Tag Archives: reviews

PFF26: Philomena

Time flashbacks

Welcome to Paula’s Friday Flashback! This is a challenge begun by Fandango and it’s fun to see what we posted back when (as well as the comments). The below is a reblog of a post I made on November 30, 2013. Enjoy!

Philomena

This movie starred the incomparable Judi Dench ~ and I absolutely loved it. Steve Coogan was great as well. I’m not good at movie reviews, so I will lazily direct you to this one, which is perfection.

One thing I want to specifically mention though is Philomena’s recap of a romance novel as she and Martin (Coogan) were traveling. I died laughing in the theater. (Yes, I died and am poasting from the beyond with my special code.) First, it reminded me of when I’d sum up bodice rippers for my friend Elizabeth back in the day, in my special way, and we’d crack up to bits. Second, not only is it hilarious when a woman tries to explain to a man why she likes a romance novel, but here is a “lowbrow” woman cheerfully and cluelessly jabbering on to a cynical, smug intellectual about this book and he’s about to shoot himself. It is SO FAB. You should see the movie just for THIS SCENE.

Well no, that’s wrong. You should see Philomena because it’s wonderful. It begins small and gets huge. Do you know what I mean? So many movies start out with a ginormous explosion and a bunch of guys going, “Zomg, we’ve got less than twenty-four hours to save the planet!” Philomena begins with a sad woman who is missing her son and a journalist who needs to find a gig. As it proceeds, the themes become larger, deeper, and more philosophical.

Just excellent. Go see. 

/end reblog

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Image credit to Pexels.

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

PFF23: Not Stirred

Ephemeral time

Welcome to my Friday Flashback! This is a post from exactly 4 years ago when I reviewed the new (then) 007 movie Spectre. There’s another one coming out in 2020, and although Daniel Craig swore he was finished with them after the 2015 film, he is in the upcoming one as well. But! That’s it. Absolutely. No more.

Spectre

OK, I saw Spectre yesterday, and it was a lot of fun as Bond movies always are. Craig does an awesome Bond (and I was one of the original skeptics). Overall, I recommend the movie to Bond fans and action movie lovers in general.

But.

I was disappointed in a couple things. Right at the start there was something I considered a faux pas. Bond’s in a hotel room with a beautiful girl and tells her he’ll be right back. He goes off to kill a guy, get chased, leap across rooftops, etc., as he does… and then the film cuts away to the opening song and credits. Wtf? The Bond of old would have kept the date and they should have shown that. (“Now, where were we?”)

Next, I did not like two of the main plot twists. One, Franz the villain turns out to be Bond’s brother via (Bond’s) adoption, which leads to a bunch of babble about Franz killing their father out of jealousy and always having it out for Bond cuz he stole daddy’s attention. Ugh. Yuck. Two, Franz announces that he has taken his mother’s surname and is now called Blofeld (complete with white cat). No! No no no no. This was not a REMAKE of an old 007 flick, but a progression in the life and times of James Bond, and it’s totes uncool for them to grab back a done and dusted bad guy. (Supposedly, Blofeld died at the start of For Your Eyes Only.) What next ~ Scaramanga? Goldfinger? There was no reason not to have a new bad guy with a new name “reboot” Spectre. No reason at all.

I think writers should be a lot more careful with reboots/remakes and the like. Either you stick to the original and update it with cellphones and shit, or just move the hell on and write something new. Certainly don’t take a franchise and grab stale fries from fifty years ago to scatter about a film in the here and now. That’s kind of a cheat, and we know what happens to writers who use cheats a la Stephen King’s Misery.

My last criticism of Spectre is more basic. I object to this kind of SOS writing we’re seeing in action movies lately of having the hero always be a dude who is bravely going against his own government because of one flimsy piece of info, and then it turns out his boss is in cahoots with the villains, or is the biggest villain of all, blah blah blah. Usually Alex Baldwin plays a belligerent general at some point. Then, there are always one or two other peeps in the gov’t who believe in the hero and help him save the world, thereby putting their own careers in jeopardy. Yawn.

I am sick of this storyline altogether. Write something else, dammit.

Other than these minor nits, I enjoyed the movie. If it’s true that Craig is tired of playing 007 and tossing out his tux, I look forward to the next actor (rumored to be Idris Elba).

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©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

El Camino [review with spoilers]

Eating popcorn in movie seat

I was super stoked for El Camino, the Breaking Bad movie. In fact, I rewatched BB in its entirety during the last few weeks, all 62 episodes, to prepare for the movie. God, that was one fantastic show, perhaps the best series ever written.

