Showing posts from October, 2015

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…

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova (♦♦♦♦)

The O’Briens are an Irish Catholic family who live in Charleston, Massachussetts. Joe O’Brien, the patriarch, is a police officer with the Boston PD. Rosie, the matriarch, is a part-time worker. The O’Briens have four children between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-five.
At the age of forty-five, Joe O’Brien starts experiencing unexplained rage, jerky involuntary movements, loss of coordination and balance…After a genetic test, Joe is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. Life as the O’Briens knew it, is over because HD is a hereditary disease and every one of Joe’s kids has a fifty-fifty chance of being gene positive and start developing symptoms ten to twenty years into the future.
Two of the siblings are gene positive. Another one is ambivalent about wanting to find out her health status, and the remaining sibling doesn’t want to find out. As HD progresses on their father, the family must come to terms about how the next few years will be lived; whether they face life head on or th…

One Lovely Blog Award

I was just nominated by Lynn @ Lynn’s Book Blog for the One Lovely Book Award. Off course I felt honored because I love to hang out at Lynn’s blog and take parts in the discussions she sparks with her wit, and because I’ve never been nominated for a blog award. Here are the rules: You must thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.You must list the rules and display the award.You must add 7 facts about yourself.You must nominate 15 other bloggers and comment on one of their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
Here are 7 facts about me:
I have been a reader practically since I learned to read. My mother used to work at a library so I had a great deal of books at my disposal.My two favorite authors are Daniel Silva and Susanna Kearsley.Growing up I wanted to be an author; I used to write short stories, poetry, and essays; now I just blog about books and movies, and occasionally I voice my opinions on politics.I’m a scientist by training; I have severa…

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her (♦♦♦♦)

In this the version of the story from Eleanor's point of view, we get drop wise clues of possible reasons why Eleanor has left a marriage that by most accounts seemed happy. She doesn't know who she is in life or where she is going, but her somewhat reticent friendship with a female professor, who as most of us has problems of her own, helps pave the way for Eleanor to connect with the pain and the feelings she has suppressed. Tragedy is what drove Eleanor away. The couple lost a baby that wasn't expected but was welcomed nonetheless. She put her studies aside when she got pregnant...And him? He is trying to win her back but doesn't know the right words to make it all better.
It was an emotional experience watching the chemistry among the characters in this movie. Eleanor's parents look broken; they seem to be having a crisis of their own likely triggered by the mother's regrets for having jumped into family life leaving her career as an artist by the roadside. …

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him (♦♦♦♦)

A nice complement to the story of Eleanor is Conor's point of view. He is not coping well with the loss of their baby, but he is putting one foot in front of the other so to speak. Then, Eleanor blindsides him with news that she wants a break. She unexpectedly vanishes and he goes to share his father's apartment for the time being while he figures out his next move. Meanwhile, the restaurant/bar he owns is going under.
I enjoyed more this side of the story than her side. Eleanor's side had to be painstakingly pieced together. It was a nuanced performance by Jessica Chastain but at times the plot seemed sketchy. Conor's story moves along nicely and quickly, providing the missing pieces of the story we already know. Conor's father's perspectives on topics like love, aging, and loss, are refreshing and their dynamics, as well as Conor's complicated relationship with Stuart, his best friend, propel the story forward seamlessly.
I have a soft spot for James McAvoy…

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (♦♦♦♦)

Some of the details that worked well in the individual stories are lost in this film but this is after all the whole story. After watching both Eleanor's and Conor's versions this one feels redundant, and it is, but if someone had time to watch only one movie, then this is the one to see. Doesn't give the whole picture, just broad brushstrokes, but the main elements--the loss of the baby, Eleanor needing time away from her marriage to figure things out, the closing of Conor's restaurant/bar and both Eleanor and Conor's realization that they still love each other--are still present in the together version. 
Cast: Jessica Chastain (Eleanor Rigby), James McAvoy (Conor Ludlow, Eleanor's husband), Viola Davis (Professor Lillian Friedman), William Hurt (Julian, Eleanor's father), Isabelle Huppert (Mary, Eleanor's mother), Bill Hader (Stuart, Conor's best friend), Ciarán Hinds (Spencer Ludlow, Conor's father)

Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen (♦♦♦♦)

On the last day of a trip to Rome, Massachusetts native Julia Ansdell buys in an antique store a book of gypsy tunes that contains, between its pages, a loose sheet with the hand scribbled score of a haunting waltz that captures Julia's heart. Once at home, Julia struggles to master the waltz titled Incendio, playing it twice before she realizes her three-year-old daughter Lily is displaying aggressive behavior likely triggered by this music. But, what is this music that has such a bizarre effect on her daughter, who is its composer, and more importantly, where does it come from?
As Julia sees her family disintegrating, she embarks on a mission to prove her sanity and seek the answers to the puzzle. But she'll come face to face with an enemy she didn't know she had, intent on silence her, for Incendio is the only existing link between a family patriarch and the fate of a gifted violinist in the last years of WWII.
I truly enjoyed Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen. It captu…

