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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Recently Watched and Read


The Sitter
This had, maybe, two funny parts and they weren’t even that funny. It wasn’t quotable, none of the performances were that good, the story and jokes were derivative of other/better movies, and it seemed a lot longer than it was. Everything about this movie was pretty boring and unbelievable, and we want to scrub that gay guy on roller blades out of our memories with a brillo pad. Don't waste your time and money.
Movie Grade: D-

Tower Heist
This movie wasn’t good or laugh-out-loud funny, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought it was going to be either. There was one fun plot twist too. The best thing about this movie was the cast, which included Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, and Matthew Broderick. The main girl from Precious showed up to do a truly hideous Jamaican accent. Bumbaclot indeed. The best part was Eddie Murphy not sucking, for the first time in a long time, as the film’s funniest character. Having the heroes of the movie be working-class men suffering from financial strain works in the movie’s favor, making it timely and giving the characters instant sympathy. This isn’t a movie you’re going to want to go out and rent RIGHT NOW. It’s something you are going to want to watch a) when nothing else is on, b) if someone tries to make you, and c) if you’ve seen just about everything else Redbox has to offer.
Movie grade: C+

30 Minutes or Less
This movie is about a pizza delivery guy who has to rob a bank, or two guys who strapped a bomb to his chest are going to detonate it. The funniest part of this movie was the criminal sidekick doing kicks in his monkey mask. And Aziz Ansari, who pretty much saves this movie from completely sucking. Check out his stand up. It’s pretty good. The movie has its moments, but was disappointing, overall, considering its talented cast, entertaining subject matter, and the promising trailer. We liked when the movie’s comedy leaned toward the dark side. We also liked that it knew not to overstay its welcome, time-wise, clocking in at around 80 minutes. Check this out if you’ve got a group of friends over, you’ve already seen every good comedy you can think of, and you don’t want to think too much/just want to talk a little, chuckle, and eat pizza with an easy-to-follow background movie.
Movie grade: B-
Boys Don’t Cry
It’s common knowledge that it’s hard to find good movies on Instant Netflix when you are an entertainment buff and have already seen almost everything they have. That’s why watching Hilary Swank play a woman who wants to be a dude is a valid option. We had already seen the sex scene, because we watched This Film is Not Yet Rated, a great documentary (that you should watch) that pointed out that the MPAA is uncomfortable with watching women enjoy sex, but not with watching them get raped. Anyway, back to Boys Don’t Cry. It’s based on the true story of Brandon Teena who ran afoul of some Texan homophobes after getting involved with a local beauty. It’s not boring, but some of it is hard to watch. It sucks you in quickly, and the casting is great. We enjoyed seeing Big Love’s Chloe Sevigny play young, white trash. It’s definitely not a feel-good movie. If you don’t mind being depressed or this subject matter, check it out. And, spoiler alert, Brandon Teena totally cried.
Movie grade: B+


It by Stephen King
This is an oldie but a goodie, and one of us has finally read it. That blogger has read dozens of other King books, but never got around to It, because she’s not particularly scared of clowns. Well, she’s scared of this one. This book is classic Stephen King: Good v. Evil that doesn’t come across as shallow where good usually wins, but good pays a huge price in the process. The premise is that a group of eleven-year-olds, called The Losers, face off against an evil, shapeshifting force killing children in their town and then vow to return to fight It again if It ever comes back. As adults, they are called back to defeat it for good. The cons of this book is that it is 1,100 pages long and seems to lack any editing whatsoever. Plotwise, it’s not Stephen King’s best, easiest to follow, most intriguing, or most accessible. However, the plot isn’t the draw, but the characterization and the actual writing. The main characters are so real to you by the end of the book that they might as well be your next-door neighbors. With King, you have to love his tangents. You have to love his actual writing. You have to want to read him writing about a guy going to the store and buying a rug or something equally fascinating. This is surprisingly not hard to love, since his writing is so good. This book is one of King’s best and represents his style and work well. But it is going to take great patience, and if you don't mind long books, go for it. This is the book you bring to a desert island, because it’s going to take you a long time and persistence to finish it. It’s not your best quick beach read. We're going to bet that most people who start it don't finish it. It's the horror version of War and Peace: worth reading, but you'll start it a few times. Scariest scene? Possibly when adult Beverly comes home to see her father. We’re going to check out the mini-series now.
Book Grade: B+

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
This ranks as one of Jodi’s best books. The premise is that a young teacher, Jack, was falsely accused of rape when a student asserted that they had an affair. Jack pleads guilty to get a light sentence, serves his time, moves to Salem Falls for a fresh start, and falls in love with a local resident. But then history repeats itself. Jack isn’t a total victim though; he often makes unwise decisions (and a grave mistake in college) and is kind of a know-it-all (especially at Jeopardy). We wanted him to get off though. Jack’s love interest lacked presence/was a little bland. It’s the side characters we were interested in, particularly the attorneys and the young women accusing Jack. This is a romance/courtroom drama/mystery, and it’s a pretty engrossing one. It’s well-plotted and full of twists, but we guessed the final twist very early on. Still, it’s a good read for fans of romance, thrillers, and legal yarns. It handles the subjects of actual rape and false accusations of rape deftly. This book is even more enjoyable if you are familiar with The Crucible.
Book grade: A-
Matched by Ally Condie
We would have liked this book a lot better if we hadn’t already read The Giver and The Hunger Games. The society is exactly like the one in The Giver. In fact, it could be a sequel to that book with a different main character (this time a teen). Only there is no Giver role and Matched lacks The Giver’s depth and emotion. This is your basic love triangle that’s not particularly romantic. The middle lags with scenes of two teens falling in love and walking through the woods. Snore. There’s some action at the end, but there needed to be more, and hopefully there will be in the following books. But we don’t see the books going anywhere that a better series hasn’t gone before. We liked that the chapters were short (making it easier to read on the toilet; come on, you know you do it too), and the story was okay. We liked that the main female character didn’t start out a rebel at all and we got to see her become one. She didn’t start out Katniss Everdeen walking around the woods with a bow and arrow. We got to see her become disenfranchised with her “perfect” society that didn’t allow choice or real art. It was a quick, easy read, but we’ve seen other books do it better and pack a harder punch. We don’t think we care enough to read the sequel.
Book grade: C+

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
This is the sequel to Divergent. We loved getting to see more of the other factions, especially Candor, and the end revelation was pretty good. The plot was a little all-over-the-place, with the main characters moving around a lot. The book seemed disjointed at times. We liked the way it handled post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicidal thoughts in its increasingly well-rounded main character. It also handled her relationship problems well. The main love relationship is mature, full of self-sacrifice, and full of trust, if lacking in heat for this genre. It’s time for a triangle, we say. Uriah seems cool. We liked Divergent better, but this is a worthy middle for the trilogy, and middles are hard to do. We were pretty entertained.
Book grade: B+

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