• Books,  Movies

    On the Road by Jack Kerouac

    This is one of those novels that seemed almost like nonfiction. It is based on Kerouac’s actual journeys across America so a lot of it was probably real. The inconsistency and wildness seemed too strange to be fiction at times. I don’t know what is fact and what is fiction.

    I liked Kerouac’s style early on. Sal the protagonist is observant, perceptive and largely optimistic about life. The novel is set in a time just right after the war and even with all the drug use, sex, and madness, there is a certain innocence of America in that time. It was before the Cold War became central, the 1960s, Vietnam and the turbulent decades for America’s loss of innocence.

    It took me longer than read this book. I was a bit stuck one third and half way through the book because while many things do happen in the book, there isn’t a formal plot per se. It meanders with vignettes which did not make me likely to pick it up.

    The use of stream of consciousness increased in the book as well. There were times when I felt things were getting worse as the book wore on. There were the same adventures over and over. Sometimes, it felt sadder by the chapter.

    The end with Mexico was interesting though, and in general, I liked Kerouac’s writing. I would read his works again.

    Read June 23-30 2013.

    On the Road (2012)

  • Monthly Movies

    Monthly Movies – May 2013

    For the last couple of months, I’ve been watching mostly TV and rewatching movies and shows. I don’t think I watched a new movie for almost two months until War Horse.

    War Horse (18 05 2013) – Review Here.

    Kinky Boots (25 05 13) – I remember seeing the trailer for this back in 2005 o 2006. I’ve liked Chiwetel Ejiofor since Dirty Pretty Things and the man should be more famous. He is wonderful in this film. It is fun and underrated. The romance aspect of the movie is a bit trite and boring though. It should have just focused mainly on Ejiofor’s character Simon/Lola and the friendship with Charlie Price. I would still recommend this film just for people to see Eliofor.

    Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (26 05 13) – I could have watched something funnier, but I just wanted something to knit along to for a Sunday night. Since I’ve read the book and seen the original Swedish movie, I thought it would require less attention. I’ve had the movie for awhile too because I adore Daniel Craig. I would watch a whole movie of him and that cat. It was interesting and realistic to see people smoking for once in an American movie. In any case, great acting all around. While I loved Noomi Rapace’s acting, Rooney did a great job here too. She was physically very Lisebeth. I felt the Mickael/Lisbeth hookup was rushed in this film compared to the other one, but these two actors had more chemistry than the first film. I was not crazy about the music. They changed the ending and some of the details, but they elaborated on the ending a bit more. Then it ended rather abruptly just like in the book. I think overall, the Swedish version does edge out this one. I’ll watch the sequel, but I really only liked parts 1 and 3 of the series.

    Notably Rewatched

    Howl’s Moving Castle – Hayao Miyazaki is one of the few people I consider geniuses. His movies touch me and make me feel good without being too contrived or cliched. He really captures imagination and creativity. I’ve been rewatching a lot of his movies in the last year, and not sure which to pick next. Though none of them can do wrong. The movie reminds me that I should read the book one day.

  • Books,  Movies

    War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

    War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

    I was apprehensive of this children’s book mostly because I get very sad with animal stories. I remember watching Black Beauty (1994) as a kid, and being crying. I rarely cried during movies when I was younger, and even now, it’s not that common for me. But animals are a soft spot for me, especially when they are exploited.

    I remember reading All Quiet on the Western Front and being appalled by the idea that horses were sent into battle in the First World War. It’s abhorrent to have animals fighting and dying for our wars and that war was costly in itself.

    This novel is an antiwar novel and it also demonstrates the human kindness between man and animal. A lot of the characters interact with Joey the horse and through war, they receive what is now known as animal therapy. There is much love and respect between the men and horses in this film and rightly so.

    The book is not very long and only took me 1.5 hours to read it (with breaks). The prose is simple but beautiful. The messages are clear and I really enjoyed it. Maybe all the positivity did go slightly to the cheesy side for some, but it worked for me. There is death, but this is a story of hope of course. Is it realistic? Not necessarily, but there is a lot of love in it which works for me.

