews that always sounded enticing, and yet hadn't picked up a book until now. Wow - I'm hooked. She spins a fun tale of intrigue against small town English countryside.
Christmas Eve should be calm, but not when a baby's body is found interred in an old barn. Family tensions rise, and life along the Shropshire Union Canal is far from idyllic. Recent drownings, troubled boating families, and a social worker's past all intertwine for quite a mystery.
Water Like a Stone is a page turner. Deborah Crombie's smooth style is worth a cup of tea and a long sit as you follow Kincaid and James' discoveries, clues, and final solution.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Friday, September 14, 2012
This blog is not political. I try to keep the focus on writing, arts, and creativity. However, I'm going to post a paragraph written by Joe Klein, Time Magazine columnist (9/17/12 p. 29). I like his writing and this paragraph struck me as well done, and it summed up a lot.
But this campaign is wearing on me too, and I think I understand the source of my colleagues' mood. It's a closely held secret in the tribe, but most journalists are more romantic than cynical and are also, by the way, real patriots. We obsess over the game and get cheap jollies when the pols screw up, but we also have mortgages and 401(k)s like normal people, and we are freaked out by the paralysis in Washington and the truly diseased atmosphere of take no prisoners partisanship. (And some of us are very much aware of our role as a conduit for the prevailing ugliness.) We're really rooting for the country to do better, and we're afraid it won't.
He goes on to briefly discuss the ying and yang of issues in America. At the end of his column he summarizes - There should be real cause for optimism. But I don't know how we get from here to there.
Well said, Joe, well said.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The age has an engine, but no engineer - Ralph Waldo Emerson 1854
Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structure - John F. Kennedy 1963
Friday, September 7, 2012
Celeste and Jesse Forever stars Adam Samberg and Rashida Jones in a cute ninety- minute love/divorce film. We first meet the couple at dinner with good friends. It all looks seemly until the friends declare, "This is too weird. You're divorcing and act like nothing's happening." Indeed, Celeste and Jesse share food, inside jokes, and a ride. They are separated (he lives behind her place in a studio), but in no rush to divorce since they are best friends.
Slowly we see him change when he's hit with some responsibility based on a teensy fling over a month ago. We see Celeste's hurt and then rebound reaction, which is not pretty. Celeste and Jesse have to face reality and move on, but both drag their feet. Samberg and Jones are credible. The film is light and fluffy with some great lines, yet it does dig deeper into feelings and relationships. Celeste and Jesse Forever is entertainment with "trending" issues for this day and age.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Here's the quote from this brochure - His visceral renderings of people from all walks of life have a painterly and psychological drama that is unparalleled in contemporary art.
I said to my friend, "Lucien had issues." These are certainly not happy paintings. His sitters are haunted, exhausted, sad, and aging before our eyes. Thick layers of paint are like the weight of the world on these poor folks' faces.
There are definitely deep stories to be told from these people or even from Mr.Freud's own self portraits, from youth to aged. He died over a year ago and left behind a treasure trove. I have a better appreciation of his art. One could bring a portrait to life and have a character tale of sordid wretchedness.