A place for FF's to write and read brief reviews of books and films for the benefit of other FF's.

A place for FF's to write and read brief reviews of books and films for the benefit of other FF's.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brave New World (1932)

I don't recommend reading this after high school. What seemed eerie and cautionary at 16 reads like completely anachronistic farce at 32. They say "Oh Ford" instead of "Oh God."

Although this book gets lumped in with 1984, Orwell's future is much bleaker. Brave New World is somewhat ambivalent about its future vision, as everyone ends up pretty happy and society is stable. Things don't turn out well for the one sorry dude who likes Shakespeare and hates bliss. And they even ship off the independently-minded, cool kids to island communes. That sounds like magnet schooling.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Young Lonigan (1932)

Young Lonigan is the first book in James T. Farrell's "Studs Lonigan Trilogy" — a relatively minor work that is clinging to its bottom half place in the "Best American Novels" canon.

The first volume is only about 140 pages and follows a teenage Studs graduating from Catholic school and spending his summer going increasingly juvie as a reaction against his well-meaning parenting and a masked rage against falling in love with a girl.

Young Lonigan kinda works as a scrappy tale of Chicago in the 20s, with nice slang like "everything's jake." It feels like it must have established this "genre" of juvie kids out on the Chicago sidewalks. (I would be convinced Harmony Korine took his inspiration for KIDS from Farrell if I thought for a second that Korine was really into reading the Modern Library's 100 Greatest Novels and not vomiting into the Modern Library's 100 Greatest Novels.)

But the first book alone doesn't feel substantial enough to warrant your attention. I suspect that the shit gets good in the 2nd or 3rd installments, and if you buy a modern version of this book, all three are included in one volume. I will read on and let you know.

One additional note: There is a brutal chapter towards the end of the Irish no-goods bullying the hood's Jewish kids. Farrell clearly felt bad about this, though and suddenly invents a Jewish protagonist for the next chapter who calls the Irish idiots and waxes poetically about the genius of Jews.

Bad Teacher, 2011

Bad Teacher was good for some laughs, but I am here to weblog about my moviegoing experience.

I saw Bad Teacher at the Los Feliz 3. If you haven't been to the Los Feliz 3, its defining feature is an upward-sloping floor (basically the opposite of stadium seating). At the Los Feliz 3, trends get bucked. Anyway, I'm alone in the mostly empty theater (Carrie has gone to the bathroom) when a 70ish-year-old man approaches. "Best seat in the house," he says, easing himself into the chair next to mine. "Is that yours?" (He is pointing at Carrie's purse.) I tell him no, pretty curtly, because a) the guy is shattering all kinds of personal-space rules and b) he has one of those smells that isn't all that bad, but it's so strong, you know it must be masking something truly heinous. Unfazed, the old man takes out his cell phone and starts telling someone, in excruciating detail, about his recent difficulties with uncontrollable foot bleeding. By now Carrie has returned and is very much enjoying my predicament. Just before the lights go down, a not unattractive middle-aged woman slides into the theater's only remaining seat, on the other side of the old man. "I have to go," he says. "A blonde just sat down next to me." He proceeds to hit on this woman for the entirety of the previews and most of the movie itself. Finally, during the closing credits (Carrie and I remain glued to our seats), he requests -- and is given -- her phone number.

Bad Teacher: B
Moviegoing Experience: A+

The Imperfectionists, update

Liked it! Sort of similar to Goon Squad in a way. Keep up the great work.

Commando, 1985

Arnold Schwarzenegger's character, John Matrix, has a great relationship with his daughter, Jenny, played by a young Alyssa Milano. They fish, hunt, swim in a river, chop wood, and feed deer out of the palms of their hands. But then a guy kidnaps the daughter so that John Matrix will kill a South American president or something, and so Matrix kills hundreds of people, with the help of a woman he meets at the airport who laughs in the face of death, because she is some kind of secret psychopath. Here's what you will enjoy:

-the steel drum loop that is the soundtrack
-John Matrix reading a map
-John Matrix getting out of a bi-plane in a speedo so he can row a bunch of guns to shore and then put his clothes back on
-the special effects
-the fake mustaches
-how slow John Matrix runs while hundreds of men shoot at him
-the opening montage of Matrix with his daughter, Jenny
-the awesome bad guy with the chain mail, who, though he has thin arms and a potbelly, believes he is the only man as strong as John Matrix
-a shopping mall policed by over fifty mall cops

I wish this movie had come out after the Matrix.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

X-Men: First Class, 2011

Pretty good for an X-Men movie. Up to you if you want to stay through the credits like Jack and I did. There is no extra footage, but it's fun to see people's names.

