Friday, February 22, 2013

read: The Fountainhead (1 star)

The FountainheadThe Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really did try to get through this thing. But I can't finish it. It has no story. It has no humor. It has no character. It has no setting. It has no life. My life is too short to give any more of it to this.

It has humorless, cardboard cutouts without souls moving about amidst a sketch of mid-20th-Century New York, pontificating about architecture, life, and economics. The author understands none of these (or at least is unable to express any real passion about them).

Count me among the many who find Ayn Rand's reputation and fame to be out of synch with her talent.

View all my review on Goodreads

Monday, February 18, 2013

"In Time" [B-]

Pretty solid science fiction adventure, even if the economic system doesn't jive with the technology. Essentially, you have enhanced genetics for endless lives and wireless interpersonal monetary exchange and all sorts of digital tracking and communication. But time is always passed around through physical contact? And there are big banks (because time is passed through contact with physical media)? And there are no (seen) networks of transactions? It just didn't quite make enough sense to me, although the story was reasonably fun.

In Time (IMDb)

"Argo" [A]

I've now seen a grand total of two of the nine films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar of 2012. And even though this was a fantastic film, from the writing all the way down, odds are I still haven't seen the winner. One thing this film demonstrates is that it's possible to create two hours of tension and suspense without any on-screen gun battles or explosions. Real spies are so much more interesting than fake ones, even if the movies artificially compress and distort events to heighten storytelling.

Argo (IMDb)

Friday, February 15, 2013

read: The Roswell Conspiracy (4.5 stars)

The Roswell ConspiracyThe Roswell Conspiracy by Boyd Morrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book. It's not perfect, but it's the perfect blend of international action, science speculation, and mystery for me. The one thing that doesn't quite work is the title. It's a bit misleading and probably a barrier to many folks who would also love this book and an attraction to another population that will be greatly disappointed it doesn't take the Roswell connection far enough.

This is the third Tyler Locke book, but it stands fine on its own. The characters are likable and believable, if a bit familiar and flat at times. The settings, action and plot sweep the reader right past those patches and plunge you into exotic locales and heart-pounding situations in New Zealand, Australia, Easter Island, South America, and Mexico.

The physics, history, politics and archeology are a little speculative, but not far off the mark. This isn't off-the-charts goofiness. The author does a good job of weaving together disparate notions involving rogue Russion spies and scientists, ancient peoples, modern weapons research, and the privatization of space while keeping things feeling real.

I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys the adventures of James Bond or the books of James Rollins.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Monday, February 11, 2013

"Les Misérables" [A]

Before this, sad to say, I had not seen any of the films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. I think it must be a grand conspiracy by filmmakers to dump all of the contenders into the holiday time period and I wound up busy with family obligations, etc. I'm glad I can see one or two before the Oscar ceremony. Then again, I'm still working through the lists from previous years.

I'm not sure what the Oscar chances are for this one. Yes, it's magnificently shot and acted. The directing and production values are amazing. But I found myself a bit disappointed. I have not seen the show on stage, but I think the music must work better there. It didn't really work for me here. It seemed flat and repetative. The added realism that the film brings made the story seem that much more trite. Even so, I found myself genuinely weeping at (the appropriate) points. So the film was doing something right.

Les Misérables (IMDb)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" [B+]

I was pleased that this turned out to be even a little better film than I hoped. The on-location shots in India are fantastically alive with energy, color, and light. The camera shows both the beauty and the squalor without judgement. The story is simple and heartwarming and the star-studded cast bring the characters to life and show why they are stars. Highly recommended.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (IMDb)