Sunday, July 7, 2013

Battleship

I'm not sure what it is. I'm not hungover. I'm not depressed. I'm not mentally compromised in any way that I can tell, so I'm not sure what to make of me thinking Battleship is a great movie. Not Godfather great, but really entertaining. It's pretty. It's funny. It's exciting. It's a little heartwarming, too. I'm surprised by all of the bad reviews it received when it came out. The trailers for it didn't do it any justice, either.

Taylor Kitsch: HOT. Alexander Skarsgaard: HOT. Liam Neeson: HOT. Rihanna: HOT. Brooklyn Decker: HOT. Tabanobu Asano: HOT. And Jesse Plemons in a movie with Kitsch warms my Friday Night Lights loving heart.

The relationship between the brothers Kitsch and Skarsgaard is a caricature of the Type A older sibling/slacker younger sibling, but it still has a ring of truth to it. I really liked the two-minute courtship in the love story subplot. I'm sure there are a lot of guys that would take more punishment to get Brooklyn Decker anything she wanted.

It's a simple story. Aliens invade Earth and badass American motherfuckers fight back. That's pretty much it, but the relationships are well developed for a movie of this type. The action is well done. Not as cheesy as I thought it would be. It was less eye rolling than the action sequences I've seen in The Lone Ranger and Transformers trailers. The supporting cast (including Hamish Linklater and Peter MacNicol) is excellent as well. If you're a crier like me, you're going to tear up a couple of times.

This movie gave me a major American boner. It might be required 4th of July weekend viewing every year.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Watch

The best part of The Watch was that I didn't pay $14 to see it. The second best part was Billy Crudup as the creepy neighbor. The third best part was Richard Ayoade. He had the best part. I can't wait to see him in more films.

Lonely, uptight Evan lives in a small town and tries to fill his days by being the stepford resident in charge. When someone he knows gets murdered, he starts another club - The Neighborhood Watch. The local fringe residents and local party boy join him in his endeavor. They have run-ins with the incompetent, power-tripping cops, cliche ornery resident, and aliens who are planning an invasion.

It's spastic and full of that frantic, nonsense comedy that's popular these days. It's reached a ridiculous point that's no longer entertaining. The movie does manage to find it's heart about three-quarters of the way through the movie. There are some fleeting poignant moments, but it's not a movie you sit and watch. It's something you have on in the background while you iron.

But seriously, Billy Crudup should always play creepy dudes. I've thought that since Inventing the Abbots.

Repulsive Mention:

The part where an adult member of the neighborhood watch was objectifying girls at a high school party and then hitting on high school girls. Not okay.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Return to Boxing by Way of Froch v. Kessler - Super Middleweight

I took a break from boxing. Not cold turkey (that would be impossible), but a break from allowing it to rule my life. Whenever I've watched a fight in recent months, I realize how much I miss it. I'm overjoyed to an almost overwhelming point.

I tried to get back into it by starting to watch Friday Night Fights again. I went to the Lazy Dog. It's a huge restaurant with a huge bar area and multiple big screens. I asked the bartender if I could get a channel change to ESPN 2. As usual, the bartender asked me what was on. This (almost*) ALWAYS happens to me. I fear it's because I'm a female. I always want to reply "Cheer nationals" and see what happens. Who gives a fuck what's on?! It's a bar with big screens. That means sports. ESPN 2 is a sports network. Shut the fuck up and change the channel. I'm also really disappointed that bars, even sports bars don't automatically put it on ESPN 2 on Friday nights and that the management and bartenders don't know that there's boxing on television on Fridays. That's just un-American.

I tell the bartender "Friday Night Fights".  He has to ask his manager. So I wait. And I wait. After 10 minutes I ask him if he's actually asked the manager. He says yes. 10 minutes later he comes back and says the manager said they can't put on boxing because it's a family restaurant. It's almost 8 pm on a Friday night. I don't see anyone under the age of 21 in the entire restaurant. And I'm in the bar area. Boxing isn't suitable for viewing in a family restaurant? I'm pretty sure they show hockey and football, which are also violent sports. Boxing is an Olympic sport and once upon a time it was one of the big three (boxing, horse racing, baseball - I miss you Bert Sugar!).

