Showing posts from June, 2013

Snapshots - #42: Thor: Ragnarok, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, LBJ

Thor: Ragnarok (2017), (♦♦♦♦½): Thor has saved earth twice by now and has, for the last two years, wandered the universe searching for infinity stones. He hasn't found any. He has, however, become prisoner of an enemy of Asgard, Surtur, who tells Thor that his visions of Asgard engulfed in flames is a premonition of Ragnarok—the destruction of Asgard, which is already in motion. Thor frees himself and arrives at home to find Loki sitting on the throne, passing as Odin, and neglecting his duties to protect the Nine Realms. With Odin's exile, Asgard's enemies have been reassembling, but Odin's death may just free Hela, a goddess against whom neither Thor nor Loki are enough.
It was in Thor: The Dark World where Loki, an antagonist, first threatened to steal the show. He became the villain that Marvel fandom loves to hate. While Loki is at his most charming in this film, the director, with the help of a sparkling screenplay, has very much exploited the great chemistry of t…

La Quinta Montaña (The Fifth Mountain) by Paulo Coelho (♦♦♦♦)

Year 870 B.C.
King Ahab of Israel had married a Phoenician princess named Jezebel, who had convinced the king to replace the adoration of the only God the Jewish people revered and whose laws they followed, for the Phoenician god Baal. A messenger of the Lord appeared to prophet Elijah to convey the message to the king that it wouldn’t rain in Israel while Baal was adored, which prompted Jezebel to order the immediate conversion of Israelite prophets to Baal or face the death penalty. Elijah was the only prophet who couldn’t choose; he was sentenced to death.
Elijah escaped to Sarepta, a Phoenician city whose inhabitants called Akbar, and lived with a widow and her son until Akbar fell as result of a battle with the Assirian army. It was then that, disappointed and angry with the God he had served and whose orders he had followed without questions, Elijah chose to fight God and rebuild the city that He had allowed to be destroyed, not comprehending that he was doing God’s will.
I love th…

Man of Steel (♦♦♦)

Jor-el (Russell Crowe) and Lara (Ayelet Zurer) have had a baby boy in dying planet Krypton. They name him Kal-el; this baby is the result of the only natural birth to have taken place in Krypton in more than a century, so naturally his parents have great hopes for him.
An insurrection brings General Zod (Michael Shannon) to power. Zod agrees with Jor-el in that the Krypton Council is doing nothing to stop the planet from dying, but disagrees in that stealing the codex from the planet and sending away Kal-el as a beacon of hope is the answer. Jor-el is killed in a fight with Zod, but that doesn’t prevent Lara from sending Kal-el away aboard a spaceship.
Zod’s insurrection is defeated and the general and his followers are sentenced to wander frozen in space. Unfortunately, Krypton’s destruction frees them and they end up on Earth; now they want to claim back Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), who is actually Kal-el, and obtain the codex. The catch is Zod and followers are going to cause mayhem on…

Now You See Me (♦♦♦½)

Four street performing magicians are summoned seemingly at random to an address in New York City, the objective, to be collective performers in a show in Vegas. During their first show they pull off a bank heist on the other side of the Atlantic, and from there they only get fancier and more deceitful, but when nothing is as it seems, the FBI intervenes and takes over the investigation. Are these magicians part of a bigger plan? With the investigators always two steps behind, they enlist the help of an unlikely source.
In my opinion, Now You See Me would have been a lot cooler without so many explanations and maneuvering. I was entertained but utterly confused; it seems to me that the magicians went to all that trouble for something intangible. The Prestige and The Illusionist are two films that come to mind when watching this one, but even those two were more successful in reeling in the audience until the end.
While Now You See Me is entertaining, I think it's too pretentious for…

The Bling Ring (♦♦♦)

Nicki, Sam, Chloe, Rebecca and Marc are part of a group obsessed with celebrities' lifestyles, so much so that they begin breaking into celebrities' houses to steal property. After many successful break-ins, police finally get leads when celebrities post security videos and ask for help from anyone who may know about the crimes.
The Bling Ring, directed by Sofia Coppola, is a constant fashion show virtually from the moment it starts, but little else. It is possibly the shallowest cinematic parade I have ever watched; in spite of that it is mindless fun: the clothes and jewelry are fabulous, and the shoes and bags are to die for.
If you walk into the movie theater with high expectations you may be hugely disappointed. As I said, The Bling Ring is mindless fun but no more than that. Enjoy it for what it is and forget about it as soon as you walk out, as I did.

El Reino de Este Mundo by Alejo Carpentier (♦♦♦♦)

Ti Noel, a young slave in Haiti in the late eighteenth century, adores a mandinga slave named Mackandal.
Mackandal is strong and can command forces to do his bidding; he can summon thunder and metamorphose into animals. Tired of being a slave, he flees the hacienda of Monsieur Lenormand de Mezy and hides in a cave in the mountains. Four years later, after many metamorphoses, he summons slaves from all over the Northern Plains and leads a rebellion that ends up crushed.
Years later, the Haitian revolution is under way and Ti Noel embarks in a ship towards Santiago of Cuba, where he makes enough money to buy his freedom. Upon his return to Saint Domingue, he can no longer recognize his land for the French are gone but Henri Christophe, a black man who used to be a cook in a tavern, has proclaimed himself king and has enslaved his own race worse than the French did before him. Henri Christophe is dethroned by his own people and his family forced into exile. Then, a new form of tyranny is i…

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom (♦♦♦½)

Dor was the first man on Earth to invent time. Seemingly as punishment, he was sentenced by God to spend an eternity in a cave listening to the cries of people along the ages asking for the thing he had most of: time.
In present day Manhattan there’s an old millionaire named Victor Delamonte who is dying of cancer and wants more time to live. In the outskirts of NY City lives a teenager named Sarah Lemon who has given up on life. Both Victor and Sarah are meant to encounter Father Time to be taught a lesson about living and in exchange they’ll have to help the old guy finish his own life story.
I liked The Time Keeper, though I confess I liked more The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which I reviewed yesterday. While The Five People You Meet in Heavenis about making peace with your past and the interconnection of lives through the fabric of time, The Time Keeper is about making the most of your life since every moment is unique.
In The Time Keeper, Mitch Albom covers themes such as fate,…

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (♦♦♦♦½)

Eddie is an octogenarian who works at Ruby Pier, an amusement park near the ocean. He has worked there for most of his life, except during a brief interlude when he went to war. Discharged from the army due to a crippling injury, he goes back to work at Ruby Pier and marries Marguerite, the only woman he has ever loved—who died of cancer at a relatively young age, leaving Eddie utterly alone in the world except for his work acquaintances.
Eddie died of an accident at Ruby Pier when a ride cart fell on him. He died trying to save a child from the cart.
Upon his arrival in heaven, Eddie starts meeting people—five people actually—who played a role in shaping who he was. Those people clarify his purpose in life and force him to confront his past and make peace with it.
I love this book. I loved it years ago when I read it for the first time, then I re-read it and found it good, but I realized by reading it again with the purpose of reviewing it that one has to be in a specific frame of mind …