Posts filed under ‘Movies’

My 2009 year-end movie reviews

These movie reviews have been sitting on my computer for quite a while now. I just thought that I’d share them with you before the year ends. Except for the first one, these are movies that I have seen this past summer.

(500) Days of Summer

My oldest son gave me this movie for Christmas. We watched it last night with his two brothers. It’s about this young man, Tom, (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who was also Tommy in the TV series Third Rock from the Sun) who fell in love with this girl, Summer (Zooey Deschanel), who doesn’t believe in labels and relationships. The movie tells us about the 500 days of their relationship, but not in chronological order. It’s a funny and sweet movie. And I think it was neat to watch it with my three boys. They all like it, even the youngest one, who’s only 11 going on 12.

Ballet Shoes

When I found out that the three primary cast of the Harry Potter movies also filmed other movies, I thought that it’d be nice to watch them play different roles.

The first one I rented was Ballet Shoes starring Emma Watson.

It’s a good family movie. Emma plays the oldest of three orphans raised as sisters, Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil. It is set in the 1930s and is based on a children’s book of the same title. Pauline wants to be an actor, Petrova wants to fly an airplane, Posy wants to be a ballerina because the only thing her real mother left her were a pair of ballet shoes. The film basically tells the viewers that “Dreams do come true.” I think young girls will enjoy watching this movie.

Driving Lessons

It’s nice to see Rupert Grint play a role other than Ron Weasley. In Driving Lessons he plays Ben. He works as a companion to an eccentric ex-actress, Evie, played by Julie Walters who plays her mum in HP. I didn’t recognize Julie Walters in this movie because she’s usually larger as Molly Weasley in the HP movies. Ben is a shy boy and has a strict Catholic upbringing, but after hanging out with Dame Evie that summer, he grew up and learned how to stand up for himself. This is a nice coming of age story.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a copy of December Boys anywhere here in Winnipeg. It’s the one that stars HP himself, Daniel Radcliffe.

Get Smart

I love Steve Carell. I think he’s a classy funny guy. I enjoyed watching this movie. The boys loved it too. In this movie, he works for a U.S. spy agency as an analyst but has wanted to and has been training to become one of the agents. An opportunity came for him and he got promoted as an agent and he was partnered with the famous Agent 99 who he didn’t know was this gorgeous agent played by Anne Hathaway. Cool spy agent devices. Kind of like James Bond, only funny.

Push

This Dakota Fanning starrer is an interesting sci-fi action thriller based on the writers’ assumptions that there are people working for the government that can see the future, as in psychics. Like how else would somebody know that some person is smuggling drugs at this place on that date? The characters in this movie have paranormal abilities, like telekinesis, psychic abilities, and even the ability to change the future. The scariest ones are the Bleeders. They have the ability to emit high-pitched sounds that cause anybody who can hear to burst blood vessels and eventually die.

Thirteen

Thirteen is co-written by Twilight’s Nikki Reed (Rosalie) and Catherine Hardwicke (director). Hardwicke also directed Thirteen, so please don’t judge her just based on the first Twilight movie. Thirteen is about Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) who was a sweet innocent 13-year old with pigtails at the start of the movie. But on her first day of junior high, she noticed how Evie (Nikki Reed), the hottest girl in school, is getting all the attention and she did all she could to be her friend. But Evie was a bad influence on sweet Tracy. Evie encourages Tracy to steal, have body piercings, tattoos, sex and drugs. Great performances from the actors, especially from Holly Hunter who plays Tracy’s mom. It was also interesting to see a very young and cute Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) as one of Tracy’s nicer friends.

Across the Universe

This musical film is a feast for the ears and eyes, especially if you like Beatles song. The main characters are named Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood, she’s all grown up). You must have already guessed why those names – Jude as in Hey Jude and Lucy as in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. It was set in the turbulent 60’s amidst the riots and the Vietnam war. The most memorable scene for me was when they sang Let It Be. I’ve heard for the first time some of the Beatles songs that I have never heard before. And I just fell in love with them.