    I really think it’s a lovely book for children. I don’t believe children should be coddled and it’s a book that teaches history as much as animal rights. Recommended.

    Read May 17th 2013

    War Horse (2011)

  • Monthly Movies

    Monthly Movies – March 2013

    Taken 2Taken 2 (01 03 13) – Liam Neeson is awesome. I liked the hand on hand fight sequences, but I found the plot and villains of this one even weaker than the first film. Istanbul definitely feels less dark than in Paris. As with most sequels, it was not as good as the first, but it was still good to watch Neeson taking names and shooting guns. I honestly think his Bryan Mills is a better action character than most. His name isn’t exactly as good as some others, but he makes up for it with experience, dedication, and awesomeness.

    SkyfallSkyfall (05 03 2013) – A stranger spoiled me on this film in passing and didn’t know it. That really irked me because the movie was not even on DVD at the time. People shouldn’t spoil others on films that aren’t even 3 months old. That irritation aside, I found this movie slower paced than other Bond movies which is why a lot of people disliked it. I liked it because of the focus on characters. I adore Judi Dench so watching more of M was fine with me. I usually like Javier Bardem, but Judi overshadowed the guys in this including Ralph Fiennes (who is only 5 years older than Craig – not the same dynamic). What a good cast though and they even had adorable Ben Whitslaw. Not crazy about the two Bond girls though. There were definite plot holes, but oh well. This was leaps better than the mundane Quantum of Solace, but it won’t really replace Casino Royale. I still love Daniel Craig aka Mr. Rachel Weisz as 007 though.

    The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (09 03 2013) – This felt exactly like the book: slow and anticlimactic until they improved it by adding that one big scene. Honestly, I think the director Bill Condon has made a movie that has surpassed in its writing. I don’t like the story or the characters so I rolled my eyes as usual, but they have made a movie which has respected the fans and the material. I found out Condon made Kinsey which I liked; I do think these are the best films in the series. Still, I hope Michael Sheen did some nice things with his pay cheque as he is the only actor from this that I would follow anywhere.

  • Monthly Movies

    Monthly Movies – February 2013

    The BodyguardThe Bodyguard (10 02 13) – Kevin Costner is good looking in this though I was not of fan of those high waisted trousers. Oh, the 90’s. It is a sad movie to watch because of Whitney Houston. She looked wonderful in this movie and I was reminded by her beautiful voice. The plot was melodramatic. I actually found myself a tad bored of it, but kept at it because of the actors and to see the ending. Rachel was very annoying. This is an utter cheese fest. I read that this was panned, but Roger Ebert, like me, believed there was some chemistry between the actors. Costner’s character and in a lot of roles I see him, is very restrained, but that does not mean he is cold.

    Game of Thrones: The First Season (11-12 02 13) – Review here.

    Notably Rewatched

    InceptionInception (04 02 2013) – I primarily rewatched for the suit porn of JGL and Tom Hardy. Then I followed it up with a “BBC Horizon” documentary on dreams. Good themed viewing. I don’t list documentaries as much anymore because in general I forget. I don’t watch that many docs. Anyway, Inception is great even if you just watch for the visuals. It may be my favourite Nolan film.

  • Monthly Movies,  TV

    Monthly Movies – January 2013

    The Dark Knight RisesBatman: The Dark Knight Rises (03 01 2013) – This was long. I think I got a headache from watching it. Batman (DCAU) is part of my childhood, but Nolan’s Batman will never be my Batman. I can’t imagine Batman giving up for eight years in seclusion or even saying goodbye to Alfred. Nolan really made sure Batman lost everything though: his money, his city, his identity, Afred, but I did like the ending of this film. This film felt like two films though. There was perhaps a little too much going. I thought the casting was great in all parts. I like Tom Hardy, but I wasn’t really in love with his Bane voice or his portrayal until the very end. Marion Cotillard is amazing in anything. But really, the stand out for me was Joseph Gordon-Levitt whom I continue to adore and have since “Third Rock from the Sun”.

