December 31, 2011

Movie Review: War Horse

War Horse is the Gone With the Wind of horses, both in melodrama and length. Okay, it's not really four hours long - it just feels like it. There's even an, "As god is my witness..." line when the soldier takes Albert's horse for war duty and says, "Man to man, I swear I'll bring him back to you..." and swelling music plays in the background. Oh, please.
Nothing in this story rings true - not necessarily a requirement for a good movie, but nice if nothing else is working.
Albert, the main character, is very one-dimensional, he's the king of horse whisperers. Not very creative, tho, when it comes to naming his horse. Joey? Really? You couldn't think of something better than Joey? Okay, well, I guess Trigger was taken.
Here are a few other nits to pick: 

1. Joey and Albert plowing a field (the size of Rhode Island) full of scrub and rocks, and turning it into rich, loamy soil.
2. The little French girl (with the laughingly phony accent) getting on Joey and riding like a steeplechase champion even tho she's never been on a horse in her life.
4. The grandfather traveling for three days and three nights to buy a horse he only thinks might be Joey to pay homage to his dead granddaughter (the steeplechase champion). Oops  sorry, that's a spoiler, but I promise you won't miss her.
5. Albert blinded by a gas explosion during the war and in the next scene, voila! he can see again.
You're probably getting the idea here so I'll quit ruining it for you.
One and a half stars out of five for War Horse. And those are for the cinematography.

December 28, 2011

Movie Review: Young Adult

If you like beautiful but hateful protagonists, Young Adult is your movie. Charlize
Theron is Mavis Gray, who goes back to her childhood home to seduce her now-happily-married-and-expecting-a-baby ex-boyfriend. If that seems like a funny concept, go see this movie.
Diablo Cody wrote the exceptional Juno. That was a sweet and funny film with flawed characters that you liked. Not so here. Mavis's flaws are sad and despicable. There's no rooting for her, even though she's spectacularly gorgeous.

Then there's the former classmate she hooks up with. "Oh, you're that hate crime guy," she says. He was brutally beaten as a kid for being gay, although he wasn't and isn't. Now his legs and penis don't work quite right, and to top it off people still think he's gay. And if that's not distasteful enough we have to hear about his dysfunctional dick (sorry) way too many times. It made me cringe.
You can see this coming for miles but this is a spoiler alert - he and Mavis get together, sexually, which doesn't work on any level, but the scene just comes and goes (thank god), and we never know if she 'healed' him.
The more I write the more I dislike this movie. My recommendation? Take a pass.
One out of five stars for Young Adult.

December 18, 2011

Calling All Book Lovers

Do you have a book lover on your holiday list? Need some last-minute gifts?
Reading is one of my passions - there's always a book (sometimes two or three) on my nightstand - and with all the books I've read this year it's not easy to pick only five favorites (so I may have to do a couple more lists) but these are the books that come to mind, the ones I read this past year and said, "Oh my god," the ones I want to share with everyone.
If you have someone on your holiday list who loves to read get them one of these:
The Grief of Others - Leah Hager Cohen 
Exquisitely-written story of a family coming to terms with grief, each in his/her own way.
This is Where I Leave You
- Jonathan Tropper
The funny and poignant story of a dysfunctional family full of human, real characters.
Plainsong - Kent Haruf
Beautiful writing, engaging characters, compelling story.
State of Wonder - Ann Patchett
I'm amazed and awed by this unusual story about a pharmaceutical researcher who travels to the Amazon to find out what has happened to a colleague, and the status of the drug research project. This may not sound like something that would draw you in but take my word for it. It will.
The Help - Kathryn Stockett 
Unbelievable that this is Kathryn Stockett's first novel. Fantastic writing, compelling storytelling, beautifully drawn characters. I hope she's working on number two.

December 13, 2011

Movie Review: My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn is kind of an annoying movie. Michelle Williams does a credible job as the icon but really, if Marilyn Monroe was truly that high maintenance (and that term doesn't come close to describing what a pain in the ass she appears to be) how did she ever get work? Yes, she was beautiful, yes she was appealing on screen, but so are a million other, more cooperative, women.
This film gives very little sense of her appeal except that people continually fawn all over her, and that's not enough to pull you in. Some dimension would have helped.
All in all, it's kind of an uninteresting story about a very interesting person. Of all the stories there are to tell about Marilyn Monroe's life I wouldn't have chosen this one.
It's aptly titled, tho, because that's how long it feels while you're waiting for this movie to end.
Two stars out of five for My Week With Marilyn

December 9, 2011

What More Could You Wish For

Check out the cover for my book. Just received it today!
What do you think?
I'd love your comments.The book will be released in August from St. Martin's Press.
Oh my god, this is real. And so exciting!

December 7, 2011

Movie Review: Melancholia

Here's my review for Melancholia: WTF???
As I was writing that I had déjà vu, and then I remembered another movie I reviewed
the same way: Tree of Life. These movies are of a genre, one that my friend Bill W. really gets into, that is: bizarre, quirky, thought-provoking, other words, not your grandma's movie.
I have to say, I think Melancholia would benefit from a second viewing but there's no way I could sit through it again.
There was nothing surprising here, I wasn't shocked by anything that happened. It's just an unconventional story about a dysfunctional family.
And isn't that the definition of family?
I like Melancholia better when I think about it than I did while watching so I don't know how to rate it.
You tell me...did I like it and how should I rate it?

December 2, 2011

Family is Family

Where do you stand on gay marriage?
I have to admit I'm conflicted. Not that gay people don't deserve the same rights as everyone else, but why is marriage so important? It's just a word and a piece of paper. Civil unions give people the same rights under the law without rewriting the definition of marriage.
Family is family, and obviously this one did something right. Zach Wahls speaks very eloquently about the issue. Food for thought.