Showing posts from January, 2017

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…

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (♦♦♦♦)

Young Anthony Patch is handsome, and Harvard educated. The grandson of an industrialist turned reformer, he has a steady income that buys him a comfortable life style. He doesn’t think women are suitable companions for him until he meets Gloria Gilbert, a dazzling beauty who is a force of nature. They court, marry, and begin a life of over-the-top partying and entertainment that within years diminish their income considerably. Then WWI erupts, and as Anthony experiences life in the army, his disillusionment sends him into a downwards spin that ends in alcoholism.
I finished The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald last night and ever since I have been wondering how to approach my review. It was a great story, though not a great novel. The era portrayed is the Jazz Age, as was in The Great Gatsby, from 1911 to a few years after WWI. If The Great Gatsby is a tightly woven novel, evidence of a writer at the peak of his game, portraying the lights and shadows of an era, in The Beaut…

Captain America: Civil War (♦♦♦♦)

From the Russo brothers, who directed the edgy spy thriller Captain America: The Winter Soldier, comes this new Captain America production in the same vein as its most immediate predecessor. There is more territory to cover in Civil War. Two of the original Avengers are missing (i.e., Thor and The Hulk). Hawkeye has more or less retired to his country estate. Tony Stark seems concentrated on funding research, while the two remaining (Natasha Romanoff and Steve Rogers) have, since the events related in Avengers: Age of Ultron, focused their efforts on training the latest crop of Avengers (Vision, a.k.a. Jarvis with a body, Wanda Maximoff, the surviving twin with mental manipulation skills, and Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon).
Thanks to their latest escapade, after which a lot of destruction has been left to clean up by the Wakandans in Nigeria, the Avengers are divided. Tony Stark, Rhodey, Natasha, and Vision are in favor of signing an agreement to regulate the comings and goings of the Aven…

Why I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown (♦♦♦♦)

On August 25, 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) took a deciding vote on the fate of Pluto as a planet. That day, Pluto was demoted from being the ninth planet in our solar system to “dwarf planet”. But as it happens, Pluto's fate was inextricably linked to an object 3% bigger than Pluto which was discovered by Dr. Mike Brown et al. in the trans-Neptunian region known as the Kuiper belt, of which until then, Pluto was the largest inhabitant.
The Kuiper belt was discovered in 1992. By 1997, almost a hundred bodies had been found. Suddenly the study of those objects located beyond Neptune became a hot field in astronomy. Dr. Mike Brown's search for a planet beyond Pluto started around that time, using, initially, the 48-inch Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory in Pasadena, California. His survey of the sky took two years and didn't yield the desired result. He refers to that time as follows: “...I talked to my friends about planets. I thought about names fo…

Top Films of 2016 (Available for Rent Before December 31, 2016)

I watched an impressive 60 movies available for rent before December 31, 2016. Out those 60, I wrote mini-reviews of 17 of them in the feature “Snapshots”. Since I didn’t visit the cinema to watch the releases that typically make it to the awards shows, I decided to compile this list based on the movies that were available for rent at the time this list was finished. I’ll probably update it between the months of March and April of 2017 when all the award season titles will most likely be available. The Tiger (Daeho, South Korean), (♦♦♦♦♦): This film is best defined as a thriller, though there are powerful dramatic moments as well. Nuanced acting, the musical score, the cinematography…contribute to an edge-of-your-seat experience that you won't soon forget. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (♦♦♦♦♦): pure adrenaline ride in the tradition of Black Hawk Down is this Michael Bay's production. John Krazinski, as a Special Op contractor for CIA, gives his best performance ever.