I now consider the Lazy Dog an anti-American organization. Don't go there. Don't give them your money.

So, I leave the Lazy Dog and head into the dark night, unfamiliar with my surroundings as I'm still new to the area. My phone tells me there's a bar in a strip mall a mile away. The Shady Nook. It was both. It was a bit of a scary crowd for a woman alone, but I pressed on. I sat down and asked the FEMALE bartender for a channel change to ESPN 2. SHE DIDN'T ASK ME WHAT WAS ON. *This is the first time that's ever happened to me. It was a great fight night and I started contemplating letting boxing take over my life again. However, it's a difficult sport to follow. I don't have cable. I haven't found a bar to watch Friday Night Fights. I don't know anyone near me with HBO or Showtime. I miss McCann's in Astoria so much. Best bar to watch any fight. HBO is right. Boxing isn't a sport. It's a way of life.

But oh my stars Froch-Kessler may have pushed me to be really aggressive with my performance review at work to better my chances of a big raise so that I could get cable. What a spectacular fight! Both excellent technical fighters, but with the ability and willingness to brawl. Froch looks great physically. He's filled out and he was able to take Kessler's punches better. Kessler, who's been a favorite of mine since I watched him work Librado Andrade like he was a hanging side of beef. He's lost a step, but he can still throw bombs and he's very active in the ring.

Digression: I drove up to Oakland to watch Kessler fight Ward in 2009. I had to leave for the trip right after a morning practice. I was still in my sports bra and didn't have a chance to shower before attending the event. Talk about a place a woman shouldn't travel alone. I was happy to have the extra funk as protection. I felt safe in the Oracle Arena, but I had to park far and it was a long walk in the dark. Kessler lost, but I was so excited that he was fighting stateside. I still regret not seeing Naseem Hamed when he fought in Vegas. I had traveled alone and done some other activities alone a bit, but I wasn't at a place where I felt comfortable going to Vegas alone.

I wholeheartedly agree with Froch about a fight with Ward - a good fighter, but not entertaining (fight-wise or personality-wise). Personality is important, not just in sports or entertainment. If you're a cubicle dweller at American, Inc., you still need to have some sort of engaging personality to succeed. I would welcome Froch-Kessler III. Maybe I'll be able to afford to watch it in the comfort of my own home by then. Keep your fingers crossed for my performance review!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman


 I read Neverwhere and American Gods, the latter which I love, love, loved, so I wanted to find out how his stories read in shortened versions.
The stories are quite varied. There are poems and funny stories and sad stories, but they almost all of them take place outside this realm. My favorite, of course, was “The Monarch of the Glen”, an American Gods story. Shadow is such a delicious character. The Sherlock Holmes story was spot on for the Holmes canon, but fit with Gaiman’s style, too.
I finished it a few weeks ago and every once in a while one of the stories pops into my mind and clouds over my day a little bit, but in a good way. Namely, “Keepsakes and Treasures”, a story about rich people always getting what they want and getting away with it, and “Other People/Afterlife”, basically, hell. The former seems like something that could be happening right now somewhere in the world.  Some of the stories read like drafts of thoughts. Others are like unfinished dreams that are barely remembered. I had nightmares every night I read a story in the collection.
If you like Neil Gaiman’s writing, you’ll probably like most of the stories. Like, not love. If you’re a fan of Stephen King’s short stories, you’ll definitely like a few of these stories.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin


