orangerful: (lara croft video games)

So, I can't stop thinking about this game. I flew through the 8 hours of gameplay time (well, it took me more than that because I am a very cautious fighter LOL) and I miss Senua already.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is the story of a warrior woman whose lover was murdered by invading Norsemen and she has decided to go into hell to free his soul.

But Senua is not a normal woman - she hears voices. Her mother heard them too. They whisper to her, constant companions since she was young. These voices have kept her separated from the rest of her tribe, which is why she wants so badly to find Dillion's soul - he was the one person who truly cared for her. I know this sounds cliche, but I have to say that love is the one force out there that will make people challenge gods, even if those gods are not their own.

I love how the game just drops you into the story - no tutorial mode, not even a flash of instruction on the screen to coach you. You must figure it out (even if that simply means hitting "pause" to bring up the control menu) - the game designers have faith in your abilities to play from the start and they don't want to pull you out of the narrative to go through some clunky "What does the A button do?" screen or cheesy flashback to find an excuse to learn how to make your character walk.

I really feel like this game is another great example of video games as art. I feel like to show how a thing is art, you must give examples of how it brings out emotions in us that no other format can; how it can tell a story that would not be nearly as powerful as just a printed page or even as a moving image.

I played Hellblade as the creator's suggested: with headphones on. This let me experience the voices the way Senua did - hearing them immediately as our shared quest began and growing both frustrated and fond of their chatter. I don't think the printed text of a novel could have done this for me and while I can be emotionally connected to a character in a movie or tv show, you can't become them the way you can in a video game. And while I don't think I was ever Senua, I felt like I was with her the whole way.

I know this game is already getting a lot of push back from people with mental illness. Ninja Theory, the game design company, did a lot of homework in trying to represent the different ways psychosis can feel. I've seen at least one reviewer who are not happy because they suffer from mental illness and didn't think the game represented them, and I can understand that. The designers could only do so much and they reached out to professionals and got as much feedback as possible but they can't know what it is like for someone and no game will really ever replicated that experience.

I am coming from a completely different place, and this game really made me think a lot about all of the voices in everyone's head and how some of us can shrug them off and others are forced to hear them. The voices of self doubt, of fear, of resignation beside the voices that also push you on. I've never suffered from psychosis and I can't even begin to understand what life would be like for someone living with it, but for those 8 hours, I had those voices in my ears and it made me think of how hard that can make everything - if I was struggling in a fictional world to run forward and stay focused, what must it be like for someone in modern society? No idea, I know I can never know.

While I didn't love the ending (too soon, I wanted more), I loved the game as a whole. I really enjoyed that it was more than just a button mashing fighter game and that the (thankfully few) boss fights all had strategies to them. It reminded me of Legend of Zelda and how each "boss" was more than just a simple fight, you had to pay attention. There were just as many puzzles and hidden things to make me want to keep going, and bits of Norse legend peppered through-out which made me want to go find Neil Gaiman's new book and see if there were more to those legends.

It was a beautiful game, I loved seeing it on my screen, watching Senua wander the mystical world. I really hope we have more adventures with her.

For more details about the game and how to buy a (digital only), visit the official Ninja Theory site.
orangerful: (one girl // orangerful)

Most of this month's viewing was the tv show FARGO which I need to write a proper post about because we finished it up and I have FEELS! But I did manage to squeeze a few movies into the busy July schedule:

non-spoilery reviews )
orangerful: (muppets kermit fozzie reading // lostaca)

I have at least two books on my desk with bookmarks in the middle that won't be on this list, but they are adult books so they are taking up a lot of my time...which is my totally lame excuse for why this list is so short LOL.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book had me laughing out loud at lunch and then reading the totally inappropriate passages to my coworkers. It reminded me of 'Carter Finally Gets It' with its honest portrayal of what goes on in a high school boy's head, especially a geeky one. I really liked the relationship between Greg and Earl too. They were an odd couple but hilarious.

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars, #1)The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Worth listening to if you're a Veronica Mars fan. Captures the essence of the show, though they get ot drop a lot more f-bombs because it's a book LOL. Good mystery and listening to Kristen Bell do her impersonation of every character in Neptune was a lot of fun.

