Sunday, December 24, 2006

Movie of the Week - Night at the Museum

Night at the Museum
Staring: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Jake Charry, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, Kim Raver, Patrick Gallagher, Rami Malek, Pierfrancesco Favino, Steve Coogan, Owen Wilson

Premise: A "loser" inventor tries out for a night security job at the Metropolitan Museum so he can create some stability in his life for his son. The opening is a result of cut backs at the museum, as they are replacing three older security men with one younger, and cheaper, alternative. But as Larry discovers his first night there, there is a whole lot more to the job description than anyone ever told him - for at night, all the exhibits in the museum come to life. Will he be able to take control of the chaos and his life, or will he let this opportunity for something bigger slip past him like all the others?

Review: This was a light and very fun film! Each room/area of the museum had its own set of surprises and challenges. And it was an utter treat to see Mikey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke, and Bill Cobbs! (Watch the ending credits and you'll see Dick can still cut a mean rug! lol) Lots of funny moments. Lots of cute moments too. Even a little history thrown in for flavor! This movie was fresh and a lot of fun! ***1/2!!!!!

Movie of the Week - Eragon

Staring: Edward Speleers, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Djimon Hounsou, Sienna Guillory, Rachel Weisz

Premise: A young farm boy, Eragon, gets drawn into a ploy to free the world from the grip of the dictator Galbatorix, when he finds and bonds with the last dragon egg in the world. Will he and the dragon Saphira be able to bond properly and mature fast enough to be able to join the freedom fighters and help make a difference before they are hunted down and killed?

Review: Unfortunately there was little in this film that has not been seen before. For younger kids or teenagers never exposed to fantasy, it would be a great starter, but for those who have had interest in the genre for a time, there is unfortunately little to recommend it. Mr. Speleers does a commendable job, and Jeremy Irons was superb as always. John Malkovich seemed to be given little to nothing to work with and aside for posturing a lot, must be saving the action for the sequel. The dragon sequences were extremely nice, and Rachel Weisz voice worked well and was one of the highlights of the movie. Light fare, decently enjoyable, don't expect any surprises. **1/2!

Book Review - Arturo el Rey

Arturo el Rey
by Joan Upton Hall

Premise: King Author promised he would return when the world most needed him. But how bad does it have to get for him to fulfill his promise? Arturo has been suffering from strange dreams, dreams of King Author and Camelot. They've become especially strong after a virus ravages the states and has brought humanity and civilization to the brink of extinction. Chaos rules, people become little more than animals - is there something he can do to try to stop this slide into barbarism and restore some order to the world?

Review: This story is rich in detail, thought, and research. The characters come alive on the page and the plight of the survivors becomes your own. Set mostly in Texas, lots of the sites are easily recognizable. Arturo's and Shanna's love comes across as more hormonal than heartfelt, but otherwise the novel is a wonderful story of battle, survival, betrayal, and hopefully lessons learned. I'm looking forward to the sequel and New Camelot's continuing progress. ***1/4!!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Movie Websites - Too carried away?

There's a trend I've been noticing over the last year or two that, to be honest, seems to be a bad one. This trend affects movie sites. By movie sites, I mean the site created by the film makers for a specific movie. All of them, anymore, are filled with so many bells and whistles, that they take forever to load. Worse, a lot of them get so carried away with java script, they end up leaving no room for actual info on the film, the actors, what have you! Or the navigation process is in no way intuitive, leaving you to hunt and pec and hope you can figure out where to go. Plus each time you click on anything, you go through the rigamarole of java script all over again making everything take forever! And that's on DSL!

Though I still go find the main site and link it, more and more I keep having to go to places like IMB and Yahoo Movies to get the info I need for a simple review! It's a sad trend. *sigh* Hope they get a clue soon! :P But who knows, maybe it's just me. heh.

Movie of the Week - Apocalypto

Staring: Dalia Hernandez, Marya Serbulo, Gerardo Taracena, Raoul Trujillo, Rudy Youngblood

Premise: A young warrior named Panther Claw, from a South American jungle tribe, has his life thrown into chaos when Mayan warriors steal into his village and slaughter or enslave all those there. Dragged against his will from all he's ever known, he sees the great Mayan civilization going through the throes of drought and pestilence. He and his are to either be sold or become sacrifices. Sacrifices, which according to those in power, will appease the gods and make life good again.

