Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

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Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

The Beaver (♦♦♦♦½)

Walter Black (Mel Gibson, Braveheart) has been depressed for several years, so much so that his depression has altered the family dynamics. Thus, his wife (Jodie Foster, The Brave One) opts for asking him to move out of their house. On the brink of suicide, Walter finds a beaver puppet in a dumpster.

Talking to the beaver and making the beaver talk in lieu of himself seems to improve Walter’s condition, and bring his toy company back from near bankruptcy. But soon the beaver takes over Walter’s life and he is again unable to function properly without it. Thus, Walter faces the difficult dilemma of saving himself or being forever a hostage of the beaver.

This movie is a searing, poignant drama, devastatingly real yet uplifting in the end. Mel Gibson delivers a performance that is among his best ever. This seems to be the story of Gibson’s demons—rather than Walter’s—and maybe they are. Jodie Foster directs, very ably, as well as stars in. There is also great acting in the performances of Anton Yelchin as Porter, Walter’s oldest son, and Jennifer Lawrence’s (Winter’s Bone) as Porter love interest, a bright student reeling with pain from a family tragedy.

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