Dragon Tattoo Review

I went into this movie without having read the book or seen the original movie.  The only reason I even knew of its existence is because my husband has seen the original and I’ve noticed the movie sitting in the instant queue on Netflix. I was looking forward to seeing this movie because I like Daniel Craig, and it looked interesting enough.  I’d have to say that I did enjoy it, but watch out if you’re not one for too much sexually graphic content.  I honestly can appreciate a movie from time to time that is willing to show the good, bad, and ugly.  A good movie is hard to forget and I have found myself still thinking about the two and a half hour long adventure days later.

The movie stars Daniel Craig who is an investigator and he is asked to look over an old unsolved mystery case of the murder of a girl. Christopher Plummer invites him to stay in a house on his island in which most of the family resides where he can do his research. Whether he finds anything new or not he’ll be paid, so why not try.  Unfortunately during his investigation, Plummer’s character becomes ill and is in the hospital unable to communicate.  As Craig’s character works to find answers, he finds a helping hand from Lisbeth, a socially awkward young girl who’s lived a hard life. How they come together is explained.  Before they meet, the first part of the movie shows who she is and the type of life she lives.  Not a pleasant first half of the movie at times, but regardless still an exciting and suspenseful film.  Being that I have not read the book, I can only hope that fans of this story were pleased by this new film.

With this being a very dramatic and serious film, the actors did a great job portraying their roles. There were some very difficult scenes that left me thinking, I don’t know how they did it.  I usually enjoy watching Daniel Craig and that was no exception in this movie.  He’s good at what he does and nice to look at as well.  Rooney Mara played Lisbeth, who had a very challenging role and played it superbly. She must have had to step outside of her comfort zone quite a bit and got the job done well.

Don’t want to say too much more about the movie.  I think it is a must see in theatres if you’re into this type of movie.  I am unable to compare the movie with the original or the book, so its difficult for me to know of any flaws or things that could have been better.  If you’re looking for a better comparison in this regard I would recommend listening to the podcast where “Q” and “Square” talk about their thoughts on the film. Thanks for reading!

Cowboys, Aliens, and Other Fun Stuff…

If you like cowboys and you like aliens, then you might just love the two put together in this clever piece done by Jon Favreau.  The movie is based on a graphic novel which I have not read, but I found the movie to be very good.  With lots of action and excitement, you will keep wondering what is coming next throughout the whole film.  You may have seen a cowboy movie or two, and plenty of alien movies, but when combined in one movie, the result is a very interesting and unique story that you may have never seen before.

FirstLookOnline

A big reason why I was looking so forward to the movie is because I enjoy Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.  Jake Lonergan, who is played by Daniel Craig, is lost and confused as he does not remember anything about his life.  As the story unfolds, he slowly remembers and realizes what he needs to do in order to help the town of Absolution.  The mysterious and sexy Olivia Wilde who plays Ella continuously attempts to tag along to help him as well as get his help so they can find their people who have been taken by the aliens.  There are some unexpected turns to the movie that keep it entertaining and exciting.  Harrison Ford’s character, WoodrowDolarhyde, starts off as the head honcho, demanding what he wants with a crude attitude, only to be faced with the unfortunate situation with the aliens, eventually causing him and many others to learn to coexist with people.  His son, Percy Dolarhyde, played by Paul Dano, is probably the least liked among many in the town, and its because he thinks he can get away with anything because of his father.  The dog was a nice touch to the movie, because everyone likes animals.  Noah Ringer played the young boy and his character was a good piece to the movie.  Lonergan and Dolarhyde strive to settle their differences for the sake of the town, as they discover the truth about the reason behind the aliens’ presence on the planet.

I thought the depiction of how cowboys live their lives in a small town was very realistic, and even spotting UFO’s in the desert can be considered realistic.  The rest is just fun movie watching.  What I love about stories like these is that we don’t know what’s out there in the universe and if we’re alone or not, so the imagination can go many places with the notion that anything is possible.  And although there were parts of the movie you may have found yourself chuckling when it wasn’t necessarily a funny scene, you really don’t know how far off a fictional tale might be from the truth.

