Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Widow of the South - (Audiobook) - Robert Hicks

This book has been on my list for a while. I liked most of the story, but it was a little hard to get into the romance with Carrie and Zachariah being mean to each other at first and her beating him up after she realized he loved her. She was weird, and he was stubborn. I liked how Zachariah carried the colors onto the battlefield-that was a good part, and, even though she acted kind of obsessively about it, I liked that Carrie made it her mission to get the soldiers buried properly. I shed a few tears at the ending, but I don't feel like I really connected with the whole story or the rest of the characters in it. I wanted more romance and explanation of what came to pass between Zachariah and Carrie. It's been a little while since I listened to the book, and I have forgotten a few things so I know this review is probably not very helpful.

I liked it, but I don't think I'll listen to this one again.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Honor Thyself (Audiobook) - Danielle Steel

The only thing I really liked about this audiobook was the narrator's voice. I thought he sounded nice and inviting. He made me want to hear the whole story. The story itself was just like a boring drive in a circle with barely any bumps in the road. I didn't connect with the main character, Carol, and it just seemed like the whole thing was all talk and no action. Yes, there were semi-romantic moments at the end, but I couldn't even get into those because I was imagining a beautiful woman in her 50s getting frenched by a 70-year old grandpa. That's not appealing to me at all. Did Steel write this for the elderly crowd? Probably. It's too calm, aside from the bombing, but even that was calm because Steel left gritty details about it out of the story. Another thing that bothered me was the whole time there was this allusion to some rift between Carol and her daughter, and the story never fully went into that issue. The story just scratched at the surface and was so repetitive about the relationship Carol had with her daughter before the bombing. I kept waiting for some deep dark secret to be revealed and got nothing.

I was entertained on my drives while listening, but I think Steel needs to delve deeper next time and write in more juicy details and mystery or drama.

Thanks for letting me borrow this, Heather. ;o)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Donnie Darko

I'm still debating how I feel about this movie. I know that I'll have to watch it a couple more times to pick up on all the little things and connections. Overall, for now, I appreciate schizo Donnie as the hero - giving his own life for the sake of others - in the end which is really the beginning and the end. Oh, and obviously the guy in the bunny costume, Frank, was really freaking freaky. I'm glad he eventually takes off the suit, though, because that would have given me nightmares if I hadn't known who or what was really inside it. Biggest surprise - seeing Patrick Swayze. I didn't know he was in this movie before I started watching. He was good, and it made me sad seeing him again. Still, I'm glad he's got another good film credit. Yes, I do think this was a good movie, even though I don't fully understand it all yet. I'm still intrigued by the time travel elements. I love time travel in movies and the way it messes with my mind. Oh, and favorite line so far - Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion. This movie has some excellent weirdos.

Maggie Gyllenhaal played Jake Gyllenhaal's sister, and that was neat to see the real-life sibling actors acting together. This was Jake's first major film I believe (not sure), and he was excellent as dark, troubled, sleep-walking schizophrenic Donnie. Jake has continued to get better and better over the years, and, I have to add, hotter and hotter. I patiently await the day he's up for an Oscar.

Next time I watch this, I'm sure I'll have more comments.

Up in the Air

Up in the Air was an instant favorite, and it immediately reminded me of About Schmidt - another movie I really loved which moved to me to tears.

Now, Up in the Air is no tear-jerking revelation, but it's still pretty moving and good entertainment. I'd say the romance in this film is more between the main character and his lifestyle, but there is also a short-lived affair for George Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, with Alex who is played by the lovely, sexy and, at one moment, semi-nude Vera Farmiga. Clooney still looks good and still knows how to trick you into thinking he really is the guy you're watching on the screen. Anna Kendrick was excellent in her role of Natalie. I think she plays the perfect fresh-out-of-college-wants-to-please-everyone-before-herself-hardcore-business-exec-newbie. Her crying scene is hilarious, too, and I especially like the relationship that developed between Kendrick's and Clooney's characters. The thing I like best about this movie is the end; Bingham's last few lines and the way in which they are delivered by Clooney - almost poetic. I also think the title is perfect, and I take it two ways in relation to Clooney's character - He's literally up in the air, and also the things and relationships in his life are how he wants them to be so nothing is really "up in the air" in those areas. Ryan Bingham has got his certainty, and I think that's nice. There are probably more meanings to that title, and maybe I'm naive in picking up on those obvious ideas, but that's what I gather for now.

