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Showing posts from December, 2011

Happy New Year 2012

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  Happy New Year to those who have read this blog throughout this year. Hope you come back for more reading in 2012...

Born to Die by Lisa Jackson (♦♦♦♦½)

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Before Thanksgiving, a thirty-five year-old B-movies actress named Shelly Bonaventure is found dead in L.A. She dies of an apparent suicide but the detective in charge of the investigation suspects otherwise. Days later, Jocelyn Wallis, a grade school teacher of about the same age, falls from a precipice in Grizzly Falls, Montana. She barely survives the fall, but dies from internal injuries at the local hospital.

Dr. Acacia “Kacey” Lambert begins hearing ever more frequently about accidents involving women that are “dead ringers” for her. When a recent patient of her also dies in a mysterious traffic accident, Kacey starts wondering if there is more to the story of the dead women who looked like her.

Kacey involves a friend from her past in the digging of old records and what she discovers is enough to make her contact police detectives Regan Pescoli and Selena Alvarez, who are already suspecting the clusters of young dead look-alikes. To top it all, Kacey is attracted to a handsome…

War Horse (♦♦♦♦)

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Ted Narracott, Albert’s father, buys a spirited young horse at a market auction. Few farmers would give any money for that horse, but Ted sees potential in it and wins the bid for thirty guineas. World War I comes along and horses are in high demand, so to save his family from ruin, Ted sells Joey, Albert’s horse, to a British officer.

When the officer loses his life in an ambush against German forces, Joey changes hands becoming a German war horse. Over the course of the conflagration, Joey changes hands over and over, until after overcoming terrible obstacles, he is recovered by British soldiers towards the end of the war.

The cinematography in this film is fantastic and so is the photography. The sweeping English countryside is vastly and beautifully captured.

The war scenes are very graphic yet drag along endlessly, almost making you forget the title of the movie. Just then the horse reappears and makes the last half hour of this film poignant and epic.

There are not great perfor…

A Dangerous Method (♦♦♦)

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Directed by David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises, A History of Violence), A Dangerous Method explores the personal relationship and professional rivalry between prominent psychologists Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), the father of psychoanalysis, and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen).

With the method that Freud pioneered, Jung treats Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a very disturbed Russian patient who dreams of becoming a doctor herself. Once Jung cures Sabina, they become lovers. Years later, already become a psychologist, Spielrein sides with Freud, who by that point has ended his personal relationship with Carl Jung.

This movie is well acted by all three leading characters, being food for the mind since the audience is treated with dissertations on psychology’s most important theories of the era.

There are scenes of physical punishment during sex, but aside from that, the film lacks action which makes it feel extremely slow despite running for only 99 minutes. Besides, the discuss…

Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol (♦♦♦½)

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An IMF agent--is killed by a female assassin for hire in Budapest--while carrying classified documents. His killer gets the documents and escapes.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), after escaping from a Russian prison, is given the mission of stealing nuclear codes from the Kremlin. However, the mission goes terribly wrong and a rogue, Swedish nuclear extremist, gets away with the codes while bombing the Kremlin. Russian’s authorities suspect Americans are behind the attack. Thus, the president disavows all IMF agents and activates Ghost Protocol. Without resources or backup forces, Ethan Hunt and his team have to retrieve the codes.

This is a stylish, grand motion picture with beautiful photography and globetrotting adventure. Tom Cruise has never been in better shape, proof of that is his mind blowing stunt on the outside of the 120th floor of the tower hotel in Dubai. The scene where Jeremy Renner jumps towards a slowing giant fan in a tunnel is reminiscent of Cruise’s famous incursion at …

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (♦♦♦)

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Professor Moriarty, an evil genius and Holmes’ nemesis, has been planting bombs all around Europe to cover up the assassinations of arms industrialists. The idea is to force the fighting of nation against nation to create demand for weapons and Moriarty would then supply them. Sherlock Holmes figures out as much and has the fight of his life against Moriarty, all to save Europe from war.