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December 28, 2009 at 3:49 pm 5 comments

New Moon: My Movie Review

I watched New Moon with my girl friend this past weekend. We talk about the books that we read and the movies that we watch but this is the first time we ever went to the movies together. It was nice.

I like New Moon. And I love Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black. He’s cute, he’s hot and “he’s sort of beautiful.” 🙂 Now I find Taylor more appealing than Robert Pattinson. I apologize to Rob’s fans. Not that I don’t like him. But just look at the bulked up, dark and smiling Jacob and then turn to the pale, slender, and always brooding Edward Cullen. Don’t you just want to turn your eyes back to Jacob again?

Robert is a lot more good looking without the pale Edward make-up and the restrained look. I’ve seen him on The Ellen Degeneres Show and yes, I did find him appealing on that interview. He was smiling and laughing and he’s sort of humble. And I like that kind of personality in a person, celebrity or not.

In New Moon, Edward left Bella. Heartbroken, she turns to Jacob for comfort. The movie stayed pretty close to the book, although there were a few changes and they weren’t that bad. As usual, it’s exciting to see the characters that we’ve only read about in the books, like the werewolves and the Volturi.

The movie is better than Twilight, as I hoped it would be. I’ve read a movie review of New Moon where the critic had a problem with the acting. It was flat, he said. I don’t even know what that means. I’ll have to look it up. How are lovesick teenagers supposed to act anyway? The acting was okay for me.

The only thing that I wish they could have done better was the transformation of the werewolves. One second, Paul and Jacob are human, and the next, they’re werewolves. The special effects are great, but I just wish that they could have shown how they have transformed a little bit slowly so we could see maybe at least a close up of the face changing into that of a wolf’s. After all, this is the first time we see them transform.

But overall, I like New Moon. Can’t wait to see Eclipse. And did I hear it right? It’s going to be shown in June? Only seven more months.

Read my New Moon Book Review here.

November 24, 2009 at 6:01 pm 1 comment

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Confessions of a Shopaholic - book

My girl friend raved about Confessions of a Shopaholic and the others in the series a few years ago when she first read them. But I wasn’t interested in chick-lit back then so she wasn’t able to convince me to read them. Then they made a movie based on the book and I thought that it must be really good. So I thought I’d give it a try. Also, the book just came out in pocket size and it was on sale at Superstore. Besides, I thought that I could probably relate to the main character. Well, I’m not really a shopaholic, but Rebecca (Becky) Bloomwood was deep in debt, and so was I.

I have had a love-hate relationship with this series.

That’s probably because I sometimes see myself in Becky. First of all, she is a financial journalist. She tells people how to organize their money but there she is, accumulating all these Visa bills, unable to pay them, and she’s always trying to avoid her bank manager who has been constantly trying to get an appointment with her to settle her bank overdraft. How can I relate to that? Well, here I am with an accounting degree. Yes, I do know how to balance my bank accounts. And I’m supposed to be able to analyze my financial status. Well, I’m able to do that, too. I know how to analyze my financial status. And my analysis is that- it was in a bad state. I was deep in debt, I was barely making the minimum monthly payments, I didn’t know how to get out of the hole and I was so stressed out. But that will be another post. Today, we’re talking about the Shopaholic series.

The first book in the series, Confessions of a Shopaholic, introduces us to Rebecca (Becky) Bloomwood. It starts with a letter from Endwich Bank in London (that’s where Becky lives) congratulating her from recently graduating from university and offering her an overdraft account of 2,000 pounds. Now, shouldn’t one be offered such an account only after they get their first job, when they are already earning money? But, sadly to say, this is the reality that faces young people today. They don’t know any better and these bank companies are taking advantage of that. The second letter from Endwich Bank, which is dated two months later, informs Becky that she has exceeded her limit and her balance stands at over 3,000 pounds. In the third letter, we learn that Becky wasn’t able to get to the bank to discuss her financial situation because “she had broken her leg.” The reader will realize that that is just an excuse.