SPOILER ALERT IF YOU CONTINUE READING THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH!!! Even though it wouldn't be my career choice, I sort of envy one part of Ryan Bingham's job...the part that includes flying from place to place and never staying put. Of course, after a while that becomes boring and very routine, and I'd want more normalcy on the ground. I think Ryan Bingham's obsession with earning 10-million sky miles and his elite membership card collection sort of pacifies his need for more in a way, and though he eventually does give in to being the guy who does want more of a normal, settled life aka the guy he previously decided not to be, you can somehow predict that he'll return to being that almost non-existent shadow flying overhead. That's where his destiny lies, and, at the end of the film, I was comforted knowing that Bingham was back "up in the air" and didn't end up miserable and alone. Yes, he is alone, but I think he's happy. He's happier, at least, for having taken a chance and opened himself up to something new, even if it was just for a short time. What's the old saying? Better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Just finished this book for the second time. I think I read it in college in one of my promotions classes b/c I immediately remembered the first part of the book when I started reading. But I can't remember now if I ever finished it the first time b/c I didn't remember the end. It's not like me to not finish a book though so maybe I just don't have a good memory.

Overall good book. In my head the dad ended up beatin' the killer up, but I guess I just make up happy endings in my memory. Interesting. But the book did end happy so maybe I just wanted some revenge for the dad. I feel like Harvey deserved a worse punishment for what he did. I liked how everything seemed normal on the outsides of the houses but so much was going on inside. I thought Ray and Ruth were good characters, and I loved how everyone came together at the end. They were all so different but connected.

And now for the quotes - These were my favorites from Lovely Bones.

Pg. 63 "Monkeys! - and he began on the rippling path to forgetting for one more day. The shadow of years was not as big on his small body. He knew I was away, but when people left they always came back." - It's funny to me that they spent so much time protecting Buckley when he didn't mind as much as the others. He was "with" his sister longer than most of the people in the book. In a way he was more comfortable with her being gone than the older people in the book.

Pg. 120 "I did begin to wonder what the word heaven meant. I thought, if this were heaven, truly heaven, it would be where my grandparents lived. Where my father's father, my favorite of them all, would lift me up and dance with me. I would feel only joy and have no memory, no cornfield and no grave." - Nice to see she got her heaven later on.

Pg. 125 " 'How to Commit the Perfect Murder' was an old game in heaven. I always chose the icicle: the weapon melts away.' " FINALLY - I get the reference to the icicle from the movie. I was totally confused. Eh..not my favorite.

Pg. 280 "His love for my mother wasn't about looking back and loving something that would never change. It was about loving my mother for everything - for her brokenness and her fleeing, for her being there right then in that moment..." - This is really pretty. If it had that funny old style, it would sound like something out of one of Jane Austen's novels.

Pg. 316 "I now saw that drinking was part of what made her who she was. If the worst of what she left on Earth was a legacy of inebriated support, it was a good legacy in my book." - I like this. Accepting people for who they are "flaws" and all.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I definitely did not expect what I got with this film. It was so much freakier than I imagined, and the twists in the plot were really good ones. I figured out what the first major plot twist was before it was revealed, but I couldn't be sure I was correct about it until everything actually I wouldn't say that this movie was predictable.

I like sci-fi thrillers, and this fits that category perfectly. Ben Foster was super as the character Bower. I'm glad he got to be a good lead. I haven't seen him play a decent character in a while. The other minor characters are good, too, but they were kind of forgettable after the movie was over. Dennis Quaid was adequate in his role.

The special effects were fantastic, and the monsters were extra creepy-looking with their fast walking and jerky movements. The first instant I saw the enemy monsters, I thought the movie might turn sour and go downhill from there, but it only got better and more intense. I was on the edge of my seat at times, and I was glad to be. I didn't expect that from the previews. The ending was satisfactory, and I'd definitely watch this again.

