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Posts Tagged ‘Moderate Recommendation’

Tales From The Secret Annex (1949©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for the “other” Anne Frank book: “Tales From The Secret Annex“.  To be honest, reading this book was a mistake.  I picked it up because over the years I’d heard so much about Anne Frank’s Diary that I decided I wanted to finally get around to reading it.  I had no idea she even had a second book.  So, I saw the author and looked at the picture of the young girl on the cover and said, “Yup, this is it.”  And, I bought it.
I asked my wife if she’d read it and she replied everyone read it back in school.  We laughed a bit because I admitted I had not.  She cautioned me that it was quite sad and in fact she found it depressing.  (She knows what a cry-baby I can be.)  To make a longer story shorter, I asked her when it starts to get sad because I was finding it just kind of “girlish”.  She asked me to read her a few chapters and then said, “I don’t think you’re reading the right book“.  It’s been years since she read it, but she was confident she’d never heard these stories before.  So, the next day I looked up the book and lo and behold, this wasn’t the diary at all!  I was, in fact, reading the wrong book.
Okay.  Is this book any “good”?  To be honest, only so-so.  It’s a lovely little (150 pages) book, written by a teen-age girl, who makes some precocious observations about the world and about adults, but this is not a life-changing book.  The chapters are individual stories with no discernible arc.  Some of them are dreams and dream like.  Some are just stories.  They are pleasant enough, but there is not a lot there – for me anyway.  In any case, a book which should have taken me a couple of hours to read ended up taking almost two months, because it failed to capture and hold my imagination.  In the end, I was taking it to medical appointments to read while sitting in the waiting rooms.
Having said that, do I now recommend it?  Yes, I think I do.  I have already quoted the book in one of my postings on this blog and there are another five portions I’ve marked for posting later.  So, yes, I think I do.
If anything, without reading the primary work, I already feel like the world has lost the opportunity of sharing the life and writing of a kind and interesting young lady.  And her early passing is a lost opportunity for literature and for the world.
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On This Day In:
2015 Are You Listening Ladies?
2014 Practice, Practice, Practice
2013 A Fist Full Of Confusion
2012 Teaching Faith
2011 The Heart Of Terror
The Proportion Of Gravity And Probability

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Earth To Echo (2014)  –  movie review
As all my regular readers know, I am a sucker for an endearing movie – particularly if it involves Science Fiction.  This one does, but it ain’t.  This movie is an almost good attempt to rip-off almost every kid based SciFi movie you’ve ever seen.  The poster is almost a legally actionable rip-off of E.T.   And it just starts there….
Basically, three socially awkward friends are about to be separated by their families moving to various parts of the country.  Their cell phones go wonky and they spend the evening / night trying to assist an alien rebuild himself and his spacecraft so he can go home  (“E.T. phone home…”).  In the spirit of other movies it’s also trying to rip-off, the movie is shot using selfie-style phone and Go-Pro footage to make it look first person.  It kind of works, but not really.  Just like most of the rest of the movie…
Without giving too much away, the cute little owl-lie alien gets to go home and the boys get to remain friends even though they are separated.  Oh, and there’s a girl thrown into the mix to add a bit of pubescent rom-com for good measure.
Acting?  It’s a kids movie.  Plot?  It’s a kids movie.  Special effects and action?    Okay.  Here it rises above mediocrity and actually has two halfway decent scenes: one, a truck disintegrates and then is re-formed, and two, the alien ship gets built.  Other than that, it’s a kids movie….
Final recommendation:  moderate recommendation.  If you need a pleasant movie to watch with your niece or nephew – and they are between six and ten – this is a pretty good option.  It will entertain them and it won’t bore you to tears.
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On This Day In:
2014 Ready, Action!
2013 Responding To Challenges
2012 Abnormal, adj.
2011 Large Families
On The Brink

