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All reviews - Movies (102) - TV Shows (1) - Books (36)

Title is Deceptive

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 2 January 2009 01:18 (A review of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill)

The title is deceptive, and might lead you to believe it's about the parrots. it's really about one San Francisco resident and his unusual lifestyle and his relationship to the parrots. It also didn't seem to give a well rounded account of the situation. Left me uninspired.

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Dopey, With a Grain of Truth

Posted : 9 years, 8 months ago on 28 August 2008 11:44 (A review of Fish!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results)

My professor was making some snide comments about "Fish" last week, and I realized not only did I still have a copy, I had the little stuffed fish from my district conference that came with it. So I got it out and read it again. Like with all self-help and business books, there is usually a good idea or two in them. But to beat those ideas into our heads, and to make a thick enough book people will spend 20 bucks to buy it they have to belabor the point. Although this book is smaller than most of those other books, it still has only four points to make which would have made a nice pamphlet. But instead they have surrounded it with the hokiest, corniest little story that verges on melodramatic at times. But as I was starting to get a little down on myself this week, it was a nice reminder that life is what you make of it. Grumbling has it's place, but so does a little over-the-top enthusiasm. And I need to take that dopey little story and get a little "fish" back in my game.

(P.S. Now I'm hungry for goldfish crackers!)

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Only Sarah

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 27 August 2008 05:12 (A review of Assassination Vacation)

Only Sarah Vowell could convince a publisher that what they needed was a book about her obsession with the 3 assassinated presidents from a long-ago era. Sarah spends her free time visiting any place related to Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley and their assassins. And these stories are quite amusing, particularly because she doesn't drive, and therefor must convince her family and quickly dwindling network of friends to go to these places. Unfortunately, as she writes the book she has trouble incorporating the historical education she needs to give the reader into the anecdotes, and ends up giving a lecture, followed by the anecdote. And on occasion goes into a diatribe about current political situations. Which in it's entirety leaves the book too disjointed, and occasionally annoying. I also wonder if she isn't a victim of her own success, as that now her stories are reaching a much larger audience she feels compelled to protect her friends and family, and ends up leaving lots of the interesting parts of the stories out. Nevertheless, I learned a great deal, and feel quite an affinity for Sarah and her interesting obsession.

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Too Much!

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 4 August 2008 09:26 (A review of Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide)

Wow, what a waste of paper this is. This is the memoir of an English-Italian man who establishes a tour company in the Tuscan Hills. And how awful his clients are. This is not the cute cultural-misunderstandings book that one would hope for, it's just a book about of wishy-washy tour guide who seems to have more horrid customers than good ones. And even when he likes his clients the stories are rarely amusing, and the progression of the stories is so bad that I can't believe I read the whole thing. Of course I didn't have a lot of options as I was traveling through Tuscany at the time and this was the only book I had. The writing is so poor, even grammatically atrocious at times, that my husband couldn't even get through the first 3 chapters. And as the author actually grew up in Britain, and he had English speaking assistants to help him with this book, there is no excuse for it. Just another book whipped up to exploit the "Tuscan" craze going on at the time. Stay far away.

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Absorbed it whole

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 4 August 2008 02:20 (A review of Hanna's Daughters: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle))

I've read other reviews of this book (on other sites) and was surprised to find how many people thought it was good but very tough to get through. They thought it was complicated. I had that reaction to another book by this author, but found this one to be just brilliant and read it really easily. It was more like absorbing it than reading. The book is about (as the title states), Hannah and her daughter, and her daughter's daughter and in placed in Sweden. Each woman is definitely a woman of her generation, but in startling ways that gives the reader a new perspective on history. I could really see the stories unfolding through each characters eyes, and found them all to be intriguing and women I would be proud to know. I hope others will let themselves be introduced to these women, and not be scared off by those other reviews.

