Category Archives: Reviews

By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.

A while back I won a copy of Ways to Live Forever in a drawing over at Vulpes Libris. If you know me, a free book is a good book, but I still let it languish on by bookshelf for quite some time. I finally got around to it and finished just a few nights ago. On nights when Anna has a bit of trouble getting to sleep, I’ll read a bit to her until she drifts off. I read this one incrementally over about two weeks or so, and I’m not sure it was a choice on my part. A book about an eleven-year-old dying of leukemia is probably not something you want to fall asleep to. Regardless, it was a great book. Oddly, it is also a kid’s book.

This may seem a bit strange to some, it did a bit to me as well, that in our day and age where we do everything we can to shelter kids from anything unpleasant, let alone anything morbid, someone would address such a book to kids. This is, after all, an era where Rapunzel didn’t let down her hair so charming prince could rescue her from a tower prison, put there by an evil witch. No, no, she merely was a girl told by her grumpy aunt that she couldn’t go out and play. So her friend climbed up inside, with the help of Rapunzel’s extraordinary hair and they had a play date together. This is pathetic, yes, but I seemed to have gotten side-tracked.
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If we hit the Chicken Inn, we’ll be knee-deep in fried chicken.

The Bank Job – This movie caught me completely off guard. I was expecting a throw-away action flick in the same vein as The Transporter. Not so. The Bank Job is actually a very entertaining and serious heist film.

Set in the 1970’s, the movie manages to bring in Government conspiracies and cover-ups, dirty cops, and a brutal torture scene and still made it seem plausible. They even brought in a love triangle without making it feel tacked on to please a female audience. I am still amazed that the producers managed to fit in all the same components as every other heist movie (even the rag tag group of misfit thieves) and still made the movie feel original. It is a great throwback, and really feels as if it could have been made about thirty years ago.

Jason Statham did an excellent job bringing some depth to his character and not churning out another typical Statham film (though I do tend to enjoy those as well). The supporting cast worked well together; not a single character standing out as being out of place or miscast. Another huge praise I have, is the total lack of gimmicky gadgets and tools. The whole plot comes off without ever becoming cheesy or cliché.

I have only two complaints that I can think of: 1) a bit of a throwaway love-scene in the middle of the movie (though it does become important later on), and this is no fault of the movie itself 2) I was a bit lost for a few minutes at the beginning. This is mainly due to the fact that it was late at night and I had already turned my brain off expecting mindless action. Being confronted by an actual plot, I was pleasantly surprised.

I definitely recommend this one.

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There’s a reason you don’t live in Trona.

Just Add Water – This obvious piece of festival bait started out with a bit of promise, but by the time the final fifteen minutes rolled around, things had completely fallen apart.  The main characters were decent, and except for a completely flat and one-sided Danny DeVito, somewhat likable.  This movie tried to recreate the feel of movies like Waitress, an abominable piece of garbage in its own right.  The problem with this sort of movie is that it reduces everything and everyone to a single dimension: the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad.  Nothing unexpected happens and no one shows the least bit of intelligence.  These stories show simple people with simple dreams, but they just end up seeming condescending.
I’m actually really tired of the term off-beat being used to justify comedies that aren’t funny. But that’s a whole other post.

The movie is all about a guy named Ray (Dylan Walsh) who lives in the desolate and, incidentally, real town of Trona, California.  He is a parking garage attendant who spends his nights talking to his white trash neighbors and dealing with his reclusive and unloving wife.  The town is run by the local meth-dealer who happens to be about 17 years-old and acts like a dictator.    Ray is completely meek and unassuming, taking abuse from just about everyone in his life.  His only joy is the daily trip to the local grocery store where his beautiful and single high school sweetheart Nora (Tracy Middendorf) works.  If you can’t figure out what is going to happen based on that information, I pity you.
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Report back to me when . . . well when it makes sense.

Something very exciting happened this last weekend. It happened only once this year, and, if everything goes to plan, it will happen an unprecedented three times next year. Yes, last Friday, the incredible Coen Brothers released another movie: Burn After Reading.

Everything about the movie showed promise: a great cast, great filmmakers, even a great poster. We saw it on Friday night, and we were not disappointed. I had been looking forward to it for quite a while, and was a bit worried that I would get a bit too hyped about it and end up disappointed. Not so.

The movie is a ensemble set up, but mainly follows two gym workers (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) as they attempt to blackmail the CIA into giving them money for what they think is classified information they have stumbled upon. The two bumble around, eventually going to Russians to try selling the information there. Everything falls apart as all the characters paths cross again and again. Throughout, plot lines of lost love, divorce, broken dreams, self-obsession and alcoholism are woven together, all treated with the typical Coen style of holding nothing sacred and willingness to send anything up for a gag, laugh or plot point.
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With regret and also hope, The First Eric Sanderson

It’s not often I get hit as hard by a book as I did by The Raw Shark Texts. I just finished it this morning on my way into work, and, wow. I am completely bowled over. And this is just author Steven Hall’s first novel.

It is the story of a man named Eric Sanderson who wakes up with complete amnesia. He has no idea who or where he is, only that he has just woken up in extreme panic. (I might skip the rest of this paragraph if I were you. At least not if I didn’t like spoilers.) Finding a note giving him instructions, he calls up a psychiatrist, Dr. Randle, who has been handling his case. This was the eleventh recurrence of his memory loss. Sanderson begins to receive letters and packages from his past self, set on delay to arrive periodically. By following the instructions and crawling further and further into a strange world, Sanderson tries to escape from his recurring and ever increasingly real dreams of being hunted by a giant shark. Not only is he haunted by the shark, but also by his past which always sits just out of reach. The text continues to follow Sanderson deeper and deeper into either insanity or enlightenment; it’s never clear which. The shark, it turns out, is a conceptual fish, hunting Sanderson, wanting to consume his self. Eric must find a way to kill the shark, there is no other escape. Continue reading

Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery. You got to make it do what it do in the moment baby.

After hearing about the movie 21 for some time and having been constantly asked whether I had seen it yet, I finally watched it. It was more of a situation where we were at the video store trading in our online rentals and didn’t really feel like taking the time to make the rounds through the store. We were tired. We decided to just grab this one as it was first in the new release section and go.

You know how they say driving tired is the same as driving drunk? It’s the same with picking movies. When you’re tired your reasoning skills go out window. This is my excuse. We didn’t even get around to watching the movie that night; we just went to bed.

We watched it last night and I thought there were some really funny moments to the movie, the only problem being that those particular moments were not intended to be funny. (You may or may not consider some of the following comments to be spoilers. I don’t but you might so read at your own discretion.)
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Our best thoughts come from others. aka The Links Vol. 2

Here are a few more websites I think you all might enjoy. Give them a shot and let me know what you think.

Noisetrade.com – This site is a great place to find a few new bands. The music is available on a name your own price scheme, which is nice, or you can choose to invite three friends to download the same album and then you get it free. I’m sure I have annoyed friends who keep getting email invitations, but at least I’ve gotten some good music out of it. Downloads are full albums only, with about fifty albums available right now.

Daytrotter.com – The music information website is different than a lot of other music site out there. It’s hard to nail down just why I like it, but I do. Give it a shot, then maybe you can tell me why I like it.

NoDebtPlan.net – This is a good personal finance blog. Continue reading