    A Young Doctor's NotebookA Young Doctor’s Notebook (17 01 2013) – This is a TV mini series. I don’t watch enough TV or movies nowadays for them to get separate posts. This four 22-minute episode series stars Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe playing older and younger versions of a Russian doctor the 1934 and 1917. It is based on stories written by Mikhail Bulgakov (one of Radcliffe’s favourite authors). The plot is rather thin, and it’s more a psychological analysis of the doctor. Hamm and Radcliffe talk to each other as the former reminiscences about his earlier self. It’s on the gory side and there are a couple of sexual situations (no nudity) with Radcliffe aka Harry Potter. While I don’t imagine Radcliffe when I read the Harry Potter books, he is still one version of Harry so it weirded me out to see him in those situations. Still, there is some really dark funny moments for it, but this series is not for everyone. The ending is dark which is typical of Russian literature. Not really a light series.

    ScandalScandal (22-23 01 13) – I watched all of season one and caught myself up to date with the episodes of season two. This is an addictive show, and I have not really liked Shonda’s writing, but her team is doing a decent job of the writing. The serialized procedural aspect is not often interesting and usually all about sex scandals. A couple of the characters are a bit flat. Of course with a lot of shows I watch, I overlook the writing for the actors. Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn have some best on TV. I am definitely an Olitz shipper. I also adore Olivia Pope’s wardrobe. Good show.

    Cloud Atlas (29-31 01 2013) – Movie and book review posted here.

    Notably Rewatched

    Sliding DoorsSliding Doors (earlier in January) -I skimmed this to all my favourite i.e. all the scenes with John Hannah. I’ve seen this film at least four times. I do see the gaps in the plot and the timeline, but it is a dramatic rom-com so I can’t be too hard on it. This is still the only movie where I find Paltrow tolerable, but is very thin in this movie.

  • Books,  Movies

    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

    This was a clever and well written book. It was ambitious and unique.

    It took me awhile to read this book. It was on my Kindle so I often forgot I had it and it didn’t give me incentive to read it in time like my library books. The other reason I would forget about this book is the different narratives from this book. It is very well written and I liked it more than other books that had this kind of style such as Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. It does mean that once you get comfortable with one chapter’s story, it changes and you have to start all over again.

    It took to reading the sixth and final narrative in the middle of the book that I realized what Mitchell was doing. At that point, I had to finish the book. It became gripping and I really liked the every changing structure and tone.

    The best thing about reading on the Kindle besides the convenience of having dozens to hundreds of ebooks in a small vessel is the built in dictionary. I don’t have to pause and look up the word on separate dictionary. I am not really a wordsmith, but I do love words and language so it is always fun to read an author who clearly can employ a number of unusual words.

    The diction and vocabulary was quite neat in the earlier stories since Mitchell used a number of archaic words. I really enjoyed that bit and enjoyed Mitchell’s ability to shift his structure and style with each story. He had suspense, character development, great writing style, and most of all, consistent themes which weren’t too cloying.

    “What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts. What precipitates acts? Belief.”

    All of the stories deal with the idea of how human nature does not change and that it never really will. The idea that greed, oppression and controlling civilization will always be present is quite true and very sad. There are moments of hope of course and a lot of the stories have good endings, but I am wary to reread this again. There was something melancholic about all the stories since death and oppression were in all of them. It was not the most depressing read, but it is not one that makes you feel good. It is a good reminder of the darkness of human nature in a well written novel form.

    I recommend this book for those who are interested in speculative fiction and unique structure & styles. This book is literary and also thought provoking.

    Incidentally, Mitchelle was apparently influenced by Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller which is a book I just took out from the library last week. It is one of those books I requested while browsing GoodReads so now I actually have even more incentive to read that as well.

    Read on the Kindle October 31, 2012 to January 27, 2013.

    The Movie

    Cloud Atlas