Manhunt, by James L. Swanson

This is the story of the 12 day manhunt to capture John Wilkes Booth. Not the most interesting writing style, but very clear and informative. Swanson describes but does not fall prey to Booth's charisma, and portrays him as a delusional egotist who makes a number of bumbling errors. The descriptions of the assassinations of Lincoln and Seward, and the night that follows, are the highlights of the book—Swanson gives a real sense of the mood and place. One thing that was fascinating was how aware everyone present seemed to be of their place in history. At every major event from the assassination in Ford's Theater to the killing of Booth, onlookers are grabbing bits of bloody cloth, locks of hair, coins in a pocket—anything historically significant that they can get their hands on. Did anyone see that movie The Conspirator that came out this year? I haven't seen it, but it is about this kind of junk.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Way Some People Die, by Ross Macdonald

The story follows P.I., Lew Archer, as he tracks down a missing girl, and deals with gangsters, drug dealers, failed actors, and the police in the process. While I didn't ever feel any real urgency or suspense, the characters were all well-described and unique, with some enjoyable, weird details. One doesn't get a real sense of who Lew Archer is, or how he differs from Chandler's Phillip Marlowe character, though it's hard to judge a series from one book. Similarly, there are some Chandler books that are more interesting in terms of plot, but there are also some pretty sloppy ones. One good thing about this book is how pointy he says one lady's breasts are.

Hall Pass, 2011

This movie looks like it was written and filmed by high school kids. A couple of guys (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) are attracted to women other than their hot wives. What should the wives do about this? is the question the wives ask their best friend, Psychologist of the Year award winner, Joy Behar. I do not know how they all became friends with each other, but they are, and it is a good thing too, because Joy Behar tells the wives that they should give their husbands a "Hall Pass" which means the husbands can have sex with other people for a week. Owen Wilson gets it first, but then Sudeikis gets one also because the police catch him masturbating in his car. Anyway, the guys spend a week eating at chain restaurants and somehow the wives end up hanging out with a minor league baseball team in Cape Cod? I was pretty drunk when I watched the first half of this. One of the wives' dad introduces her to a handsome older gentleman, I guess for the purpose of boning. There is also a scene where a lady shits on a wall and another scene where you see two guys' different sized dicks. Don't forget to wait through the credits - there is an extra scene that is equally good to all the other scenes in the movie.

No stars!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Concrete Blonde, by Michael Connelly

My dad has been a big Michael Connelly fan since the summer of 2009, when he rented a house up by Woodrow Wilson Drive. As is so often the case with rental houses, the bookshelves were filled with trashy mystery novels. Michael Connelly particularly interested my dad because his recurring main character, LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, also lives in a house up by Woodrow Wilson Drive. At the end of that summer, my dad left The Concrete Blonde on my own bookshelf, and this week I finally decided to give it a try.

Here are some excerpts:

"That's extortion," Cerrone said.
"No asshole, that's justice."
(end of Chapter 12)

"That's justice," she said, nodding at the statue. "She doesn't hear you. She doesn't see you. She can't feel you and won't speak to you. Justice, Detective Bosch, is just a concrete blonde."
(end of Chapter 15)

"What's happening, Lieutenant?" the homeless man asked.
"Justice is happening."
(end of Chapter 17)

The point is, I just downloaded another Harry Bosch novel, which I plan to listen to immediately. No one else should read The Concrete Blonde except, obviously, Strach.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Idea for a way to rate movies

# of times you checked your phone while watching at home.

My Left Foot: 5. (I liked it though).

Ross Macdonald

O.K., Hely, I have picked "The Way Some People Die" for our Ross Macdonald book club. I chose it because it was the only Ross Macdonald book at my local Barnes & Noble. I am reading some other books right now, so it's cool with me if we don't start right away.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bridesmaids, 2011

It's funny! Go for it!

Too Big to Fail, 2011

I listened to the HBO original movie "Too Big To Fail" last Tuesday. It made Hank Paulsen look more compassionate than I imagine he is and it made Richard Fuld, the chairman of Lehman Bros. played by James Woods, look like a crazy idiot asshole who maybe could have prevented the economy from crashing so hard if he had accepted a loan from Warren Buffet. Do you know why he didn't accept the loan? He thought he was too big to fail. There is a lesson in that for all of us.

If you know a lot about the financial crisis, this won't shed a lot of light on it. If you don't know much about the financial crisis, this could serve as an accessible introduction to it.