Adventure Time: Candy CapersAdventure Time: Candy Capers by Yuko Ota

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Of all the Adventure Time comics I've read so far, this was been the biggest disappointment. I was hoping for something along the lines of the BMO Noir episode. Instead, this read like bad Adventure Time fanfic, as the author struggled to find ways to bring in every single character for a "guest spot" in the comic. If you are not familiar with the show, this may be the least accessible as there are references to things that have happened over the previous five seasons of the series. Even fans of the show can probably safely give this one a pass.

Summer House with Swimming PoolSummer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

I'm giving up on this book for now. It did not grab me the way that The Dinner did. By this point in time, I had read the entire book, but I feel like I really have to force myself to pick this one up. The narrator just isn't as charming and while there is mystery as to where the story is going, it's hard for me to really care.

My to-read pile is too big to waste time on this book right now. Maybe I'll go back to it later.

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty GreatUnicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not quite as great as I had hoped but still a really fun read. Being a Unicorn isn't all it's cracked up to be, apparently!

How to Train Your Dragon (How to Train Your Dragon, #1)How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very rarely does a movie rank higher than the book on my list but I have to say that the Dreamworks film has a stronger, more satisfying story than this book. I enjoyed the book but the shadow of the movie was too big. I did enjoy David Tennant's narration and I would listen to the rest of the series if he is always the narrator (which I'm pretty sure he is).

orangerful: (book belle // orangerful)
I've actually been trying to read two books since the middle of June but have yet to finish them...probably because I keep stopping to read these graphic novels and kids books LOL. Oh well! At least I read something!

Adventure Time Sugary Shorts Vol. 1Adventure Time Sugary Shorts Vol. 1 by Paul Pope

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Collection of one-shot issues and special edition cover art. A little hit or miss with the stories, but a fun collection but only really worth a look if you're a hardcore Adventure Time fan.



Don't Pigeonhole Me!Don't Pigeonhole Me! by Mo Willems

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think a few of the reviewers on here missed the point. The title of the book is "Don't Pigeonhole Me!" and it's Mo Willems sharing the art he has been creating for DECADES, even before he was famous for his Pigeon and Elephant and Piggie. As he explains in the first few pages, he doodles all the time and sometimes he draws things for his adult friends and this collection highlights many of those doodles.

If you are a teen or adult fan of Willem's art, you MUST read this book. It gives you insight on his artistic career through his love of 'zines. It starts out with him as a poor struggling artist in NYC in his 20s, practically tricking his friend to publish an entire 'zine of his work. And then this becomes an annual tradition that he still upholds today.

You get to watch his entire style grow and expand until you see the Mo we know by the end.

I loved this book. I loved his little notes. I think Mo loved having the opportunity to share this artwork which was just distributed to a handful of his friends over the years. It's like being a part of his inner circle. The introduction of each collection explains where he was in his life at the time and why the collection is themed the way it is. GREAT book for aspiring artists who need some motivation to go on and maybe great inspiration for a home project or school/library program.

My Little Pony: Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart SpellMy Little Pony: Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell by G.M. Berrow

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had already read the Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle books in this series and loved them. This is book 1 in the series and I think it was my least favorite so far? Maybe it's because I had already seen the first episode of Season 4, which covers similar territory with Twilight coming to terms with the changes that happened in the finale of Season 3.

Still, entertaining and fun. Berrow really has a knack for capturing the voice of each pony and beginner chapter book readers who are fans of the series will eat this up!

The RaceThe Race by Édouard Manceau

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The humor in this book will probably go over little kid's heads but for the older picture book readers, this should be a hoot, especially if the know someone who does marathons. I loved the very dry humor of this silly story.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search, Part 3  (The Search, #3)Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search, Part 3 by Gene Luen Yang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wrapping up the storyline about what happened to Zuko's mother. It was a satisfying ending to that story, though I think I would have enjoyed it more sitting down and reading all three of the trades at once. Waiting the three months between made me forget story chunks. Still, Gene Luen Yang stays true to the series art style and storytelling.