This review contains spoilers. Get out now! 👻

I watched El Camino last night and was disappointed, maybe because of all the Twitter hype. That happens. The actors were all great, of course, nothing against them, but you know what? Breaking Bad was Walter White (Bryan Cranston), not Jesse. Now, I love Aaron Paul. He could totally star in his own show, and I would watch it, but BB was Walt’s show. Without Walt, I was like, meh, who cares?

This is a different criticism from the one I have about Better Call Saul, which is that the slick, wisecracking, one-dimensional character of Saul Goodman was perfect for BB, and reimagining him as street punk “Slippin’ Jimmy” and then as an idealistic young lawyer who gets shafted by his own brother, was just all too JTS. The Goodman character was not made for this much baggage. I don’t think I made it through S2.

But with all the crazy stuff that happened on BB, I never once went okay that’s it… the show has jumped the shark. Even with the Nazis. Nope. It was still solid. Start to finish. It left a few minor threads hanging, such as what was the deal that Gus had come out of Chile with a fake name? They mentioned that twice, but left the gun on the table.

Back to El Camino. There wasn’t much of a plot. There were some historical revisionist convos, a couple of which looked odd on screen because the actors appear their current age. Jesse is fine because he’s young anyway. Walt in the diner looked sick as he was supposed to, but I thought Jesse was talking to Mike’s ghost for a minute, lol. That was bizarre. And Todd looks older and heavier now than he did during the original filming, so when they shovel in this new scene, right after I just watched the old eps, um… Weird.

The writing was great. All the characters were in top form. Jesse natch, Badger, Skinny Pete, Jesse’s clueless parents, etc. But without Walt… I just didn’t care. I knew Jesse would end up escaping this time. You could just tell that the whole point of the movie was to give fans of Jesse a reason to cheer. Yay, he got to start a new life! He’ll meet a cute Alaskan girl in about 5 minutes after the credits roll as he does…

Anyway. This reinforces my idea not to watch either the prequel series to Game of Thrones or The Many Saints of Newark. The appeal of GOT to me hinged on the specific characters played by the specific actors and their relationships. I dgaf about Martin’s pretend world, except for the dragons. The dragons are cool. And The Sopranos was Tony Soprano. (RIP Jim G) That’s it. I’m not interested in his lookalike son playing a younger Tony. Why should I care what made Tony into Tony via not-Tony when I already had all that real Tony?

Okay, so yeah… I’m behind on all the blogadoo things. Regular prompts, picture fiction, my continuing chapters with Lexi and Liana and whoever else (are there more?)… and now a new week relentlessly begins with Laura’s music and Fandango’s flashing and omg I’ve missed like a million days of the October challenge already… AUUGGGHHHH!!!

Overwhelmed and falling

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©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Chill Factor

Pale girl in creepy dark room

I’m not talking about the wind chill factor, but what gives me the creeps in books and film. Mostly, I avoid horror because I don’t find it interesting, nor do I need an extra surge of adrenaline after driving in SoCal traffic. Horror show in and of itself. 😱

But over the decades there have been some works that grabbed me. So to speak. I love Stephen King’s writing. He knows how to tell a story, create compelling characters, set the scene, and build suspense. The Shining is a perfect example. For a while, I enjoyed some of Dean Koontz’s novels too, but his writing became repetitive.

I prefer horror stories that focus on the madness of human beings, which is all too believable unfortunately, rather than layering on supernatural elements like vampires and demons. That said, I loved Frank Langella as Dracula in the 1979 film. I also adored Johnny Depp in 2012’s Dark Shadows. But those are exceptions; most vampire things are silly.

Recently, I watched a few supernatural romances on Prime (with witches) and they were terrible. I wouldn’t even classify them as romances since they didn’t have happy endings, but they were definitely in the horror genre. Campy horror. The witches were incredibly beautiful, natch, in order to seduce unsuspecting men to the Dark Side. Isn’t that always how it is? 😈

I did enjoy Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock though. That was different. But it wasn’t scary. (I’ve never disliked a movie starring Sandra Bullock.)

As a kid, the Candyman movie terrified me, maybe because I was told I was allergic to bees. I’m not even sure if that’s true. I was also told I was allergic to penicillin, and that turned out to be false. 🐝

I think a lot of what makes a movie scary is visual shock value. If there’s too much early on, it can dissipate, so it needs to be doled out carefully. Books are different, a psychological buildup that stays with the reader, in the best case. Hard to forget even after you turn the last page.

Game of Thrones could be classified in the horror genre. It had zombies, witches, and all sorts of gory, shocking deaths. I mainly thought of it as an adventure romance type of show though, since (to me) the focus was more on characters than action. I wouldn’t argue this point however, if you’d rather plunk it in the horror box.

