July 30, 2008

Movie Review: The Happening


Okay, I am going to review this movie, but first a rant. I am so sick and tired of everyone dogging on M. Night Shyamalan and saying how much he stinks as a director. The truth is, this guy doesn't fit into our current Hollywood box. You know what? He isn't out for your votes. He is out to refine himself as a director. Let me give you just one example of this. I was at the movie theater buying my ticket for The Happening. A man in front of me is buying his ticket for the same movie. Then a 2nd gentleman walks up who isn't sure what movie to see. When the guy hears what movie that man is seeing, he says, "What's the Happening about?" The man turns to him and says, "It's a horror movie." I'm standing there in shock. What? A horror movie? What in the world gave him that idea? If you watched the preview at all, it's not a horror movie. It's freaky if anything, and you really couldn't tell what it was going to be about. Just because he made one movie that was sort of horror, doesn't mean you can put him in that category. I think this is the essential problem. People go into movies expecting to see a certain thing. When that expectation isn't met, they get angry.

Some of you might be wondering why I am making such a big deal about this. A couple years ago, M. Night came out with a movie called Lady in the Water. Movie critics hated it. A lot of people hated it. I almost didn't go see it. I am glad I ignored everyone. That was one of my favorite movies of the year. To me his movies are art. He isn't about plot or character development. It's more about the mood. He plays the audience. He is the closest thing to Hitchcock I have seen. Hitchcock was the ultimate director. I don't think M Night is on a level with Hitch yet but he is out for the same thing. He throws people off balance. They don't know what to make of him, so they reject him as a director. Not every movie of his has been successful at the box office, but he chooses his projects carefully. He makes movies that are different from anyone else. And I respect him. More than anything, I respect his search for the spiritual in the every day.

For the Happening, I again heard all sort of slanderous remarks about the movie, about Shyamalan himself, about Mark Wahlberg. Nothing happened or it's too slow or it didn't make sense. Well, maybe he did that on purpose. Maybe he doesn't want it to make sense. Maybe it's about the moment and getting a response from people, even if that response is anger.

So now that's out of the way, I can tell you I very much enjoyed The Happening. The movie is freaky more than scary.

Book Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Cross-posted at Flip the Switch

Wicked Lovely is the sort of book that will make most teen girls swoon. Aislinn has always been able to see the fairy folk, but the most important rule she has followed all her life is never let them notice you. So what’s a poor girl to do when Keenan, the gorgeous Summer King, decides that Aislinn is the girl of his dreams and his only hope for finally claiming to his throne?

The truth of Keenan’s plight is much darker than Aislinn knows. He is bound by the powers of his mother, the Winter Queen, until he can meet a girl who will be able to hold the winter staff and not be overcome by the cold. He believes Aislinn is that girl.

But Aislinn is reluctant to be courted by Keenan. She hates all fairies, for one thing, and she is crazy about her best friend (with benefits), Seth. She tries everything she can to resist Keenan’s advances, but doing so may result in tragic consequences for her, everyone she loves, and the whole of mankind and faery-kind. Will her heart be softened by Keenan’s plight?

This book is magic realism at its finest for teens. It includes hot guys (and fairies), a decision of eternal significance, and tragic love.

July 21, 2008

Library Program: The Great and Terrible Tea

This report is a little late, but I didn't want to forget to report the success of a tea party we held for teens. This party was in honor of the Libba Bray books A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. G. Ipock of Sellers Library Teens blog published an idea on ya-yaac and on her blog to have a Libba Bray Cele-Bray-tion. My co-worker and I really liked this idea so we decided to work on it together. We named our event The Great and Terrible Tea. It would be a steampunk tea party, which combines Victorian heraldry with modern edginess. You can read her report about the program here.

We had high hopes for the event but I ended up having a big challenge when I decided to design a game based on the books. What was I thinking? More on that later.

The first thing I had to do was read the book! What I read was highly appealing to teen girls because it was dark, romantic, Victorian, and angst-y. It also involves a girl who is not necessarily beautiful but very bold and brave.