Adventure Time Vol. 1 Playing With Fire Original Graphic NovelAdventure Time Vol. 1 Playing With Fire Original Graphic Novel by Danielle Corsetto

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me say,it is SO WEIRD to experience Adventure Time without any color. I really wanted to get out some markers and color in the pages of this story. Black and White and Ooo just feels wrong!

Other than that, this was a great story about Finn and the Flame Princess. Good character development for her and a fun adventure.
orangerful: (pigeon w books // orangerful)
Yay, I actually managed to make up for the big goose egg list that was April!

LOTS of books this month! )
orangerful: (one girl // orangerful)
Don't laugh at the amount of Children's books on this list! I could not find my reading groove this month. :-\ Maybe if I wasn't up all night reading livejournal LOL!

Same DifferenceSame Difference by Derek Kirk Kim

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars -- I really liked the little stories and the characters and I wish it could have been longer.

Extreme OppositesExtreme Opposites by Max Dalton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is hilarious. This is the kind of book you get a kid when they are little for the discussion of opposites and as they get older they can appreciate the twisted, dark humor. For example, "Too High" is a picture of a little girl who cannot reach the top of her GIANT birthday cake. "Too Low"? A guy climbing down a ladder who sees THE DEVIL! LOL!!!

Yeah, we had a good giggle at the desk while reading this one. Parents and child will enjoy this book which would make for a fun baby shower gift.

Dragon QuestDragon Quest by Allan Baillie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful book with a great story. Perfect for that kid who loves dragons and knights. Would make for a good storytime book if you had an old enough audience, maybe skip a few pages here and there if the crowd is smaller. Also good for school visits.

The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble (The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, #1)The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Super-cute, clever, and a quick read.

Beginning PearlsBeginning Pearls by Stephan Pastis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. I love Pearls Before Swine but I am unsure about how I feel about this new trend in publishing, putting together "children's collections" of newspaper strips that are pretty safe anyway. I mean, nothing that objectionable happens in a regular strip of Pearls. True, some of the humor does fly over kid's heads because of a concept or the language used. And the little "chapters" introducing each character were a nice touch, but I can't shake the feeling that this is just a cash-in on the whole Wimpy Kid style book craze.

Though on the OTHER hand, so few households get daily newspapers anymore, I'm not sure how a child would be exposed to Pearls any other way! When I was a kid, my parents got the newspaper and I read the comics every morning as part of my routine while eating breakfast. We get most of our news from the Internet now so I doubt a family would spend the extra money to have it delivered a day or two later in paper format just to read the funnies.

So, in short, Pearls Before Swine gets 5 stars from me, but the whole "children's collection" trend made me mark this down a couple stars.

My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie and the Rockin' Ponypalooza Party!My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie and the Rockin' Ponypalooza Party! by G.M. Berrow

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Perfect book any My Little Pony fan. Berrow really captures the show, with it's quirky cartoon antics and little jokes for the grown-ups. Easy enough language for newer readers but interesting enough story to even keep the older elementary school kids interested. Sorta curious about the rest of the series now!

Reality BoyReality Boy by A.S. King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is a reason A.S. King gets my "favorite author" tag. She has yet to disappoint me when it comes to realistic fiction about young adults facing difficult situations. Notice I didn't say difficult young adults or troubled teens. These are stories of good kids who have dealing with life as best as they can.

"Reality Boy" is about a young man who, as a child, was featured on a reality tv show and became infamous for defecating around his parents house. Now he is in high school, and as you read the story you find out about what happened in that house his entire life and how he is dealing with it now.

It's not for the faint of heart. It's a tragic story. Gerald has been damaged by his family and it's sad to read about how it all happened. This may not be my favorite of King's books, but it is still a solid story. Adults and teens should read her books and sit down to discuss.

Battle BunnyBattle Bunny by Jon Scieszka

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book gets 5 stars for just being genius. Not only is the story hilarious, it's a very clever idea! And this book could inspire many kids to scribble in their old picture books, which both horrifies me (the librarian side) and intrigues me (the art side).

Before you give this book to your kid, hit up the flea market or used book sale at the library and buy a bunch of old picture books that have no sentimental value for you and include them in the present.

Aimless Love: New and Selected PoemsAimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great collection. I may need to buy this one for my personal collection.

