November 21, 2014

Movie Review: Begin Again

Begin Again was a cheesy imitation of Coyote Ugly which was an ugly picture to begin with.  The film stars Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine and revolves around Keira Knightley's character Gretta getting into the music business after her boyfriend (Adam Levine) gets too big for his britches when he strikes it big.  

Levine's acting is left to be desired and feels like he's reading from a script.  Keira Knightley, who I usually really like gave a phone in performance  and was like a crazy person who forgot to take their meds.  as for her singing ability, or lack there of, she kept singing the same drivel over and over again with each song sounding the same.  With her recent break-up what little music there was came off as a bad remix of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know".  Mark Ruffalo is first introduced as a man down on his luck just being fired from his job as a music producer.  He discovers Gretta and when approaching her his demeanor was that of a drunken homeless person and wasn't sure why she pursued the meeting he presented.  There was also the constant fear of Knightley and Ruffalo hooking up which would have been eww as he looked old enough to be her father. 

Begin Again had a bad beginning, middle and end.  It had all the potential to "go somewhere" but instead stayed put.  In short, there was no Voice to the picture and no chairs turned around  

November 20, 2014

Book Review: Truth in Advertising

Truth in AdvertisingTruth in Advertising by John Kenney
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I stopped reading Truth in Advertising on Christmas day (Christmas day in the book that is) The back cover made it sound witty and interesting, both of which it was not.

The novel is a fictional account of Fin Dolen, a sad lonely man assigned to a diapers commercial over the Christmas holidays. It is long winded, and disjointed, with an ADHD attempt at witty writing. There were actually a few moments where I was reminded of a David Sedaris' panache but those were fleeting and rather reverted back to a moronic, sophomoric teenage boy sense of humor. An example being a commercial using the Old MacDonald song, a chicken saying "a cock, cock here and a cock, cock there." Thus they have a "cock problem". It's funny the first time but like all burp and fart jokes they start to stink pretty fast.

There were also fleeting mentions of an ex-fiance but they were very jagged and felt like a sub-plot the author started and then forgot to remove. In general Fin was an unlikeable character who I really could have cared less about. I can't place a finger on it but there was just something about him that rubbed me the wrong way; so much so (and excuse the pun) but I could not even make it to the "Fin" of this book.

November 19, 2014

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

While it may be exaggerated due to Harry Potter standing next to a house elf, but the first thing I noticed upon watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was Daniel Radcliffe's growth spurt.  The second is the drop in octave in his (and Rupert Grint's) voice.  Our Hogwarts students are growing up, and like the magic of the Harry Potter franchise that draws so many fans seeing the cast evolve is a fascinating add-on as well.

Tom Riddle's Diary is the linchpin in the film and is probably even scarier than the basilisk because you cannot see where it keeps its brain and instead must rely on trust which could easily be swayed.  The flashbacks said diary holds were well laid out with a sepia-tone look to distinguish past from reality, along with piercing, I mean business look in Tom Riddle's eye it is all a bit unnerving.

Outside of Tom Riddle's Diary polyjuice potion is the next biggest ammunition that Harry, Ron and Hermione have and was fun to see play out.  My one complaint is that I wish Jamie Waylett and Josh Herdman who play Crabbe and Goyle had spoken rather than Grint and Radcliffe doing a voice over and have always wondered how Malfoy fell for that.  Although I did enjoy seeing Hermione Granger's(Emma Watson) transformation into a cat.

I had not seen the movie in several years and the one thing that worried me was Aragog.  Overgrown spiders are a little absurd to begin with and this giant spider and it's spawn could have gone cheesy B movie real fast.  While the effects may not have held up 100% their pinchers are still creepy and share Ron's sentiments of fear.  

Each new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher beings spice to the story, last year it was Professor Quirrell's stutter and this year it was the pompous Gilderoy Lockhart.  Played by Kenneth Branagh, Pofessor Lockhart is every bit as conceited as I could have imagined, pulling off a great performance and is one of my favorite Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers.  

