Friday, July 1, 2016

The Night Manager

The Night Manager espionage, mystery, thriller

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from Amazon
Enter the new world of espionage, where the skills forged by generations of spies during the darkest days of the Cold War are put to even more terrifying use. Penetrate the secret world of ruthless arms dealers and drug smugglers who have risen to unthinkable power and wealth. The sinister master of them all is an untouchable Englishman named Roper, the charming, unstoppable ruler of a corrupt world all his own.
Slipping into this maze of peril is a former British soldier, Jonathan Pine, who knows Roper well enough to hate him more than he hates any other man on earth. Now personal vengeance is only part of the reason Pine is willing to help the men at Whitehall bring Roper down.
This is one of Le Carré's books that failed to get my attention in the early 1990s until a week ago when I watched on Amazon streaming the pilot episode of the TV series adaptation (it stars Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine and Hugh Laurie as the worst man in the world, Roper.)

I love this book and is now one of my top favorites by this author, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy being the first and second favorites. IMHO, Le Carré is the best spy fiction writer ever. He can introduce a million characters in the first 2 chapters and I'm able to distinguish them from one another and  remember them whenever they appear throughout the novel. That's how good they are written by Le Carré. They all have very distinct voices and personalities. And I get to laugh often at Le Carré's ironic/sarcastic humor.

Jonathan, as most of Le Carré's main protagonists and unlike the movie James Bond character, is flawed like any normal human. Jonathan is a former soldier for the British army, a former cook, and currently a night manager in luxury hotels. His actions as a MI6 spy are surprising (both for the reader and his handlers) and dangerous but he does it for his own redemption, for avenging Sophie's death, and for saving the girl he loves from the clutches of Roper.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 Korean Dramas

Descendants Of The Sun
16 Episodes
February 24 - April 16, 2016, every Wednesday and Thursday night
Tags: action, drama, medical, military, romance

Asianwiki Synopsis Episodes 1 and 2, broadcast February 24 and 25, 2016
Shi-Jin (Song Joong-Ki) is the captain of military special forces. He catches a motorcycle thief with Sergeant Major Dae-Young (Jin Goo). The thief is injured during his capture and is sent to the hospital. Dae-Young realises his cellphone is stolen by the thief and goes to the hospital to retrieve it. In the emergency room, Shi-Jin meets Dr. Mo-Yeon (Song Hye-Kyo) for the first time. He falls in love with her immediately. Mo-Yeon mistakenly assumes Shi-Jin is part of the thief's criminal gang. He proves to her that he is a soldier with the help of an army doctor Myeong-Joo (Kim Ji-Won). Shi-Jin and Mo-Yeon begin to date, but due to their jobs their dates don't go well. Shi-Jin takes an order to lead his soldiers on a peacekeeping mission to the country of Uruk. Meanwhile, Mo-Yeon becomes upset that she fails to become a professor due to a colleague's privileged background. When Shi-Jin and Mo-Yeon meet again, they talk about their views on life and realise how different they are. Shi-Jin, as a soldier, kills to protect lives and Mo-Yeon, as a doctor, tries to save all lives. They say their goodbyes. Eight months later, Mo-Yeon rebuffs the sexual advances of hospital chairman and as retribution is assigned to lead a medical team in Uruk. There, Shi-Jin and Mo-Yeon meet again.
Two episodes in and I'm already hooked. Besides having two of the most beautiful actors in Korean movies and TV dramas, it also has lots of action and martial arts fight scenes. I've watched the first 2 episodes twice already while waiting for the next 2 episodes. Song Joong-Ki is one of my current favorite Korean actors. He stars in the Korean fantasy sci-fi drama movie, A Werewolf Boy, DVD available from Netflix.


Come Back, Mister
16 Episodes
February 24 - April 16, 2016, every Wednesday and Thursday night
tags: comedy, drama, fantasy, revenge, romance

2 men die suddenly. One is an ordinary looking family man with a wife and child. He works hard almost to death but an unfortunate accident does him in. The other man is an unmarried chef and a toughie. He gets into a car accident but is actually murdered. Both take the train bound for heaven but the salary man feels he is not ready to die yet just like the character in Heaven Can Wait, and jumps off of the train along with the toughie. They are both given a chance to stay temporarily on earth to attend to unfinished business. The married man is given the body of his opposite - a tall, buff, and handsome young man played by Rain/Bi/Jung Ji-Hoon (Ninja Assassin). The chef/tough guy is given the body of a beautiful woman. 
Rain is a very famous Korean idol and actor but I never was into him. I've seen him in several movies though and find him a good actor but I don't consider him cute or handsome. He's okay in this Kdrama but I'm watching because of the 3 female leads.


tags: Western, thriller

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Synopsis from Amazon
A young Civil War veteran named Jackson wakes up to find his beautiful wife kidnapped by a band of ruthless bandits. With killers around every corner, the lines begin to blur between who the good and the bad are, including Jackson. As a final gunfight looms for our hero and he is asked to risk it all to save the woman he loves, this action-packed western takes twists and turns that will break even the hardest of hearts.
Dang, another 90 minutes waste of eyeballs use. I borrowed the DVD because of Walter Goggins regardless of the negative reviews. He has been great in almost all movies and TV shows I've seen him in. He doesn't disappoint in this movie and the 1-star is for his appearance. He has the best lines and delivery IMHO.