Cowboys and Aliens leaves you with a good feeling, even though there was much sadness during the film as not everyone is as lucky.  You get a happy ending at the expense of several sacrifices, which is more probable and better story telling anyway than a happy ending with no sacrifices.  Great movie to go and see, I enjoyed it very much.  Entertaining and different.  I think I’d give it a four out of five alien spaceships.

 

Review of Long Drive Home: A Novel

Hey there boys and girls, we got another book review for you from Michelle Despres. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Soon after my move to Colorado, a local man received two life sentences for killing two men. He had pulled ahead of their car and slammed on the brakes in a road rage incident. Last weekend, a woman pulled in front of the cab my husband and I were in and slammed on the brakes. She was upset that our cab driver had merged in front of her when his lane was blocked. Luckily, even though the cab hit the car, no one was hurt. These incidents bookend countless other acts of aggression and rage on our roads.

Cars are unpredictable and unwieldy. Mixed with adrenaline and rage, they can be deadly. I am both angry and perplexed when people use cars as weapons. I am also absorbed by stories that demonstrate how drastically and irrevocably a life can change from one second to another by the simplest actions. So, I was certainly looking forward to reading Will Allison’s Long Drive Home.

Long Drive Home

Free Press

As our narrator, Glen Bauer, explains at the start of the story, he has a rough drive home after picking his daughter up from school. Through Bauer, Allison sets the story up wonderfully; the first chapter is by far the best. Bauer explains, “With a different choice here or there – and I’m talking the small ones you wouldn’t otherwise give a second thought to – I could have gotten us safely home from school like I did every other day.” His family would have had a normal, uneventful evening. He continues, “At no point would we have considered the possibility that we’d dodged a bullet that day, that we’d come this close to our lives veering permanently off course.”

The chain of events that occur during that relatively short drive lead Bauer to “cut the wheel to the left – as if (he) were going to turn in front of [a reckless driver].” The reckless driver is killed. Bauer and his 6-year-old daughter are the only witnesses.

What follows would be better served if it were not in the form a letter from Bauer to his daughter. Scrupulous editing could have effectively tightened the writing. And the sub-plots could have been better woven into the story.

For me, the story could have successfully ended immediately after the accident, but the story continues and explains the repercussions of Bauer’s action. Some repercussions test the boundaries of believability, and other elements of the story seem downright impossible. J.K Rowling asks you to suspend reality; Allison should not.

Perhaps I can accept that a hyper-alert 6-year-old sitting in the back seat of a car is able to see everything that happens through the front windshield. I cannot, however, accept that a 6-year-old possesses a continuously perfect memory, unchallenged by a flurry of action and the passing of time. It also seems impossible for that child to accurately interpret her father’s unspoken motives behind a subtle action he takes with the car and to share that interpretation without being prompted. That’s all I can say without divulging too much of the story.

Additionally, the reaction of the lead detective is highly questionable. Given the totality of evidence he collects about this case, I would expect him to move on. Instead, the accident follows him around as much as it does Bauer.

Bauer is haunted by the accident, and he feels tremendous guilt. He knows he intentionally cut the wheel to scare the reckless driver. Unfortunately, Allison wants us to believe that everyone knows that intention. But it’s more likely that they assume he cut the wheel to turn and then noticed the reckless driver.

My apparently radical belief is that the accident is not Bauer’s fault, and so it was difficult for me to accept Bauer’s response and even more difficult for me to accept his wife’s response, the detective’s response, and his daughter’s response.

This story isn’t entirely without merit, but a story concerning a split-second decision and its life-changing consequences could have been intense, complex, and riveting. I wanted to not be able to put this book down. Unfortunately, it was too easy to do just that.

Long Drive Home: A Novel by Will Allison.
Free Press, New York, 2011.
Hardcover, 224 pp., $22.00. ISBN 978-1416543039.

Thanks for your contribution Michelle.

keep margaritas within reach this summer…

Hello EftRoU friends. We are starting something a little new. Our first review on a book. That’s right, a book. We want to say thank you to Michelle Despres for this great review… Enjoy!

