Saturday, June 16, 2012
Quirky. Whimsical. Nostalgic. Sentimental.
Moonrise Kingdom (which for some reason I keep calling Monsoon Rising) is a really sweet film. The characters are well thought out and conceived and felt truly unique. Despite their quirkiness and sometimes out there behaviour they felt quite real and genuine. Wes Anderson's direction is nuanced and stylized. The look of the film is perfect to the time and the story about first love. I think you have to enjoy Anderson's work or be a fan of films that have a slower pace to really like the film.
Anderson takes the time to linger on moments and by doing this he creates the mood: A nostalgic mood that takes one back to a more innocent time. Weren't we all innocent (no matter of decade) when we first fell in love?
Thursday, June 7, 2012
It's the near future and a war has ravaged America where the only survivors are people under 18 or the elderly due to vaccinations being given to them and not the middle aged people. The Spore Wars is what it's called. And these aren't your average old people. They age upwards to 200 years.
Callie is 16 and living on the streets with her sickly younger brother and best friend Michael. They go from abandoned building to building fleeing the Marshals who round up unclaimed minors and put them in institutions until they turn 19. But Callie has a chance to change all that. She goes to the body bank. The body bank is a place where rich elders rent out the bodies of young people so they can live vicariously through them for about a month. Callie doesn't think it's the right thing to do, but with her sickly brother getting sicker she has no choice and she needs the money. Callie gets a makeover and is rented out, but her rental goes haywire and she wakes up in her renter's home, an elderly rich woman by the name of Helen, and slowly begins to uncover the real story behind the body bank. The body banks wants to not just rent out bodies of the young, but to sell them on a permanent basis effectively killing the young person inside.
Starters is a quick read and fun. It has some mystery that needs to unravel, not to mention an ominous and frightening character who goes by the name of The Old Man. Who is this Old Man? Well we don't know, nor do we find out. Perhaps the sequel will lay it out for us. I did find at times the writing to be repetitive and I'm not sure why towards the end a full page was written that summed up the entire plot in the guise of Callie thinking about what has happened to her. I think the author should have felt confident enough in the plot thus far and in her readers to know that we don't need to be spoon fed the obvious.
It's not the best YA dystopian book out there, but it's worth a read this summer.
A dimwitted ruthless arrogant dictator comes to America. Sounds like a funny premise, right? Well a premise does not make a film. What a disappointment. I can't say I hated it or that I liked it. It was just a waste of time and money.
Sacha Baron Cohen plays Aladeen with such passion and conviction that it's quite a let down when that same passion wasn't put into the actual script. Here's how I think it went down:
Cohen: "This character is so funny that it'll simply play itself out."
Film Crew/Producers/Anyone with a brain:"But maybe we should plot out these scenes to make sure we have a story."
Cohen: "This character will make the scenes funny. Don't worry."
They should have worried. It really felt as though the writing was done by a very lazy person(s) because they really thought Sacha could just stay in character as the dictator and any scene he's in would turn out funny. But milking a woman's breasts, or commenting on hairy armpits or shitting on someone isn't funny. And I have the funny bone of a 12-year-old boy most of the time. All the funny bits felt really forced. Even the few people in the audience were laughing out of pity. I think I laughed a couple of times but only because of a personal relationship to a couple of the jokes that aren't actually funny.
I thought Borat was hysterical and I was hoping The Dictator would be something like that because the premise really is funny. The character had such potential to be funny and memorable. When the funniest moment of the film is the beginning with a dedication to Kim Jong Il you know you're in trouble. And I have to say that Margaret Cho plays a better dictator on 30Rock than Cohen plays on the big screen.
Save your money. Rent Borat instead or watch the funeral for Kim Jong Il. Or if you're looking for a fish out of water story rent Coming to America (when Eddie Murphy used to be funny) Those would be far more worthier of your time.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Pandemonium is book two in a trilogy by Lauren Oliver and things are heating up as a strong rebel force is fighting back against those who think love is wrong. I would call it an oppressive regime, which it is, but there isn't just one person or force at play here. It's a collective mentality that is the bad guy.
Lena has escaped the city and has entered the Wilds where she meets up with others like her. Those who don't want the cure. Those who fight for love. I enjoyed the structure of the book as the chapters go back and forth between what happened in the past while she was in the wilds and what's happening now in the present as she's joined the rebellion and has infiltrated NYC now to get close to the DFA leaders. An extreme group who want all uncureds wiped off the face of the earth.
Oliver's writing style is very rich and she has a talent for words. I'm more of a simplistic writer, but I admire those who can embellish a simple act or scene that doesn't bog the reader down.
The story itself is pretty predictable as I figured out the ending very early on. It's a solid ending (a cliffhanger) but I also kind of wanted something different. Something less predictable. Then again I like to analyze plot points and beats and the ending fits well within those confines. And let's face it a love triangle work for a reason. They bring about conflict and drama and pain. Things that are ripe for the picking. I do hope that Lena finds her mother and that this kind of maternal love is explored more so than the romantic kind.
I look forward to the final book as I hope the story gets even darker. And although love is a great thing to fight for I think this story needs to show that love can also turn to hate and chaos if abused.