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #2Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #2 by Zack Whedon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So far, this feels very true to the 'verse and true to the characters. Really impressed with the writing and I even like the art style, which is always tricky when a comic is based on a tv show with such recognizable faces.

View all my reviews
orangerful: (vm o rly? // orangerful)
If Incredible Hulk does anything, it has a nice amount of fan service to anyone even remotely familiar with the big green guy.  "Don't make me angry", "Hulk Smash!" and the "sad walking away song" are all featured in the movie. 

The Hulk isn't really a superhero. He's not fighting for anything.  He's just sort of spazzing out.  He has more in common with King Kong than Ironman or Batman.  And while the screenwriter made the (I think) wise choice to gloss over the initial Hulk creation story and jump right to Bruce hiding out, which go the story moving along, I think it made it a little harder to connect with him as a person.  And poor Liv Tyler spent the whole movie alternating between staring sadly with her mouth half hanging open or screaming "BRUCE!" at the top of her lungs. 

I felt a little cheated at the end of the film, because they began to set up the movie I wanted to see as opposed to the 2 hours I just sat through.  In fact, I wasn't really interested in a sequel until the last few minutes. 

A good popcorn movie, but definitely one you shouldn't think too much about after you watch it.  Also, it comes with a built in drinking game - take a shot every time you spy something GREEN!

Originally posted on

orangerful: (Default)
First, the unspoilery things about OBG:
- Costumes were pretty but what was UP with the lighting? I think they were going for that grainy BBC Mini-series from the 1980s look.
- DID EVERY SINGLE SCENE HAVE TO START/END WITH AN OBJECT IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA?? I mean, WTF. Did the director just show up and shoot the movie with no prior blocking so he didn't know that the large POLE would be in the shot? It went from a style to stupidity after about the 10th shot.
- Scarlet and Natalie are gorgeous. Too bad this movie was a total waste of their time. Clearly they just wanted to wear the pretty dresses.

Okay, spoilery stuff in case you care:

but I would save my $7.50 if I were you )

I just can't get over all the missed opportunities. A film that could have had a great mix of sex, politics, history, intrigue - ala Cate Blanchet's Elizabeth - was instead reduced to a movie about two women fighting over one big stupid man who could care less. The novel might have played it fast and loose with history, but at least it was INTERESTING. OBG was like
orangerful: (boys are fragile // orangerful)
So, I netflix'd this movie because it had a relatively high rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  I really knew nothing about it, apart from the fact that Danny "Trainspotting 28 Days Later" Boyle directed it and Cillian Murphy had a leading role.  So I thought, what the heck. 


So, the plot is that the sun is dying and these scientists have been sent into space in an attempt to re-ignite it.  They are the second mission to be sent into space - the first disappeared 7 years ago. 

I thought visually the movie was really interesting.  It reminded me of '2001' and 'Alien' with the way the way it was filmed.  Lots of random shots of empty corridors and weird noises.  Very dark, lots of whites and blues.  Lots of atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't keep up with the imagery.  We never really get to know the characters so we're not really upset when bad things begin to happen.  I didn't want their entire life stories, but these guys had less character development than a Michael Crichton novel (Crichton, though I love him, considers "He was 45 and a scientist" to be as much description as you could ever need).  Which is too bad, because I was ready for so much more.  I was ready to really like this movie.  But they never really meant anything to me.

I spent the last half of the movie wondering if I had accidentally sat on the DVD remote and skipped a chapter because it felt as though a scene or two was missing.  I still understood what was going on on the screen but it seemed like there should have been a bit it.

Still, if you're struggling to find something to watch and you're in the mood for a sci-fi thriller, you could do worse than 'Sunshine'.

Originally posted on

orangerful: (Default)
AD's friend recommended this movie, so we Netflix'd it to see what all his fuss was about.  I knew Kevin Costner was in it and that there was some sort of Jekll/Hyde thing going on in the plot.   And that is about all you need to know.

There seems to be some sort of virus in Hollywood now that is making script writers add extra plot twists to movies that don't need them.  Mr Brooks suffers from this virus.  But, if you can get past that, its an enjoyable enough thriller.  Not great, but a solid 3 stars. 