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles  —  movie review
TMNJ (2014) is a mixed, live action / computer generated / science fiction / action / comedy film based on the characters of the same name which I assume was released aimed at the pre-teen market and / or adults needing to feel nostalgic.  It is a reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series from the 1990’s (and cartoon TV series from the 1980’s).   The film stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, and William Fichtner as the main live actors.  The Turtles are computer generated with voice-overs.
Full disclosure:  I am coming to this party late.  I have never seen a single episode from the series or any of the prior movies.  Consequently, my review is only of this movie – well, with the popular culture facts I was aware of.
So, there is a rat (“Splinter”) who raises four genetically modified turtles in the sewers of New York City.  The rat teaches them the martial art of Ninjitsu.  The four turtles are named after four famous Renaissance artists: Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael.  I’m not sure why.  The only explanation was the genetic experiment they were party to was called “The Renaissance Project”.   Anyway, the turtles are raised to fight crime – mainly the “Foot Clan” which is led by another martial arts expert named “Shredder” (who has a vague resemblance to “Edward Scissorhands” in an Iron-Man suit).  I gather that if you are familiar with either the TV show or the prior movies all of this is standard background.
Basically, the movie is action, one-liners, action, special effects, pause for family overcomes all message, more action, more special effects, and end with credits.  I think the movie was supposed to be more comedic, but Fox and Arnett couldn’t carry it off and their bits fell flat.
Was the movie any good?  Acting?  Special effects and action?  Yes.  No.  And, pretty good.
Good!?  Really?   Yes.  The movie was actually enjoyable.  It wasn’t great or original or anything like that, but it was modestly fun and I’d watch it again.  Acting?  Fair to poor.  Fichtner was acceptable (barely), Fox is attractive enough, but can’t really act, and Arnett is just plain bad (awful).  To be honest, aside from the CGI Turtles, Splinter and Shredder are the two best “actors / characters” in the movie.  The Turtles “make” the movie and either you can get into them or you can’t.  I did, so I enjoyed the movie.  All humans (actors) are just along for the ride.
Special effects and action?  Like I said, pretty good.  Enough to keep my attention and enjoy the film.  There’s a lot to quibble about, but that’s mostly the plot and actors and not the FXs.
Final recommendation: moderate for a normal person who’s into comic-book action movies.  I think “highly recommended” for the pre-teen target audience.  Reasonable action and special effects, together with the teen-age banter between the Turtles make this an enjoyable film.
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On This Day In:
2014 Book Return
2013 Keep Writing Your Truths
Perilous Times For The U.S. Military
2012 The Victor
2011 Forging Away At My Deadlines
2010 Try This With Your Shoes…

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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”  (2010)  – movie review
This is an animated “Cain and Able” story, overlaid with a coming of age story, wrapped in a classic battle between the forces of good and evil.  The animation is similar in quality to “Happy Feet” (although this film is nowhere near as appealing).  Basically, two brothers (one good, the other bad) are kidnapped by an army of evil owls who are intent upon taking over the world (or maybe it’s just the forest; I couldn’t really be sure).   Anyway, one accepts evil and joins the army and the other rebels against his captors and joins the good-guys (the Guardians) army to fight against his brother and the bad guys.  Naturally, there are chases and multiple close calls before the young hero saves the day in the climatic battle sequence.
So, is it any good?  Aside from the quality of the animation, this is a rather pedestrian movie – almost entertaining and almost interesting, but not quite either.  I’ve never read any of the books the movie is based on so I can’t comment on faithfulness to the source material.  Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  The movie is a bit too intense for small children and bit too childish for young teens (or pre-teens), so I’m not sure who would really be the target audience.  As a computer nerd who loves good animation and special effects, I found the movie technically beautiful.  It wasn’t a complete waste of time, but it wasn’t a movie I’m looking forward to seeing again any time soon.
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On This Day In:
2014 Honoring Firefighters
2013 And Never Will
2012 The Human Adventure Continues
2011 Almost Never

