Showing posts from November, 2013

Snapshots - #38: Only the Brave, Jane, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Only the Brave (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Based on the true story of the effort it took to get a municipal crew of firefighters from Prescott, Arizona, certified as Hotshots. After battling thousands of wildfires since their inception, the Granite Mountain Hotshots answered a call to battle the Yarnell Hill fire—about 30 miles away from Prescott—along with several other crews. How they got to that point and what happened is what this movie is about.
Only the Brave is a drama with some thriller on the side, and excellent performances to boast of. It's got a dynamic pace, engaging plot, amazing shots of wildfires, fun camaraderie, and great music to underscore the action. As an audience, we care for the journey of that crew, individually and as a group, and as heartbreaking as the closing scenes are, we stand in awe at the sacrifices that firefighters and their families make every day of their lives. Only the Brave is a darn great tribute to them, and elite firefighters such as the Granite Moun…

Jobs (♦♦♦♦)

In 1977, Steve Jobs together with Steve Wozniak launched the first Apple computer to the market. As the company grew, so did Apple’s problems since Steve’s ego managed to alienate his former contributors and his new employees. As his dreams of making Apple stand out from the competition, Steve began to see his role in the company he founded diminished until he was voted off from it by the Board of Directors. After several years and many corporate woes, Steve Jobs was brought back to the company he founded to steer it in the right direction.
Jobs lets the human being behind Steve Jobs, the Apple founder, shine, and we get to see creativity and a genius in the making. His irreverence was both annoying and endearing. Rather than finding the man disagreeable, I found him blunt, and his brain possibly beyond the wavelength of the normal, square box thinker. Jobs did justice to an original thinker who proved that it’s not by making things better but by doing them differently that we ultimate…

Blackfish (♦♦♦♦½)

Blackfish is a documentary, part exposé, part eye-opener about the incredibly lucrative industry of Seaworld parks. Half emotional journey and half business-like, Blackfish presents interviews with former Seaworld trainers who admitted having been part of a culture that misleads the public repeating factoids surrounding orcas such as how most male orcas develop collapsed fins even in the wild and how orcas live for 25-35 years when in reality male orcas can live up to sixty years in the wild while females are known to live up to 100 years.
Blackfish explores the beginnings of Tillikum as a bullied young calf separated from his mother and put in a dingy pool about 20x30 feet with two dominant females in a sea park in Canada, until Tillikum as a young adult kills a trainer for the first time and his subsequent transfer to Seaworld as a breeding bull, where he was kept in more isolation and with little stimulus.
The counterpart to Tillikum and other orcas' incidents involving animal tr…

Rebelión en la Granja (Animal Farm) by George Orwell (♦♦♦♦½)

In Farm Manor, Mr. Jones’ farm, the animals, discontent with the treatment they receive from the humans, rebel and rid the farm from them. But what starts as a dream of equality and prosperity for all animals, devolves into a system where the smartest and the fiercest—pigs and dogs—rule and impose their wills. Years go by and the oldest animals no longer remember if their lives were better before or after the rebellion; meanwhile the pigs become the mere enemies they meant to defeat.
When I first heard of Animal Farm, it was a banned book. My father borrowed it secretly from a friend, and I lent it to a friend in similar fashion. I didn’t read it until many years later when living in the U.S. I could freely buy a copy and I suddenly understood why the book was banned. I’ve read Animal Farm again and again over the years and I find it poignant, bittersweet, right on target and just plain genius. I wish I could write that way!
At first glance Animal Farm is just a fable describing how “ab…

Eye of The Needle by Ken Follett (♦♦♦♦)

It's 1944 and the Allies are putting the last touches on the invasion of France via Normandy. The Allies have orchestrated a massive deception with a faux army to fool Hitler and his generals when reconnoitering from the air. The deception seems to be working until a ruthless German assassin and spy code-named The Needle obtains photographic evidence of the Allies' plans and travels through England and Scotland to rendezvous with a U-boat in the midst of the North Sea.
Heavy on The Needle's scent are well known scholar Percival Godliman and Frederick Bloggs-- formerly with Scotland Yard-- now with military intelligence. Thanks to the spy's crimes, Godliman and Bloggs are able to chase him all the way to Scotland. Little do they know that it'll be up to the inhabitants of a small island in the middle of nowhere to stand their ground and defend England and the Allies' secrets if they're to win the war.
Eye of The Needle is pulse pounding suspense. In the first…