A look to the past...in movies

More movie reviews!

Young Frankenstein - A laugh riot from beginning to end, this classic parody from director Mel Brooks stars Gene Wilder as Frederick Frankenstein, who detests his family history but ultimately can't resist the temptation to follow in his infamous grandfather's footsteps. Adding to the fun is a brilliant supporting cast that includes Marty Feldman as bug-eyed assistant Igor, Madeline Kahn as Frankenstein's frosty fiancée and Peter Boyle as the zipper-necked monster.

(rent) I’ve enjoyed other Mel Brooks movies, and this one was no different, although it definitely didn’t rank as high as some of his others. I think my favorite is Men in Tights, so that may give you an idea about where I fall in the humor spectrum. This felt like it was trying too hard, and involved more one-liner-eye-wiggle jokes than what I was expecting. I have Blazing Saddles in the future, so we’ll see how that goes!

History of the World, Part 1 - Mel Brooks's comic genius is unleashed in spades in this episodic spoof of history's seminal moments (narrated by Orson Welles), which begins with a brilliant send-up of the cinematic classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Brooks goes on to lampoon the Stone Age, the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition and ends with a clever takeoff on the French Revolution. The all-star-cast includes Gregory Hines, Madeleine Kahn, Dom DeLuise and Harvey Korman.

(rent) An enjoyable, funny bit with several skits from the dawn of time to the French Revolution. My disk was scratched, so sadly I missed some of the funniest bits, but it is amusing. It’s slightly less amusing when everything has been quoted to death around you, but I could still appreciate it as the origins for many other things.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter - Honest Abe: he was the 16th president, the Great Emancipator ... and a righteous slayer of the undead spurred to action by his mother's vampiric murder. History and legend are both turned upside-down as Lincoln tracks the creatures of the night.

(rent/buy) A fun actiony-historicalesque moving, pretty much everyone I know who read the book first hated it. While I’m not saying the book isn’t better, the movie to me felt like a perfectly enjoyable afternoon spent in the blasting AC. It isn’t great cinema, but it had some gorgeous ax choreography, fun battle scenes, and some nice eye candy. A bit slow for a pure action flick, but overall enjoyable.

Super Size Me - Director Morgan Spurlock takes a hilarious and often terrifying look at the effects of fast food on the human body, using himself as the proverbial guinea pig. For one month, Spurlock eats nothing but McDonald's fare.

(rent) I work for a dietitian magazine, so I hear lots about this type of content (and have heard lots about this movie). I found it enjoyable and entertaining, and while nothing was groundbreaking for me, I could see how it could potentially have a positive influence on others. Definitely worth a viewing, although it will either make you want fast food or make you never want to eat it again (or for at least five minutes after the movie ends).

Bringing Up Baby - Love runs wild for a hapless scientist and an unstoppable heiress in Howard Hawks's classic screwball comedy that ranks high on the American Film Institute's list of the funniest Hollywood films ever made. With her eye on paleontologist David (Cary Grant), heiress Susan (Katharine Hepburn) lures him to her home. But the hilarity begins when Susan's dog steals David's prize dinosaur bone and her pet leopard, Baby, is mistaken for a zoo escapee.

(rent) I couldn’t finish this, I don’t even think I got very far in, either. The characters were too ridiculous, the leading female annoyed me, the leading male confounded me, and overall it had little to nothing that caught my interest.


Fraternal Devotion edited by K Piet and Kristen Pavka

Fraternal Devotion edited by K Piet and Kristen Pavka
Stars: 3.5/5

Length: 65,000 words
When you pit knowledge against emotions, there's the no-man's land in between those two opposing forces where taboos lie. Incest is one of the untouchables, a taboo that even in alternative cultures is often still looked on negatively. But how can something that feels so right be wrong?

Fraternal Devotion, the focus is on brotherly love—in every sense of the word. These are tales of love, lust, devotion, and passion as real as any other romance. Why should the fact that the two men are brothers take away from that? This collection may challenge your assumptions and beliefs, but may also melt your heart. Not to mention steam up your glasses.

Because of this anthology’s content, it will obviously not be for everyone. But if you’re reading this review, then you probably are interested enough to take the risk and dive in.

These stories definitely push the brotherhood button, and several are well done, while others left me cool. Just like every anthology, the mix is all based on the authors who write for it. For readers looking for these types of stories, I think it’s worth a gander and will be satisfying.

War and Peace and Brotherhood by DK Jernigan
3.5 stars
This story has many interesting elements in the plot, from the human evolution/disease conflict, the way it’s passed on, and the two brothers stuck in the center. I like the plot of this more than the sex between the two characters, and I like how Jernigan approaches and develops the two to what eventually happens in the end. Some parts of the conclusion feel unnecessarily rushed (or added and then rushed), but overall a satisfying read.

