My Boring Blog

Just a blog about me and whatever I\’m thinking at the time. Ho hum.

Archive for May, 2006

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

Posted by austinburns on May 27, 2006

The Plot Against America

Wow. What a great book. What a weird book. What a creative book. This book is about what happens when Charles Lindberg wins the presidency at the start of World War II. He keeps America out of war and starts a sort of “Anti-Semitism lite” policy. The story centers around a young boy, Philip Roth (it’s written as kind of a memoir), and his Jewish family living in Newark. His family goes through the best and the worst of the new presidency.

Also, at the end of the book, he gives a true timeline of all the player’s involved. Great reading.

A

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X-Men 3: The Last Stand

Posted by austinburns on May 26, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand

Oh boy, I had forgotten how insane midnight showings can be. There wasn't a trailer that wasn't cheered and applauded before the movie. I never understood why people applaud at movie theaters. Unless the creators of the film are in attendance, who are you applauding for?

Anywho, the movie. I've tried to restrain myself from reading any reviews of the movie so as to not taint my outlook. I thought it was pretty good. Not as good as 1 or 2, and I think it had to do with Ratner as director. There were a few storylines that were never really fleshed out completely. A lot of things were just left alone. I will say this, a lot of mutants die in this movie. I won't spoil exactly who dies, but let's just say some pretty big names go.

The whole movie is about a "cure" for the mutants. Some of whom don't think there's anything wrong with them. It has obvious parallels with homosexuality, which some people claim to "cure" as well. I did read part of an interview with Sir Ian McKellen who said he channeled a lot of his rage through him being a homosexual and having people want to cure him. This movie hit home for him. I liked the message of the movie, but I felt that it could have been executed better.

C

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Da Vinci Code (the movie)

Posted by austinburns on May 22, 2006

Da Vinci Code

Oh boy, where to start. This movie was terrible. I hate to agree with so many critics, but it’s true. When I first read the book, I thought it was good, but not great. The story was intriguing, but the dialogue was bad. Unfortunately, this was carried over into the film. With the storyline stripped to its bare essentials, I never realized how lame it could be. Cheesy flashbacks, bad exposition, and wooden dialogue plagued this movie.

I heard a review from LA Times critic (I think) who said that it seemed the everybody was so afraid to mess up the story that it hampered their ability to act. I believe that.

Tom Hanks was OK. Definitely not his best, but definitely not his worst. Audrey Tautou was good. Her accent was a little thick, but I guess I’m too much of an Amelie fan to let that bother me. Ian McKellen saved the movie. He seemed to be the only one passionate enough about his lines to actually put some feeling into them, rather than just say them. Jean Reno was a waste of Jean Reno. Paul Bettany was Silas, and I think I had too high of hopes for his character. He was very one-dimensional. I guess he was supposed to represent the worst of religion with his blind devotion, not to God, but to a bishop who saved his life.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this movie. I’m anxious to see how someone who hasn’t read the book would like the movie.

D

Posted in Movies, Religion, Reviews | 1 Comment »

Over the Hedge

Posted by austinburns on May 22, 2006

Ashley and I went to see this movie since Da Vinci Code was sold out, and it was OK. Not good, not great, not bad, just OK. Steve Carell was the stand out as a hyperactive squirrel. Bruce Willis was fine. Garry Shandling is the only actor left to play a neuortic character after Billy Crystal and Albert Brooks were taken. William Shatner was pretty good, but I thought Adam West would have been better. Avril Lavigne did a terrible job. And real-life man-and-wife Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara were terrific as a married porcupine couple. Allison Janney did good as the crazed president of the homeowner's association. And Lowell, I mean Ned, I mean Thomas Haden Church was fine as the exterminator, although Patrick Warburton would have been better, but he's in too many cartoons already, I guess.

All in all, a decent flick. It had it's funny moments, but it tried to hard to shove the "people eat too much junk and destroy forests for subdivisions" theme down my throat.

C

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Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell

Posted by austinburns on May 22, 2006

Sarah Vowell is one of my new favorite authors. She is able to blend humor with insight remarkably well. She simultaniously loves her country while hating her president. She is able to get past that and praise why she likes America.

All of these essays relate somehow to America. Whether it's about a family Thanksgiving in New York to why the Canadian West was different from the American West (it was the mounties).