July 19, 2008

Movie Review: Hancock


Hancock was worth the money in my book. It was funny, and it had the best surprise mid-plot twist I have seen in awhile. This movie could have been just another mindless comedy if it wasn't for the fact that it has heart. Will Smith's character seem genuinely depressed. Yes, there are plenty of sarcastic one-liners and humorous moments. But Hancock, for all his drunken boorishness, is (shed a tear) lonely.

Hancock has super-powers of strength, speed, and resistance to bullets, but he is also a drunken, rude, sweaty mess. And every time he helps someone, he manages to mess things up. Either he costs the citizens thousands in tax dollars for city damages or he insults somebody. And his breath stinks, taboot!

Then a soft-hearted guy with a nice suit gets saved by Hancock one day. He witnesses the anger people display afterwards and decides, gee, maybe Hancock needs a face-lift. He's a PR man, and he wants to give Hancock a new image. He brings Hancock home for dinner (it's spaghetti madness night) and exhibits the same attitude towards Hancock as one would a puppy that is destroying your shoes. Can't we keep him, hon?

His son loves Hancock immediately, but the wifey seem like she's not impressed. His plan is simple: get Hancock sequestered in prison so that people will miss him. Then, when the cops call, he'll be ready to impress 'em with his "new attitude."

It's fun, flashy, and a perfect summer film. I have mixed feelings about the ending, but I still enjoyed it.

July 14, 2008

Book Review: Body Drama by Nancy Redd


This is a book the female world has been waiting for. As a girl, growing up, did you ever wish there was a book that would just "get real" about girl's body issues? This is a book you would have liked to turn to in those difficult moments. Of course, it's ideal for girls to be able to talk to mothers, other family members, or trusted female mentors about these issues. But where does that leave teen girls that don't have one of the aforementioned in their lives? Nancy Redd, a former Miss America swimsuit winner has written the quintessential book on female adolescent sexuality. Gone are those cheesy pencil drawings with the female anatomy. Redd gets up front and personal with photographs about all parts of the female anatomy. This book has every question you have never read before that a girl might ask.

Problems such as embarrassing smells, zits, breast sizes, and pubic hair are all covered. No issue is too off-limits. This is a book for women only. Yes, I imagine a few horny teenage guys will find it at the library or bookstore and have a thrill, but this book is intended for women.

Just a sample of topics: My vagina smells, I hate the way I look down there, My breasts are too heavy, It hurts to pee, I go poo too much, I have a mustache, I feel fat, I'm addicted to tanning, and the list goes on. There are handy things like how to make a pad with toilet paper. Redd even makes some confessions about some of the topics that readers will appreciate.

July 13, 2008

Movie Review: Shopgirl

Just watched this movie last night. It stars Claire Danes as a Miss Lonely Hearts that works at the glove counter at Saks 5th Avenue. She is your typical single gal who lives alone with a cat. She doesn't seem to have much of a social life. One day she meets a real bonehead of a guy names Jeremy. He is employed but is barely making it in the world. Despite the fact that he is a deadbeat, Mirabelle (Claire's character) gives him a chance. He makes every mistake a guy should make. He doesn't open the door for her. His car is a mess. He has no money for the date. He demands a kiss.

Mirabelle is turned off, but she is lonely, so he gives him another shot. The second time doesn't get much better. Then she meets Ray (Steve Martin). Ray is the total opposite of Jeremy. He is middle-aged, well off, suave. He wants to wine and dine Mirabelle and get her into bed. He doesn't really want a relationship with her, just a companion.

While we watch the evolution and devolution of her relationship with Ray, we continue to see what happens to Jeremy. It makes it pretty obvious that he and Mirabelle will get back together since there would be no other reason to continue to show us what is happening with Jeremy.

The movie is pretty scattered. Many scenes don't seem to have a purpose. It holds together because Mirabelle is a likable girl, albeit a little naive. I think the only audience that would enjoy this movie is a girl who, like Mirabelle, is looking for that perfect relationship. It's a first date movie if I ever saw one. By the third or any post dates a couple might have, no self respecting man would choose to watch Steve Martin wine and dine anyone. He's just not handsome or charming enough to play this character. So, single gals, rent Shopgirl for an amusing trifle. All guys, whether single or otherwise, don't come within 3 feet of this movie.