Analgesia by Alisha Steele
4 stars
One brother returns home, per his mother’s request, after being on tour with his band and the younger brother struggles to deal, as the last time they were really together, the older brother punched him in the face. Although the plot conventions aren’t fresh, the writing and eroticism of the characters work well together and made a strong dynamic as the two men come together. The two characters have a nice playful power struggle, and although the bits about analgesic and antiseptic seems a bit out of left field, the banter showed their relationship and kept the story light, sexy, and sweet.

Depression, Love, and Swimming Pools by Leigh Wilder
3 stars
While this story is grounded in reality, it has some elements that make it somewhat surreal. The role of stories and characters (and actors) play is an important theme throughout and creates an almost story within a story feel. The somewhat overly dramatic actions of the characters are odd, but fitting for the people and the environment they were raised in. This story may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s worth a read.

On Clouds of Obsession Azalea Moone
2 stars
I had difficulty relating to the two main characters, who were very hot and cold to one another, and the events that unfolded just seemed a little strange. Matters were raised that didn’t really seem important and the whole impetus felt contrived. Although this story dealt the most with the realism of two brothers being together, it also resolved many of the issues too quickly.

On the Edge by SL Armstrong and K Piet
4.5 stars
Wow. This is a very powerful story that rips the heart out, holds it in the air a few seconds, then shoves it back in. It dissects the psychological aspects of incest for one of the partners and really looks at it how such a relationship would have to be handled in reality. I love how the characters struggle with one another and their emotions and how they handle their falling out and everything that comes after. It had my heart clenching in my chest.

Requested this book for review.


It's all classy...

More movie reviews! Also some TV series. And an amazing lack of gay :)
Also, apologies for the screwed up layout. Blogger is a useless POS now. *sigh*

Downton Abbey, season 1 - Exposing the snobbery, backbiting and machinations of a disappearing class system, this series chronicles the comings and goings of the upper-crust Crawley family and their assorted servants.

(rent) This is an enjoyable show with lots of drama. The acting is good, the set and costumes are amazing and gorgeous and while I enjoyed watching it, I don’t see myself continuing on. The majority of the drama is too much for me, which just makes me want to smack some people around, but I realize that’s definitely personal preference. If you want the equivalent of an excellent soap opera (aka, drama with better plots, good acting, etc), then definitely check this out.

The Maltese Falcon - Humphrey Bogart stars as private eye Sam Spade in this Oscar-nominated noir classic that finds the sultry Miss Wonderly (Mary Astor) seeking out protection from a man named Thursby. Spade's partner (Jerome Cowan) takes the case -- but he winds up dead, along with Thursby. Spade's subsequent hunt for the killer leads him into a world of deception and double-crossing, as a trio of criminals searches for a priceless statue known as the Maltese Falcon.

(rent) Whether you rent or buy will really depend on how you view old classics. There is a lot to be said for this movie, it has a well-done and interesting plot and some funny characters. The acting is super dramatic, especially the leading woman, which made me snicker. Still, there were many interesting elements that were entertaining, and I adored the secretary, although I didn’t think much of her boss, although he redeems himself a little by the end.

Coupling, season 1 - Six neurotic, sex-obsessed thirtysomethings share pointed barbs, romantic musings, relationship advice and (occasionally) passion in this award-winning British comedy that features a strong ensemble cast.

(rent) I picked this up on a friend’s recommendation, and while it had moments of being pretty damn funny, overall I was unimpressed. While the technical aspects were all good, the plots and stories weren’t terribly funny, they were heavily based around male and female stereotypes, and generally I wasn’t amused. It was offensive to men and women, and while I can get much of the humor, a large part of me wasn’t amused. Because how hard is it to make jokes about stereotypes? Yes, I laughed at some of these, but it was mostly the event-based humor that I found more worthwhile. If you like basic “men are horny, stupid, pigs and women are sneaky, plotting gossips”, then you’ll probably like this.

One blurb compares it to Friends with more sex jokes and overtones, and it seems like a fair comparison.

The Book of Eli - Determined to salvage a sacred text in order to protect humanity, Eli (Denzel 
Washington) goes on a quest across the country in this action-packed sci-fi adventure. Meanwhile, a blind woman named Claudia (Jennifer Beals) tries to protect her daughter, Solara (Mila Kunis). It seems that tyrannical town bully Carnegie (Gary Oldman) has taken a shine to the girl. Directed by the Hughes brothers, the film co-stars Ray Stevenson.

(rent) An enjoyable story with heavy religious undertones that didn’t overwhelm or detract from the tale. Interesting characters, simple but well-formed plot, and excellent acting makes this a good watch, although it’s not something I’d feel the need to watch more than once.
 Bridesmaids - Named her best friend's maid of honor, down-on-her-luck Annie's competition with a fellow bridesmaid, the wealthy and beautiful Helen, threatens to destroy the wedding. Meanwhile, a local cop takes a liking to Annie.