All in all, a fantastic book for anyone to read.

A

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102 Movies You Must See

Posted by austinburns on May 18, 2006

From Roger Ebert's site is a list of 102 movies you must see before you can consider yourself movie literate. I'll reproduce the list with an asterisk next to the movie I've seen. Warning: This will suck for me.

* "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) Stanley Kubrick *
"The 400 Blows" (1959) Francois Truffaut
"8 1/2" (1963) Federico Fellini
"Aguirre, the Wrath of God" (1972) Werner Herzog
"Alien" (1979) Ridley Scott
"All About Eve" (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
"Annie Hall" (1977) Woody Allen
"Apocalypse Now" (1979) Francis Ford Coppola
* "Bambi" (1942) Disney *
"The Battleship Potemkin" (1925) Sergei Eisenstein
"The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) William Wyler
"The Big Red One" (1980) Samuel Fuller
"The Bicycle Thief" (1949) Vittorio De Sica
"The Big Sleep" (1946) Howard Hawks
"Blade Runner" (1982) Ridley Scott
"Blowup" (1966) Michelangelo Antonioni
"Blue Velvet" (1986) David Lynch
"Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) Arthur Penn
"Breathless" (1959) Jean-Luc Godard
"Bringing Up Baby" (1938) Howard Hawks
"Carrie" (1975) Brian DePalma
"Casablanca" (1942) Michael Curtiz
"Un Chien Andalou" (1928) Luis Bunuel & Salvador Dali
"Children of Paradise" / "Les Enfants du Paradis" (1945) Marcel Carne
"Chinatown" (1974) Roman Polanski
"Citizen Kane" (1941) Orson Welles
"A Clockwork Orange" (1971) Stanley Kubrick
"The Crying Game" (1992) Neil Jordan
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) Robert Wise
"Days of Heaven" (1978) Terence Malick
"Dirty Harry" (1971) Don Siegel
"The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (1972) Luis Bunuel
"Do the Right Thing" (1989) Spike Lee
"La Dolce Vita" (1960) Federico Fellini
"Double Indemnity" (1944) Billy Wilder
"Dr. Strangelove" (1964) Stanley Kubrick
"Duck Soup" (1933) Leo McCarey
* "E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) Steven Spielberg *
"Easy Rider" (1969) Dennis Hopper
* "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) Irvin Kershner *
"The Exorcist" (1973) William Friedkin
* "Fargo" (1995) Joel & Ethan Coen *
* "Fight Club" (1999) David Fincher *
"Frankenstein" (1931) James Whale
"The General" (1927) Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman
"The Godfather," "The Godfather, Part II" (1972, 1974) Francis Ford Coppola
"Gone With the Wind" (1939) Victor Fleming
* "GoodFellas" (1990) Martin Scorsese *
"The Graduate" (1967) Mike Nichols
"Halloween" (1978) John Carpenter
"A Hard Day's Night" (1964) Richard Lester
"Intolerance" (1916) D.W. Griffith
"It's a Gift" (1934) Norman Z. McLeod
"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) Frank Capra
"Jaws" (1975) Steven Spielberg
"The Lady Eve" (1941) Preston Sturges
"Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) David Lean
"M" (1931) Fritz Lang
"Mad Max 2" / "The Road Warrior" (1981) George Miller
"The Maltese Falcon" (1941) John Huston
* "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962) John Frankenheimer *
"Metropolis" (1926) Fritz Lang
"Modern Times" (1936) Charles Chaplin
* "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975) Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam *
"Nashville" (1975) Robert Altman
"The Night of the Hunter" (1955) Charles Laughton
"Night of the Living Dead" (1968) George Romero
* "North by Northwest" (1959) Alfred Hitchcock *
"Nosferatu" (1922) F.W. Murnau
"On the Waterfront" (1954) Elia Kazan
"Once Upon a Time in the West" (1968) Sergio Leone
"Out of the Past" (1947) Jacques Tournier
"Persona" (1966) Ingmar Bergman
"Pink Flamingos" (1972) John Waters
"Psycho" (1960) Alfred Hitchcock
* "Pulp Fiction" (1994) Quentin Tarantino *
"Rashomon" (1950) Akira Kurosawa
"Rear Window" (1954) Alfred Hitchcock
"Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) Nicholas Ray
"Red River" (1948) Howard Hawks
"Repulsion" (1965) Roman Polanski
"The Rules of the Game" (1939) Jean Renoir
"Scarface" (1932) Howard Hawks
"The Scarlet Empress" (1934) Josef von Sternberg
"Schindler's List" (1993) Steven Spielberg
"The Searchers" (1956) John Ford
"The Seven Samurai" (1954) Akira Kurosawa
"Singin' in the Rain" (1952) Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
"Some Like It Hot" (1959) Billy Wilder
"A Star Is Born" (1954) George Cukor
"A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951) Elia Kazan
"Sunset Boulevard" (1950) Billy Wilder
* "Taxi Driver" (1976) Martin Scorsese *
"The Third Man" (1949) Carol Reed
"Tokyo Story" (1953) Yasujiro Ozu
"Touch of Evil" (1958) Orson Welles
"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948) John Huston
"Trouble in Paradise" (1932) Ernst Lubitsch
"Vertigo" (1958) Alfred Hitchcock
"West Side Story" (1961) Jerome Robbins/Robert Wise
"The Wild Bunch" (1969) Sam Peckinpah
* "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) Victor Fleming *

