Thursday, December 15, 2011

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I have to say I was super disappointed with this book. I always open a book with an open mind, and I'm always searching for something fantastic. This book was not. I know it has some editing to be done still, but overall, I was not crazy about the storyline or the writing style.

The story was set up like it was going to involve some mysterious, dark secret. The plot ends up being rather mundane...maybe this would have worked as an 'immoral' story several decades ago. Compared to the types of behavior we see exhibited on tv, movies, and in books, this story is completely anti-climatic.

As for the writing style, every paragraph ends with an ellipsis. Every character is introduced through a list of their traits ("He was an attractive man in his early sixties with a full head of gray hair," "She was a tall and attractive woman of 33") etc. All of the characters are stereotypes and their thoughts often read like a soap opera.

This book was predictable and offered characters and scenes that have been written about for hundreds of years. I didn't fall in love with any of the characters--actually, in the end, I didn't care about any of them one way or another.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of the most interesting books I've read in ages. The only downside? I was completely annoying my family by constantly asking, "Did you know the dishwasher was invented by a woman? Did you know....Did you know...." This book was almost like an encyclopedia of inventions. Each entry was as fascinating as the last. Robertson has definitely done a great job at making seemingly mundane objects and topics rife with quirky details and memorable anecdotes. Another bonus was that I felt I had a better understanding of many aspects of history after reading this book. I grasped more of what life in the colonies was like and how war was transformed by the introduction of certain weapons. Oh, and one more....Did you know Native Americans didn't really invent popcorn?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Tower Heist": Recession-Friendly Film

I wasn't expecting a lot when I saw "Tower Heist," and this is probably why I loved the movie. It was pretty predictable, not at all thought-provoking, but especially in this day and age, sometimes you need those qualities in a movie. It's funny and ends with a good message: one day the rich will pay for cheating the poor. (Or something like that...I was feeling sad that I paid $6 for popcorn and am unemployed...but I think that was the moral of the story.)

Although Brett Ratner's film has been overshadowed by his off-screen antics (see: being fired from producing the Oscars for saying a homophobic slur,) he has created a fun, simple movie with some great physical comedy hijinks. Ratner also brought together a stellar cast. Ben Stiller does less mugging than usual, and often provides some of the movie's more level-headed humor. His group of misfits include Matthew Broderick, Jay Hernandez, Casey Affleck, and Eddie Murphy--a good mix of various comedic styles.

The real standout is Alan Alda as the Bernie Madoff-esque villain who steals from everyone working at the hotel where his penthouse is located. I'm really in love with comedians doing darker pieces right now (like Albert Brooks in "Drive" and Martin Short and Lily Tomlin on FX's "Damages.") You automatically expect these actors to be humorous and lighthearted. So when they turn out to be total sociopaths, the audience gets a nice switch. This effect is a huge advantage for "Tower Heist."

My only main problem with the film was the odd choice of casting Gabourey Sidibe (Academy Award nominee for "Precious") as a Jamaican maid who specializes in breaking into safes. Her accent was super fake and distracting, which also left my mind to trail off wondering why she would even do this movie in the first place.

Overall, this was a nice film where you don't have to think too hard, and you can laugh at the general silliness the actors bring to the table.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Miss Independent Part Deux

People like to say that Kelly Clarkson has come a long way from her "American Idol" days. But the truth is, she's always been an amazing vocalist, but it is just with her last two albums that she's finally figured out the types of songs where she can truly shine. On her album, "Stronger," which premiered last month, Clarkson produces 13 tracks that showcase her ballsy, confident (sometimes vulnerable) emotions backed by an insanely wide range and funny, yet touching lyrics.

The first single, "Mr. Know It All," is a classic take on Clarkson's attitude--along with "You Can't Win" and "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)," the songs deal with how the singer faces her many critics. Clarkson could be talking to music reviewers, to bloggers, to doesn't matter because anyone can relate to someone underestimating their strength.

The reason Clarkson is still popular more than a decade after her debut into pop stardom is her girl-next-door persona. Of course she's a supremely talented neighbor, but she gives off a realness often lacking from other girl singers. The new trend is for gorgeous, glamorous girls to sing about knowing what it's like to be put down: a la Katy Perry's "Fireworks" and Selena Gomez's "Who Says." While these songs are inspirational, they're kind of hard to believe coming from pop princesses. On the other hand, although Clarkson is beautiful, she's not over-manufactured. You can actually believe she's dealt with some bullying in her life.

The album is filled with catchy tunes with choruses that stick in your head (in a not-annoying way!) so it's easy to see that Clarkson will be around for a long time to come. And if anyone doubts that, she'll write a song about how wrong they are to judge.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Zombies Made Me Do It

Last night's episode of AMC's "The Walking Dead" helped viewers remember that it isn't just a creepy show about zombies. Instead Frank Darabont's adaptation of the comic is a deeper look into how people react differently during a crisis. Of course, the special effects are awesome and the makeup is just gross enough to make you groan (but not quite look away.) But the true value of the show can be seen in the character development. At the beginning, the archetypes were familiar--the hero dad/cop, the troublemaking Redneck misfit, the smart Asian problem solver. But then the writers dug a little deeper, and viewers are now looking at potential new villains and new hero(ines?)

There's always been a hint of something bad in Rick's fellow cop, Shane, but (HUGE SPOILER ALERT if you haven't watched the Oct. 30th episode) he has helped lead the group up til now, and he's a helluva shot. However, the ending scene revealed a darker side when a flashback shows Shane basically sacrificing sweet, fat Otis in order to escape the Walkers.

Some would argue that Shane was just doing what was necessary to survive. Otis was holding him back by being slow, and Shane cared more about Carl (his pseudo-son) than the man who accidentally shot him. But it was heartbreaking to see Otis fight back, with the desperate look on his face as he came to realize that Shane was betraying him...leaving him for bait.

Perhaps Shane will come into his own as a bad guy. The viewer has even less reason to trust him (in addition to that whole sleeping with Rick's wife thing.) Even if he goes over to the dark side, Shane still represents a former good guy--leading to the question: how would I react if I was in survival mode? Would I take down the nice old guy who might end up getting me eaten? Would I be like Andrea and decide suicide is the best option? Or would I be like Rick and insist that the world still holds some kind of beauty?

Even though the show seems like it's all about the dead, the series is really about the living and how people change when they're faced with undeniably sucky circumstances.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's About Time

I started this blog back in 2009 for my senior project at University of La Verne. It gave me a great excuse to write about my fave things in entertainment.

Flash forward to now...I'm currently searching for a job as a writer (and would love to get my short stories published!)

But while I'm waiting, I'm going to blog less formally, and with possibly shorter entries just to keep the juices flowing. And to have my opinion out there instead of them just staying in my head.