Also, Demi Moore has clearly had some work done on her face and I found it very distracting.  I wonder if that is why she wore her hair down the whole movie, because she's got extra skin stapled back there....ew! 

Dane Cook is also in this movie.  And I still want to punch him in the face. 

Originally posted on

orangerful: (Default)
Right Behind You
Gail Giles
'Right Behind You' is another book from the 'Great Books for Teens' discussion group I picked.

The story starts out with a young man handing his story (the book) to someone else and telling them they need to read it.  The book is him trying to relate the events of his life to this new friend.  But Kip's life has been anything but fun.  When he was 9 years old, he got angry at another kid and, in a fit of rage, set him on fire.  He is sent to a juvenile prison and spends the next 4 or so years there.  Eventually, he is deemed well enough to leave and goes back to rejoin society. 

Another book that I was surprised I enjoyed!  Gail Giles' writing is clear and quick.  The chapters are short but leave you wanting more.  The only complaint I have is the "reader" of the story.  They disappear and reappear from the narrative at inconsistent intervals.  It made that part seem a bit stretched.  I think it would have been better just to leave this piece of the story out.  Or perhaps to just bookend it with them getting the book  and maybe their reaction to Kip's story at the end. 

All in all, this book was a quick, enjoyable read.  Clearly it comes from the dark side of the YA shelves, but I felt that you could identify with Kip and that made it work.  The conclusion wasn't as satisfying as the rest of the book, but if you can ignore the last page, you have a solid read on your hands.

Originally posted on

orangerful: (Default)
'Across the Universe' seemed perfect for me.  Director Julie Taymor also directed 'Titus', one of the most amazing movies based on a Shakespeare play.  It is filled with Beatles music, my favorite band of all time.  Plus, Eddie Izzard makes a quick cameo for 'The Benefit of Mr Kite'. 

Well, turns out it was not meant to be.  Everything I had heard about the movie, all the clips I had seen in the trailer, all of the emotion those thirty seconds of film showed me...I think I imagined a better film.  I didn't care about any of the characters.  The story was very flimsy and cliche.  Most of the time, the songs did nothing to move the plot forward.  Other times you could imagine a room full of Beatles' fans saying "oooh, there's that song 'Dear Prudence', we should have a character named Prudence and then they can sing that to her!'.  And the images on the screen?  The underwater sequence, mr kite, and strawberry fields were very trippy, but the rest of the movie?  Kind of boring. 

Everyone was very pretty.  The singing was nice, but they didn't really do anything interesting with the songs, just sang then relatively straightforward.  I almost wish they hadn't tried to hard to make a story.  I think it would have been far more interesting to just do a bunch of short films, little music videos, perhaps linking them together in the sense that they all take place in the 60s or something.  But the movie itself left a lot to be desired. 

In the end, it just made me want to drag out my Beatles albums and re-watch the Anthology DVDs for images of REAL people in the 60s.

Originally posted on

orangerful: (Default)
Boot Camp
Todd Strasser
This Young Adult fiction novel is on the Great Books for Children and Teens 2007 reading list.  I'm not sure I would have picked it up if it hadn't been assigned to me to read, but I am happy I did!

'Boot Camp' has absolutely nothing to do with the Army.  This story is far more sinister.  The book opens with Garrett, a 15-year old boy, being "transported" to Lake Harmony.  He's not sure what is going on, but it is soon revealed that his parents have sent him to this camp to "cure" him of his problems.

I don't want to give too much away, but I will tell you this book is not for the weak of heart.  Author Todd Strasser cites his sources in the back of the book, explaining that the conditions and abuse Garrett endures at Lake Harmony are not just from his imagination; there are camps like this all over the United States.  Children are sent away from their homes and force to comply with "rules" meant to turn them into the child their parents want. 

Despite its dark story, this is a page turner.  The chapters are just short enough that you convince yourself that you could read just one more.  And then that chapter ends in a bit of a cliff hanger and you have to keep going!  A disturbing page turner!

