31 May 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus


Dr. Parnassus had made a deal with the devil. Many deals actually. He's spent a lifetime making them as it's the devil's favorite pastime, making bets with Dr. Parnassus. The Doctor's got plenty of time to make bets / deals with the devil given that one of them included the good doctor becoming immortal. But of course when you play such games, eventually you'll get burned. And that is what this movie is about.

Dr. Parnassus and his traveling side show (which consists of the doctor, Valentina - the doctor's daughter, Anton - the young man who loves Valentina, and Percy - the doctor's sidekick) is being followed by Mr. Nick (the devil) as time is just about up on one very particular debt. Oh, and they find a man hanging by a noose from a bridge, nearly dead, unable to remember a thing. Is he connected to Mr. Nick? Will the doctor bother telling his daughter how she plays into this deal? Can the doctor win? Does the devil even want to win or does he actually enjoy losing to the doctor? How does the doctor's mirror play into all of this? Does Tony (the hanging man) really forget who he is or is he playing them all for fools? They have a lot to deal with and a short time to face it all.

It's a fun fantasy. Visually stunning. Yes Heath Ledger died during the filming of this movie. It's a tragedy we're all aware of. I went into this movie knowing of that, but not knowing just how much or little of his role he'd finished, only knowing that other actors stepped up to fill the void. Obviously we'd all prefer that he'd been around to finish this and many more films, but, the way they completed the role actually worked out rather well and he's actually in more of the film than I was expecting. Very well done.

I'm giving this one the benefit of the doubt at 5 stars as I did love it. It's probably more the 4 3/4 stars as the story could have been tightened up just a wee bit here and there. But compared to a lot of what is out there nowadays it's so much more deserving of the 5. In fact in this day and age where it feels like virtually every other movie centers around an animated talking dog, I'm really surprised that this wasn't promoted more than it was.

26 May 2010

Perchance to Dream: Theatre Illuminata #2

Perchance to Dream: Theatre Illuminata #2
Perchance to Dream: Theatre Illuminata #2


Beatrice Shakespeare Smith AKA Bertie has set the stage for a new scene in her life... She's taking the play on the road, along with Ariel (who may or may not be the love of her life) and the fairies (who may or may not eat every word Bertie has). Our merry cast is, of course, on a mission to save Nate, the swashbuckling pirate (who may or may not be the love of Bertie's life), as he's been kidnapped by the Sea Goddess. If this doesn't make any sense to you, stop, and read the first book in this series (Eyes Like Stars: Theatre Illuminata, Act I) first! Along the way they'll encounter a new cast of characters - how could they not? They're no longer in the Theatre, after all, so they're in need of new actors.

Will they find the way to the Sea Goddess's lair before it's too late? Will Bertie figure out which of the two she really loves? Will she realize just how powerful her words are and how to control them? Is there any cake in the world that can make the fairies cry uncle? You'll get answers to some of those questions in this book and in ways that are sure to entertain - I for one was seeing Cirque du Soleil in my mind as I read several chapters, only to find her thank them at the end of the book. I'm ready for more. 5/5 stars

20 May 2010

Slam

Slam
Slam


First of all - yes, this book is considered a "YA" book. And yes, teenagers (aka Young Adults) might, maybe, use a few words that parents would consider inappropriate at times. I'm an adult, but even when I was younger, nothing in this book would have shocked either me or my mother. It was all written in the proper context. So, beyond the occasional "bad word" there's really nothing shocking here. Even though this is a book about teenage sex, pregnancy, etc. there's really nothing graphic. The narrator / main character, Sam, is actually a bit shy in telling us the more personal aspects of his story.

Sam's story is actually fairly simple. He's the son of a single mother and he's oh so sure that he won't make the same mistakes his parents made. Then he meets Alicia and realizes that good intentions are nice and all, so long as you can figure out how to live up to them because all it takes is one little mistake to throw off all of your plans. He does, at least, have Tony Hawk guiding him along the way, sort of.

It's a good book. I'd probably give it 3.5 stars. I can't quite put my finger on what I'd need to bump it up to 4. I think maybe it's just the fact that Sam was relatively smart, his own man even as a child, unique -- and yet so repetitive and predictable.

18 May 2010

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal   [LAMB] [Paperback]


Levi who is called Biff has been resurrected only to find himself locked in a hotel room with an Angel. Why? Well, it seems that he was the best friend of Josh (Jesus) and it is time that he write his own gospel.

The adventures that Biff and Josh experience are... incredible. As they should be. They are, after all, trying to prove to the world, or at the very least to themselves, that Josh is really the son of God.

If you are so devoted that you cannot have a sense of humor when it comes to a fictional accounting of what the early years of Jesus may have been like, skip this. If you feel that Jesus was born perfect, skip this. If you feel he'd never have chatted about sex with his buddies, skip this. If you believe Jesus would never have sworn, skip this.

On the other hand, if you want a fun read that paints Jesus as both a real young man and the Messiah then this is for you.

And for the record, no, you don't really need to know the Bible to appreciate this book. If you've so much as heard of the biggies, which most of us have, that'll get you through. I've not read the Bible myself and still loved this book. 5/5 stars

13 May 2010

Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck

Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck
Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck


In case you stumble upon Blimpo on accident, be forewarned, one must really pass through Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go and Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck in order to truly appreciate Blimpo, otherwise one could end up a little confused.