Bluray quality was excellent!

The Blind Side

Great feel-good family movie. There were some tear-jerking moments, and there were alot of laugh out loud parts, too. I think the whole cast was well appointed, and I especially liked the chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. I think Sandra Bullock definitely deserved the Oscar she won for her role as Leigh Anne Tuohy in this because she really nailed it with the sassy attitude, the accent and just the way she carried herself overall. You can get the sense of who her character is just from the way she walks.

The fact that this movie is based on a true story really makes the movie touch my heart on a whole other level. We need more Tuohy families in the world.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Aw, I loved this movie. It was fun, funny, romantic and so sweet. Audrey Tautou is one of my favorite foreign film stars, and Gad Elmaleh is on my list now, too. He reminds me of Aidan Quinn...similar facial features and huge blue eyes. I'm a totally smitten kitten with him and his character in this movie, Jean. How can you not like a guy who's a hopeless romantic willing to do anything and pay anything to win over the woman he loves no matter how many times she rejects him? Especially one with his charm and boyish grin. He does a good job of feigning love on screen. I had to rewind a few times to read the subtitles because I was busy watching him watch Tautou's character.

This French love affair is perfect for a girls' night in or if you're just in a feel-good mood. Reminds me a little of French Kiss and Heartbreakers mixed together. I think I'm going to buy it. Heather, you should watch it with me when I get it. It's just oh so sweet!

Easy Virtue

Based on the play by Noel Coward, this is an updated version from the 1927 silent film of the same name. I didn't read the play or watch that silent version Alfred Hitchcock directed. I don't know if this update is an improvement on that either, but most of this was a little bland aside from the scenes with Colin Firth and Jessica Biel together. I knew the way the story would end right from the moment Larita (Jessica Biel) met John's (Ben Barnes) family and Jim (Colin Firth). Jim is John's father, but he seems just as much a stranger to the family as Larita. I wasn't that interested in the first fifteen minutes, but I kept watching to see if I was right about who would end up together and because I adore Colin Firth.

The movie improved only slightly, and there were some funny moments, and some weird ones. There was also extremely light flirting between the ultimate end couple, whom I paired together correctly. The end was mostly satisfying, but there was no last kiss at the calm yet climactic ending. I was so hoping for at least one peck of the lips...even a loving stare would have sufficed. Alas, I wouldn't recommend renting this and definitely not buying it, but if you can watch it instantly over the internet like I did then do that instead.

Little extra - I liked all of Jessica Biel's costumes, and, again, I adore Colin Firth. :o)

Under the Greenwood Tree

I recommend this to those who love romantic dramas with a touch of fun and flirting. It was a nice surprise period piece. I'm glad Netflix had this available to instantly stream so I could view it first before buying, which I did a few days after I watched it.

I've never read the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The chemistry between Keeley Hawes and James Murray was evident from the beginning, and their romantic scenes were more than satisfying. I especially loved their second kiss in the woods when, right after it happens and before it continues, Dick Dewey (Murray) says to Fancy Day (Hawes), "I knew you felt the same, Fancy. I knew it. I tasted it on your lips the first time I kissed you." I mean, come on, that is hot! I'd want to kiss him again, too! You just don't hear lines like that anymore. And what is even hotter is the scene in the river with a half-naked James Murray. Now I know he's a little scrawny, but the faint ab lines and the wet bod are plenty tasty eye candy for me.

Aside from all that hot stuff, I enjoyed the classic struggle Fancy was faced with, choosing love or choosing to be loyal to her father. It's fun to watch all the tension and the misunderstandings unfold as the end of the story draws nearer.

This really was a great BBC classic, and the quality of the picture is very comfortable to watch. It's not fuzzy or furry like some of their older productions. The sound is of good quality, and the costumes were well-executed as well as the setting and props.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

I was bored. I was not hooked from the beginning, and I had a hard time staying awake. The lack of Aslan in most of the story was disappointing. I followed everything, and I wasn't lost at all...even after nodding off a few times, I was able to pick up where I woke up and didn't feel like I missed much. The special effects were great, but I just didn't connect to the characters like I did in the first movie. This story in the chronicles is more evenly paced to me, and maybe that is part of the problem. I didn't feel like there were enough ups or downs, and I like that imbalance to keep me on my toes.

