Wednesday, July 30, 2014

NEVER EVER watch | Lucy

If you haven't seen Lucy, then SAVE YOUR MONEY. When it comes streaming to Netflix, then SAVE YOUR TIME. This movie is a ridiculous attempt to imagine an impossible "what-if" scenario. I was predisposed to hate this movie, as the trailer includes the statement that humans use only 10% of their brains - FALSE. Other grievances (spoilers ahead, not that it matters because this movie barely has a plot):
  • Lucy's mom is the worst character. Lucy talks to her on the phone and her mother speaks s o  s l o w l y and DOES NOT REALIZE how INCREDIBLY HIGH her daughter is, despite Lucy's ramblings about how she can feel her blood and also the universe.
  • The professor who does "research" on using the brain fully has NO DATA. NONE AT ALL. Students ask him what his evidence is, he says he only has hypotheses, and true to snarky college student form they storm out TOTALLY ACCEPT THIS LACK OF PROOF AS A LEGITIMATE STANCE UPON WHICH TO LECTURE.
  • It makes NO SENSE that having a fully functioning brain (which you do, by the way, congratulations) would affect anything outside of your skull. But Lucy acquires weird telekinetic powers and knows how to control them immediately.
  • A million pointless shots of energy or drugs or whatever racing through purple organs.
  • She shoots everybody who is maybe in her way. She leaves the guy who is basically her worst enemy ALIVE WITH KINDA BLOODY HANDS.
  • She declares that she has no desire anymore and then kisses the French dude. For practicality's sake?
  • She can write a prescription without any medical training.
  • When henchmen are ordered to kill the murderous blonde, they point their guns at her and chill. When she takes their guns, they raise their fists and chill. When she PINS THEM TO THE CEILING they wiggle angrily.
  • The bad guys are shown in GLORIFYING SLOW-MO as they try to take down Lucy with a ROCKET.
  • She powers back through time for NO APPARENT REASON and no one notices her - okay, maybe she's just observing and she's not really there - BUT THEN FOUR GUYS STARE AT HER. WHAT. EVEN.
  • She puts the secrets of the universe on a flash drive.
  • There is no plot to this movie. She realizes she's gonna die, so she... dies... and then she's everywhere and then that's it. There are no further implications (except for the gazillions of random people she killed).
I was even considering giving this a generous two stars for entertainment value but then it took this weird 2001 turn with the whole origins-of-the-world thing that CULMINATED WITH A BLACK MONOLITH and then I was just so so so done.

1 star. Out of 5. Because this movie gave people jobs, so I guess that's something.

read | Brunette Ambition

This book seems like Lea Michele's published scrapbook. It's an easy summer read, not unlike a hardcover magazine. Brunette Ambition has a combination of life stories and lifestyle tips, alternating enough to keep the book from feeling like a biography or a yearbook. It's not what I was expecting, but it was enjoyable. The writing isn't great and some lines and points are repeated a few times.

When not biographical, the book focuses on living a healthy lifestyle and loving yourself for who you are which, when combined with Michele's Glee fame, makes it a good choice for middle-school girls. It's a little contradictory to read articles about loving your imperfections with professionally airbrushed photos on facing pages, and there's a pretty useless section of makeup "tutorials." The directions are vague and the photos don't actually show how to do any of the process, so unless you're already experienced with makeup (in which case you don't need the tutorials) you're not going to know how to recreate the looks. While this book isn't perfect, it's suitable for young teens and has a good message.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

read | O, Africa!

O, Africa! is the story of two brothers who get so caught up in keeping afloat that they miss the fact that they're being swept over a waterfall. They work to make a relevant silent film in an age where sound is taking over. Indebted to mobsters and presented with a potentially lucrative project abroad, filmmakers Micah and Izzy Grand travel to Africa.
            I read this book because it is about film in the 1920s and I wanted to experience that atmosphere. As far as the filming goes, my expectations were met. I enjoyed reading about the filming process as it occurred in its early days. However, seeing as a significant amount of the story takes place in Africa, there wasn’t as much of a 20s experience as I had hoped. The filming in Africa captures the jungle in its pure (yet edited) form which, naturally, doesn’t lead to many flappers and speakeasies.
            The characters in O, Africa! are first identified by their flaws. I appreciate the emphasis on how human they are, but my early negative impressions were hard to overcome. Much of the action in this book is driven by the Grands’ desires to both make a masterpiece and fulfill the demands of the American mobsters, all while falling behind the times. I liked the premise, but it felt like the plot and the character development took turns rather than occurring simultaneously. O, Africa! has a unique setting for an interesting story that, despite its cheery cover, explores the dark side of life.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

watch | Begin Again

Begin Again is basically Once with celebrities. The story of down-on-their-luck (both in professional and personal lives) musicians finding each other through music is quite similar. The movie itself, not so much. It builds backstory through flashbacks, which can feel slow and unnecessary when you already know where the plot is heading, but they get the story across in a way that doesn't stop the momentum of the movie. The scene we all know from the previews, where Dan (Mark Ruffalo) fills in the instrumentals for Gretta's (Keira Knightley) song, is a little too Country Bear Jamboree after a couple of minutes, but this too shall pass.
Begin Again hits the weird combination of bittersweet and idealistic in just the right way, so you leave feeling happy or sad but you're not sure which. The songs are nice and aren't oversold because the movie doesn't show a public reaction to them - the creators are happy with their work, which is believable, but there isn't a barrage of admiration that's out of proportion to the appeal of the music. Begin Again is a welcome break from the action blockbusters and crude comedies that fill the summer.
4 out of 5 stars

Monday, July 14, 2014

read | The Screaming Staircase

I love this book. I read the Bartimaeus trilogy several years ago, so when I saw that this was the same author I grabbed it immediately. It's refreshing to pick up a YA book that doesn't fall into either the "dystopian" or "paranormal romance" genre that has been sweeping the shelves at Barnes and Noble. The premise for this novel - kind of Ghostbusters in London - is a welcome change of pace.

The novel starts in the middle of the action and uses a series of flashbacks to build its world. I'll admit, it took me a while to get through the first third of this book because I didn't latch onto the main plotline right away. When I figured out what was going on, I couldn't put it down. I love this story's construction and how it unfolds. I wish there had been more of it to read, even if that would mean a slower pace overall. I enjoyed the story, the characters, the setting, and I don't feel like I have a complete understanding of how the novel's world functions yet. In a good way. I've already preordered the sequel and I look forward to continuing this story come September.

5 out of 5