There you have it: 13 out of 102. I'm going to try to watch as many of these as I can.

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Posted by austinburns on May 17, 2006

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

Really good children's novels. For some reason, I thought they would be longer. Some tidbits I found out while reading:

Most of the visual style for the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland came directly from Carroll's illustrator, John Tenniel. From the cards, to Tweedledee and Tweedledum, to the Mad Hatter, I felt like I was looking at cels from the movie when looking at the pictures in the book.

Second, I found out that it's unlikely that Carroll was taking drugs at the time. Growing up, I had heard that he was an opium addict, but that turns out to be a myth. He was a clergyman and a mathmetician. He just really liked kids and decided to write a story to entertain them.

Third, it's unlikely that Dogma's interpretation of The Walrus and the Carpenter (that it's an indictment of organized religion), while a valid interpretation, was probably not the intention of Carroll. Besides being a clergyman, he supposedly gave his illustrator three options that would fit the meter of the poem: a carpenter, a butterfly, or a baronet. Tenniel chose the carpenter. So, it's unlikely that the carpenter had much meaning.

Overall, great read. It was a pretty quick read, but it was good.

Wonderland: A
Looking-Glass: A

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Slate book club selection for June

Posted by austinburns on May 13, 2006

Slate's book club selection for June is Everyman, by Philip Roth. I'm going to wait until it's closer to read this. It isn't very long. I also picked up Roth's last book, The Plot Against America. I'll probably read that first to get a good frame of reference.

Maybe I'll try to find a local book club to join so I can actually take part in discussion rather than just listening to a podcast.

I wonder where I can find one …

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

Posted by austinburns on May 13, 2006

What a great book! I've been trying to go back and read some of the "classics" and this one was definitely worth it! Randal P. McMurphy (RPM) is such a great, manic character! And Chief Bromden is great. I saw the movie a couple of months ago, and it was fantastic and stayed suprisingly close to the novel. A lot of the Chief's hallucinations and theories about the Combine were left out of the movie, but they nailed each of the character's personalities. Jack Nicholson doesn't look anything like McMurphy was described, but he acted exactly how McMurphy acted. I'm glad that most of the story stayed intact. Just as shocking and just as fun to read as it was to watch.

This book is a masterpiece and is highly recommended!

A

I just bought 4 books at B&N, plus I had two or three lying around waiting to read, but I think I'm going to tackle Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass next. Bring on the classics!

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Saturday, a novel, by Ian McEwan

Posted by austinburns on May 4, 2006

The book was very interesting. The main character is a neurosurgeon who is spending his day off, a Saturday, doing various errands. But the book isn't about any of these errands. It is more about a forty-odd man coming to terms with a post 9/11 world. It's set in 2003, right before the war in Iraq. There's hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets of London, and all of these things come together in the end. The novel is also about cause and effect and about how one little decision can change the outcome of a lifetime.

I started reading the book after Slate's podcasts were advertising a book club podcast that was about to get going. Their first book didn't interest me, but I remember almost buying this book when it came out. Now it's in paperback and it's lovely.

I agree with the reviewer who advises you to read the last 100 pages in one sitting. This is necessary. The last 100 pages fly by and they are well worth it.

Highly recommended reading.

A

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