Originally posted on

orangerful: (Default)
Steve Martin's new autobiography is an amazing read.  I am not very familiar with Steve Martin's stand-up work, beyond what I saw on The Muppet Show.  But I've always liked his sense of humor (L.A. Story is one of my favorite movies).  I adored 'Shopgirl' and enjoyed 'Pleasure of my Company'.  So I figured I would give this book a try.

Steve Martin gave up stand-up one night after a show when he realized he wasn't having fun anymore.  He walked away and never went back.  Until now.  This book is like sitting down with him over coffee and watching him go through an old box of memories.  What could have been a self-love fest turns into a nostalgic and bittersweet look back at his childhood, young adult, and early 30s.  He examines the road that led him to comedy, the people he met along the way, and how his style came about.  He doesn't pretend to remember every detail of his life, its more about feelings and memories. 

The book made me laugh.  It made me want to hug Steve Martin.  It made me want to go in search of clips of his old stand-up.  It made me wish someone was doing something as wild and crazy as that today.  It made me wish I could have been there. 

Originally posted on

orangerful: (no sexy cylons // faeriesfolly)
Let's get one thing straight - Scott Westerfeld is not the most eloquent writer. That's not how he rolls. He's about the action, adventure, and slipping some social commentary in while you're not paying attention.

I love the 'Uglies' trilogy. I loved the way it made me think about the culture of beauty in our society, looking at the value placed in beauty, in being perfect - and wondering how much you would give up to be that way?

Some found the writing to be frustrating. Starting out from Tally's point of view, already 15 and brainwashed by the world to think that she's Ugly and worthless until the day of her operation to be Pretty. But, if you can look past the frustration of listening to this girl talk so poorly about herself, and see the girls sitting in the library doing the same things to themselves because our culture is just as bad, maybe worse, when it comes to placing inflated value on beauty...suddenly the 'Uglies' books become so much more.

'Extras' is the "fourth" book in the trilogy (Westerfeld dedicates the book to all the people that emailed him to tell him the definition of "trilogy"). It follows the same formula as the 'Uglies' books. You see the adventure from Aya Fuse's point of view, and sometimes the reader can be frustrated by how "brain-missing" she can be. But once you look at the culture that is around her, the values they have placed on, in this case, popularity, you start to interpret her comments in a different way.

Yes, Aya lives in Post-Prettytime Japan. They have gone from a Pretty culture to a economy based on "merits" which are obtained from doing little things, like chores, to big things like being the first to "kick a big story" (which, after you read the book a bit, translates into posting a first blog post!). It's a the MySpace/Facebook/Blogger world on CRACK! Everybody is plugged in. Aya has a screen in her eye that is constantly updating her on her "face rank". She wouldn't mind being an "extra" so much if her brother wasn't so super popular. Sibling rivalry is a big part of the tale.

But, it's also a Scott Westerfeld book, so there are lots of high speed chases, the "Uglies" world slang, and bubbleheadedness.

I liked the book, I didn't think it was as strong as the other 'Uglies' books, but it made some interesting points in the same way. The end was a bit cheesy, but I enjoyed the journey from point A to point B. And it was nice to see Tally-wa, Shay-la, and other characters again.

If you enjoyed the 'Uglies' trilogy, do yourself a favor and pick up 'Extras'. It's a wild ride and it really makes you look at what sort of values we are putting forth in our new "social networking" world.
orangerful: (dexter shhh // orangerful)
At the center of any good, truly disturbing horror book is the frailties of human nature. It doesn't matter how many monsters jump out of the closets or serial killers lurk around the corner - it only feels real, and therefore truly scary, when you identify with the same weaknesses and fears of the main characters.

If you want a creepy read for the week before Halloween, Scott Smith's "The Ruins" will keep you on the edge of your seat. The paperback was almost 500 pages, but that didn't stop me from tearing through it in less than a weak! (Though, word of warning, if you plan on traveling to South America any time soon, you might want to save this for the return flight!)

'Ruins' is the story of 4 friends. 2 young couples, actually, on vacation in Mexico, enjoying the sand and surf and drink and mixing with the other tourists. They befriend a German man who tells them his brother has gone missing, left with a woman and gone to some archaelogical dig in the jungle. The friends offer to help (well, truly the ONE friend offers to help, the boy scout of the group, the other 3 just follow along for the fun of it) and soon they find themselves in the jungle...and in trouble.