Tina Fey Bossy Pants

Reagan Arthur Books - Bossypants

In time for the official start of summer, I offer you Bossypants by Tina Fey as this season’s first summer read: quick and easy without sacrificing substance, funny and lighthearted without being frivolous. Bossypants is nonfiction, which is a wise choice for people who may not want to keep track of characters and plot as they move from one summer activity to the next, such as carpooling to camp, jumping into the pool, and having to get up from the hammock to get another margarita. If your idea of a summer read is Atlas Shrugged, I applaud you, and you had better get to it.

For those without a television, Tina Fey is an actress, comedian, writer, and producer for both TV and film. She has received seven Emmy Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, four Writers Guild of America Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards. Fey recently became the youngest recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. She is probably best known for her time on Saturday Night Live (SNL).

I like Tina Fey. I think she’s smart, funny, and real. Thankfully, her book is too.

Fey’s goal is: “maximum book performance whatever your reading needs may be.” While a seemingly tongue-in-cheek goal, she actually succeeds in meeting it.

I expect that some readers will complain about the book being all over the place. In a way, it is. Fey reflects on childhood, family, dating, working, parenting, beauty, celebrity, and turning 40 in a well-organized text. The book is chronological without being a comprehensive chronology. It is autobiographical without being an autobiography. It is opinion and observation without being essays. It is comical without being a comedy. It is ok that it’s a jumble of genres.

Some readers will expect the equivalent of stand-up comedy. Yes, it is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, but sometimes it elicits a knowing smile or an interested nod. It is ok that it’s more than just a showcase of wit.

I was entertained by humorous anecdotes. I was interested in the behind-the-scenes look at working on SNL and 30 Rock and at what a celebrity photo shoot is like. I was enriched by her sharing the lessons she has learned from the events in her life.
Early in the book, Fey introduces improvisation concepts, which was interesting in itself, and how they can be applied to everyday life:

1. AGREE: “Start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.”
2. YES, AND: “Don’t be afraid to contribute.”
3. MAKE STATEMENTS:  “…with your actions and your voice.”  “Don’t ask questions all the time.” “Be part of the solution.” And especially for women and men with low self-esteem, “Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions.” As Fey says, imagine your doctor says, “’I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?”
4. THERE ARE NO MISTAKES: “Many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident.”
Fey’s management advice: Don’t hire “hotheads.” Hire “the most talented of the people who are the least likely to throw a punch in the workplace.”  You need to consider whether you want to work with “dangerous” and “unpredictable” people day in and day out. A lesson she learned from Lorne Michaels on the set of SNL: “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.”

Her advice to women: “When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: ‘Is this person in between me and what I want to do?’ If the answer is no, ignore it and move on.”  She also reminds women that “you’re not in competition with other women, you’re in competition with everyone.”

Her advice to working moms and stay-at-home moms: “Be kind to each other.” Fey was asked and declined to be “mother of the year” for a working mothers group and for a mommy magazine. Part of the reason is that she has no idea if she’s a good mother or not, and another part of the reason seems to be that she has advantages that other mothers don’t. I like that she admitted that the subject is messy and complicated. Fey’s child brought a book, My Working Mom, home from school. The working mom was a witch. Yes, a broom-riding, cauldron-stirring, black-cat-loving witch. I’m not a mom, but yikes.

Her advice to herself: “When Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your (expletive) life.”

The two most poignant stories are at the end of the book. That’s all I can say. Well, look for the stories about her Greek mother working at the school and babysitting. Now, that’s all I can say.

Reading Bossypants felt like I was having a conversation, albeit one-sided, with a good friend. Fey’s tone is affable. She’s honest and appropriately self-critical and doesn’t take herself too seriously (see her chart about the stress levels of certain jobs). I laughed. I learned. And I accomplished all of this on one Saturday afternoon. (I made sure to keep margaritas within reach of the hammock.)

Visit your local library for this and other no-risk summer reads.

Bossypants by Tina Fey.
Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2011.
Hardcover, 288 pp, $26.99. ISBN 9780316056861.

Thanks Michelle for such a great review. I can’t wait for your next review.

Melvis’s September Comic Picks of the Month

Hey everybody, with fall fast approaching I though you might want to get the heads up on what to pickup at your comic shop for the month of September. September is always a great month to start reading comics because…well because comics are awesome. They don’t get any better in September but what the hell there’s no time like the present to go snag yourself a 32page slice of artistic goodness.