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Today’s review is for a DVD I picked up for old time’s sake.  The movie is titled: “Diner” from 1982 and was directed by Barry Levinson.  This was his directorial debut and was one of four movies he made about life in his hometown: Baltimore, Maryland.  It’s is supposed to be a “comedy / drama”, but I didn’t find much to laugh about in the movie, so I guess it’s supposed to be a “black comedy”, which, in turn, means it’s “disturbing” and not funny.  Levinson is supposed to be a big deal producer / director, but I don’t follow that stuff (directors) much, so I’m not really bothered about it.  With the exception of Hitchcock and Spielberg, I don’t really “go” to a movie “because” of its director.  I guess I’m unusual that way, as it seems to matter to people I know (friends and family) a lot more than it’s ever mattered to me.  And, although I did see this movie during its original release, I have no recollection of the other three movies in the “Baltimore series”.
Anyway, this movie is kind of an adult / older version of a coming of age story.  I usually think of “coming of age” stories as teen-to-adult, not “Oh, shit!  I’m an adult.  Now what do I do with the rest of my life.”  Well, this is the latter.  It’s the story of six male friends (and the wife of one of the friends) who come together for the wedding of one of the other five (the friend played by Guttenberg).  The movie was a launching pad for some folks who later went on to have pretty well known careers for the rest of the ’80’s, including: Steve Guttenberg (the guy getting married), Daniel Stern (the guy already married), Ellen Barkin (his wife), Mickey Rourke (playing a macho hairdresser, unlike Warren Beatty in “Shampoo“), Kevin Bacon (as a young alcoholic – with surprising intelligence – jerk), Tim Daly (as the handsome guy in the group), Paul Reiser (as the “I have no idea why this guy is in this group of friends or this movie” character).
Now, you may be asking, why did this movie make Kevin’s list “for old time’s sake”?  Well, growing up, I used to follow the American football team based in Baltimore – the Colts – because I really liked their quarterback (Johnny Unitas) and one of their wide receivers (Raymond Berry).  The hooks (for me) in this movie are: before the Guttenberg character will marry his fiancé, she has to pass a test of knowledge about the history of the Colts and the NFL; the music played during the bride’s procession to the altar is the Colt’s theme / fight song; and, the wedding colors are Colt’s Blue and White.  The best line in the movie is when a female / spouse complains to one of the wedding guest characters about the wedding colors and he responds: “Hey, she should be grateful he doesn’t support the Steelers.”  For those of you who know little to nothing about American Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers colors are black and gold.  The “gold” has always looked more “yellow” to my eye, but it is supposed to be gold.  The fiancé narrowly fails the test, but he marries her anyway.  In my head, I can see a Steeler fan telling his fiancé their wedding colors will be Black and Gold…  Heck, I can see that now, let alone back in 1959!!
I don’t know if Americans “come of age” while sitting in diners anymore.  Perhaps they – diners – (like my own youth) are a thing of the past in these days of malls and franchise restaurants, but if you want to see a little slice of “Americana” as it was in earlier days (at least it is similar to how I remember late nights and early morning hours from my late teens and early twenties), then this is a pretty accurate snapshot and you should check out this movie.
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  A darker and more East Coast version of “American Graffiti“, without the cars / crusin’.  Good music, good writing and good character actors.
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On This Day In:
2013 Judgement
2012 Stuck In My Mind
Life’s Hope
2011 Just Getting Up
Directions Please

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Strictly speaking, this is not a movie review blog site.  I do, however, from time to time, post brief reviews of movies I’ve watched.  Lately, I’ve been too lazy to do that, so for the next few posts, I’ll be trying to catch up.  This may take a few weeks, so I’ll understand if you’re not really interested and decide to come back next month…  (Now that you’ve been warned…)
This review for the latest in the “Jason Bourne” sagas: “The Bourne Legacy” and stars Jeremy Renner – the superhero formerly known as Hawkeye in the Avengers movie.  The romantic interest is played by Rachel Weisz.
If you are a follower of this blog, you know I’m quite the Matt Damon fan and Matt played Jason Bourne in the first three movies of this series.  I gather there was a financial dispute, because an actor is rarely too busy to re-star in their signature role.  I know there is always talk about schedule conflict and fear of type-casting, but trust me, it’s always about the money.
Anyway, this movie isn’t a normal sequel, nor is it the typical Hollywood re-boot of the series.  Rather, this movie is a tangent.  It has just enough scenes and characters borrowed from the prior movies to explain the existence of the latest super-spy and then it goes directly to the tried and true “Bourne” format.  In case you’re not familiar: memories, hand to hand fighting, blow something up, chase, repeat until end of two hours or most of the bad guys are dead.  There are always some left over for the next sequel…
Does it work?  Yeah, pretty much.  Lots of action, shooting, blowing stuff up, chases, fighting, blood, etc.  It’s workable as a science-fiction and as a spy-shoot ’em up.  It lacks the originality of the original movie, but heck, so did the first two sequels, and I like them too.
Final recommendation: not highly recommended, but still a very entertaining action / spy / thriller movie.  Worth viewing.  Moderate recommendation.
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On This Day In:
2013 God’s Protection
2012 Happy Easter!!
Edge, Class, Clash, And Flight
The Value Of Bureaucracies
2011 Logic Cuts

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