Smith tells the story in third person limited omniscient, switching between our 4 friends, each with their own very distinct personalities. I really enjoyed this style of storytelling, especially once the characters began to get separated a bit (by space and by inner motives) and it really built the tension as you changed from one to the other.

I don't want to spoil any of the story for you. I didn't know anything about the book when I picked it up. All I knew was it was a bestseller and had a Stephen King blurb on the front. Plus, it was a paperback so perfect for taking with me on the plane. But what a TREAT!

So, if you're in the mood for something tense and well-written, you will enjoy Scott Smith's "The Ruins".
orangerful: (Default)
I'll start off by saying I know next to nothing about the Zodiac murders.  I wasn't alive when they happened.  I'm not really into true-crime stories, as they tend to freak me out a bit.  But this movie had received so many positive reviews from critics and friends that I wanted to see it. 

My only complaint about this movie was that I felt it ran a little too long.  It clocks in at 158 minutes, and I think it could have been trimmed down to less than two hours and held on the to tension a bit longer. 

Anyway, I think all of the actors did a wonderful job in this movie.  I was especially impressed by Jake Gyllenhaal, though I don't know why.  I guess because of his stardom, I just assume he won't be any good, then I watch a movie with him and remember that he actually can act.  Mark Ruffalo was really good too.

According to IMDB, the tagline for 'Zodiac' was "There's more than one way to lose your life to a killer".  That about sums it all up.  This movie isn't about the Zodiac killer as much as it's about the men who become obsessed with finding him, exposing him, and/or bringing him to justice. 

orangerful says: Rent it!  But start watching it early because you've got 2 1/2 hours of movie to absorb!

Originally posted on

orangerful: (dexter shhh // orangerful)
[ profile] jimithingy had read this book awhile back, on the reccommendation of a friend. I had meant to read the book...but I am lame. So, last night, I Netflixed the movie version. We were a bit concerned, since there was pretty much no advertising for this film. But after seeing it, I understand why. The full title of the movie, and the book, is "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer". [ profile] jimithingy tells me the movie was very close to the book - lots of sniffing things and then describing them. But, he says, the book had more time to go into the craft of perfume making in the time period. The movie sort of glosses over it all, focusing on Jean-Baptiste's obsession with "preserving scent".

There is no hero in this movie. There is only a villian. And one that is so deeply disturbed that he doesn't really realize what he is doing. It is like some twisted fairy tale, with a "moral" at the end that is just creepy. I can't deny that the film was well done, well acted, well shot, but it wasn't really enjoyable. Not something I'd ever watch again. And I'm sure the story worked better in the realm of printed fiction as opposed to the restraints of what you can do on film (no matter how good John Hurt's voiceover is).

If you've read the book, you might enjoy seeing the movie, if only for the interpretation. I can't really recommend the movie. I suppose there are worse movies that hit the 2 1/2 hour mark. And it wasn't bad or unwatchable. Just not really fun.

(Oh, and for those of you, like me, who have seen Sweeney Todd and assume this will be similar. It's not. Completely different angle. :\ Here I was hoping he would have a chance to sell the perfume!)
orangerful: (sexlexia // snarkel)
I didn't know much about this documentary when I Netflix'd it. The title intrigued me, so I ordered it. The documentary focuses on the R and NC-17 rating, the mysterious MPAA board, and what the ratings really mean to a studio.

The main gripe with American ratings, it seemed, was how arbitrary they are. Especially when it comes to violence vs. sexual content. Now, some of the scenes they showed in this documentary, I was fine with having an NC-17 rating. BUT when I found out that NC-17 pretty much guarantees your movie will get no advertising and won't run in many parts of the country, I thought that was a bit unfair. Sure, you made a movie that has a bit of sex in it, and sure the MPAA feels the only way to keep children out of the film is to slap it with an NC-17 (Kevin Smith pointed out that no one is ever just given an NC-17, they are always "slapped"), but is it fair that this means no studio will distribute it?

