01 October 2012

Third quarter 2012 - Reading and watching

read mostly fluff this month. some fun ones though.

- "fifty shades" trilogy. not gonna lie, i read it. ugh. it had its moments, but was by-in-large infuriating. thats why i didnt mention it here before because i gave it, on average, 1.5 stars. BUT, i recently saw this awesome book review of it and lost my shit laughing. it is so spot on.

- "the elephant vanishes". 3.5/5. while short story fiction is usually not my thing, i started this one because my (japanese) boss had really talked this author up...and id heard of him before. a world-renowned japanese writer (supposedly) on track for a nobel prize. anyway, this collection of short stories was interesting. his writing is very different: intelligent but not too complex (at least on some level), and usually presenting a character living in a very odd fractured reality...but the painted reality seems very possible and matter-of-fact. the main character is usually someone who isnt connecting to their current lifestyle/culture/world and feels repressed in some way or misunderstood. i can relate to the lonely characters/stories, and also their sense of not connecting with their current surrounding is a feeling that answers why i am interested in travel. i particularly liked these stories: "the second bakery attack", "on seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful april morning", "sleep", "barn burning", "the dancing dwarf", and "the silence".

-"the finnish line". 4/5. a young adult book i found when i typed in "finnish" to our librarys search engine. really adorable actually. an american girl does a semester abroad in lahti, finland to train for ski jumping. she of course learns a lot about finland, life, and...love. a ton of real finnish heritage and history is packed, interestingly, into the teen plot and actually works. finnish phrases are sprinkled throughout and finnish culture and life really are imparted...at least from what ive read and heard of finland elsewhere, so far. of course, in terms of real life experience, i cant say, but the book would be a useful read for anyone curious about finland and wanting a little light romance to read around the edges.

- "neither here nor there: travels in europe". 4/5. comedy travel writing about europe. the guy is american, living in england, and decided to go on a north-south european trip to retrace his steps through europe 20 years before. the only hitch is that the book was written in the 1990s, so some elements of what he writes about arent accurate anymore, but its still funny and he did travel to plenty of non-mainstream cities that were of interest to me. it was also frightful to see what traveling before the age of international credit card usage, the euro, and the internet (thus, online travel bookings) was like. man, the life of the traveler now is a pampered one. i liked his writing style too, reminded me of my blog writing style, before X.

- "juliet". 3.5/5. shakespeare meets da vinci code. fun diversion. intriguing adventure that unravels a bit at the end but it was quite enough to keep me reading. thanks again to amy for the suggestion. :)

- "interpreter of maladies". 4/5. im really not a fan of short stories. with this and "the elephant vanishes" (see above) i think ive reconfirmed that to myself. i still love sinking my teeth into a full story and having a lengthy period of time with the characters. but, these stories, each focusing on indian-americans looking for love or human connection, were really lovely. they were realistic and loveable in their imperfections. they were all seeking connection in a land that was not their own (being immigrants from india), and i think thats was caught me and won me over.

- "the help". 4/5. it was as good as i was hoping. i thought all the performances were strong but im afraid to say im a little confused about how octavia spencer won. i thought she did a great job but i was always waiting for a defining scene. i thought viola williams did great though, i could actually feel the wall of restraint her character used to steady herself with every insult hurdled at her. overall though, i felt that in a stand-out ensemble of performances, no one really shone. i was very affected by the racist character bryce dallas howard played, however, i dont think anyone really wants to award an oscar to a performance like that. its a shame that the movie itself didnt win more awards. anyway, im glad i finally saw it.

- "anonymous". 4/5. very well-done "what if" story about shakespeare and the possibility that he was a hoax. the movie puts forth an idea that shakespeare was just the front man for an earl tangled in a powerful web from which he couldnt escape. the earls freedom is his plays/poetry, but the only way he can get them out to the world is to have them offered up as being authored by someone else. the story is very believable and well acted and rooted in well-woven history. the challenge was the first 30 minutes because they were laying out the character conflicts and flashing back a bit to a previous time (maybe 30 years earlier) and so you had to match up the present character with his past character and it took a little concentration.

-"in the loop". 4/5. british political satire about declaring war in iraq. what a terribly dull description of a hilarious platform for the brits to do what they do best: weave dry wit and cursing throughout a well-laid out plot of interesting characters. the testy brits made me laugh out loud and the american political machines were also well-oiled for comedy. this is about 5 years old but i randomly saw it on some list of great comedies and gave it a try. definitely not disappointed.

- "50/50". 4/5. well, its a movie about cancer, so its got tears. but also lovely human relationships. and gee do i love joseph gordon-levitt. he and ryan gosling are my favorite younger actors. so amazing. and seth rogan was adorable. he was the perfect kind of buddy. im still questioning his golden globe nomination but i did think he nailed his role, so i guess thats as good a reason as any.

- "hesher". 4.5/5. more joseph gordon-levitt awesomeness. this one is an indie film, so its definitely unique. set in the 80s (i think) and filled will familiar faces, its kinda hard to define. basically several troubled people share some chaotic time together and theyre all positively influenced because of it. hesher is played by joseph gordon-levitt and he is a misfit criminal with a foul mouth who you actually cant help but love by the end. and if youve ever wanted to see a eulogy that makes a metaphor of losing a loved one out of the accidental loss of a testicle...and have it actually be pulled off, this ones for you.

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