August 31, 2007

Movie Review: Amelie


I watched Amelie over the course of 4 days. It's pretty pathetic when your life is so busy that it takes you 4 days to watch a movie, but I think Amelie might need extended viewing. The material is so rich that it takes awhile to process. Plus, the narrator names off facts as quick as bullets. I had to play several scenes over again to see how all the people tied together.

Amelie is a porcelain doll of a young woman. She was how I imagined Snow White would look minus the rosy cheeks: dark brown hair, gooey chocolate-colored eyes, perfect skin, and red lips. Amelie is painfully shy. She struggles with revealing her deepest needs. She longs to be close to someone and have a friend to talk to, but instead she watches from her window with binoculars. She observes those around her and thinks she might know what might make them happy. She studies them, takes notes, and executes a plan. If special ops needed a happiness agent, Amelie would be their woman.

When she was a girl, she had two type-A parents. Her father would never touch her, except when he gave her a medical exam. Her mother's greatest joy was cleaning her purse out. Amelie's only friend was a goldfish with suicidal tendencies.

August 30, 2007

Graphic Novel Review: The Plain Janes by Cecil Castelluci and Jim Rugg


Art saves and art heals are the themes of The Plain Janes a graphic novel created in the MINX imprint, a new line of graphic novels that uses the popular media to tell stories that traditionally would be done in written format.

Jane was walking the streets of New York when a bomb went off near her. Her parents freak out and move the family to the suburbs to protect their darling Jane. But Jane wants to stay in the city so she can keep visiting her comatose friend, a man she calls John Doe. He has been in a coma since the day of the bombing. She visits him in the hospital and has taken up sketching to honor him, since he was carrying and dropped a sketchbook that day. For whatever reason, she takes a major interest in him and feels devastated that she won't be able to continue her frequent visits.

Now she is trying to start a new life. Interestingly enough, she is determined NOT to be in the popular crowd. Instead, she finds paradise in the reject lunch table, at which sits three girls named Jane: a drama geek, a jock, and a whiz kid. Our main Jane doggedly finds ways to connect with these girls until they call her a friend.

August 24, 2007

Book Review: The Camel Rider by Prue Mason


The timing is right for books like The Camel Rider to appear for children. With the hot success of books such as the Kite Runner, there is a market for books written about the Muslim culture. This multicultural book allows readers to learn about the culture in the midst of an interesting adventure story. Aussie Adam lives with his family in the Middle East on a compound in the fictional city of Abudai. Adam is bored of his life and longs to get away from the thumb of his overprotective parents. His only joys are his beloved dog, Tara, and the hours he gets to surf with his buddies. Walid is a young boy from the Middle East who is a camel rider, a small child trained to ride camels in races that men gamble on. His mother felt pressured to give him up so he could have a better life and a possible education, but he spends his days abused and beaten by his guardians.

The lives of these two boys intersect when bombs are dropped near the compound.

August 16, 2007

Graphic Novel Review: Sloth by Gilbert Hernandez


I am reviewing this purely for the weird factor. Is this one of the highlights of my graphic novel reading? Absolutely not, but it impresses me that graphic novel creators continue to expand the storylines graphic novels tell. It used to be that graphic novels took simple storylines and made them more complex by adding the graphic element. In Sloth, we have a fairly complicated storyline successfully contained in a short amount of pages (probably less than 100), due to a picture being worth a thousand words.

Now about the weird factor. The cover art on the entry pages shows lemons dropping to the sky like A-bombs. Weird, indeed. Miguel slept for a whole year with no medical explanation. You could call it a coma, but there was no medical explanation. Apparently this was a self-chosen slumber. After three months of physical therapy, Miguel is ready to rejoin the world, but he moves very slowly. It seems his legs just can't work at a normal pace.

He's back together with his old girlfriend, Lita, and playing in a band with his friend, Romeo. He's seeing a shrink and getting picked on by the locals. All seems kosher, except for these dreams he keeps having about lemon orchards and freaky women being buried alive by lemons.
After Miguel and his two companions explore the local lemon orchard late at night, the truth about Miguel's troubles gets more and more blurry. What was life like for Miguel before his coma? Is there more beneath the surface?

It kept me reading just so I could see what Miguel's problem was. This graphic novels has some language and a few scantily clad women shots. It is recommended for college age and up.

August 02, 2007

Teen Program: Nifty 50s Mystery Party

This past Friday, July 27th, teens gathered at my library to solve a mystery set in a 50s diner. This was the first time I had bought a mystery party kit online from host-party.com. I would highly recommend using their pre-made mystery games. The price is good (only $30 in most cases), they have lots of choices (all settings and for all age groups), and you get everything online. This means you can print your kit immediately, email invitations out to everyone, and post pictures before and after the party.

The Nifty 50s was a scripted play. I had teen actors I found from both my TAB and a comedy improv workshop I held back in the spring. The mystery was so cute. John E. "The B" Good is going steady with Peggy Sue, who is having a birthday today. But John seems like he is more interested in the car he is driving, a 1957 Shavy El Domino. When the car ends up missing, John interrogates everyone in the diner, including Maybelle Lean, the waitress, Miss Molly, the high school etiquette teacher, Mack the Knife, the local bad boy, Moana Leesa, the beatnik, James Steen, the shop teacher, and Mary Lynn Mudrow, the blonde bombshell with some awful good hotwiring skills.


We had a local 1950s style diner donate the food, and they also loaned us materials for our set. The set was two card tables, oilcloth tablecloths, and table decorations, such as napkin holders, mustard/catsup bottles, salt and pepper shakers, and restaurant menus. The set called for milkshakes, and we created them with mashed potatoes and food coloring. 45 people attended and had a fabulous time.