Review: A totally gorgeous film - the vistas and photography were amazing. One beautiful thing done right off the bat, is how Mr. Gibson gets the audience to resonate with Panther Claw and his fellows through a joke played on one of their friends. This basically breaks the ice between the audience and the film and we become immediately involved and start caring for these people who seemed so removed from all we know. A lot of the information comes across very subtly, hints of the Mayan politics, of the manipulation of the popullace, and attempts to retain order at any cost. A bit of mysticism is thrown in and an amazing assortment of actors that get things across regardless of language barriers. There are definitely a number of graphic scenes, like beheadings and the good old pulling the beating heart from the sacrifice--so you will probably want to see it first before taking the kids. Lots of attention to detail, weaponry, customs, attitudes. Lovely! Wish he could have spent more time in the big city so we could have learned more! ***1/2!!!!

Movie of the Week - Stranger than Fiction

Staring: Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Queen Latifah, Dustin Huffman
Premise: Harold, an IRS auditor, is far from your typical dude. Numbers and analysis are his life, and he leads a very ordered and lonely existance. All this changes one day when he starts hearing a voice - one that narrates his life and even things going on in his life he does not know about. Then one day, the voice pronounces his lack of knowledge about his impending death.
Review: Talk about real life intruding into fiction! lol. Quirky, sometimes deep, this was a fun, and for me as a writer, disturbing film. There are a lot of really neat things they do in this movie, all centered around Harold, like popping spreadsheets and numbers beside his head as he goes through his analytical thought processes. A more pathetic exitance than Harold's would be hard to find, other than possibly the writer, Karen Eiffel. She's been stuck on how to finish a book for years. And somehow it is this very book that ends up being a mirror of Harold's life. Yet the narrating commentary helps Harold break out of his old life and actually start living as he realizes things he's known all along but never noticed. I think one of my most favorite scenes was when Harold stood in the IRS filing room and the narrator talks about how he stood there listening to the sound the file folders made, like waves washing onto the shore. Then if you listened, they did indeed sound exactly like it. It was a beautiful moment. And watching Karen deal with the fact her ending would affect someone real and the decision she makes between possibly her best work ever and humanity, is quite poignant. I think the only thing that soured this little tale for me was the bad editing with regards to the sound boom. I swear it intruded into the film in 3 to 4 different places and totally threw me out of the fantasy, which was rather sad. Since I am a born sucker, I was crying my eyes out by the end. heh. ***1/4!!!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Book Review - Metered Space

Metered Space
by M.D.Benoit

Premise: Jack Meter has been on a spiral of self destruction for the last two years, ever since the death of his beloved Annie. He's come back to town and the first thing he finds out is that the same type of explosives that were used to destroy Annie's lab have recently been stolen again. Jack tries to tell himself this has nothing to do with him, until other otherworldly 3rd parties decide he needs to start working as a PI again. Things get even worse for him when he is forced to team up with the one person in the universe who hates him most .

Review: Watching a down and out PI, who's given up on life suddenly have to take on being healed by aliens and travel to other worlds in search of a thief, while trying to dig out the truth being hidden from him by his clients is a great mix of the PI Noir and Science Fiction. The plot moves quickly, and plenty of surprises and complications crop up to keep Jack and the readers hopping. Great prose and descriptions, plus a hard edged, softy of a PI you can't help but like. ***1/4!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Book Review - Devil's Due

Devil's Due
by Rachel Caine

Premise: Book two of the Devil series. Lucia Garza, Jazz's partner, has things she feels best left in her past. She's come to care for Jazz, and in helping try to free her partner from jail, has started to have feelings for Ben. But the machinations from the law firm, it's employer, and their enemies are escalating. Jazz seems to be a prime target, and Lucia is not about to let them get away with that.

Review: Though I loved Jazz and was slightly disappointed at the switch of POV, I ended up loving Lucia just as much! More romance, more intrigue, more stuff blowing up! Woot! Fast paced and gritty and more info on a very convoluted past. Loads of fun! ***1/2!!!