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Tearing up in Public

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 1 August 2008 03:25 (A review of How to Talk to a Widower)

This is my kind of book! A young widower is allowing himself to wallow in his own depression after the love of his life is killed in a plane crash. But unfortunately the outside world keeps getting in his way. And his family. The book takes you on a roller coaster ride, as you laugh through your tears, guffaw out loud, blush and invest yourself in these peoples lives. Although none of these things has happened to me yet, most of them will...such as losing someone you love, sitting by helplessly while someone screws up their life, watching a marriage crumble before you, be blindsided by someone's infidelity and/or watching your parents slip away. Although all these things happen to the main character within a year or two, they are all things we can identify with as something that has happened or will happen. But the author has created such a wonderful story about it all that I didn't want to put it down, by creating characters well filled out and brilliantly hilarious dialog. It was one of those books I couldn't stop reading, but got anxious towards the end of the book because I would no longer be able to slip in and out of this world and family that I had gotten so involved in.

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Obsessed with Weddings

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 30 July 2008 05:36 (A review of 27 Dresses)

Since this movie has two of the things I most despise, and I still liked it, it must be okay. I hate big weddings. And I hate people who never say no. So, since this is a movie about a woman obsessed with weddings, and is a walking doormat, I should have hated this movie. But the chemistry between our romantic couple is good, quite good. And Ms. Hegel's character is rather likable despite me wanting to slap her a few times. In general the acting and cinematography was good, and despite the inane plot the dialog is well written. Easy to watch movie after a hard days work, but don't expect to be enlightened.

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Enjoyable Fairytale

Posted : 9 years, 9 months ago on 29 July 2008 02:53 (A review of Penelope (2006))

This fairytale for our times has a great cast, and without it might be exceedingly trite. But our leads are able to take the simple script and do a little something extra with it. Penelope has been cursed by a witch from long ago, and was born with a pig's nose. If she is ever truly loved for herself by her own kind, this slight oddity will disappear. However, this curse so traumatizes her parents that they lock her away for her own protection. And then they bring in males they hope to marry her off to hoping one won't disappear screaming into the night and keep her from the claws of the paparazzi. The chemistry between Ricci and McElvoy is excellent and keeps this movie from being tedious, and Witherspoon is a hoot. Nothing truly innovative here, but an entertaining story good for children and adults alike.

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Pleasant Footnote on History

Posted : 9 years, 10 months ago on 28 July 2008 12:25 (A review of Charlie Wilson's War (2007))

This very watchable film is the true(ish) story of one unusual congressman in the early 1980's, who has the luxury of not having to play the politics so many representatives must. He has never had to ask favors of others, and has secured so many favors, that when he finds something he is passionate about he's able to call in all those chips. And his passion has accidentally become the situation in the Soviets invasion of Afghanistan, and the plight of the Afghani people. Tom Hanks is able to pull off the likable, devilish Congressman and is surrounded by a great cast. The movie adds nothing new to the world of movies, but the plot is interesting, humorous and the ending is not completely mundane (as we all know Afghanistan has not become Paradise). I wouldn't go out of my way to see this movie, but if you cross paths with this movie it'll keep you entertained for a couple of hours, without lowering your I.Q. any.

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Just a glimpse

Posted : 9 years, 10 months ago on 27 July 2008 04:45 (A review of Marie Antoinette (2006))

This movie's aim is to give you just a glimpse into the life of Marie Antoinette, in a very slow and personal way. By the same director as Lost in Translation, there are more similarities that you might expect. The true story of an Austrian princess who was never brought up to expect to be Queen and how she ended up going down in history unjustly as the most reviled royal to ever live is much too complicated for a feature length film, and this movie doesn't try to do that. What it does accomplish successfully is humanizes the queen, and even gives you some of the drama of the pressure she was under to produce an heir. The movie has an unusual sound throughout and truly isn't a "screenplay". There is little dialog, and is more like overhearing somebody's life. The visuals are stunning and the filming at Versailles gives it a grandness and a realness that feels unique. There has been much made about rock music being used as the score, but there is so little music truly that it seemed quite in place with the rest of the ambient sounds that are introduced. The movie ends well before her death, and once again just gives you a glimpse of the terror that awaits her entire family, but you know that part of the story so well that it seems an appropriate ending. This is not your usual historical drama, but should give you a new perspective on a single woman's life you think you know, but don't really.

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