Monthly Archives: December 2009

16 posts

Movie Review: Nine

Marshall apparently strove for the early 60s New Wave Cinema feel, which relied heavily on shaky camerawork and frenetic editing—except during musical numbers, which are proscribed so heavily as to be cloying. As the filmmakers strove to pay homage to 1960s Italian cinema, they lost the meaning behind the art, leaving a messy result.

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

Ritchie, whose previous films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch are cult favorites, brings a violent and adventuresome sensibility to the often sedate Holmes. Conan Doyle’s legend left behind a mental image, compounded by pop culture, of a rather mellow English gentleman in a deerstalker hat, puffing on a pipe and wandering about a crime scene with avidly shining eyes. Ritchie’s version of Holmes, played impeccably by Robert Downey, Jr., is these things but also much more: a bare-knuckle boxer, a martial artist, a loyal friend, and an occasional lover of women.

Movie Review: Avatar

The story and script fail to create multifaceted characters, sticking instead to the inherent malevolence of military invasion and corporate America’s insatiable appetite for resources and money. In our current time of war and economic instability, these are significant social issues, but the film handles them ham-handedly, pitting stock characters against one another in an epic moral (and physical) battle between conservation and greed.

Generosity: An Enhancement by Richard Powers

What’s remarkable about her is that she shares her story with the class simply, with a kind of wonder and interest, as if it were not her own. In fact, Thassa finds delight, awe, and beauty in almost everything: her journal entries and stories charm everyone in the class, as does her person: “she shouldn’t even be pretty, except for the conspiracy of delight rounding her cheeks.” She seems perpetually happy! How can it be?

The Thirty Years War: Europe’s Tragedy by Peter H. Wilson

In some respects, the Thirty Years War resembles the Great War of 1914-1918. Political friction in Central Europe sparked a rush to arms that dragged in nations and peoples whose best interests lay in peace not war. With the focus of Europe’s economic activity shifting toward the Atlantic Ocean and the East Indian trade zones, the small states of Central Europe needed to integrate their economies to stay competitive. The last thing that petty states like Bohemia, Saxony, Bavaria and the Rhineland needed to do was throw away lives and treasure in futile warfare. But fight they did – for thirty years.

Movie Review: A Single Man

Based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel, the film is set in the 1960s and takes place over the course of one day. It follows George (Firth), a gay professor who decides he can no longer continue living with the heartbreak of having tragically lost his longtime partner (Matthew Goode). In what is his last day on Earth, George spends it tying up loose ends without letting anyone know his real plan.

Matchless by Gregory Maguire

Matchless was originally composed by Maguire for the radio, and the story retains a sense of immediacy which makes it a quick read. Some pages contain only a sentence or two, and Maguire has included his own “illuminations” or sketches, to illustrate the story. There’s a lovely energy to Maguire’s drawings which complements the action of the story, and he plays with light and shadow in the same way visually as he does textually. These two formatting choices make the book ideal for children, something which is not true for his other re-imaginings.

The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War by James Bradley

James Bradley doesn’t like Theodore Roosevelt. Let’s get that clear from the get-go. Nor does he have much time for William Howard Taft, the gargantuan gourmand, Roosevelt’s right-hand man and his successor as president. And after reading The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War, I have the sneaky suspicion that there’s not much love lost for George Bush, either.

The Great Dinosaur Discoveries by Darren Naish

Naish states that “most dinosaur books look at current views on dinosaurs and briefly recap the history of some key finds…. This book is specifically focused on changing ideas about the evolution and appearance of dinosaurs and the important discoveries that brought about these changes.” With its 200 or so color photos with captions, maps, tables, a taxonomic chart (dinosaur family tree), sidebars and accessible text, Naish’s book generally accomplishes this in an elegant and intriguing manner.

Flesh and Fire: Book One of the Vineart War by Laura Anne Gilman

The first clue that Gilman is not going to zing this story along with Tom Clancy speed is that her Prelude has a pre-Prelude—never a good sign if you’re in the mood for a fast-read airplane book, which so many fantasies are. But the Vin World is rich with vattage and vine, mustus and maturation, such that even non-oenophiles cannot help but feel immersed in a unique world full of a strange richness and beauty.

Tim Burton at MoMA

Predictably, Tim Burton is already a wildly popular show. As throngs of families, film buffs and multi-pierced hipsters make their way through the narrow hallway, you are forced along at a fairly rapid pace. In the background, a museum employee occasionally shouts that this part of the exhibit is available online to remind you that lingering is not an option.