I'm not too familiar with Clint Eastwood acting having seen only a couple of his movies so I can't compare his acting with his son. Scott Eastwood simply cannot act nor show any facial emotions; he's like a dead fish. He's not the only bad thing in this joke of a movie though - the dialog is sub-par and the loud music and cheap cinematography are both annoyingly intrusive.

Although the plot is interesting because of the anti-hero angle, it's a bit predictable the second time Walter Goggins's character Ezra shows up and specially when he lies down beside Jackson. There really is no twist if you are paying attention to their dialog. The title also is glaringly obvious.

I honestly don't know what the director and writer were thinking portraying the Spanish village people as retards. The Diablo is standing on the wide open front yard, practically a "sitting duck", and nobody takes a shot at him. Nobody! Once the one-sided gunfight starts, the village idiots promptly show themselves on rooftops, front door, and windows as if begging him to shoot them. SMH

Skip this movie.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny

tags: Chinese, martial arts, Netflix streaming, sequel

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I wasn't really interested in this film. The first one is good, not great, but I liked it enough. I had no idea what the sequel is about and didn't read anything about it before adding it to my Netflix list. It is a disappointing sequel and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the original except Michelle Yeoh's role.

I opted for the Chinese language with English subtitles but 2 minutes into the film noticed that the lips are not synced to either Mandarin or Cantonese. I turned on the English language and to my dismay the film was shot in English! It was awkward in either English or Mandarin.

Single star because:
- Filmed entirely in English, Mandarin dubbed.
- Bad acting all around.
- Fight choreography is mediocre at best; I've seen better.
- Setting looks staged and "Westernized"
- Plot too predictable
- Script is worse than bad
- Boring

Not recommended.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Numero Zero

Product Details tags: conspiracies, dark humor, mystery, politics, satire 

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From the best-selling author of The Name of the Rose and The Prague Cemetery, a novel about the murky world of media politics, conspiracy, and murder.
A newspaper committed to blackmail and mud slinging, rather than reporting the news. 
A paranoid editor, walking through the streets of Milan, reconstructing fifty years of history against the backdrop of a plot involving the cadaver of Mussolini's double. 
The murder of Pope John Paul I, the CIA, red terrorists handled by secret services, twenty years of bloodshed, and events that seem outlandish until the BBC proves them true. 
A fragile love story between two born losers, a failed ghost writer, and a vulnerable girl, who specializes in celebrity gossip yet cries over the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh.
And then a dead body that suddenly appears in a back alley in Milan.  
Set in 1992 and foreshadowing the mysteries and follies of the following twenty years, Numero Zero is a scintillating take on our times from the best-selling author of The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum.
I read this thoroughly engaging satirical, timely, and often hilarious short novel in late November 2015. It's the second to the last written by Umberto Eco, who has died at the age of 84 last Friday. I learned that he wrote his last book to be issued posthumously later this year. I'm looking forward to it. It's a sad day for me and his fans worldwide. Rest In Peace Signore Eco

Highly recommended for Umberto Eco readers.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Last Girl

The Last Girl (The Dominion Trilogy, #1) tags: dystopian, post apocalyptic, science fiction-ish

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from goodreads
A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.
Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.
Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war.
*Sigh* The first 2 books I read this year are utterly ridiculous and total waste of time. The Last Girl, a Kindle First for March 2016, however, is the better one of the two and worth writing about if only to warn readers what to expect and to avoid it.

The novel is described as a science fiction thriller but there isn't much science fiction going on in this first of 3 series. The next 2 books will probably be more sci-fi; however I wouldn't know because I won't be reading them if the writing style does not improve. Yes, his style is rather strange and not in a good way, specially the analogies
- Her lungs are two limp bags inside.
- Panic is a living creature in her chest, tearing at her heart and lungs. 
- Watching the sinuous way the light rolls through the trees. 
It reminds me of the flowery language in P. D. James's The Children of Men, the only science fiction novel she wrote and the only one I didn't like.


Sunday, December 20, 2015


tags: adventure, documentary, wild horses

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Sixteen mustangs, four men, one dream: to ride border to border, Mexico to Canada, up the spine of the American West. The documentary tracks four fresh-out-of-college buddies as they take on wild mustangs to be their trusted mounts, and set out on the adventure of a lifetime. Their wildness of spirit, in both man and horse, is quickly dwarfed by the wilderness they must navigate: a 3000-mile gauntlet that is equally indescribable and unforgiving.
I read about this documentary way back in September when one of my favorite American actors, Jensen Ackles, mentioned on Facebook that he liked it. I agree with him. It is entertaining and a tad educational. The movie was financed through Kickstarter pledges of over $170,000 and the producers hired a first-time director who did an exceptional job.

It's admirable that the four young men chose to ride adopted wild horses instead of cars for their after-college American Wild West adventure. It's a beautiful film showcasing not just breathtaking scenery and friendship, but also promoting awareness of wild horses adoption program and wilderness preservation. There are lots of laughs and a few sad moments. I was charmed by the stubborn but lovable donkey, Donquita.

Highly recommended. Currently streaming on Netflix and Amazon.