***SPOILER ALERT*** ***SPOILER ALERT***  ***SPOILER ALERT***  ***SPOILER ALERT***
Book four and book five are supposed to have concurrent timelines, so I made the dumb decision to read them at the same time – a few chapters in one then a few chapters in the other. Don’t do this. It’s confusing.
A Feast for Crows is basically the day-to-day drudgery of war: strategizing, traveling, miscommunications, horrible conditions, betrayals, attacks, etc. However, the day-to-day drudgery in Westeros is more entertaining than any other kind of drudgery one can experience or imagine.
This is a Cersei, Jon Snow, Arya heavy book and I enjoy all of those characters. Cersei’s back story is revealed, but a bit too much in my opinion. She went to a fortune teller when she was young who foretold her marrying Robert, Robert having umpteen illegitimate children, and her having three incest babies. The fortune teller also revealed that she would see all of her children die and be overthrown by someone younger and more beautiful. If true, that’s beyond foreshadowing. That’s a spoiler in the story.  She thinks it’s Margaery, widowed bride of Joffrey and Renly and current bride of Tommen, but that seems unlikely. I think it foretold of Daenerys coming back, but who knows.
After finishing the fourth book and starting the fifth, I think all of Westeros is falling apart just so Jon and Arya could fulfill their potential. Jon is now commander at the Wall, which may have happened if his dad and Robert had lived and the lands weren’t plunged into war. However, I doubt it. And Arya! No way would this be her life: an apprentice at the most mystical monastery? She would’ve been wed to a lesser son of a decent house, most likely against her will. No way would she be allowed to fight and study such things. They’re my favorite characters, so I’m quite pleased.
However, can anyone tell me why Arya didn’t ask Sam about Jon? She knew he was from the Watch, but didn’t ask about her favorite sibling (probably)? Sam wouldn’t know who she was. She could’ve just asked general questions. It really, really bothered me. [Seriously, if anyone wants to book club this, drop me a line: thisisatesttiat@gmail.com. I’m not so much about theme and symbolism, but I need to talk (gossip) about Arya and Sansa and House Stark!]
Jamie gets more interesting with each book. Time away from Cersei has caused him to grow in amazing ways and for the scales to fall from his eyes. He finally realized what his true love really is: An ambitious sociopath who will use any means (including her lady bits) to get what she wants. The only things she wants are for her children to be protected, power, and Jamie. Jamie seems to have shunned her completely and her power seems to be more illusion than real. Karma’s a bitch to bitches, too. I’m digging it.
That’s all I can really remember. Honestly, I don’t recognize most of the characters or how they fit into the war, but it’s still great.
Something interesting: there were fewer shocking deaths and some false death alarms. I think Mr. Martin is growing fond of his characters. We’ll see . . .
Enjoyable quotes:
“Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old.”
“Too stupid to learn and too stupid to give up.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Broken Harbor by Tana French


What a bloated, cliched, overwrought mess. I don't understand how this happened. Her first three crime novels were layered with well-developed, multidimensional characters.
This novel orbited around Detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, a peripheral character in her three previous novels. I was looking forward to getting to know more about him, but he turned out to be what everyone else judged him to be in the previous novels: rigid, narrow-minded, cold.
A family gets murdered, with the mother surviving, in the town where his family used to holiday. This brings up all sorts of emotional baggage - his mother killed herself there. I understand that such an event is traumatic and fundamentally affects a person and continues to do so for the rest of their life, but the way it kept being brought up, it was like a broken record. Nothing new was revealed, emotionally, just harped on. His need for control and success are rooted in that event. I get it. How about some growth?
It just didn't make sense. The ham-handed foreshadowing that led to a reveal about his partner and the reveal about what actually took place. Everyone in the story was crazy and it made me feel crazy reading it. I hated all of the characters. None of them were believable. The good friend who turns into a well-meaning stalking creeper? What? I don't recommend this book. I still recommend all three of her other novels.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Faithful Place by Tana French


A detective has to go back to the place where he grew up when belongings of his ex-girlfriend who disappeared 20 years ago are found by a construction crew. He also disappeared on the same night and hasn’t kept in touch with his family because his home life was a fucking horror show. He has to deal with them, his ex-wife, his daughter, and everything he’s been trying so hard not to deal with, but with good reason.
All of Tana French’s novels take place in Dublin, but, other than a few non-American English words, the reader would be hard pressed to know that it’s a “foreign” writer or novel. The people and their stories are universal, which is kind of an odd way to describe really intense crime novels.
I read Tana French’s first book, In the Woods, and loved it. All of her stories seem the same and, even if you know the formula and figure out the ending 5 pages in, you still can’t put them down. This book felt the most intense. Maybe it was just the story, but I know about physical abuse in the home and trying to protect siblings and what that does to everyone. I haven’t come across a book that shows it so well.
If you like the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly, you will definitely like Tana French’s writing. Fewer clich├ęs and more intensity. The characters are all from the same police force, but the novels stand alone. I’ve liked each one better than the last.