Monday, August 15, 2011

Thirty Items or Less

Movie: Thirty Items or Less

Aspects of this looked like it might be funny (i.e. the cast, the premise of being forced to rob a bank, etc.), but I dreaded some of the raunchiness. It's definitely there (mostly foul language) and most of the time it's pointless and doesn't even do anything useful such as establishing character or being funny. But the core story is actually pretty neat, and I liked a lot about two main characters. I was really surprised by how much I liked this. I laughed and it was fun. Silly, but definitely entertaining, and there are enough surprises in the fairly basic story to make it interesting.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Snows of Kilimanjaro

Book: Snows of Kilimanjaro
Writer(s): Ernest Hemmingway

I "read" the audio book version of this which may not have been the best idea. I didn't realize it was short stories and those don't always work quite as well as novels in the car (where I listen to audiobooks). If you miss hearing a sentence in a novel, you haven't missed much, but in a short story, just one line can be critical. Because of that I found a few of these stories difficult to follow. Like the very first one, "Snows of Kilimanjaro," I didn't even realize was a story and thought it was the beginning of a novel (which seemed odd, since it's about a guy on his deathbed, which is an unusual way to begin a novel). I wasn't paying full attention, either, and suddenly the "novel" ended and I realized it was just a short story. Because of all that I'd like to go back and relisten to these at some point: I think I'd get more and more out of them over time. That said, I did enjoy the stories, and actor Stacy Keach did a surprisingly good job reading them. Some I liked more than others, though I can't say that any are particularly memorable. I did enjoy the writing style even in stories I didn't get (like in the boxing story, which I didn't really follow or understand). Probably my favorite was the story about the lion hunter in Africa. I need to read more Hemmingway.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Movie: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I was really hopeful of this one as I loved the concept (humans make apes smarter and apes take over), but after the disappointing Cowboys and Aliens and the CGI apes looking questionable in some of the trailers, I kept my expectations low. To my surprise, this was really good. I worried that it would be mostly an apes-versus-human battle, but instead the film is mostly about the development of the apes. Our scientist has a human side, as he's searching for a cure for Alzheimer's to help his ill father, and it's that drug that he develops that spurs the apes rise to power. There are weak aspects, such as the girlfriend role which is just wasted, but I really appreciated the slow, realistic development of the apes. This isn't the "ape gets injection and a week later apes have taken over" which I feared. Instead, the main ape is very human: we seem him slowly go from loving humans to being mistreated and misunderstood and learning to prefer his own kind. It's actually quite extraordinary that a big-budget Hollywood scifi movie would take that sort of realistic character development. I also didn't have any problems with the CGI monkeys -- they looked amazingly good throughout. Some shots in the trailers looked fake, but maybe they were early cuts before the special effects were finalized. Ultimately I'm not sure if this is a classic -- it's certainly not as ground-breaking as the original -- but it's a terrific restart of the series and I'm looking forward to more.