Muse by Jonathan Galassi (♦♦♦♦)

Book blurb taken from Barnes & Noble, because after finishing this novel I couldn’t quite summarize it on my own:
Paul Dukach is heir apparent at Purcell & Stern, one of the last independent publishing houses in New York, whose shabby offices on Union Square belie the treasures on its list. Working with his boss, the flamboyant Homer Stern, Paul learns the ins and outs of the book trade—how to work an agent over lunch; how to swim with the literary sharks at the Frankfurt Book Fair; and, most important, how to nurse the fragile egos of the dazzling, volatile authors he adores.
But Paul’s deepest admiration has always been reserved for one writer: poet Ida Perkins, whose audacious verse and notorious private life have shaped America’s contemporary literary landscape, and whose longtime publisher—also her cousin and erstwhile lover—happens to be Homer’s biggest rival. And when Paul at last has the chance to meet Ida at her Venetian palazzo, she entrusts him with her greatest secre…

Slade House by David Mitchell (♦♦♦♦)

Welcome to the Theater of the Mind, where your most luscious dreams and your worst nightmares come to life courtesy of the Grayer Twins. To access it, you must enter Slade House via a small black iron door, easily overlooked, located on Slade Alley, "a mugger's paradise". Only rare souls have easy access...And no way out.
Mind-bending, with echoes of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, but darker in tone, Slade House manages to keep an original touch. And just when you think the stories have started to become redundant, David Mitchell comes up with a background on the Grayer Twins that will give you goosebumps. Slade House's cliffhanger ending is both evil and deeply satisfying.
An eclectic mix of the modern and the gothic gives birth to this devilish Halloween fairy tale for adults.
DISCLAIMER: I received from the publisher a free Galley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Insurgent (♦♦♦)

For 200 years, humanity has been confined within the walls of a city, and people have been organized into five factions (Amity, Abnegation, Erudite, Factionless, Dauntless, and Candor) following aptitude and character traits. Erudites rule them all. But there are certain people with some percentage of the other traits; those are called Divergents.
After Jeanine, the leader of Erudites, quashed a revolt from the Abnegation faction, the Divergents are on the run and being chased so Jeanine can use them in simulation experiments to open a secret box, containing a message from The Founders, which only a special divergent can unlock. Turns out that Tris Prior is a hundred percent Divergent...
I more or less enjoyed the first installment of the Divergent trilogy, but the second film, Insurgent, was quite disappointing. I didn't remember what happened in the first movie, so I had to proceed in the dark and that proved a big mistake.
After the experience of the Twilight franchise (ENM, BD-…

Interstellar (♦♦♦♦)

Cooper is a former NASA pilot turned farmer in an Earth where resources are dwindling at a rapid pace. Dust storms have replaced rain, and epidemics have infected crops. Survival on Earth is becoming impossible.
When Cooper comes upon the coordinates of an underground base that turns out to be NASA's, he is presented with the opportunity to help his species from becoming extinct. The catch, of course, is to travel to Saturn's vicinity, with a team of fellow scientists, to traverse a wormhole that may make intergalactic travel a reality.
Interstellar is filmed in the tradition of Gravity and Europa Report and takes us on a VIP tour through the accomplishments and challenges of modern physics as Christopher Nolan has conditioned us to expect from him. He directed, co-wrote and co-produced this film.
Interstellar is not merely the survival saga of Gravity, or the pioneering trip to a potentially life-harboring satellite as in Europa Report. It is both, yet much more. In a similar na…

Ophelia’s Muse by Rita Cameron (♦♦♦♦)

It’s 1850, London.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Siddal is a young seamstress sewing bonnets in a millinery, and at times shopgirl for the establishment where she works. A chance encounter with a young American painter named Walter Deverell, puts Ms. Siddal on her path to destiny and ultimately immortality, for while posing as a model for a Deverell’s painting, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, becomes besotted, and makes her his muse in painting and poetry; thus beginning a tumultuous relationship that will last for the rest of her life. Not only Deverell’s and Rossetti’s works were inspired by Lizzie Siddal; she became Hamlet’s Ophelia in the famous painting by John Everett Millais, also co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
I thought that Rodin and Camille Claudell’s relationship, as depicted in Rodin’s Lover, which I read earlier this year, had taken the cake for a tempestuous love affair, but apparently I was wrong. Lizzie Siddal and Rossetti’s affair …