I had felt that Rapacia had been good, though not as good as Heck. I'm a bit undecided about how to compare Blimpo to Heck, but it's better than Rapacia was.

Yes, the horrible horrible horrible puns and acronyms are back. Potty humor (there's a BOWEL movement for example). While pegged as a young reader series, there are things here that are much more amusing to the big kids among us (the celeb guest stars for example - Milton goes on the road with Jack Kerouac). Basically, yes, all of the things that make you either love or hate the series are back.

There are multiple storylines:
- Milton has vowed to save Virgil from Blimpo
- Blimpo, something is going on there, but what?
- Milton has vowed to save Marlo from H-e-double-hockey-sticks
- Marlo is working for the big guy downstairs in some internship program that brings to mind a very nasty episode of Ugly Betty.
- Bea "Elsa" Bubb is on the war path (isn't she always?)
- Damian, Necia, and the KOOKS still have their issues up above. Including Lucky.
- The angels are still wondering about what is happening in Heck

If you want a book that has a beginning and an end, you'll be disappointed. There was just so much happening here that pieces got resolved - sort of. Much like Rapacia, this book sets up the next book. But somehow, it's not all that disappointing that we're left with more questions than answers this time around as it was set up rather well.

I'm giving it 5 stars because I really did love it, though I was torn between 4 and 5 stars. Maybe 4 1/2. There was still something a little off, I think it was the parts focusing on the people up above. I'm not sure why, it seems out of place in this book, but it's such a small part of the book that it's not enough for me to lower my rating.

07 May 2010

Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help

Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help
Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help (Extended Edition)


Milrose Munce is the type of teenager that everyone can find a reason to like. He's smarter than his teachers, yet uses his smarts in such delightful ways. He doesn't come off as better than anyone, unless they deserve it, in which case Milrose takes great care to be sure they have no idea he's insulting them. No, instead our hero uses his intelligence to his advantage, to play games with people. And while his uniqueness does seem to gain him mostly positive attention (except from the occasional teacher), he doesn't really fit in with anyone. Not anyone living anyway. All of his closest friends are dead. And when the school officials notice you patting the air on the back and laughing at jokes being told by no one, what do they do? Well they get you Professional help -- in a den. That turns out to be a lot more fun for the reader of this book than it is for Milrose.

This book is very smart and funny. I'd highly recommended even for people who might not traditionally flock to YA books (though I do like them myself). It does have a more advanced vocabulary than some YA / Children's books but the content itself is okay for even some younger readers if they are strong readers. I'm going to recommend it to my 9 year old nephew who reads at a more advanced level. 5/5 stars

05 May 2010

Cold Souls

Cold Souls
Cold Souls


Paul Giamatti has a bit of a problem. Yeah, that Paul Giamatti, you see While working on a play, he's struggling to get by. He can't quite figure out what's not right, but his agent thinks he has the answer - store your soul for awhile. Much like the memory erasing process in Eternal Sunshine, you're not really erasing who you are. Not totally. Just getting rid of some extra baggage. There may be some side effects as every soul is different who knows what those will be?

This is NOT a movie for everyone. It's not really a comedy, not a drama, not an action flick. It just sort of is. The cover of of the DVD does paint it as the kind of comedy that will pretty much have you on the floor rolling. That's not what this is. Luckily I had an idea of what it was before I bought it and knew it was my kind of movie. Instead of what the cover depicts it as, it's actually one of those movies that has you questioning the impossible. Would you store your soul if the option did exist? It has you wondering will Paul get his soul back? At one point you start to wonder, should he even try to get it back? Etc. I don't want to go too far beyond that for fear I'd give away too much.

I'm giving it 5 stars because it's totally my kind of movie. But be warned you'd really have to like movies like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, etc to like this one. If you want a movie that will have you laughing non stop or that will wrap things up with a nice little Hollywood bow at the end with no questions left unanswered, this isn't the movie for you.

04 May 2010

Pretties

Pretties
Pretties (The Uglies)


First - I read this in the Kindle format. Be forewarned there are some errors that I would assume are probably (hopefully) just in the Kindle version (as of May 2010). They don't make it totally unreadable, but they are a bit annoying. Things like missing periods or a period followed by a paragraph break in the middle of a sentence. Hyphens in the middle of words. "The Smoke" being called "die Smoke". Or "I'm scared" being "Fm scared". Silly things that could have been found if the editor had simply skimmed the Kindle / eBook edition even once. 2/5 to the editor.

Okay, that said, onto the content. It is nowhere near as good as the first book in the series: Uglies. Probably because we're now focusing on the lives of pretties. The language has changed. Some new characters have been added. Everything is so "Bubbly" to the point you'll be sick of the word "bubbly" by the end of the book. Still it is good. Not great, but good. We follow Tally as she's already been made Pretty. Will David come back for her with a cure in hand? Will she really want it if he does? That's what this book is all about. Picking up right where Uglies left off, seeing just how much prettydom has changed Tally. Can it be undone? Is there a cure? If so is there a price? Even if there is a cure, do Pretties want to be cured, even if they know the truth about what being Pretty means?

Despite not living up to the first in my eyes, it was good enough to make me want to move onto the third. 3/5 stars
 

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