Feb 10, 2008

Book Reviews @ The Temple

Harry Potter 7 by JK Rowling (Read by Jim Dale) - Hey, this was not bad at all!  Which surprises me I guess.  I was totally into the HP thing in the beginning.  This was not because of characters, or plot, or good writing.  It was a great world she created, very charming and funny.  Lots of little details that fill out a fictional world and make it both enjoyable and believable.  I'm a big advocate of this kind of ground work in a fantasy series, I think it makes or breaks it.  This, however, only lasted 3 or 4 books for me.  I remember enjoying 4, but I was about done at that point.  As the series went on, it became much more about the characters and the drama of the plot, and less about the world.  This isn't a fundamental flaw, that has to happen in all series, it's natural.  I just don't think she did it very well.  In books 5 and 6, I just didn't care about the plot, or the characters.  Then, allasudden, I listen to this book and I'm totally into it!  And I have to think it has something to do with listening and not reading.  The books just aren't written all that great.  This isn't a thing I harp too much on, I'm no writer, I'm not even that smart a reader.  But clearly the writing did not support my interest in the story, because I was bored, even when big things and deaths happened.  Then Jim Dale reads it to me, and it's dramatic and interesting and I was much more into it.  I was excited to get to the end, even though I already knew what happened!  I should have listened to 5 and 6 too, maybe I would have liked them!

The Essential Kabbalah by Daniel Matt - This wasn't what I was expecting.  I've previously read God & The Big Bang by Matt, and wasn't super impressed, but I wanted to learn more about Kabbalah.  I thought this would be a discussion of it, helping someone as clueless as me understand.  It was, instead, translated excerpts from the Zohar (mostly) organized into subject areas (such as Meditation, the Creation of God, The Ten Sefirots, etc).  I'm not in the best position to say if he did a good job, this being my introduction to Kabbalah.  But it seemed very nice to me.  It's pretty short, I think I'll keep it around to look at again in the future.  You could almost use a given passage as a meditation or something, if it spoke to you.

Yakuza Moon by Shoko Tendo - Well, this book isn't so great.  I feel bad, she admits in the afterword that she's no writer.  But even beyond that it's kind of really simplistic story telling.  It's a tragic story, and interesting as those things go.  But it's no real insight into yakuza culture, beyond "in what way does THIS brand of people go about fucking their lives up."  I wanted it to be good, but it just wasn't great.  Also really short, I read 40 pages in one sitting and then the remaining 140 in the next.

Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Read by William Hope and Laurel Lefkow) - This book is hard to describe!  It's really a romance book, but it's also got a kinda scifi-ish element.  And it's not super romance like there's sex all the time, though they do throw a "cock" out once in a while which is kinda jarring since its so rare.  The basic story is a guy who time travels, randomly, can't control it.  The book is the story of how he meets his wife, in many time periods, at different ages.  It's kind of confusing at first, but what I like most about this book is how well it is structured.  What could be super hard to understand throughout becomes very plain and easy to follow through a really nice progression of their lives.  And this is coming from someone who typically thinks time travel is stupid as a rule.  There was one part of the book I found very weird, a discussion of innocence that I would like to think was put there to make you feel weird and that the characters are wrong.  But I couldn't find any subtleties to prove this.  I'm afraid it was just icky.  It's fleeting though.  I wouldn't say the book is amazing, but it is worth while if you are into this sorta thing. 

Feb 6, 2008

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Rambo - Jeeeeezus.  So, yeah, there's a lot of blood here.  It's actually not hard core rambo for like 3/4 of the movie.  Before that it's violent, but in a way that makes you uncomfortable not because it's bloody, but because you know that shit is happening all over the world right now.  Genocide, murder, rape, pillage, etc.  Pretty awful.  I found myself analyzing the minutia of the effects or makeup as a way of distancing myself.  It was interesting, for that reason.  Then the last 20 minutes happen, and it is insane kick ass amazing blow the crap out of anything that moves rambo action, haha.  's pretty cool.

Gone Baby Gone - Man, this movie has a question to ask you, and it's a good one.  The movie is very well done, it's white trash city up in this hizzy.  It's uncomfortable it's so good at it.  Casey Affleck I am increasingly convinced is amazing.  But the big plot result at the end leaves you sitting there with the characters wondering what the right answer is.  Very good.

Atonement - Umm... I don't know what to say about this movie.  1 hour and 50 minutes of it are boring and forgettable.  I don't think the main chick or dude are anything special.  If you like this period kinda thing, you'll like this.  If not (as I don't), it'll be boring.  But THEN, the last 10 minutes happens.  And through an amazing bit of writing and an astounding performance from Lynn Redgrave, I suddenly feel like the movie is awesome.  It's so weird.  I don't know, I guess you have to see it, just make sure you hold out to the end.

Dragon Wars - Maybe it was cuz I heard such awful things, but I didn't actually hate hate this.  I mean, the acting is awful, the writing is awful, the plot is just stupid.  But the effects, which are really the point, aren't that bad!  The dragons look moderately cool, the big dragon fight is adequate.  It's by no means a good movie, but the fight is worth accidentally watching I guess.

 Lars and the Real Doll - Saw this on a plane, assuming it's not the type of movie that I missed much.  Don't know what to say, I didn't really buy it.  From afar, I will try to say that it was too predictable and silly.  I guess you could argue that they know that and that that's not the point.  The acting was fine, the writing was fine, I guess it's just the plot I didn't like.  And there's where a disclaimer/admission has to come in.  This movie is in part about loneliness.  And the thing about watching loneliness is that it makes you feel lonely.  And that's not super appreciated all the time.  Maybe if a different person watches this, it is sweet and is actually about hope and love and human spirit.  But a lonely person watching it, I would say, does not see the hope.  That person sees a silly movie about people that aren't real and things that don't really happen.  All the first part feels familiar, the happy ending doesn't.  So I would say a person could very easily be biased watching this movie, and therefore unfair to it.  /end tmi

Feb 5, 2008

New X-Men Cartoon

Here's the trailer.  Stupid ass music, not really impressed by any part of it.  But of course I"ll be all over it anyway :)