Movies used to have more subtlety. Take Psycho, forex. Don’t you still think about the shower scene sometimes when you’re in a strange bathroom… 🔪

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Laura’s October Challenge (Day 9)

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©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

PFF17: Doctor Sleep

Time

Welcome to my Friday Flashback! This post originally appeared here on September 28, 2016, almost exactly 3 years ago. Today I’m only sharing the link. Why? Because there’s a movie coming out soon and my post will spoil the entire plot of the book (if you’re reading it now in anticipation of the movie) and likely the movie as well. Also, it’s a very long post with formatting issues when I try to copy it.

If you’re a Stephen King fan and have read the book, please discuss in comments to this post, thanks! 😻

Doctor Sleep’s Fatal Flaws

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©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Fan of… Fairs!

This is for Jez’s fan challenge. Join in!

I love fairs, which may strike you as strange since I’ve said repeatedly that I enjoy silence and small gatherings. But fairs aren’t forced socializing ~ in fact, you don’t really make nonsense small talk at fairs. You chat about what’s there, more often than not, or you simply observe.

Yesterday I went to the Orange County Fair, which I usually do every year, though not always. I was pleased that my foot handled all that walking around without too much soreness (but it is definitely not all better). My two friends and I who arrived early loved the exhibits of crafts and products.

Here is an owl made of belts. This pretty much made my day.

Owl

Giant cookies looked delicious!

Giant Cookies

But we opted for the healthy fried zucchini. Gotta have your veggies.

Fried Zucchini

And one friend shared her corn dog with us…

Corn Dog

While my other friend commented that she’s seen “big ones at Disneyland.”

Hmmmm.

Moving on. Here’s a cool first prize-winner table setting with lots of science info.

Electric Water

And now we have some sweet miniature donkeys grooming each other.

Miniature Donkeys

Mary, we found your lamb right here…

Little Lamb

Along with Daenerys’ horse from Game of Thrones.

White Horse

I decided to audition for “Bennie and the Jets.”

Mohair Suit

We had really all gathered to attend a night concert however, and more of our group wandered in as the evening approached. Some went on rides, but that’s not my thing these days. Finally, it was time to take our seats at the Pacific Amphitheatre and listen to the awesome orchestra followed by a super fun show.

Weird Al Yankovic

Hooray for the fair! See you next year! 😀

~*~

© 2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Thank You, Ashley 💖

I’m so excited! One of my favorite bloggers Ashley of Mental Health @ Home has written a lovely review of Fiona’s Fling. Please go check out what she says! She also includes some interesting info about the romance novel genre itself.

Thanks so much, Ashley. 🙂

Rockumentaries & Things

I love musical movies… Hair, Chicago, Walk the Line, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Across the Universe, Mamma Mia (1 & 2), The Lion King, Grease, Fiddler on the Roof, etc. There are lots I haven’t seen and still want to ~ Meet Me in St. Louis, for heaven’s sake!

But that’s not what I came here to talk about today. Lately I’ve seen a bunch of rockumentaries, which is a class of movie I’ve avoided in the past because it seemed eh boring, like something from the History Channel. But first I watched one on Joan Jett and it was interesting! Last summer I saw The King in Long Beach and enjoyed that too. It was more an overview of the times than a laser-focus on Elvis, but even so. Good stuff, despite the history content.

Then I meant to see Bohemian Rhapsody on my Movie Pass, but it died so I didn’t. I watched it on Prime for $6 last month though, and it was great! I’ve always loved Queen’s music. RIP Freddie.

Next I went to see Rocketman. Wow. It was incredible. Taron Egerton did such a fab job portraying Elton John. The music. The costumes. All spectacular. And Elton as a little boy was just heartbreaking too.

Last weekend I saw Yesterday, which isn’t in the same category because it’s a romcom with a fantasy element, but regardless it’s entirely themed on The Beatles, so I say it goes in this post. I dare you to disagree! I loved it, btw. Super fun and adorable. Lots of Beatles’ songs throughout to keep a fan happy.

Yesterday I saw Echo in the Canyon, which is about the California music biz in the 1960s. Jakob Dylan interviews a bunch of old-timey musicians and plays clips of their songs, and he also recreates some of their tunes himself. He’s super talented… wonder where he gets that from? I’ve loved him since the first Wallflowers album, so I may be biased there. I highly recommend this movie to all music fans. Honestly, Jakob needs to do a sequel because there’s just so much more!

During the previews to Echo, we saw that there’s a new movie coming out in August sort of like Yesterday but without a fantasy element and themed on Bruce Springsteen. Guess who is gonna put Blinded by the Light on her must-see list?

🎶😀🎶💖🎶

PFF5 ~ Holy Matrimony!