In Confessions of a Shopaholic, we are reading Becky’s thoughts. One thing that I like about it is that her thoughts are candid and honest and a lot of times funny. How many times have I also thought about something or someone that I dare not say out loud for fear of offending the other person or sounding rude? But if you just say it to yourself, it sounds funny. What I don’t like about Becky, and I know she means well, is that when she finds herself in a sticky situation, she tries to pretend she knows what she’s talking about instead of just fessing up. And then there’s also her debt situation. She’s accumulating these huge Visa bills, but she still keeps on shopping. She ignores her bills, hides them in her drawers and even throws out her letters from her bank and credit card companies. But of course, she couldn’t help it. She’s a shopaholic and she even describes what it feels like when she enters a shop. She lusts for things and she experiences a high, an exhilarating feeling, when she goes shopping. As I have mentioned a few times, I also experience some kind of high when I do my grocery shopping. 🙂

And so the reader is transported to Becky’s world as she tries to reason out her spending. Like how she thinks a bottle of wine is essential, or how buying a suit that was on sale – 30% off – is actually saving money. She did try to CB (cut back) and MMM (make more money), but when her efforts fail, she finds comfort in – shopping. And the cycle goes on and on.

Then a big story arises and the break that Becky’s waiting for finally comes. Becky realizes that there are people who think that she’s a joke and now she’s going to try her best to prove them wrong. She feels guilty about giving her neighbours a neglectful advice. She does a journalistic investigation and writes an explosive article.

But just when I thought that she had learned her lesson, there she is at the end of the story ordering sunglasses on TV. I was turned off by that.

I wasn’t so sure if I’d like to continue on reading the Shopaholic series and so I read different book. I really liked A Thousand Splendid Suns, but it has such a serious and heavy theme and I thought that I needed something easy and light to read next. So I went on ahead and read the next Shopaholic book.

shopaholic 2

In Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Becky goes to New York with her now boyfriend Luke Brandon. She had a few mishaps there but in the end, she sort of redeemed herself. So I like how this one ended. And I probably should have stopped with this book.

Shopaholic 3

But I went on reading the next book, Shopaholic Ties the Knot. What can I say? I sort of fell in love with Luke Brandon. Okay he’s a workaholic but I like the way he makes Becky feel. She feels so secured with him. But then again I realized that Becky’s addiction to shopping isn’t being cured by being with Luke. He’s wealthy, you know. He has his own PR company and Becky’s getting away with her shopping addiction because Luke’s got money.

shopaholic 4

I started to get impatient with Becky again but somehow, I just felt that I wanted to know what happens to Becky and Luke next. Now that Becky and Luke are married, I wanted to find out how a joint bank account will work. With Becky’s shopping, how will Luke react to all these expenses that will show up in their bank account? Also, I read in the back cover that in Shopaholic & Sister, Becky has found a long lost sister, but her sister hates shopping. But does having a thifty sister help Becky stop shopping? No need to tell you the answer.

shopaholic 5

Because there is a fifth book called, Shopaholic & Baby. And this is probably not much of a spoiler and a surprise, but Becky still loves shopping. And now, she’s not just shopping for herself, but for the baby as well. This is where I got really disappointed after reading the fifth book. Becky’s shopping addiction hasn’t been resolved. Unless, the author, Sophie Kinsella, is planning to write a final book where Becky will really finally wake up. And then it will be an inspiration to those shopaholics who are deep in debt and don’t have a wealthy spouse who can bail them out. Although, I wouldn’t need that book to inspire me because I have finally got out of debt, well, sort of. Maybe I will write about that to inspire others. Well, anyway, back to the book. The only redeeming part that I found in the fifth book (or final maybe?) is Luke’s answer to Venetia when she asked him why he married Becky, “this mindless consumer little girlie … All she cares about is her shopping, her clothes, and her girlfriends.