This second Sherlock Holmes installment is darker than the first, both in humor and plot. Unfortunately, it also feels long and somewhat convoluted. I had a hard time following the story and it has been eons since I read the books, so I had to rely on the movie.

There is good acting by the entire cast and there are humorous moments throughout, but not enough to call it a fun time at the movies.

My Week with Marilyn (♦♦♦♦)

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In 1956, during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl, Marilyn Monroe charmed Colin Clark, a third assistant director in the production. As a consequence, the dynamics of the relationship that ensued are explored, as well as her interaction with her co-star and director Lawrence Olivier and the rest of the cast.

If with Blue Valentine Michelle Williams earned a well deserved Oscar nomination, My Week with Marilyn certainly consecrates her as a screen royalty. Michelle Williams not only physically resembles Marilyn Monroe, but displays her charming screen persona as if possessed by Marilyn herself.

Williams, with the help of an amazing script, successfully manages to portray Marilyn in all her human complexities: as a magnetic actress able to command the cameras at will, but also as a drug addict and insecure belle, who thanks to a neglected childhood needed all the adulation in the world to feel wanted and noticed.

Also noteworthy is the acting of supporting characters key to th…

The Descendants (♦♦♦)

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When his wife has a boating accident and falls into an irreversible coma, Matt King (George Clooney) must cope with the loss of his wife and fill the void of the missing parent by taking care of his ten year-old daughter Scotty and seventeen year-old Alexandra. Meanwhile, Matt, as the trustee of his family land, must make the decision of whether or not to sell his ancestors’ estate to the brother-in-law of the man with whom Matt’s wife was having an affair.

The Descendants is a family drama about a few issues: loss of a parent/spouse, marital betrayal, good parenting and ultimately forgiveness. These points are very well stated though the movie is rather slow.

There is something worth mentioning about the plot which is a line delivered by George Clooney at the start of the movie: just because you live in paradise doesn’t mean that life stops happening. That is also a successful point throughout the film. Beautiful Hawaiian seascapes contrast with the seriousness of the situation the K…

Daughters of Isis by June L. White (♦♦)

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Cousins Samantha, Alexandria and Megana are descendants of Queen Cleopatra and protected ever since by the Goddess Isis. It was prophesized by the goddess that three female descendants of Cleopatra were going to fight a great evil and make the land holy again, all during a spring solstice. Sam, Alex and Meg are the chosen females, who are to be aided by three males, descendants of the Medjai Society of Protectors of the Goddess Isis. These protectors since Cleopatra’s time have married their protégés and fought together against evil forces aiming to control the world.

I didn’t like this book. First, it is poorly written. The author switches back and forth between verbal tenses in the same sentence and it’s difficult to know whether the action is past or present. Second, the book is full of grammatical errors and poor word choices. There are some books that readers who are non-native English speakers can read out loud and even if the word is wrong you know what the author meant, this …

Altar of Bones by Philip Carter (♦♦♦♦)

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A homeless woman named Rosie is assassinated in the streets of San Francisco. Her attacker has been searching for clues of the existence of something called the “altar of bones”. Before dying, Rosie reveals a mysterious message and the story begins.

Eighteen months prior to Rosie’s fatal stabbing, a man named Mike O’Malley makes a startling confession to his priest son about a film that he must find if he is to keep alive. After that confession, Mike O’Malley dies and his priest son is killed for not having the film.

Ry O’Malley, Mike’s other son, survives an assassination attempt and infiltrates the Russian mafia in California, in an effort to find the film that can guarantee his life. Ry joins forces with Zoe Dmitroff, a gutsy attorney with blood ties to the stabbed homeless woman, in order to find the film and ultimately the altar of bones and discover its secrets.

I liked this book. It is a non-stop adventure, full of interesting twists and unexpected turns. The story is a rich t…