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Showing posts from April, 2007

Movie Review: Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Although I do my best to keep up with contemporary cinema, I also adore the classics -- especially anything directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is hard to appreciate the film world without a full understanding of where things come from. For instance, I was talking to a young man about the movie Disturbia. I found it to be very "disturbia" that he had no idea this was a modernized version of Hitchcock's Rear Window. One might be prone to think that Disturbia is more original than it is. And how can you survive in the world without knowing the works of Hitchcock?

The Lady Vanishes is a 1938 black and white picture from Hitchcock's British period. It has many of the trademarks of a Hitchcock picture. We have secrets, affairs, women who fall in love with a man they initially detest, espionage, spies, quirky dialogue, and humor.

After an avalanche, train travellers are stranded at an Alpine resort. We meet our main cast: Ms. Froy, a kindly old governess, Iris Henderson, a y…

Book Review: Haters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

I really wanted to like Haters. It is a school story mixed with elements of paranormal romance. The main character has a strong psychic ability. She can see things before they happen. Over at the Disco Mermaids, Eve suggested you could describe the flavor and plot of a book by combining movies. This idea appeals to me since I am a film addict. I would call this book Heathers (dangerous run-ins with popular girls) crossed with Premonition (seeing the future) crossed with a Harlequin romance (explicit sexuality and romance). No, I'm not kidding.

Part of this book I really liked. The narrator had a very snarky, hip voice that made her appealing. Pasquela Archuleta, or Paski, has just found out that her dad is moving them to California. It seems his comic book, Squeegie Man, has been optioned for a movie deal. He's going to be rich, but he has to move to California. He and Paski move to the OC; Paski must leave her dear friends and new boyfriend behind to start a new school. Befo…

Movie Review: Zack Snyder's 300 (2006)

There was a time when the movie 300 would have been a perfect movie for me. I would have loooved this movie back in the day. "The day" meaning when I loved the gore movies. I used to be a huge horror movie fan, and although 300 is not a horror movie, it is filmed like one. Each scene is meant to shock and make the audience squirm.

There is this really great short story I remember, but I can't remember who wrote it. It was written by an Asian writer. Anyway, it's about this man who sees a painting of a tree. He doesn't purchase it but later wishes he had. He spends his whole life trying to find it and raise enough money to buy it. Then when he finally has it in his grasp, the painting is unveiled, and he is disappointed that it is not the same painting. The point of the story is that the painting WAS the same. It wasn't the painting that had changed; it was the man himself. He was not the same person when he saw the painting the second time, and the painting …

Book Review: Monkey Town by Ronald Kidd

I just finished reading Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial by Ronald Kidd. This was another coming of age novel. It is supposed to be part love story, as well, but the love story is very lightly applied. It is more of an afterthought and seemed like it was there solely to get more girls to read it.
Kidd claims he wrote this book based on the true accounts he heard from Frances Robinson about her life in the town of Dayton during the Scopes Monkey Trials of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. He does share that Frances was actually only eight years old when this happened, although in the book, she is portrayed as being 15. He obviously thought this story would appeal more to teens, and he is probably right.
In our story, Frances Robinson is a precocious 15-year old who is in love with Johnny Scopes, a teacher at her high school. Johnny Scopes is one of those young (24 years old), cool teachers who breaks the rules of establishment only to pay for them later. He is a football coach but…

Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Colin Singleton is a self-professed prodigy. He can anagram the heck out of any word combination (except a few un-anagramabble words), and he was once on a show called Kranial Kidz. He's the type of character one would call book smart but not very street smart. Colin's one big bummer in life is that he has been dumped by a procession of 19 Katherines. So he walks around looking for the next Katherine, although he is sure Katherine 19 is THE one.

When we first meet Colin, he has just been dumped by Ms. 19. His best friend, Hassan, decides to hornswaggle Colin into a summer road trip, meant to shake him out of his doldrums. They don't get too far. The boys find their nesting place in Gutshot, Tennessee, home to a factory where tampon strings are created.

They meet the owner of the factory, Hollis, and her daughter, Lindsey. Isn't that just the most beautiful name ever? Why you would want a Katherine when you could have a Lindsey, I'll never understand.

Hollis decide…

Book Review: King Dork by Frank Portman

All right, 'fess up? Who was a dork at school? Anyone? Anyone? Oh, I bet everyone's got a hand raised. My horrific school time was middle school. I went through my ugly phase with a combination of large glasses and crooked teeth. I also insisted on this weird hairstyle where my hair would completely cover one side of my face. I thought I was being a skater chick. The boys all had "squeebs" that covered one eye. I thought I should have one, too! I got made fun of a lot in sixth grade. There was also this huge bully that would routinely beat my friends up. Somehow I escaped her physical wrath, but I was terrified of her.

Well, no matter what your story, I think you might have trouble outdorkingKing Dork. In my head, as I read, I imagined a combination of Napoleon Dynamite, Bill from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, one of those computer geeks from the 80s films, and a Will from Good Will Hunting.

Here's some really original things about this book:
He is pic…