Luke said, “The first time I ever saw Becky Bloomwood, she was asking a bank marketing department why they didn’t produce checkbook covers in different colors. The next year, they did produce checkbook covers in different colors. Becky’s instincts match no one else’s…. Her mind goes to places no one else’s does…Yes, she shops. Yes, she does crazy things. But she makes me laugh. She makes me enjoy life. And I love her more than anything else in the world.

And then I realized those are exactly the reasons why I kept reading the Shopaholic books. I got sucked into Becky’s crazy world and she made me laugh. It was a great escape from my own crazy world. 🙂

confessions movie

Now, let’s talk about the movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic.

I had a huge problem when I watched the movie the first time. I shook my head a lot. They squished the first two books into one movie. There are a lot of changes and it seems at times like a totally different story that was just loosely based on the Shopaholic Series. First of all, Luke is the only one who’s British in this movie. Then the movie was totally set entirely in America, mostly in New York. For the most part of the movie, Luke is working at a company called Dantay-West and then he hires Rebecca Bloomwood as a journalist. In the book, Luke has owned his own PR company, Brandon Communications, since the beginning and Rebecca is working as a financial journalist in a different company, Successful Savings, not working for him.

I also had a problem with the casting. I think Isla Fisher fits the character of Becky Bloomwood, but other than that . . . Hugh Dancy is of course, British, so that was a plus. But I pictured Luke Brandon to be a much taller guy and someone who exudes confidence, and at the same time, charm. Yeah, there are a few scenes where I found Hugh Dancy charming. Let’s not take that away from him. And then, Becky’s parents – I think both John Goodman and Joan Cusack look much too young to be Becky’s parents. I have pictured them to be a lot older. They are both retired after all.

Elinor Sherman, Luke’s mother, was mentioned but didn’t appear in the movie. And what about Janice and Martin Webster? They are missing in the movie. They are very important characters in the first book. When Becky realized that they were tricked out of their investment, Becky investigated and exposed their bank. I also missed Becky and Luke’s debate on Good Morning Coffee. These are my two favourite parts in the first book and they didn’t make it to the movie.

Some of the changes that appeared in the movie:

Becky joins a Shopaholic Anonymous group. It doesn’t seem realistic. There’s no such thing, is there? But then again, maybe the producers included this in the movie in an attempt to solve Becky’s shopping addiction. But it didn’t work on Becky. Instead, she sort of influenced the people in the group to go shopping again, which was kind of funny, really.

Becky assumes the pseudonym of The Girl in the Green Scarf. I sort of like the idea, but why green scarf? It is some kind of blue in the book, and she fantasizes about herself as the Girl in the Denny & George Scarf, not the Girl in the Green Scarf. Why did they change it? Green doesn’t really go with most of the colors. I think they should have stuck with blue, which would easily match better with the other colors. I think.

Derek Smeath is portrayed as a mean guy. Okay, Becky’s told her parents that he was a stalker, but that was a lie. She actually got to know him personally and found him to be a nice person. She even referred to him as Sweetie Smeathie in the end.

I read the first book, Confessions of a Shopaholic a second time and also rented the movie a second time, because I wanted to write/finish these reviews. I now realize why the series became a bestseller. It’s smartly written and it’s funny and I think everybody, even those who are not shopaholics, can relate to Becky. And after watching the movie a second time, I realize it’s not that bad. But I still think they should have included Janice and Martin’s story there and made Derek Smeath a nicer guy.

I’ve read that the movie received mostly negative reviews. It came out at a time when the economy is down and there’s financial crisis everywhere. Not a good time to release a movie about shopping and wasting money.