Book Review - Devil's Bargain

Devil's Bargain
by Rachel Caine

Premise: Jazz's life has been on the downside for several months. She is no longer a cop. Her partner has been convicted of murder. She's pretty much at the end of her rope. Then out of nowhere, a law firm shows up with an unusual proposition. They want her to partner up with a woman who is also in law enforcement and with a deposit of $100K, start a detective agency, and the only strings being that they would occasionally do some jobs for the law firm.

Review: Another fun series starter by Rachel Caine! Jazz is a hoot. The story is fast paced, the characters likable, and the mystery fun. Guns, lawyers, and attitude! Who could ask for more? :P ***1/2!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Grey Thursday - WOW

I am on a CompUSA mailing list where they send you occasional deals they don't advertise on the regular mailer and in store sheet. This past week, they had a super sale on the 60inch Sony HDTV's. My husband and I were drooling instantly. The sale was going to be on Thanksgiving Day from 9pm to Midnight. Almost like a precursor to the dreaded Black Friday Shopping Day.

It was Thanksgiving morning when I saw this add and since we had several hours before we needed to pack up and head to hubby's side of the family's Thanksgiving (My side celebrated the weekend before) we did all sorts of research on HDTV's and the more we found out the more we drooled about the special.

Now mind you, hubby and I never never ever shop on Black Friday, and frankly had never paid any attention to the yearly increase in specials and special holiday hours. So in utter ignorance, we decided we would take the plunge.

So blissfully unaware of what was to come we went to the in-laws, conversed, watched the turkey fry, harassed the nieces and nephews for what they wanted for Christmas, and ate way too much.

We left the shindig about 5pm and decided to drive by the CompUSA and see if we could take a look at the TV to make absolutely sure we really knew what we were getting into. The store was closed, which was no real surprise - it was a holiday after all - but what did throw us for a loop was the fact that about five cars were in the parking lot and six plus people were standing around the entrance, a few with foldout chairs! (One or two even gave us leering looks as if we were entering their territory or something.) We laughed our way on over to the movies to while away a couple of hours before coming back. I mean, we thought, how silly of those people to be there so early for a little sale.

Watched the movie, had a good time, piled back in the car and went on over to the CompUSA. The closer we got, the bigger our eyes and disbelief became. The parking lot was packed. A huge line was formed from the door all the way around the large building, past the one behind it and around the corner. It was unbelievable! Where did all these people come from?

We parked and sat in the car till 9pm hit, then watched the line surge forward. As soon as the end of the line came parallel to us, we joined in. The flow pretty much stopped and we would inch forward every few minutes. Five policemen stood by the entrance outside and directed people or traffic around. We were still in shock.

Finally made it inside. Luckily the big sign overhead and the bank of TVs on the back wall pretty much signalled us where to go. We passed one counter where a fellow was inquiring about one of the sales items - all gone. Wall to wall people everywhere. Grabbed a sales person in the back when they came up for air and asked about the TV. Glimpsed the demo, didn't want to be there more than necessary, we said we'll take it!

Two more sales people later as they got info, wrote up tickets, etc and one of them kept apologizing over and over about the crowd. I kept wondering why she was being so apologetic till it hit me - the big snaking line going all the way from the front of the store to the back was the bloody check out line! Aiiiieeee!!!!!

Through the strangeness of life, we got lucky. I was looking for the Ice Age 2 DVD which was part of the sale and bugged one of the employees going through a DVD bin. He had no idea where they were - he was looking for them too. Well, after I grabbed the CD-R's on sale and rejoined hubby in line, and we'd crawled forward through a couple of turns, I saw the same guy again. I asked him if he'd ever found them. He said no. (Turned out he was a manager.) He then asked us what we bought. When he found out it was one of the TVs he went into the warranty spiel. Hubby took him up on it, so he had to change paperwork, so in a stroke of luck, he moved us up the line! We would have still been there 45 minutes to an hour later if not for him. (THANK YOU!!!!)

We will never take another Thanksgiving Sale lightly again. Be warned! lol!
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