Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mean Streak

 tags: mystery, thriller

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From Amazon.com

Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.
While police suspect Jeff of "instant divorce," Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won't even tell her his name. She's determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive. 
Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can't turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law. Wrong becomes right at the hands of the man who strikes fear, but also sparks passion.
As her husband's deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer from those who wish her dead - and from heartbreak.
Combining the nail-biting suspense and potent storytelling that has made Sandra Brown one of the world's best loved authors, MEAN STREAK is a wildly compelling novel about love, deceit, and the choices we must make in order to survive.

I borrowed this recently published Kindle book because it's mystery/thriller and was available from our library. The name of the author is somewhat familiar; I may have read one of her books many moons ago but I couldn't remember which one. 

The novel is interesting at the beginning and her writing style is acceptable to me but the characters are not well-developed. I had a hard time finishing the book as soon as the story morphs from mystery to a Mills&Boon/Harlequin romance with sexual tensions and all that nonsense. It's so unbelievable that a successful pediatrician and marathoner would fall in love and lust over a nameless stranger in a matter of 3 days! He could be a mass murderer wanted by the FBI and our heroine can't help herself going horizontal with him ASAP. Um. *eye roll*

Notable negatives:
>Sandra Brown throws in a ton of stinky red herrings that one can smell kilometers away. Guessing the culprit is easy as pie and the motive for harming her is as trite as can be. 
>The name of the nameless guy and his reason for going under the radar are revealed almost near the end of the novel. The reason is very very lame and RIDICULOUS, incredibly RIDICULOUS. 
> Stereotyped side characters of incestuous murderous uneducated hillbillies, and incompetent New York FBI agent flying all the way to the West coast achieving nothing worthwhile.

After suffering through 400+ pages of this book, I vowed never to read anything by Sandra Brown ever again even if it's free.

Not recommended

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Coriolanus



tags: drama, revenge, Shakespeare adaptation
goose egg

  • The citizens of Rome are hungry. Coriolanus, the hero of Rome, a great soldier and a man of inflexible self-belief despises the people. His extreme views ignite a mass riot. Rome is bloody. Manipulated and out-maneuvered by politicians and even his own mother Volumnia, Coriolanus is banished from Rome. He offers his life or his services to his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius.
    Written by Icon Entertainment

Shakespeare gone Occupy Wall Street. That's not the reason I think the movie belongs to the UGLY category. Modern setting of a Shakespeare play is usually fine with me, but this one definitely is not. The setting and the script adapted to Shakespearean language don't work together and I suspect even the best stage and film actors will not be able to perform well. 

Both RafeRafe (Coriolanus) and Gerry (Aufidius) are awful here. Ralph out-overacted every hammy veteran as well as newbie stage actor in any Shakespearean movie I have ever watched. It's funny and at the same time irritating when he delivers reeeaaally long lines during battle. The enemy would have killed him and his men while he is busy emoting out there. Gerald Butler has this confused facial expression while sounding like he's reading his lines, complete with thick Scottish accent. Such a bad actor. Early in the movie, the two enemies meet and Ralph, the director, decided they should put down their weapons for a hand to hand combat. Big mistake. The fight was laughable because they obviously were not trained properly. They look like ageing fake wrestlers. Utterly pathetic. With their budget, the producers should have at least hired a professional to teach them how to fight or added CGI so as not to make them look lame.

Not recommended.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thermæ Romæ



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Thermæ Romæ
tags: ancient Rome, comedy, Japanese, time-travel, zany

from IMDB
  • Ancient Roman architect Lucius is too serious. His inability to keep up with the fast-moving times costs him his job. When a friend takes the dejected Lucius to the public bathhouse to cheer him up, Lucius accidentally slips through time and resurfaces in a modern-day public bath in Japan. There, he meets aspiring young manga artist Mami, along with others of the "flat-faced clan". Shocked by the many inventive aspects of Japan's bathing culture, Lucius returns to ancient Rome and garners tremendous attention when he implements these novel ideas back in Rome. As he time-slips back and forth between ancient Rome and modern-day Japan, Lucius' reputation as the ingenious, new bath architect begins to grow.
    Written by Production

The zany hilarious movie is based on a manga series. The main Roman characters, including Emperor Hadrian, are all played by Japanese actors and the movie is entirely in Japanese. Lucius speaks occasionally in Latin to the present day Japanese which adds to the goofiness of the movie. The soundtrack with several operatic arias is also a great addition to the movie.     