Welcome to my Friday Flashback! This post originally appeared here on July 5, 2014. I hope you enjoy the romance novel review even if you aren’t a fan of the genre.

At The Duke’s Wedding

At The Duke’s Wedding [dead link deleted] is a collection of four novellas, all set at a grand old English estate during the week of festivities surrounding the wedding of the Duke of Wessex. Each novella has a different author.

 

WARNING ~ SPOILERS ABOUND ~ CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

 

1. That Rogue Jack by Maya Rodale. This story is incredibly, tediously stupid. Jack is a gorgeous moron who misplaces the heirloom wedding ring he picked up for the groom from a jeweler. Inexplicably, the bride-to-be requests great grand Aunt Whozis’ companion, Henrietta, to get moronic Jack to hand over the ring. They spend days sneaking around trying to find it because Jack, who is a moron, can’t remember where he put it. As they do this, they fall in love. That’s the plot.

2. I was going to stop reading after that first awful story, but decided that wasn’t fair to the other authors. Glad I continued. In P.S. I Love You (by Miranda Neville), the witty and poetic scarred-face Christian reluctantly agrees to write love letters to Rosanne for his boring but good-looking cousin Frank. Of course Chris falls in love with Rosanne because her letters are so charming, and she with him, though of course she thinks he’s Frank. When they all meet at the Duke’s place, complications ensue. Predictable, but actually good.

3. When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden.  This story is about the Duke himself, who is not some old gross gouty fellow but young and beefcakey, and how he falls for his betrothed’s hot and unconventional sister the moment she steps down from her carriage in front of his house. Oopsy. I liked it. 

4. How Angela Got Her Rogue Back by Katharine Ashe. The title is misleading and also clunky ~ unforgiveable! But let us proceed. This story involves time-travel, which I don’t mind at all, if it makes some kind of sense. Even a little bit of sense will do. Modern-day Angela materializes at the Duke’s party 200 years earlier after reading a weird book and falling into a Michigan river. That was OK, but less so was the convoluted blackmail scheme she thwarts to save Viscount Studmuffin’s family. What really bugs the crap out of me though is when Angela ~poof~ vanishes again for no reason. I totally lost interest in the story right there. But I finished it of course, and read the teaser for an upcoming story, which has the Duke’s little sister finding Angela’s cell phone…

Onward!

PFF3: POV PP

Paula’s Friday Flashback this week is a post from June 21, 2013, wherein I rant about point of view switching within scenes. Enjoy!

Minor peeve. I was careless with “only” in my post. Sorry about that.

Point of View

Sorry, got distracted.

One of my huge pet peeves while reading is a mid-scene POV switch. This shouldn’t be a problem in a first-person novel (one would hope), but writers will switch deliberately or sloppily while writing in third. Grrrr! In olden days, it was acceptable to write in scattershot POV, but the contemporary way is to keep to one character’s viewpoint per scene (and sometimes per chapter).

This makes a lot of sense if you think about it. The reader can relax and trust the writer to put you inside one character’s head at a time, with sensory data and thoughts being processed by him or her (or it, if non-human). You only know what that character knows during this time, feel what she feels, etc. If the story is a romance, you’re there with her wondering if the hero will ever return from his quest. If the story is a murder, you’re right there with the detective putting the clues together.

I recently read a short story in workshop where two men were involved in a tense situation, involving a possible murder, and the POV flipped from one to the other. It was difficult to get “into” the story fully because of this and it also led to confusion about who was thinking/feeling what at times. When we know the writer has stuck us inside only one character’s head, these problems are mitigated simply by the fact that anyone’s thoughts or feelings are THAT guy’s. We don’t have to wonder.

Someone said that wrt to a novel you should write a scene from the POV of the character who has the most to lose at that point. I’d like to say this is a Jennifer Crusie quote, but I can’t remember and CBA looking it up at 5:30am. It makes a lot of sense and doesn’t only apply to romance novels of course. Though I find it the most irritating when a romance novelist (either deliberately or stupidly) has a switch in a sex scene. It’s so distracting. This is the perfect example of a time you need to stay inside one character’s head for the duration of a scene and not mess up. I think this is why I had to give Animal Attraction only two stars on Goodreads. That just bugged the hell out of me. And Shalvis is not a beginning writer, so no excuses.

I’m not sure how any of this applies to second person. I haven’t written anything that way, too annoying, nor did I read BLBC. I think second is like first though, but with this hipstery distancing thing going on, right? I don’t know. Can’t deal with it.

Whatever. DON’T SWITCH MID-SCENE. Ever. This is one of those rules that you don’t break even when you are all jaded and above following rules.