(rent) An enjoyable chick flick that has some good and bad points. One of my favorite things about this movie is that all the pairings aren’t super-sexy. In fact, the lead male is goofy and, while not ugly, not the typical sexy male lead. The main character and the story are relatable, and while the tale isn’t riveting, it does have a strong emotional story. Much of the humor is mediocre and some parts lost my interest completely. Definitely a different kind of chick flick.


Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
Stars: 2/5

Length: 362 pages
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.


While I can see many of the elements that have made this novel popular among the masses, there were too many negatives for me to continue reading. I got slightly over half-way before I finally gave up—and I wasn't even reading. I was listening to the audiobook. I thought the readers were pretty good (although I was surprised there was more than one) despite making some choices that I thought were odd (although may have fit with the book).

For anyone interested, I'd recommend picking it up at the library (most libraries have hard copies, ebooks, and audiobooks). Overall, it uses many of the same ploys that Twilight did while amping up the sex. I found the plot to be weak, Ana to be even weaker, and much of the sex allure to be awkward, although this could mainly stem from Ana's narration.

My main impetus for reading this book was the massive amounts of "It does BDSM wrong" that I heard. Sadly, at 56% through the book, the amount of BDSM is minimal (light bondage, sir-calling, and the beginnings of orgasm denial). So I can't even report on that. It makes me sad, since that was the main reason I borrowed the book from the library!

I went in with low expectations, so it was surprising that instead of achieving them (because they were so low), the story's first chapter proves to be horrifically obnoxious and constructs a flimsy premise. Ana meets Christian because she's interviewing him for the school paper. Now, she doesn't work for the school paper (in fact, shows no inclination toward journalism), but her roommate (editor of the school paper) is a super journalist major who has harassed Christian into giving this interview. Sadly she came down with the flu, so can't do it!

Ignoring the fact that her friend Kat didn't seem nearly sick enough to beg out of a once in a lifetime opportunity (which seems kind of vital, but hey, I pass on huge opportunities because of the sniffles all the time)--I'm sorry, where was I? Oh yes, so Kat can't make it, so she asked Ana to go, despite Ana's protests, lack of experience, and excuses (she has work and finals coming up, and a paper to write? I can't remember). Despite the fact that Ana is totally unqualified and Kat would know other, more-qualified people (like the rest of the school paper staff or the incoming school paper editor), Kat has badgered Ana into going. Completely reasonable. Or not. Whichever.

In addition, Ana does not make a good first impression as she complains that her friend got the flu (how dare she!) and later complains about how gorgeous Kat is with all her curves (unlike Ana who is skinny and pale). Bella had similar complaints about her own appearances, but she came across less bitchy, especially since Ana borrows Kat's clothes multiple times in the book, so they obviously can't be that different in size.

That minor issue aside, Christian is of course immediately drawn to Ana (for reasons I can't fathom) and Ana to him, at least physically. She doesn't like him, think he's self-centered, bossy, and cold. But he's the first guy to get her blood pumping, so she acts like an idiot (at least mentally) every time she sees him. He stalks her (like ya do) until she is overwhelmed and agrees to go on a date. Or something. Paperwork may have been involved.

By this part, Christian hasn't done much to really bother me. Okay, the stalking was a bit weird, but I can definitely understand it, considering the book's origins. But the stalking is the worst thing he's done by this point. He tells Ana repeatedly that he doesn't have girlfriends, just casual fucks, and that she's too innocent for him and she should stay away. Of course, he has no self control and can't seem to stay away from her. Kind of a hypocrite.

There is a lot of mystery to Christian, and I'm not sure how much is explained, but it was the most interesting part for me. He has food issues, touch issues, and was in a BDSM relationship very early in life with an older woman. I'm interested in him psychologically. I'm not saying he does things right later in the book, but he's fairly honest with Ana (as far as I can tell), and besides being a stalker, he's kind of fun.

Ana, on the other hand, has a huge double standard (aka, “why does Christian get upset about answering personal questions?” that Ana was just complaining about having to answer), has lived in a bubble for the past 21 years (which I find ridiculously implausible), and just makes me want to smack her upside the head. Hard. (To which she'd respond, "Oh my, oh shit, or oh fuck" depending on the level of sex involved.) She's Bella, made more virginal and somewhat dumber. Finally, my biggest issue is when she walks out on Christian after they've finished discussing the roles of a Submissive, and she's thinking about how she doesn't want to do it, and how dare he, and he did warn her, after all.

And then she thinks about what he said ("I've never known anything but this). And she thinks "Well, I've never known anything but this too" (although she hasn't really even begun to know) and so makes the grand conclusion that they "can learn new ways together."

AKA, I am going to change him and teach him to love.

Oh, and I forgot to mention she has multiple personality disorder. She has "An Inner Goddess," "A Conscience," and herself. These each have very different thoughts and feelings on things, individual reactions, and unique personalities. Don't get me started. She might want to get that checked out.

For people without delicate palates (aka, well-written isn't necessary in books) and those who have no experience with sexy sex and BDSM, this may be an enjoyable read. I can't really recommend it aside from loaning it out from the library.