Welcome to my quick reviews ~ a mix of short takes on movies and books I’ve recently watched/read.
- The Girl Most Likely To… I picked up this 1973 “black comedy” DVD on eBay. Watching the film was an enjoyable experience for several reasons. One, I love Stockard Channing and Ed Asner. Two, it is fun to return to a 1970s setting before cell phones, etc. Three, it’s basically about bullying and people being horrible, a topic to which I can relate very well. I was bullied in my early years, though we didn’t call it that then, and no one cared enough to address it, not even my parents (not that I told them about every incident). Though TGMLT takes place during college years, it exposes the SOP of people ostracizing and mocking anyone whose physical appearance doesn’t meet the standards of the day. I cheered when the victim began getting even with the folks who had made her life miserable. The ending is golden as well. I had forgotten many things over the years, including Fred Grandy playing an idiot plumber (Gopher!). Jim Backus was great as the Professor (yep, Mr. Howell was the Professor here). The whole cast was good. I have a minor criticism, which is that Stockard’s peppy narration doesn’t match the trauma she endures. Sure, some people build up a funny, sarcastic persona as a defense, but there should be moments of despair imo.
- Vanilla Sky. Yup, another movie. This 2001 flick was available on Prime, and I liked the title as well as the star ~ Tom Cruise. But this wasn’t his best work. The premise is a woozy, confusing series of flips between dreams and reality. Sometimes I can enjoy that, but here TC annoys me with his two modes: giant grin or horrific screaming. Ugh! His costars’ performances are better. Cameron Diaz does an excellent job as a psycho stalker, and Penelope Cruz steals scenes as a somewhat sensible alternative. Kurt Russell is fine as the psychologist. It wasn’t a terrible movie, just a bit irritating. My friend says I would probably enjoy the original Spanish version, so I may give that a try.
- Quantum of Solace. Another movie and a Bond! This is one of the ones I missed, and I want to catch up before the new 007 arrives this fall (No Time To Die). I now understand why QoS received such crappy reviews and I previously gave it a pass. There is no gun barrel sequence at the beginning (just a brief hint at one), no Q/gadgets, and no “Bond, James Bond.” Ugh! I’m not going to judge it on the ridiculous plot because most of them are ridiculous, but it truly is a mess. However, I appreciate the reference to Vesper ~ both that Bond felt something for her and also describing the “Vesper Lynd” martini. Very nice. Another enjoyable aspect is the emotional interplay between Bond and M, illuminating how they care for each other, and setting the stage for Skyfall. So it wasn’t all bad, just mostly bad.
- Sunburn by Laura Lippman. I grabbed this novel on sale when a friend mentioned it on FB. Really enjoyed this unpredictable book! Just when I thought I knew what was going on, it switched up again. Top-notch writing on setting, characterizations, interior dialog, etc. The protags were not particularly likable, but I don’t mind that if the story is compelling and the writing is gripping and authentic. The ending was superb. I didn’t give it 5 stars though (only 4) due to too many coincidences. Writers really need to watch that. One or two, okay. When everything becomes a series of lucky breaks (or unlucky ones), I can no longer suspend disbelief, which knocks me out of the story. It’s as bad as introducing a vampire. Remember that in a love story the fact the protags meet at all is coincidence #1. You don’t have that many more to use up before the reader goes OH COME ON.
- Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. This was the best book I’ve read in ages! I received it for my birthday and finished it yesterday. OMG, such a fantastic story… sci-fi, or was it? I mean, it was totally believable. I think the best sci-fi is. You wonder if the future really will be something like this. The story takes place in some unnamed location that I first thought was London, but it might have been New York. It is entirely and perfectly told from the point of view of an AF ~ Artificial Friend. Privileged children had AFs as companions in this story and we go from there. While Klara, the AF, waits in a store to be chosen by her person, she observes her surroundings, learning and understanding objects as well as human beings, in a limited way, as she processes the data. The AFs are solar-powered, so everything about the Sun is of crucial importance to Klara. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Read it! I now want to read everything else by Kazuo.
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