September 30, 2007

Movie Reviews: Double Feature




Okay, two other movies I have seen recently:

Little Shop of Horrors, the 1960 version
Although the audio was terrible on the DVD I watched, I couldn't help enjoying what I heard. This is a more humorous version than the 1986 musical version I watched as a teenager. And there is an early appearance of Jack Nicholson as the masochistic patient who wants visit the sadistic dentist's house of pain. My favorite scene would have to be when the plant brainwashes Seymour into picking him up an additional body to feed his hunger. It was good ol' fashioned cheesy movie fun

The Machinist, starring Christian Bale
This movie will tickle your creepy bone. Christian Bale plays Trevor, a man who is so skinny, it hurts to look at him. He weighs around 120 pounds and writes his weight on a progression of sticky notes. He has wasted away to almost nothing. He doesn't sleep, he barely eats, and now he is possibly seeing visions. What could be torturing this anorexic looking soul? What causes a man to punish himself so severely. It can only be guilt, but to find out what he is guilty for, you will have to sit through this movie that is sometimes painful to watch. Remember when we watched Sixth Sense for the first time? After all was revealed, we wanted to go back and watch the movie again so it all made sense. This is another one of those films, and I kept thinking about this film long after the last scene.

Movie Reviews: 3:10 to Yuma




3:10 to Yuma
This was a Western well worth watching. The genre is not dead after all. The film is full of star power but still gritty enough to be appreciated by the arthouse crowd. Christian Bale is Dan Evans, a husband, father, and ex-war veteran with a gimpy leg. Russell Crowe is Ben, the villain, an intelligent crook who commits crimes purely to make money he didn't earn. He's not a bad guy. Ben doesn't kill out of spite.

In a purely dumb luck encounter, Dan ends up helping to capture Ben. The sheriff is going to play completely by the book. Ben won't be hung. He will given a fair trial in Yuma. But Ben's gang is sure to try and stop them. The local sheriff decides to hire 4 men to get Ben to the train on time, Dan being one of them.

Dan's oldest son, William, is so enamored with Ben he can't see straight. On the side, he reads dime store novels about Ben's adventures. He is ashamed of his father and his supposed weakness. After all, his dad hasn't been able to protect the family from fires intended to drive the family out of coveted land. William ends up following Ben against his father's strict orders and joining this band of make-do deputies.

Throughout the course of the journey to deliver Ben to the authorities, Dan is wary to get too close to Ben. But whenever a group of men spend time together, a bond of brotherhood is inevitably formed.

September 17, 2007

Book Review: Leonardo's Shadow


Giacomo is the servant of the great Leonardo Da Vinci. Several years ago, a mob was chasing him through the streets, convinced he had stolen someone else's possessions. That night, Da Vinci saved Giacomo's life. Ever since then, Giacomo has served Da Vinci faithfully and almost comically. Whenever anyone even hints that they are insulting his master, Giacomo is right there defending his honor, although it is most unsuitable for him to speak to his superiors.

His greatest ambition is to paint and learn from his master. But Da Vinci seems reluctant to teach him. Giacomo spends his days waiting on Da Vinci, hanging out with his small circle of apprentice friends, and bugging his master to finish the painting The Last Supper. Why won't Da Vinci finish the painting? The Da Vinci household has been buying food, clothing, and art supplies on a credit basis only, but the business owners are beginning to be impatient for actual money. More importantly, the Duke of Milan is most impatient for him to finish the work. Why, any day now, the Pope will visit. The Duke is hoping that the Pope will be impressed with the painting enough that he will remain an ally to the city of Milan against the French. But there may be no peace if the painting is not completed on time!

But Giacomo has much more on his mind. Who are his parents? What was in his knapsack that the mob was angry about? Is he, indeed, a common thief? Will he ever learn to paint? How will he and his master eat with no money? Is the master hiding secrets from him? Can Giacomo discover them?

Giacomo is no ordinary servant, you will soon see . . .

September 04, 2007

Book Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult


In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge . . .

Nineteen Minutes deals with a town, a school shooting, and a boy named Peter Houghton, bullied since the day he started Kindergarten. In Picoult's signature style, we hear the thoughts of multiple characters throughout the story.

The introductory chapters are some of the most suspenseful writing you will ever read. We meet Josie, a girl who looks perfect on the outside but is drowning on the inside. She's getting ready for school at Sterling High. She's dating Matt Royston, one of the most popular boys in school, but plans how she will commit suicide when she is discovered to be the fake she knows she is.

We meet Alex Cormier, her mother, a Supreme Court judge who is more comfortable on the bench than in the mother role.

We meet Lacey Houghton, a midwife. She treasure her comfortable home and role as a wife and mother.

And we meet Peter. When we first meet him, he wakes up and goes to his computer to read email messages, only to see something on his screen he never wanted to see again. We don't know what it is or why it upsets him.

We get a few scenes of a regular school day. Next thing you know, Sterling High School is in a panic because shots were fired. The detective on duty, Patrick Dushan, runs into the building processing a huge crime scene while he is trying to apprehend the shooter. We see the sights of blood, cowering students, and interrupted class activities. We hear the gunshots. We are in the middle of the action when Patrick finally tracks down the shooter in the gym locker room.

The shooter is Peter Houghton, a slight boy with delicate features. What would cause Peter to do such a thing? The only thing he says is, "They started it."