Showing posts from June, 2012

Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

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…

W.E. (♦♦♦½)

Wally Winthrop, a young New Yorker, has given up her career at Sotheby’s to marry a prominent doctor and start a family, but her hopes of having a child soon begin to fade when she notices that her husband William has a roving eye. Wally, always fascinated by Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII’s love story, begins to frequent Sotheby’s again when she learns that things that belonged to her idols are going to be auctioned. Wally finds an admirer at Sotheby’s: Evgeni, a young Russian immigrant who works there as a security officer. When William finally reaches his breaking point, he sets in motion a series of events that will make Wally realize her dreams.

I was interested in this movie in part because it is a sister story of The King’s Speech. I was hesitant to watch it though because it was directed by Madonna. What good could it come from a film directed by Madonna, right? Wrong. I was pleasantly surprised! W.E. is haunting, the story of an enduring and all consuming love affair th…

Christopher Nolan’s Batman Films

Batman Begins (♦♦♦♦)

Haunted by the killing of his parents and the subsequent targeted execution of the culprit by a Mafioso, millionaire Bruce Wayne roams the four corners of the earth in search for something. He fights criminals, he steals to eat but when he is released from a prison in a far-away land, he learns to face his greatest fears and trains to become a fighter for justice. Only his trainers have other intentions for when Wayne is fully trained, they order him to return to Gotham city and rid it of evil by killing criminals.

Leave it to the creative genius of Christopher Nolan to reinvigorate a franchise that was in decadence. I never liked characters from the first movies such as the Penguin-man, who I consider ludicrous, while Michael Keaton’s Batman presence lacked raw appeal and larger-than-life allure. Val Kilmer was better looking than Michael Keaton but not better in the stance department. Under the steady guidance of Christopher Nolan, who directed and co-wrote the …

A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay (♦♦♦½)

Forty-three years old Antoine Rey, divorced a year prior and still madly in love with his ex-wife Astrid, chooses to spend a weekend with his sister Mélanie to celebrate her upcoming fortieth birthday. They travel from Paris to Noirmoutier, an island they used to visit with their family when they were children.

The summer of 1973 was the last time Antoine and Mélanie visited Noirmoutier, a year prior to their mother’s death. Antoine and Mélanie remember very little of Clarisse, their mother, because their father remarried three years after becoming a widower and their new stepmother gradually erased any vestige of Clarisse’s existence. The children weren’t allowed to grieve properly, thus they spent years suppressing memories of their mother until late in life.

Antoine and Mélanie’s trip to Noirmoutier brought back strong memories of Clarisse. On the way back to Paris, Mélanie remembered something that made her lose control of their vehicle and they had an accident that nearly cost M…

The Lion by Nelson DeMille (♦♦♦)

It’s 2003. John Corey, a former NYPD detective, is now retired from the force on partial disability and consulting with the FBI’s Anti-Terrorist Task Force. During a weekend with his wife Kate Mayfield, an FBI agent, in the Catskill Mountains in upstate NY, Kate is assaulted by Libyan terrorist Asad Khalil and left for dead. Later on, Corey learns that on that same weekend Khalil has managed to kill seven people, one of them a colleague on the ATTF. Khalil threatens Corey to kill him next as payback for something that happened three years ago, and so the cat-and-mouse game begins. I liked this book, though not as much as I thought I would. The reminiscing gets tiring and the book is at least two hundred pages too long. By page 470, just when I was about to give up reading, the story came alive and the finale was a pure adrenaline rush, unfortunately by then I was so tired of nothing happening that I didn’t care how the book ended.
Three characters are better developed than the rest of th…

Snow White and The Huntsman (♦♦♦♦)

In a far away kingdom lives a little princess named Snow White with her widower father who is still, a year later, mourning his late wife. All that changes with the advent of war and the rescue of a ravishing, young maid named Ravenna, who on her wedding night, kills the king, overtakes the castle with a dark army, and imprisons the princess for years.

Queen Ravenna is obsessed with staying young forever, and being “the fairest of them all”, but Snow White’s beauty is destined to surpass hers. What to do? Why, send a huntsman to capture her alive so she can eat Snow’s heart, of course! The Huntsman becomes bewitched by Snow White’s beauty, innocence and sense of destiny, which she puts to good use once she comes back from the dead after a true love kiss.

SWATH is epic, with plenty of action and odd occurrences to satisfy odd tastes. It is a gothic tale, as dark as it comes, and I mean Voldemort dark, for Queen Ravenna sucks up the life force of every young maid in the kingdom in her q…

Hysteria (♦♦♦♦)

Mortimer Granville is a young doctor with ambition and zeal. He wants nothing more than being able to practice true medicine and follow the latest medical advances, but his superiors know better…Thus, Dr. Granville has about six jobs in a one-year period. All that changes when Mortimer is employed at Dr. Dalrymple’s private practice where women with hysteria are treated somewhat unconventionally, to say the least. Because of Mortimer, the practice soon becomes a booming business, and with it comes an offer for partnership and an engagement to the virtuous Emily Dalrymple. But all that is threatened when Mortimer becomes injured due to the excessive use of his hands.

Hysteria is witty, charming but definitely oriented towards mature audiences. The first half of the movie is hysterical, portraying the treatment of “hysteria”, medical ailment common among female population, in a private medical practice. The second half of the movie digs deep and finds its heart and that of the audience.…

Marvel’s The Avengers (♦♦♦½)

A cube with sustainable, unlimited energy of the nuclear kind has been stolen by Locki, Thor’s vengeful brother…Of course, Locki didn’t arrive from Asgard alone; he brought with him an army of lethal machines. What other choice does the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. have but to unleash the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) on Locki and his army of extraterrestrial creatures?

Lots of action and mostly destruction, plenty of blown off aircrafts and alien monsters are the highlights of The Avengers. I have to say that in spite of Tony Stark’s ever present and self-adoring humor, The Avengers didn’t impress me in the least; I expected more substance and less fireworks, but what can I say? The summer season is finally here!

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose (♦♦♦♦)

Robbie L’Etoile, the last generation of a long line of perfumers, finds in his father’s workshop shards of an ancient Egyptian jar that he presumes contained a fragrance to remember past lives. Robbie has a trained nose, but it is Jac, his sister, who has an inherent ability to smell a perfume and know what its ingredients are. Thus, Robbie travels from Paris to New York, where Jac lives, to try to convince her to help him recreate the lost fragrance.

Meanwhile, the House of L’Etoile is facing financial ruin and selling the ancient jar to an avid reincarnationist friend would improve L’Etoile family’s finances, but Robbie is resolute on deciphering the hieroglyphics engraved on the shards--that appear to reveal a story of soul mates that have met throughout time—and give the shards and its translation as a present to the Dalai Lama.

Through all this, Robbie is confronted by a member of the Chinese Triad in Paris, who has orders to stop Robbie from giving the memory tool to the Dalai …