October 10, 2009 at 11:40 pm 3 comments

On Buttons, Last Chances and Barcelona

200px-Benjamin_Button_poster[1]

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

“That’s sad,” said my 11-year old boy after we watched the 167 minute-long movie. I was surprised that he sat through the whole thing. My two older boys joined us only after the first few minutes. It’s a good family rated-PG movie. I enjoyed watching it with the boys, lots of life lessons to learn from.

Benjamin narrated at the beginning:

My name is Benjamin Button, and I was born under unusual circumstances. While everyone else was agin’, I was gettin’ younger… all alone.

The key word there is alone. I guess anybody has experienced that feeling of being alone at least a few times in their life. It’s not a good feeling. Although the movie has a sad ending, there are a few funny parts in between. The boys like especially when Mr. Daws would tell Benjamin, “Did I ever tell you I’ve been struck by lightning seven times?” And there would be a clip of how he was struck by lightning.

It was pretty cool to watch the earlier parts of the film when Brad Pitts’ character was old. We are so used to CGI Images now, how they make actors look older. Make-up artists do a pretty good job, too. But what I found amazing is how they made Pitt look like a young 23-year old. I don’t know, somehow, I find it freaky. Not the way he looked, but just knowing that he doesn’t really look like that now. It’s like they took that image from one of his older movies.

last chance harvey

Last Chance Harvey

It’s a charming love story, not the mushy kind. It’s about two older people having a late chance at love. Harvey is a divorced American who went to London to attend his daughter’s wedding. Kate works at the Heathrow airport. When they first met, he was rude to her. But on their second meeting, they warmed up to each other. They spent the next few days together and their quick friendship might lead to a possible romance. I was touched by Harvey’s speech at his daughter’s wedding. I can relate to what he said about how it must have been tough for his daughter to come from a broken home. It was a very moving speech.

Vicky cristina barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

This movie reminded me of Closer, but only this one is lighter. And unlike Closer, this one is not really about the lies. Relationships and emotions already tend to be complicated so why do people still get involved with people who are already involved with somebody else? In this movie, two women friends who have different views on love fall for the same guy. Vicky has a more conservative approach to love. She looks for a realistic and stable relationship. On the other hand, Cristina is willing to risk her feelings to find passion.

I find the narration weird. It sounded like the narrator is reading from a book, without any feelings at all. So unlike the narration from Desperate Housewives. Although Mary Alice doesn’t seem to tell the story with feelings either, there are changes in her intonation. But then again, Woody Allen must have intended for the narrator of this movie to tell the story like that.

I’m also wondering why the actress who played Vicky (Rebecca Hall) didn’t get, I think, a fair billing. After all the title is Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and the story is about Vicky and Cristina in Barcelona. If you see the billing, you’d think that it was Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson who play the title characters.

September 20, 2009 at 11:25 pm 2 comments

Doubt, Revolutionary Road, and Rachel Getting Married

Doubt

Doubt

“Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty. When you are lost, you are not alone,” says Father Flynn in his sermon.

That night, Sister Aloysius asks the other nuns at supper “Is Father Flynn in doubt? Is he concerned that someone else is in doubt?”

Have you ever doubted someone so much that you would go the extra length to try to prove that they’re guilty? Have you tried to convince people that someone did something inappropriate? But what if you’re wrong? How can you take back the gossip that you have spread? I like the way Father Flynn explained how gossips work in one of his sermons. It involves feathers from a pillow flying in the air and how one can’t gather up every last feather that flew up into the wind. That’s gossip, he says.

I like the story and what powerful acting from the cast. I especially enjoyed the confrontations between Father Flynn, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sister Aloysius, played by Meryl Streep.

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road

Here’s another movie in which I have a problem with the characters. But that just goes to show you how good the actors are because they were very convincing in playing their parts. (Is it just a coincidence that it also starts Kate Winslet? See my review of The Reader here.)

Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet played a 1950s couple, Frank and April Wheeler. They bought a house in the suburban after they got married. Later on, Frank got bored with his job and April was also bored being a stay-at-home mom and wife. She resented giving up her acting career. They were both unhappy not just with their own personal lives but also with their relationship. Then this big idea hit April. What if they move to Paris and she gets a secretarial job and Frank stays home until he finally realizes what his passion is? Like their friends, I think it was a very immature plan. And then something came up that made the plan more impractical. And I didn’t like the way one of the characters handled the situation. I wouldn’t have handled it the same way. And the ending – It was kind of disturbing for me.

I watched the deleted scenes in the Special Features of the Menu and I was just wondering why the director didn’t include the part where Leo was curled up in a fetal position on the sofa crying. I think that was a very powerful scene. That was my favourite part, and it didn’t make it to the final cut.

Memorable quotes:

April Wheeler: It takes backbone to lead the life you want, Frank.
—-
Frank Wheeler: Well I support you, don’t I? I work ten hours a day at a job I can’t stand!
April Wheeler: You don’t have to!
Frank Wheeler: But I have the backbone not to run away from my responsibilities!

rachel getting married

Rachel Getting Married

Anne Hathaway is great in this movie where she played Kym, a recovering drug addict. Kym went home that weekend to attend her sister Rachel’s wedding. Conflict and family tension followed. Did you know that recovering addicts usually want to be away from family right after getting out of rehab? So you can imagine the drama that went along with it. Rosemarie DeWitt, who played Rachel, is also great in it. So is Ms. Debra Winger, who played a small part as their distant mother.

I like the way they played the wedding march, very untraditional, played with drums and the electric guitar. I probably wouldn’t use it for my own wedding, but I like it. It’s different.

Memorable quote:

Kym: I am Shiva the destroyer, your harbinger of doom this evening.

August 3, 2009 at 12:59 pm 4 comments

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

astronomy tower

“Did you like it?” I asked my 11-year old son after we watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

“Yeah, it was okay,” he said.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I didn’t like some of the changes they made. I mean, I still like the movie.”

Yeah, it took me a while to decide whether I like it or not. Oh, no, don’t get me wrong. It’s always a treat to watch a Harry Potter novel come to life. But you see, I’ve just finished re-reading the book the day before we watched it. I actually read the entire book in only five days, quite a record for me. So the story was still very fresh in my mind. Although much of the movie stayed pretty close to the story, I noticed right away the differences, what wasn’t included and what was added that wasn’t there in the book. The new scenes, I didn’t care so much about them at first, but now that I’d have a bit of time to think about it, I think they give the viewers a sort of a different experience. So, yes, I like the movie.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of my favourite books in the HP Series. It is has a darker theme, just like the later instalments in the series, but it has some of the funniest moments of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and their friends. And that brought a balance of comedy and darkness, and I like that.

Spoilers Alert!

In the Half-Blood Prince, Harry and his friends are now 16 years old. Their hormones are raging. And they’re showing more of their rebelliousness towards Snape, especially, Harry and Ron, and I like the smart-ass answers they would throw at their most hated professor, which unfortunately didn’t make it to the movie. Also, their friendships are now developing into budding romance and you could tell who’s going to end up with whom in the end. Of course, the love potions make the story interesting and funny, too. 🙂

There were two match-ups that didn’t make to the movie though, that of Bill and Fleur, and Lupin and Tonks. The last two were seen together in the movie, but there was nothing much about them. I hope to see Bill and Fleur’s wedding in the final movie, not because I love the couple, but because there were a lot of important things that happened at that event. But where will the wedding take place now that the Burrows is gone?

“What’s your favourite part of the movie?” I asked my 11-year old son again.

“When Ron won the Quidditch. He saw that in the mirror of desire in the first movie,” he said.

“Oh, you mean the Mirror of Erised,” I said. I was surprised that he remembers that.

I have three favourite parts in the book and they were the ones I was looking forward to seeing in the movie.

