Showing posts from May, 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 Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (♦♦♦♦½)

Inspector Alan Grant Book 5

Inspector Alan Grant with Scotland Yard is recuperating in the hospital after a leg injury. He is feeling crabby from lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. A friend, who knows him too well, thinks that there is nothing like a well constructed mystery for Grant to get his groove back; thus, said friend brings him photographs of famous faces, one of whom is Richard III.
Before seeing the royal’s name printed in the back, Grant first impression is that it seems like a man of strong conviction, of integrity. He should know. Human behavior and faces are his bread and butter. Then, why is he surprised to learn that the face on the photograph is of one of the most infamous murderers in history?
Armed with history books that may or may not contain contemporary accounts, and a sidekick all too willing to dig into historical records to unearth the truth, Grant will shed light into the life and character traits of a much misunderstood and misjudged historical figure…

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley (♦♦♦♦½)

English archeologist Verity Grey is invited to an archaeological dig in the coastal town of Eyemouth, Scotland, by a former flame and colleague of hers. The purpose of the dig is to find proof of the stay of the Roman Ninth Legion Hispana in those parts before it vanished without trace never to be seen or be heard of again. There is little known knowledge to back up that hypothesis, except the word of eight year-old Robbie McMorran who has seen the ghost of a Roman Sentinel patrolling the area.
I always approach a new book by favorite author Susanna Kearsley with trepidation, fearing that that will be the one to disappoint me, but her whole body of work is so consistently great that not only I enjoy them but fail to choose my absolute favorite novel among the seven novels of hers that I have read, namely The Winter Sea, The Rose Garden, Mariana, The Firebird, Named of the Dragon, A Desperate Fortune, and now The Shadowy Horses.
The Shadowy Horses is unconventional as Kearsley’s novel go…

Snapshots - #17

TV shows...
Pride and Prejudice (1995), (♦♦♦♦♦): I fell in love with this wonderful co-production from BBC and A&E channel. The dialogues sparkle with intelligence and humor, particularly the initial banter between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Watching Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle's exchanges, I would have sworn that the love between their characters was there from the very beginning. Lovely music, perfect casting choices even for minor characters, sumptuous estates, and great chemistry among the actors, make this miniseries pure perfection.

The movies... Patriots Day (♦♦♦♦): Based on the true events of the Boston Marathon bombing, this film encompasses the investigation, follows the survivors as they got urgent medical care, and follows the bombers as they run away in an attempt to reach NYC to repeat their heinous deeds.
Patriots Day is a taut, edge-of-your-seat reenactment of the Boston bombing and its aftermath. Starring an all-star ensemble cast led by Mark Wahlberg, pun…

How to be Human by Paula Cocozza (♦♦♦½)

Mary is a thirty-four year-old single woman who lives in London. She has ended a significant relationship in the last few months, but is still carrying inside the emotional remnants of that relationship. Does she want him back? Mary is not sure, until a new being enters her life...a red fox that is prowling the urban wilderness where she resides. At first, she thinks the fox, because naturally it is the same one, is trespassing on her garden, but eventually he starts leaving her gifts that may or may not have hidden messages. She becomes rather fond of him, and their relationship quickly evolves. Is it love?
Her neighbors want to catch the foxes—they are pretty sure there must be many—, or exterminate them, if possible, but Mary ends up taking matters into her own hands to safeguard the well being of her newly found lover.
How to Be Human is a unique, imaginative first novel. It is rather short, and beautifully written. It is a literary page-turner so delightfully quirky, that when I wa…

Hidden Figures (♦♦♦♦)

A group of African-American women were some of the brains behind the successful launch of Friendship 7—the space capsule in which John Glenn orbited the Earth three times—, and would later participate in the Apollo 11 program.
Hidden Figures is a winning movie on many levels: it brings girl power to new heights, showing that great minds aren't defined or confined by gender, or color, for that matter, and celebrates the remarkable achievements of African-American women at NASA, who were pioneers in many ways. Hidden Figures is also a great example that there are many stories to be told in the categories discussed above, and they can be done without compromising esthetics or involving profanity.
I was very impressed with the topic of the movie, with the all-star ensemble cast that precisely due to gender and race differences make this movie work to perfection. I was quite taken with the musical score of the movie that made ample use of theme songs to highlight situations, such as Kath…

Miss Sloane (♦♦♦♦♦)

Madeleine Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is the most powerful lobbyist in DC. She brings to the table a winning attitude and a ruthlessness that make her the best at what she does. She fights for things she believes in; that's how she sleeps at night, she says. When the head of the gun PAC wants to engage the services of the firm she works for, and hers in particular, Elizabeth expresses with conviction that she is pro gun control. No, she doesn't know any victim of guns; that is something she firmly believes in. Elizabeth is then approached by the CEO (Mark Strong) of a small firm, to win Senators to vote in favor of a bill that would impose universal background checks for arms buying. She is convinced that that may be the biggest win of her career, or her downfall... if her rivals have any saying in it.
Miss Sloane, directed by John Madden, is probably the gutsiest movie of 2016, but I bet not many people have heard of it. It would have had a wider audience had it not be…