A large portion of the documentary (and my least favorite part) was director Kirby Dick hiring a private investigator and attempting to chase down the MPAA raters. The things they discovered were interesting, but I was more interested in hearing the interviews with filmmakers and finding out what some of their gripes were with the system.

In the end, my brain was buzzing with all kinds of thoughts. Damn those Puritans for making Americans such prudes when it comes to sex! Wait, why do I need to see someone taking it from behind in a movie? What if the filmmaker feels that is important, should they be told to cut it? But why is this board giving out arbitrary ratings and doing it in secret? Why don't parents take care of their damn kids anyway? "R" does not mean it's okay for a child to see a movie, it's mean RESTRICTED. (Yes, you could take a 16 year old to see the movie, but that doesn't mean you should take 8 year old Sally into see "Saw" because your lazy ass couldn't find a babysitter. Suck it up, that's what you get for having children. Your life is revoked.) If you're going to create a ratings system, shouldn't you support ALL of the ratings you've created? Stop making NC-17 a kiss of death! If the filmmaker gets an NC-17, distribute their movie! And what is the deal with violence against women? Even Kevin Smith said he was sick of that shit! Maria Bello pointed out that her film got an NC-17 because during the lovemaking scene, a bit of her public hair was visible, yet the week before she saw one of the 'Scary Movie' films where a woman is stabbed in the breast, her implant pops out and she's bleeding all over and then someone else gets a penis in their ear, and that is rated R! And clearly if you are a woman or you are gay, you are NOT allowed to have sex on screen. Straight guys? Go crazy and look happy while you do it! What is UP with that????

So, it wasn't really a very good documentary. But it was very interesting. And eye opening. Kirby Dick had a mission, which was to expose the MPAA raters, and I really could have cared less, but listening to other filmmakers talk about their problems with the system will make you think twice before judging a film by it's rating. Good conversation piece. Watch it so you can discuss it with others, but it's not really very high quality and it is very one-sided and it doesn't' really offer a solution to the problem.

btw - this film is rated NC-17...for a reason! You get to see all the scenes that caused other movies to receive their NC-17 ratings. Just so you can mentally prepare yourself.
orangerful: (hp hush feather // orangerful)
Last night, we went to the midnight showing of Harry Potter at the Senator Theater. More on the general experience of that later. Right now, I must get my thoughts on my movie down before I start reading everyone else's comments!

First, I'll be honest. I've only read the books once. I want to re-read them, I really do, I just haven't had time. I'm a slow reader and working in a library makes it hard for me to focus on the books I own when there are so many more to borrow! So, the events of book 5 are not fresh in my mind. I only remember the moments that had an impact on me. So I can't do a lot of book to movie comparison. This is just going to be me talking about how I felt about the movie.

After seeing 'Order', I have to say I think it is my second favorite of the film franchise -- Azkaban is still number one for me*. I think all of the Potter films suffer from the fact that they have to cover SO much time in 2 hours. Rowling stretches the story an entire year, how many books or movies can you think of where they cover an entire year in 2 hours? Not too many. And since these books (esp Order) are massive tomes, things will get cut, and editing can get a bit weird. But I felt the director and editor did a very good job with 'Order', keeping it moving but not making you feel like you'd missed huge chunks of anything.

It's clear that the screenplay writer examined the book and tried to find the biggest theme he could and latched on to that - Will Harry fall to the dark side become Voldemort? Any part of the book that was not directly tied to that theme had to go. It would have just weighed down the flow of the story and made the story too convoluted to tell on screen.

blah blah blah does she ever shut up? )

So, yes, good movie! If you sit and compare it to the book, I doubt it will hold up, but as Harry Potter films go, I think it was really good. Satisfying like a Snickers. I think the director did a much better job than the last guy juggling the massive amount of plot that needed to be shown vs. what the fans would want to see.

Oh, and if you see the A&E special is on TV and you have not seen the movie yet - DO NOT WATCH IT! They show SO much of the movie, it would just ruin so many moments. Tape it for later but don't watch it. I just started to (because I DVR'd it) and I'm so happy I didn't watch it, I think it would have taken some of the fun out of the film for me.

*for those who care, the order goes Azkaban, Phoenix, Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber, Goblet.

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