On Sale September 1

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #36: The final arc of Buffy: Season 8 starts this week. Joss Whedon fans won’t want to miss this.

Red Hood: Lost Days#4: Find out what happened to Jason Todd from the time he died right up until he tried to kill Batman. I’m becoming more and more impressed with Judd Winick’s work these days

5 Days to Die #1: A new comic from IDW from writer Andy Schmidt. It might be a bust, but it could also be the next big thing. It’s worth taking a risk on.

Choker #4: I’m loving this Image series from Ben Templesmith and Ben McCool. If you don’t like superhero comics this might be up your alley. Noir, cyberpunk, and awesome all in 32 pages.

Wolverine #1: Logan’s going to hell and I’m along for the ride. I don’t know if this series is going to be worth picking up full time, but I want to give it a shot.

Sweet Tooth#13: Jeff Lemire’s latest indy hit is worth checking out. If you’ve never heard of this comic check out the trade paperback collection of the first five issues.

On Sale September 8th

Batman and Robin #14: Check out Grant Morrison’s last arc before Peter Tomassi takes over the title. Great reading.

Dragon Age #4: I’m a big fantasy fan, I loved the video game and the comic has been great so far. It’s not a genre defining title but it’s a lot of fun if you’re into fantasy.

Kill Shakespeare #5: This is my thinking man’s book for the week. Kill Shakespeare is a fantastic concept that is flawlessly executed. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Frank Miller’s girlfriend might hate it, but I love it.

Invincible Iron Man #30: Matt Fraction is getting a bit redundant with his plots, but I’m not quite ready to give up on Iron Man yet. I’ve been enjoying this story, and the twist with Sasha Hammer being Ezekiel Stane’s girlfriend has me looking forward to this title.

On Sale September 15th

Brightest Day#10: Geoff Johns has continued to deliver the goods with Brightest Day. It’s been a great read so far and #10 should bring more of the same.

Machete #0: A 32 page prequel to the Robert Rodriguez movie that came out last week. If you’re looking forward to the movie check out the comic. It won’t be great but its guaranteed to entertain.

The Walking Dead #77: If you want to be able to say you read the comic before the AMC series came out, you’ve only got two months to jump on the bandwagon. It’s a great comic too, I mean c’mon whats not to love about Robert Kirkman’s  “zombie movie that never ends”.

Kick Ass 2 #1: Mark Millar’s follow up to Kick Ass starts now. If you loved the first series, or the movie, I think that this one is going to kick more ass.

Thor First Thunder#1: If you’ve read Mice Templar you can appreciate what a great writer Bryan JL Glass is. I think that when given the reigns to a project like this; it’s essentially Thor: Year One you might be looking at the genesis of the next big name in superhero comics.

On Sale September 22nd

Dexter Color changing mug: It’s not a comic book, but this white mug reveals its darker blood splattered side when it heats up. Very cool if you’re a Dexter fan.

Superman/Batman #76: In this flashback story Judd Winick tells how Superman dealt with the death of Bruce Wayne. Not a title I normally buy, but I plan on picking this issue up.

Elephantmen #30: This is such a fun title. Check it out if you’re feeling like something different this week.

Thor #615: Matt Fraction takes over writing duties for the Norse god of thunder. Here’s hoping this will be great, I’ve been bummed by Thor since JMS left.

Joe the Barbarian #8: The conclusion of Grant Morrison’s fairy tale book about a diabetic teenager who must save an alternate reality world. A great title, if you haven’t been reading it I would suggest waiting for the trade. Morrison seldom disappoints.

On Sale September 29th

WonderWoman #603: J Michael Straczynski is writing Wonder Woman, and for the first time ever, I’m reading it. I can’t guarantee you’ll love it, but its way better than anything that ever came from Gail Simone’s pen.

Chew #15: I love this title from Image, it’s such a fresh concept and the art pops spectacularly, it’s as close to watching Adult Swim as you can come without actually having moving images. I know I pick an Image title a week, but you should be too. It’s great to see what creators can do when they have the freedom to make the books they want. The first 10 issues are available in trade too, so you can almost get caught up.

Pocket God #1: The best-selling online comic of all time comes to comic shops. I’m going to pass but thought you’d want to know it was there.

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