Some of the ideas from present-day Japanese bathing rituals and equipment Lucius brought to ancient Rome:
wash basins
fruit-flavored yogurt drink
head shields to use when shampooing hair
mural of Mt. Vesuvius 
massaging bubble jet a la Jacuzzi, but powered by slaves
natural hot springs

The DVD is available on Amazon; streaming is not available on both Amazon and Netflix. 
  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Supernatural Season 10 Preview


Dean is having fun as a demon. October 7 can't come soon enough. The song is Figure It Out by Royal Blood.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guardians Of The Galaxy



This is a review of the movie Guardians of the Galaxy plus a shout-out to the theater Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in my city of Ashburn, VA. I was planning to just preorder the 3D Blu-ray as soon as it becomes available because we rarely go to the cinema but this movie and the venue are hard to resist. 

Guardians of the Galaxy

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Visuals, acting, special effects, CGI, cinematography, music are tops. The movie has plenty of action, one liners, and laughs without being cheesy. It is pure fun which is the reason we go to the movies - to be entertained. Leave your disbelief at the door and you'll enjoy the ride. Groot and Drax are my favorite characters but Rocket grew on me quickly. It's a delight to see a small creature using large weapons and maneuvering a fighter plane with great accuracy and zeal. 

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema


Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which is a few minutes drive from my house, feels like a restaurant showing movies instead of the other way around. We got our tickets from the vending machine just outside the door to the lobby. It has a simple chart of the seating arrangements so that one can choose preferred seats. The tickets say to go inside 30 minutes before screening time to be able to order food if we intend to. Which we did. There is a long ledge/table in front of the seats stretching the row of seats from end to end. Under the table are slots to stow the menu cards and tiny light bulbs to assist in reading the menu. It was a tad dark; our cellphone assistive lights helped. We didn't get the bottomless popcorn; I ordered Coke and the yummy Loaded Fries which are fat and crispy and topped with crispy bacon, cheese, sriracha sauce, sliced jalapeño, and chopped cilantro. Really really delicious! My husband got the personal size pizza and a glass of beer. The pizza was also good. The staff are polite and not intrusive when checking if the payment is ready to be picked up. While waiting for the movie to start, clips of classic and cheesy sci-fi movies and TV shows play alternately with videos of raccoons which IMHO is preferable to the usual endless loud commercials. The theater doesn't smell strongly of food, is very clean, and the seats are big enough and comfy.

Overall it was a fun experience at the cinema. Great movie, great food, no loud chattering, no cell phones, no small kids running around the cinema. (I think children are allowed at a certain time of the day.) If you have Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in your area, check it out and you're more likely to enjoy watching movies there compared to a regular movie theater.

from Wikipedia
Alamo Drafthouse is famous for enforcing a strict policy on behavior while in the theater. Children under the age of six are not allowed, nor are unaccompanied minors. The cinema also prohibits talking and texting during the film. Anyone who violates this policy is subject to warning and potential removal from the premises. Alamo made national headlines in 2011 when the rantings of one angry customer who was ejected for texting were included in its "Don't Talk or Text" PSA shown before films. "When we adopted our strict no talking policy back in 1997 we knew we were going to alienate some of our patrons," Tim League posted on the cinema's website. "That was the plan. If you can't change your behavior and be quiet (or unilluminated) during a movie, then we don't want you at our venue."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fifty Shades Of Grey

  tags: avoid, erotica-ish, garbage, worst book of all time

2 thumbs down, all the way down

Book Description from Amazon.com
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
The movie based on this atrocious book undeserving of its massive sales and popularity, is coming out soon, hence, the write-up. I read the first installment on Kindle, borrowed from the library, 2 years ago when it was all over the internet and on Goodreads. I wanted to know what the fuss was about. I'm not into reading this genre and didn't know what the acronym BDSM was and had to google it. I'm not against this genre, it's just not entertaining or "stimulating" to me. There are probably good authors for this type of books, judging from the 100 top free best sellers on Amazon but this one takes the cake in the worst writing in all genre. The author simply can't produce creative sentences, or she has the capability of a 5th grader, no offense to 5th graders. I read that this "book", if it can really be considered a book, started as a fan fiction story based on the vampire series Twilight, which I've never read nor have any interest in reading. 

The romance/love story of Ana and Christian is unbelievably stupid and the sex parts are not sexy at all, they are sometimes gross, but the most offensive is the juvenile writing. The author has no ability to be a good or even an acceptable author. She resorts to repetition of phrases, facial expressions, reactions, etc. 

Examples of her laziness or incompetence have been recorded by numerous appalled readers:   
holy shit - 65 times
holy crap - 54 times
holy fuck - 45 times
the phrase "inner goddess" - 47 times
My inner goddess is panting.
My inner goddess is going to explode.
My inner goddess has woken and is paying attention.
My inner goddess has her pom poms in hand - she’s in cheerleading mode.

To sum it up: 



Recommended reading Amazon's 1-star reviews. They are superbly written and awesomely more entertaining than the "book".