This documentary on classic video game competitions was an entertaining viewing. It’s a classic underdog story of the little guy trying to take down the champ. And since it is a true story, it makes it all the more entertaining. But make no mistake, these guys are total nerds. I mean, I know that might be the pot calling the kettle black but they look like nerds. Some of them are such stereotypes they look and sound like they walked out of a Simpsons episode. Watching them discuss the high scores for all the classic video games and bragging about their position in the Twin Galaxies video game score hierarchy was hilarious and painful. But the show is only an hour and thirty minutes, and the time flies right by as you cheer on Steve Wiebe and his family and cringe at the self-involved Billy Mitchell. But finally seeing the movie made this a whole lot funnier:
If you’re in the mood for mystery/suspense movie with solid performances from every member of the cast, Gone Baby Gone will satisfy your needs. Patrick Kenzie and his partner/girlfriend Angie Gennaro are private investigators. They have been in the business for awhile, working on missing persons cases. When a little girl is kidnapped and the distraught family approaches them for help, Angie says she doesn’t want to take the case because she doesn’t want to find the little girl’s body in a dumpster, but Patrick doesn’t heed her advice and they find themselves dealing with professional and personal issues they had never encountered before. Yeah, I’ll be honest. When I saw that it was directed and co-written by Ben Affleck and starring Casey Affleck, I was a bit suspicious of its quality. But this movie was very good. It is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, so they had a good solid foundation to start from. Everyone in the movie does a great job. The hardest part was getting used to the Boston accents, some more outrageous than others. But the plot twists and turns, and the questions that the main character deals with about right and wrong make it a gripping movie. Definitely check it out.
Now, I’m not sure if I saw the “Un-Rated Edition” or just the regular movie, but I doubt any additional footage could have made this comedy any better. While I enjoyed bits and pieces of Blades of Glory and Talledega Nights, I didn’t find Semi-Pro even in their league. I wish the movie had been a flat-out spoof of sports fandom like the first two mentioned, but the is very off balance as it tries to tell the story of Will Farrell’s naive owner/coach/player strugging to get his team to the top and Woody Harrelson’s already-been-to-a-championship-game character, who is trying to become a better person. Blah. Cliche sports plot and not enough laughs to make it worth it. If the film had been as random as the bear scene they showed in the trailer, it could have been a lot funnier (the bear was the cause of my LOLs for this movie). Will Ferrell can do better. Perhaps he just needed the money to pay landlord
After enjoying Right Behind You by Gail Giles I decided to try a few more of her titles. Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters is a very short book (the hardcover is only 136 pages) and I was able to read it in a matter of days. Sunny’s older sister Jaz died in a fire a few months ago. But a letter has arrived in the mail from Jaz and it says she is alive and well and coming home. Who is this girl claiming to be Sunny’s sister? And what does her return mean for the family and Sunny. The story hits the ground running and just keeps on going until the end. I think this title would be great for a reluctant reader. Sunny is a very likable character and her attitude towards her sister (when she was alive, dead, and a bit of both) is understandable so it is easy for the reader to empathize with her. If you want a quick summer read, Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters will fill one beach trip.
Teeth is the story of Dawn. Dawn grew up near a nuclear power plant and has an interesting *ahem* mutation, as it were. It’s not really anything as flashy as the X-Men heroines. No, Dawn’s body has got a set of teeth where no other girl has had them before, except for in ancient myths of the Vagina Dentata. Yeah, dentata…as in dentist, as in teeth…as in teeth down THERE! This hilarious horror flick is not for the faint of heart, as we get to see the results of the incidents in all their gory glory (though part of me wants to show it to every 6th grade boy and tell them at the end “And that is why you should wait, because you won’t know what is down there until it is too late!!!”). Yes, you can imagine what sort of horrific scenes happen in this movie. It is the stuff of male nightmares. Dawn’s victims usually deserve their punishment (her first bite happens when a boy attempts to rape her). So if you’re in the mood for a movie that makes you scream “OMG EEEEW OOOOW GROSS!” this one might work for you. Best if watched with friends so you can all cry out together and then giggle (even better if some sort of alcoholic beverage can be involved).
Having enjoyed both Hellboy and Pan’s Labirynth, I couldn’t not watch The Orphanage. It has a dash of horror, mystery, thriller, and suspense all mixed together. Many scenes were reminiscent of Spielberg’s Poltergeist. Yes, I did spend a small portion of the movie with my hands near my eyes (just in case) but the scares come from sheer creepiness and not gross-out effects. Honestly, there is so much to say about this movie, but if I say anything I’m afraid I might spoil it. It has many subtle nuances, twists, and turns that make it work. Just see it. Then we can talk.
Billy Bloom is FABULOUS in every sense of the word. He is gay and a transvestite and about to have his first day of senior year at a brand new high school in Florida, after being foisted upon his father. As you can imagine, his reception is less than overwhelming. I think I liked this book. It was funny and spazzy and full of ridiculous pop culture references (there were several Buffy and Star Wars throw away lines). But…something about it doesn’t sit well with me afterwards. Billy is the anti-YA-gay-kid. Typically, you pick up a YA book and there is a teen wondering about his sexuality, upset about telling friends or family, awkward at school, and the story ends with him accepting himself for who he is. Billy does not have these issues. We have met Billy several years from that story. He is confident to a fault. Perhaps that was what made the book so mesmerizing but in the end, not as fullfilling as you might want. Billy starts strong and he ends strong. He hardly wavers in the middle. He has a few breakdowns, a few moments where you see the young man trying to figure himself out, but they pass too quickly. He comes off as moody to the point that I didn’t really feel the emotions with him, I just sort of smiled and nodded. He also seems to have no concept of how his confidence affects other people. He knows he is making them uncomfortable but he hardly does anything to endear himself to them. He’s kind of pompous. Also, I saw the ending coming a mile away. Which was a little sad for a book that was trying to be so daring and different to have a cliche ending that you figure out before the first hint is dropped. This book would probably be a great book for a teen discussion group but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a teacher, school, or even parent brave enough to suggest it. Which would make Billy even happier.