Wednesday, February 06, 2013

January Books

Books I finished reading in January 2013:

Matched by Ally Condie 4/5 stars

Unwind by Neal Shusterman 3/5 stars
The setup of the book is so far out there that it's hard to read with any sense of concern. The book is set post a second civil war that was about abortion. The war ended by both sides agreeing against prebirth abortions but for a postbirth "unwinding" (where are all the parts of the child are taken and used as transplants in other people), if the child is disagreeable, between the ages of 13 and 17. The book mostly tells the story of three unwinds on the run. It was good to read but not great. I cared about the characters but didn't love them. Another interesting way of life of this society is they can "stork" their unwanted babies. They leave them on a doorstep and the owner of the doorstep is required by law to keep the baby and raise it as his/her own.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson  5/5 stars
Excellent book. Well-written. Understated and subtle. The characters are interesting. A great book for a book club.

Monday, February 04, 2013

January Movies

Ben and I recently had a conversation about what we would do with our time if we could do anything we want.  I decided to embrace the things we mentioned and incorporate them in to my life as much as possible.  Movie watching and discussing was one of those important things to me.  So here is a list of the movies I got to watch in January 2013.  I began writing reviews for the movies closer to the end of the month, and I will include those reviews here.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Little Birds
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
About Cherry
17 Girls
Django Unchained
The Bourne Legacy
Silver Linings Playbook (4/5 stars)

An excellent movie. Bradley Cooper's acting was stand-out, definitely warranting his nomination for Best Actor at the Oscar's this year. Jennifer Lawrence was good, too, but I wouldn't have thought Oscar-worthy.
The Good Doctor  (4/5 stars)
This movie was intense and anxiety-producing. Orlando Bloom's acting was understated, which was perfect for his quiet, boring, self-righteous doctor character. It was difficult to listen to his doctor mentor, Rob Morrow, as he mumbled every line. I liked that the movie had two endings, the one the doctor considered and the one he actually chose. The movie ended with an abrupt cut-away, which was pointless and just made me think Netflix malfunctioned. Any movie that can illicit this much emotional response is worth checking out.

Searching for Sugar Man  (4/5 stars)
A good movie. Rodriquez is an interesting character. At the beginning of the movie, he plays in small clubs with his back to the audience. At the end of the movie, he is playing in front of thousands with ease. He had no performance experience in the interim! His knowledge of his fame didn't change him; he continued to work construction and live in the same small home in Detroit. Some interesting topics of discussion after watching this movie would be: the role race plays in fame in the USA in the 70s, the impact of the internet on our lives and our knowledge, the impact of music on bringing about social change, and how anger, or the absence of it, can affect our quality of life.

 The Paperboy(2/5 stars)
I enjoyed the movie in the beginning, though it was consistently inconsistent. By the end it was too needlessly confusing and inconsistent to be satisfying or enjoyable. My biggest frustration was the mid-scene cuts that cut back in to the same scene but with things slightly different and never explained. Nicole Kidman's acting is worth mentioning. It is fun to see an actor cast in a role opposite of the roles she usually plays. She did it well. Her character was flat, though, and the little change thrown in at the end seemed abrupt and underdeveloped. John Cusack was hardly in the film but stood out as a selfish, angry, crazy convicted murderer; his character was too underdeveloped though to stand-out or emotionally affect the audience much. Matthew McConaughey was himself-boo! The housekeeper/acting mother character was really probably the best acted in the movie. She was the narrator of the story. Her character brought humor and perspective to the film and story. There were too many pointless characters, for example John Cusack's character's uncle. He had some sort of commune (?) living in the wilderness that was unexplained and thus confusing. I found Matthew McConaughey's writing partner's character to be pointless, as well. His character was a sloppy excuse at character development that just emphasized the character underdevelopment.

Hotel Transylvania 
The kids loved this movie. The animation and voices were great. It was funny.

I was lucky to see two movies in the theater in January!! So fun! By far my favorite movie this month was Django Unchained. It's not for the easily offended or disturbed, but, oh, it was soo good! Thought-provoking, well-done, and so funny! The worst movie I saw this month was Ted. The most pointless movie I saw this month was Beasts of the Southern Wild. Why it is up for Best Picture and why that terrible young actress is up for Best Actress, beats me!!