The ending was a lot creepier than I remember it being, deceiving Tom Riddle emerging from the Diary to order a basilisk after Harry Potter and the intensity and quick pace in which the scene unfolds is a beating heart moment.  and the determination in Harry's voice is quite strengthening, showing were his loyalties lay while still having a childlike side when freeing Dobby.

Harry Potter is an excellent continuation in Harry Potter's adventures in both book and film form.  While it is much darker than its predecessor Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is an entertaining film to watch.

November 18, 2014

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

For me, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the classic young adult novel.  I built it up in my head so nothing could compare.  I was sure the movie would let me down but instead it was everything I pictured Hogwarts to be.

Although despite loving this series of films I find them diffacult to review (particularly the first one), I've decided to share a few of my favorite aspects.

Professor Snape or rather Alan Rickman, his silk voice toys with Snapes'  persona making him just as oily and dislike able as Harry sees him.  His line delivery actually makes the entire movie for me and reminds me of Obama as his pauses between each word, it is clever, meticulous, and a spellbinding performance.

Richard Harris is the epitome of Doubledore, he is friendly, understanding, grandfatherly with words of wisdom.  To me he was Dumbledore

Hogwarts itself, the castle is grand but not shiny and new it looks like it has been around for hundreds of years with signs of wear and love but always with dignity.

Of course Harry Ron and Hermione must be on the list.  Emma Watson plays the know-it-all Hermione perfectly just hovering over annoying but because she is the brightest witch in her year  and is the only one who has read Hogwarts a history that can be forgiven.  Rupert Grint, plays Ron as the sidekick who shows his stuff at the end of the story and is a red head that stands out.  Daniel Radcliffe is exactly how I pictured Harry to be I can't describe it but he acts his part well, without the precociousness and arrogance that Snape had accused him of many times.

Mr. Ollivander is creepy and sometimes I think is almost as creepy as Voldermort.  He is strange and almost awkward. Yet explains that Voldermort was a great but terrible wizard and the expresses this idea even better than Dumbledore.

Professor McGonagall is played by Maggie Smith.  She is stern and sassy and Smith does a wonderful job balancing the two.

There are too many to count, thus this a sampling.  Although I think Snape said it best "Mr Potter, our new celebrity."  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone stands out and is just as classic as the book.

November 17, 2014

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: July 1, 1999
Source: Bought
Purchase: Amazon|Barnes & Noble 
Add To: Goodreads

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone--or something--starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects...Harry Potter himself.

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry, Ron and Hermione involve themselves in more mystery {and breaking about a hundred school rules in the process}. to get to the bottom of the Chamber of Secrets hidden underneath Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and uncover the heir of Slytherin, who has the ability to open the Chamber once again and has the power to control what lies within.

In the second installment of the series J.K. Rowling introduces several new characters into the mix.

First is Dobby the house elf who warns Harry, for his own good sir not to go back to Hogwarts School as it is not safe this year. Unfortunately, Harry brushes this advise aside and attends his classes, Dobby tries to no avail to detour Harry but nothing bears fruit and usually ends up doing more harm than good to himself and The-Boy-Who-Lived.

Second is the Weasley family, the reader is introduced to Mr and Mrs Weasley who become surrogate parents to Harry and treat him as one of their own. The other member is the youngest Weasley child and only girl Ginny who is starting her first year at Hogwarts.
The third new character is Moaning Myrtle, a girl who was consistently teased and tragically died fifty years ago under mysterious circumstances.

Lastly, and my personal favorite the new Defense Against the Arts teacher Gildaroy Lockheart, a big headed, international bestseller for such books as Magical Me and Gadding with Ghouls; and in truth can only talk the talk and not walk the walk so all in all is rather pathetic. I reread this series numerous time and still get a kick out of his disastrous magical attempts.

Of course we can't forget the main characters, Harry, Ron and Hermione, the writing for all three is much more developed and mature and through out the books J.K. Rowling makes apparent that the three are going through "growing pains" and maturing in general. 

All in all this was a good young adult novel {I've read at least twenty times so it better be} and as the series progresses and builds more popularity as a crossover book the writing style improves and becomes a little less juvenile. Great read good author.

I read this for the Harry Potter Reread Along hosted by Book Journey