Showing posts from October, 2013

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…

Coming in November... A book review of The Drake Equation by Heather Walsh

I'm excited again because author Heather Walsh contacted me to find out if I would accept a free copy of her latest book The Drake Equation, which came out at the beginning of October. When I read the blurb I had to say yes, that sounds so like me! Please visit this site in November for my review.
The Drake Equation by Heather Walsh
She’s a Democrat, he’s a Republican. She spends her days fighting
global warming at an environmental non-profit; he makes his living
doing PR for Bell Motors and their fleet of SUVs. But as soon as they
meet, Emily Crossley and Robert Drake realize they have encountered
their intellectual match. “You’re never challenged”, he tells her.
You’ve surrounded yourself in a cocoon of people who think exactly the
same way you do. She hurls the same accusation back at him, and the
fiery debates begin.

Despite both of their attempts to derail it, there is no denying that
they are falling in love. But their relationship is threatened by
political differenc…

Captain Phillips (♦♦♦♦)

“Chances are they are fishermen.”
“They're not here to fish.”

In April 2009, the Maersk Alabama, an American cargo ship containing among other things food aid for Somali people, was attacked in international waters near the African Horn by Somali pirates--natives of a fishermen’s village. At request of Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), the crew hid in the engine room and managed to wound two of the pirates, but in a dangerous twist of fate, Captain Phillips was taken hostage aboard a lifeboat with only the pirates for company. Quarreling among themselves, the pirates were surrounded by US Navy frigates which had to intervene to rescue Captain Phillips.
Leave it to Tom Hanks to carry a movie like this on his shoulders. Captain Phillips is a taut thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat virtually from the start and Tom Hanks shines the most, though Muse, the pirate Captain and his crew are excellent in their roles as well.
The tension is palpable all along the film, among th…

Gravity (♦♦♦♦♦)

Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a female medical doctor who is in space testing a prototype of her own design. Matthew Kowalski (George Clooney), mission captain, is a veteran in space travel. When the Russians bomb one of their satellites by mistake, the debris reach their aircraft and Dr. Stone and Kowalski get stranded in space. With little oxygen left, they rely on each other to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) first, to get a Soyuz in which to drive to the Chinese station that will get them home. However, due to the obstacles inherent in the plan, it would be easier to surrender.
Gravity is the first Wow movie of the year and has been getting Oscar buzz. All the praise is well deserved. Gravity breaks with convention in more ways than one. For example, it's well known that sound doesn't travel in space; in spite of it, most sci-fi movies depict explosions in space as the loud affairs they're here on Earth. To fill the silent void, Alfonso Cuarón, who dire…

The Conjuring (♦♦♦♦)

Rhode Island, 1971. The Perron family buys an old property from a bank at an auction. They happily move to the country, but they couldn't have predicted their charming property was possessed by a demonic entity feeding on their fears.
Enter Ed and Lorraine Warren, a couple of demonologists who help the Perron family at the mother's request. The entity becomes so malevolent that Ed and Lorraine must perform an exorcism on a family member to rid them of the incubus for good.
Did I like The Conjuring? I say it was very good and free of cheap tricks so used in the genre to make the audience jump from their seats. It was effective and scary, more psychologically so than most of the movies meant to do so. Let me say that The Conjuring is the typical example of why I avoid this kind of movies.
My mother kept interrupting the showing and for once I was grateful; I don't think I would have been able to watch the entire film without feeling a bit apprehensive without my mother's in…

The English Teacher (♦♦♦♦)

Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore) is a dreamy English teacher who at forty-five years of age hasn't found the ideal man to settle with. She is virtuous and proper, and believes the world to be like it's in literature. A casual encounter with a former high school student turns into a less than ideal partnership when she believes him to be bullied by his father and after consoling him, ends up having a tryst with him.
I expected this movie to unfold along the lines of Notes on a Scandal, but I was utterly surprised when I realized it was a comedy, or rather a dramedy. It is wonderfully acted by all characters, but Julianne Moore is spot on as the prim teacher whose life unravels due to this entanglement. Moore looks more the part of a repressed librarian than an English teacher, and as I said, she is superb in this role.
Moore received early acclaim for her performance and I wouldn't be surprised if she is nominated to this year's Oscars for this role.
Also notable are the pe…

The East (♦♦♦♦)

Jane Owen (Brit Marling) is an executive in an intelligence company that does business with industry leaders in every sector of the economy. Jane wins a coveted promotion and is sent undercover to infiltrate an eco-terrorist group known as ‘The East’, which has been giving CEOs a taste of their own medicine.
At first, Jane, known to the group as Sarah, gets to report the group's activities via a carefully concealed phone, but the sudden exodus of a member forces Jane to take a more active role in the organization. As she gets more prominent roles, she also becomes emotionally immersed in those people's lives, until it becomes problematic for Jane to keep both of her lives separate.
The East is a taut, very provocative thriller about eco-terrorism, but it's also a study into a cult- like group and how a charismatic character can shape or bend circumstances at will under the cover of defending a cause. In that respect, or at all, The East doesn't disappoint.
The screenplay,…

Mud (♦♦♦)

Ellis and 'Neck' are fourteen year-olds dealing with issues common to their age, but a shared passion for boating gets them close to a boat with potentially no owner in an uninhabited island and a fugitive named ‘Mud’ running from the law for defending a damsel in distress. Neck follows Ellis' lead and both begin helping Mud, but that fragile alliance is put under test when people come to town looking for Mud and his girl.
Mud is a coming of age story with dramatic elements that distinguish this film from the rest in its genre. Ellis is a boy dealing with a tense home life and the no-nonsense life education his father is imprinting in him. He is a good friend and can't resist jumping to the rescue of a lady in trouble even if it means getting a black eye or his butt kicked. All those things bring Ellis and Mud closer, but is Ellis becoming a better person with Mud's help? Or, is Mud using both Ellis and Neck?
There's very good acting in Mud starting with the title…