Movie Thoughts: Sunshine

So, I netflix’d this movie because it had a relatively high rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  I really knew nothing about it, apart from the fact that Danny “Trainspotting 28 Days Later” Boyle directed it and Cillian Murphy had a leading role.  So I thought, what the heck. 

Hm. 

So, the plot is that the sun is dying and these scientists have been sent into space in an attempt to re-ignite it.  They are the second mission to be sent into space – the first disappeared 7 years ago. 

I thought visually the movie was really interesting.  It reminded me of ‘2001’ and ‘Alien’ with the way the way it was filmed.  Lots of random shots of empty corridors and weird noises.  Very dark, lots of whites and blues.  Lots of atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t keep up with the imagery.  We never really get to know the characters so we’re not really upset when bad things begin to happen.  I didn’t want their entire life stories, but these guys had less character development than a Michael Crichton novel (Crichton, though I love him, considers “He was 45 and a scientist” to be as much description as you could ever need).  Which is too bad, because I was ready for so much more.  I was ready to really like this movie.  But they never really meant anything to me.

I spent the last half of the movie wondering if I had accidentally sat on the DVD remote and skipped a chapter because it felt as though a scene or two was missing.  I still understood what was going on on the screen but it seemed like there should have been a bit more…something…to it.

Still, if you’re struggling to find something to watch and you’re in the mood for a sci-fi thriller, you could do worse than ‘Sunshine’.

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Movie Thoughts: Mr Brooks

AD’s friend recommended this movie, so we Netflix’d it to see what all his fuss was about.  I knew Kevin Costner was in it and that there was some sort of Jekll/Hyde thing going on in the plot.   And that is about all you need to know.

There seems to be some sort of virus in Hollywood now that is making script writers add extra plot twists to movies that don’t need them.  Mr Brooks suffers from this virus.  But, if you can get past that, its an enjoyable enough thriller.  Not great, but a solid 3 stars. 

Also, Demi Moore has clearly had some work done on her face and I found it very distracting.  I wonder if that is why she wore her hair down the whole movie, because she’s got extra skin stapled back there….ew! 

Dane Cook is also in this movie.  And I still want to punch him in the face. 

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Book Thoughts: Right Behind You

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Gail Giles

‘Right Behind You’ is another book from the ‘Great Books for Teens’ discussion group I picked.

The story starts out with a young man handing his story (the book) to someone else and telling them they need to read it.  The book is him trying to relate the events of his life to this new friend.  But Kip’s life has been anything but fun.  When he was 9 years old, he got angry at another kid and, in a fit of rage, set him on fire.  He is sent to a juvenile prison and spends the next 4 or so years there.  Eventually, he is deemed well enough to leave and goes back to rejoin society. 

Another book that I was surprised I enjoyed!  Gail Giles’ writing is clear and quick.  The chapters are short but leave you wanting more.  The only complaint I have is the “reader” of the story.  They disappear and reappear from the narrative at inconsistent intervals.  It made that part seem a bit stretched.  I think it would have been better just to leave this piece of the story out.  Or perhaps to just bookend it with them getting the book  and maybe their reaction to Kip’s story at the end. 

All in all, this book was a quick, enjoyable read.  Clearly it comes from the dark side of the YA shelves, but I felt that you could identify with Kip and that made it work.  The conclusion wasn’t as satisfying as the rest of the book, but if you can ignore the last page, you have a solid read on your hands.

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Movie Thoughts: Across the Universe

‘Across the Universe’ seemed perfect for me.  Director Julie Taymor also directed ‘Titus’, one of the most amazing movies based on a Shakespeare play.  It is filled with Beatles music, my favorite band of all time.  Plus, Eddie Izzard makes a quick cameo for ‘The Benefit of Mr Kite’. 

Well, turns out it was not meant to be.  Everything I had heard about the movie, all the clips I had seen in the trailer, all of the emotion those thirty seconds of film showed me…I think I imagined a better film.  I didn’t care about any of the characters.  The story was very flimsy and cliche.  Most of the time, the songs did nothing to move the plot forward.  Other times you could imagine a room full of Beatles’ fans saying “oooh, there’s that song ‘Dear Prudence’, we should have a character named Prudence and then they can sing that to her!’.  And the images on the screen?  The underwater sequence, mr kite, and strawberry fields were very trippy, but the rest of the movie?  Kind of boring. 

Everyone was very pretty.  The singing was nice, but they didn’t really do anything interesting with the songs, just sang then relatively straightforward.  I almost wish they hadn’t tried to hard to make a story.  I think it would have been far more interesting to just do a bunch of short films, little music videos, perhaps linking them together in the sense that they all take place in the 60s or something.  But the movie itself left a lot to be desired. 

In the end, it just made me want to drag out my Beatles albums and re-watch the Anthology DVDs for images of REAL people in the 60s.

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Book Thoughts: Boot Camp by Todd Strasser

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Todd Strasser

This Young Adult fiction novel is on the Great Books for Children and Teens 2007 reading list.  I’m not sure I would have picked it up if it hadn’t been assigned to me to read, but I am happy I did!

‘Boot Camp’ has absolutely nothing to do with the Army.  This story is far more sinister.  The book opens with Garrett, a 15-year old boy, being “transported” to Lake Harmony.  He’s not sure what is going on, but it is soon revealed that his parents have sent him to this camp to “cure” him of his problems.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I will tell you this book is not for the weak of heart.  Author Todd Strasser cites his sources in the back of the book, explaining that the conditions and abuse Garrett endures at Lake Harmony are not just from his imagination; there are camps like this all over the United States.  Children are sent away from their homes and force to comply with “rules” meant to turn them into the child their parents want. 

Despite its dark story, this is a page turner.  The chapters are just short enough that you convince yourself that you could read just one more.  And then that chapter ends in a bit of a cliff hanger and you have to keep going!  A disturbing page turner!

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