A book review from The Movie Snob.
The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies, by David Thomson (2012). Thomson is a Brit who now lives in America, and he has written many books about movies and movie people. (Apparently he wrote a biography of Nicole Kidman that I was unaware of until I read Thomson’s dust-cover biography.) Anyhoo, this is not an encyclopedic reference book on the film industry, but more of a guided tour of the history of film as it looks to Thomson. He touches briefly on many, many movies, directors, and, less frequently, actors and actresses. He also dips a little into TV. He waxes philosophic too often for my taste. The book was OK on the whole, but I don’t think I’ll be returning to it.
Merry Christmas from The Movie Snob!
Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe (C). Who doesn’t love a good Hallmark Channel Christmas movie, by which I really mean a bad Hallmark Channel Christmas movie? I didn’t see any new offerings starring Danica McKellar (Coming Home for Christmas) this year, but the Austenite title of this Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls) vehicle reeled me in. Unfortunately, this tale bore no resemblance to Pride and Prejudice that I could see. The diminutive but toothsome Chabert sparkles as Darcy Fitzwilliam, a successful investment broker in the Big Apple. She leaves NYC for the Christmas holiday to visit her family back in small-town Ohio, and she is thrown into preparations for a charity auction that her mom has taken over at the last minute. Darcy is sad because she recently broke up with another money manager named Carl, and, although the doofy-looking Carl hangs around the movie’s periphery, we know by his minimal screen time that Darcy will instead end up with her old high-school debate-club antagonist Luke, who now runs a restaurant in town and of course gets hired to cater the charity auction. Sometimes these movies feature a recognizable star or two in the smaller roles, but this one looked like a cast of nobodies to me. My sister laughed every time Darcy’s dad appeared on screen because of his lamentable lack of acting skills. True, he read his most heartfelt lines like he was reading a menu, but come on! It’s Christmas! I wonder if A Shoe Addict’s Christmas, which we’ll watch later today, will be any better….
A movie review from The Borg Queen.
Bumblebee (B+). After the original Transformers movie (2007), this would easily be the next best movie in the bunch. Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), this movie takes place in the late 80s as Bumblebee first makes his way to Earth. The movie has nostalgia, humor, heart, a little drama, and just the right amount of action. Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen) does a great job carrying this film. Even my mom liked this movie. Check it out.
A new book review from The Movie Snob.
With My Trousers Rolled: Familiar Essays, by Joseph Epstein (1995). I found this older collection of Epstein’s essays at the old Half-Price Books store, and I enjoyed it like I have all his others. I particularly enjoyed his essay about how he enjoys classical music without really knowing a whole lot about it, which is pretty much how I feel about it. The last essay in the collection is a very nice remembrance of and tribute to his mother. If you haven’t tried him yet, I say give him a try.
A book review from The Movie Snob.
The Big Green Tent, by Ludmila Ulitskaya (2010; trans. 2015). This is a big old novel about life in post-Stalinist Russia. I liked it. At first, the book is a cohesive story about three boys who befriend each other around the time of Stalin’s death in 1956 and the teacher who inspires them to love Russian literature. But after a few chapters the novel gets fragmentary, jumping around in time and sometimes following other seemingly minor characters on long (but interesting) tangents. Many of the characters are involved in one kind of dissent or another, and the danger of exposure, arrest, and imprisonment is always right around the corner. I haven’t read that many Russian novels, but the characters in them always seem fascinatingly larger than life to me, especially in their passions and appetites. I read this 500+ page novel in fits and starts over a few weeks, so I was often confused about who the various characters were, but I don’t think it diminished my enjoyment of the story very much.