One thing I did like was Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian. He's oddly attractive. I thought the kiss with him and Susan was a bit forced, though. Again, no connection to the characters for me.

Maybe I should watch this again. I feel like I'm being unfair somehow. I'll be sure to comment or update whenever I give it another go. So many people like this movie, so don't let my review keep you from at least renting it.

Love Happens

I watched this a few months ago. Getting caught up on reviews here.

I thought this was a bit slow at times, but it was sweet and sad. You can't expect sad movies to move too quickly or else you lose the sad quality. This appeared to be more of a romance from the trailers, but the movie focused mostly on Eckhart's character dealing with personal tragedy. I admit I shed a few tears for the poor guy and his situation.

Thankfully the slow, budding romance between the two main characters eventually blooms and there is enough interaction between them to balance out the unhappy moments and even induce a bit of laughter and a few "aw" moments.

Aside from what the movie is about, I think the gray Seattle setting was an appropriate backdrop, sometimes adding to the depressing state of things. I enjoyed the sweetness of the flower shop and the VW van that Aniston's character drove, and her house and garden were just adorable and refreshing. All that lightness around her balanced out the darkness with which Eckhart's character was surrounded for most of the movie.

Good for a rental or when you just want to cry and then feel better about life again.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Taking of Pelham 123

I thought the action was slightly on the light side (what was in it was good). The excessive swearing was a bit repetitive and seemed unnecessary for Travolta's character. Four-letter words don't make a movie better. Don't misunderstand me, though, I'm not opposed to cursing. It just appeared to me that the writers were at a loss for original lines.

Washington and Travolta delivered as Garber and Ryder, but I was hoping for a little more depth to their characters...some flashbacks into at least one of their lives would have been nice instead of just listening to them both talk about themselves in general. It was too easy for the good guys to figure out who Ryder really was, too. I think they should have had to dig further and actually investigate. I like it when I don't know something in the story until the characters in the movie actually find out, and I figured Ryder out in the first twenty minutes.

The end was lacking...would like to have seen a better lead into the closure of Garber's personal situation. Overall not bad but a bit of a disappointment. Won't watch it again, but I'd recommend it as a rental to a friend.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Law Abiding Citizen

Another Gerard movie! Woohoo! This one was good, I thought, but it ended kind of abruptly. It was all tricky at first then they suddenly figured it out. Beautiful shot of Gerard when he gets arrested. Check it out if you're a fan.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Paranormal Activity

Just as Blair Witch did, this movie gave me a headache with all the shaking and blurry close-ups. The woman who played Katie annoyed me. She tried too hard to make her emotions seem real, and I wasn't sold on her really being stressed out about her demon/ghost thing. The way Micha and Katie spoke to each other mostly in comlpete sentences kept reminding me that this was all fake.

Even though I did jump and get a little tense at the "scary" parts, I got over those moments in a matter of minutes instead of being left with that spine-tingling feeling I expected to have long after the movie's end. The ending ruined the movie for me with the weird face-morphing. I think it should have just ended with a long stare into the camera for and then a slow face-morph as the screen faded to black.

Even though most of this movie was annoying, I do think the special effects were fairly decent. I give it 3 stars out of 5, meaning it was OK, and I could tolerate another viewing. This could have been so much better, though.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I'm so ready for the adventures that Harry, Hermione and Ron are about to have, finally, away from the school of Hogwarts in the seventh movie (so my sister tells me...I haven't read the book series so I don't know). In this sixth movie of the series, there was key information about how to actually kill Lord Voldemort, Dumbledore's traumatic exit, and Hermione finally reveals to us and to Harry her true feelings for Ron. Those are the three things I remember most. There were great special effects, as usual, and the story moved along at a steady pace, but it just seems that there was a lot of filler in this installment. Honestly, I don't remember most of it, and I'm sure that's not what the producers of this film intended. I'm patiently awaiting the last HP movie, and I hope it's just as memorable as the first five films and ten times more exciting than all the rest in the series.