Showing posts from December, 2015

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…

Happy New Year 2016

Happy 2016 to casual visitors of my site and those assiduous visitors along the year. Your support has made me appreciate writing for you all the more.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart and please keep on visiting with open hearts and minds. Hopefully there will be plenty of more things to say in the years to come.
May 2016 be a healthy, joyous, and prosperous year for you all!

My Reading Year 2015 in Retrospect

2015 was for me a great reading year, though I definitely read less books than in the previous two years. Also, I discovered the benefits of joining NetGalley, through which I could read advance copies of some of this year’s hot releases. Visiting Jessica @ Bookworm Chronicles last December I saw a post that made me want to replicate what she did, so I borrowed the format and the questions for this post. Below is how my 2015 reading year looked like:
Books read: 26 Fiction: 24                 Non-Fiction: 2                      Re-reads: 0
Genres: (some of these overlap)
Poetry: 1                    Historical Fiction: 9             Religion: 1
Contemporary Literature: 7           Mystery/Suspense: 3           
Thrillers/Espionage: 6
Jessica @ Bookworm Chronicles adapted these questions which I borrowed because I found them fun and so revealing.
Best book of the year (I couldn’t possibly pick just one): Best Books I Read in 2015
Most surprising (in a good way!): Angels at the Gate by T.K. Th…

Best Books I Read in 2015

I hadn’t realized until I was compiling this list that most of the book I read this year I rated four stars or higher. That says a great deal about the quality of the books I chose (mostly) from NetGalley. The following is a compilation of the books I read and liked best in 2015.

After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles by Bryan Litfin (♦♦♦♦♦): Scholarly and didactic, written in a language easy to understand, After Acts is food for thought and a theological page turner. Also, it doesn't shy away from addressing theological controversies and differences in thoughts.
A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott (♦♦♦♦): is a fascinating and meticulous account of the filming of Gone with the Wind. It is an ode to the movies and the magic of movie making, to the glamour and decadence of an age gone by, to the movie stars who were part of it, and to the making of movie history.
Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb (♦♦♦♦½): reverberates with intensity. I could picture the unfolding story …

Project Nim (♦♦♦♦)

I have had pets of different kinds throughout my life, and I'm very good with animals. In fact, as years have gone by I've grown more comfortable among animals than humans. Animals don't judge; they take you at face value, and I have seen animal behavior that cannot be described any other way than human. For that reason I think that animals have to be treated with empathy and consideration. Though I'm not an animal rights activist and I believe sometimes their rights are taking to the extreme, I feel heartbroken when I see animals suffering or being killed in human hands or care.
The reason for the diatribe above is the HBO documentary Project Nim, about a baby chimpanzee named Nim, who was raised as a human child with a family in New York, all in the name of science. The objective of the project was to find out the effects human interaction had on a developing chimpanzee, and if it could communicate with his human charges using sign language. As years went by and Nim g…

The Cove (♦♦♦♦)

A team of divers, filmmakers, and dolphin activists join forces to expose a brutal practice in Taiji, a coastal town in Japan. Every September, people representing Seaquaria the world over, meet in a cove to which thousands of dolphins are lured via a sound disorientation method. Marine parks representatives choose the specimens they want, mostly the females, and the rest, even calves, are harpooned to death.
It is estimated that in Japan, 23,000 dolphins are killed each year, and the meat, which contains dangerous levels of mercury (up to 20 times the level accepted for consumption from fish), ends up on occasions being given for free to school lunch programs, and/or sold in supermarkets.
As I saw the credits roll on, I felt consternation at how a first world country can kill animals that are recognizably smarter than us humans, for profit or sheer sport. I understand when third world countries poach valuable animals, either for profit or for survival, because even though I don't c…

About Time (♦♦♦♦)

The day after another failed New Year's party, Tim's (Domnhall Gleeson) father (Bill Nighy) confesses to Tim that the men in the family are able to travel back in time and possibly tweak events that may have just happened. Tim uses his new found ability to get himself a girlfriend (Rachel McAdams). As years go by, Tim realizes that either he has less time for going back in time, or no need at all. Living the moment the best he can the first time is the recipe for happiness.
Watching this movie's characters may remind you of other British romantic comedies such as Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Love Actually, and that's no coincidence because About Time is directed and written by Richard Curtis, director of the other three films I just mentioned. With Curtis you sort of expect quirky characters, lots of humor, plenty of love, the occasional tragedy, and a happy ending, and About Time has these ingredients and more in spades.
Rachel McAdams, one of my favor…

Ant-Man (♦♦♦♦)

Out of jail and out of his first job for hiding the fact that he has a past as a famous burglar, Scott Lang seems to be out of options to earn his living legally. A friend offers him a place to stay and a stint as the cat burglar he is. (Un)Fortunately, the safe he cracks open doesn't contain riches but a secret suit that can make its wearer a miniature soldier, an Ant-Man.
Smart, inventive, and very funny, Ant-Man gives a playful treatment to the superheroes genre evocative of the first Iron Man movie. There is lots of adventure and fast paced action to satisfy action junkies, and enough destruction (in "small scale") to please the younger crowd. The motivation behind Ant-Man's actions, which is to become the man his daughter sees in him, will appeal to families as well.
Overall, Ant-Man is a better alternative for more discerning movie-goers to a genre that at times seems not to have anything new left to offer, proof that old stories can be presented in a more satisf…

Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os) (♦♦♦♦)

Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) was an orca trainer at a Seaquarium park attraction before a tragedy during a live show changed her life virtually in the blink of an eye. Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a down-on-his-luck father to five year old Sam. Ali is living with his sister, while making money boxing in street fights in his free time. Two people who have lost much somehow find love in each other's company, and the will to live.
I recently saw Matthias Schoenaerts for the first time in Far from the Madding Crowd, in the role of Gabriel Oak, opposite Carey Mulligan. If you read my review and the comments section you probably know that I liked him a lot. In Rust and Bone, opposite Marion Cotillard, he delivers a raw and gritty award-worthy performance and so does she. They shine in tumultuous and emotionally demanding roles, showing the evolution of both Stephanie and Ali; Schoenaerts does so by displaying an odd mix of grit and sensibility. Cotillard has in Rust and Bone a unique op…