First. Harry and Ginny’s first kiss. This is my most favourite part of the story. I’m sorry, maybe it’s because I’m a girl or it’s just the kind of thing that I like in stories the best. This is the part that I was looking forward to seeing the most. I really like the way it happened in the book. Harry wasn’t able to play in the Quidditch match against Ravenclaw because he was in detention with Snape. So he replaced himself with Ginny as Seeker. When he came back to the Gryffindor common room, he heard them celebrating for they have won. Ginny came running to him and she hugged him and he kissed her, there, in front of everybody. It was so spontaneous. And I like it. And then he sought Ron’s eyes and saw his best friend’s approval. I like that, too.

Sometimes I don’t mind when they make changes in the movie. But this is the one part which I wish they had not changed. The way it happened in the movie, it just seems that Ginny had it all planned. And I like it better to happen spontaneously. But that’s just me.

Second. The trip to the black lake and the cave. This is one of the parts that I vividly recall. I like the way it was interpreted in the movie. Although, the potion in the basin was supposed to be emerald liquid. It was a clear liquid in the movie. And even though I knew it was coming, I still jumped on my seat when the Inferius grabbed Harry’s arm. It was like watching a horror movie. Great special effects on the ring of fire.

Third. The scene at the Astronomy Tower. Harry was under Dumbledore’s orders to follow the professor’s instructions, not to question them and to just trust what he tells him to do. When they reached the tower, Dumbledore told Harry to fetch Snape. And then Draco showed up. In the book, Dumbledore Immobilised Harry while he was under the Invisibility Cloak. And that’s why when Snape came to do the deed that was tasked to Draco, Harry wasn’t able to save Dumbledore because he was powerless. Yes, in the movie, he was hiding and wasn’t immobilised, but it happened all so fast that he didn’t get a chance to save Dumbledore anyway. But I just thought, that with Dumbledore immobilising Harry, it would give the viewers something to think about. Because it was all part of the plan, wasn’t it?

Well, that was my initial reaction, until I read a blog that discussed this deviation from the book. Do fans like it better that Harry was powerless to save Dumbledore (book) or that he made the conscious choice to follow Dumbledore’s instructions (movie)? And then I thought about it. Snape was supposed to kill Dumbledore. Harry was to witness this and not be able to do anything about it. He now hates Snape more than he did before. Same thing as the book. In the movie, Harry didn’t feel guilty that he wasn’t able to save Dumbledore, he shouldn’t anyway, since he didn’t know Snape would do it and as I said, it happened all so fast. So the change didn’t really bother me that much. It just gave me a different experience of the scene.

The movie was two and a half hours long. As much as I’ve always enjoyed watching a Harry Potter movie, I think it was quite long. That’s probably why they decided to make the final movie into two parts. I’m sure they would want to include as much as possible there to please the fans, but yet not bore them by having to sit for more than two hours.

I noticed that Daniel Radcliffe has bulked up a bit, much more macho, as Ginny would say. 🙂 He said in an interview in a magazine that he likes to play his role more seriously. This movie is lighter. So he didn’t have a lot of the more serious scenes like he did in The Order of the Phoenix. Harry was angry a lot of times in that movie and Daniel’s acting was more intense in The Phoenix. In The Half-Blood Prince, he just got to be his charming self. 🙂 On the other hand, Ron’s character is the funniest. And I agree with what they say that Rupert’s got that comedic timing, or whatever you call it. Well, anyway, I think J.K. Rowling made this story lighter because the final one is the darkest of all the books, and that will probably require a lot more from the actors.

Just one more thing that I noticed, and this is after my 15-year old son, who hasn’t read the book, asked me. What does the Half-Blood Prince mean? I guess they forgot to elaborate on that in the movie. Snape revealed to Harry that he was the Half-Blood Prince, but it wasn’t explained that he called himself so because his mother was Eileen Prince, a wizard, and his father was Tobias Snape, a Muggle-born, making Snape a half-blood. Since the title of the movie is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, isn’t it an important bit of information that should have been included in the movie?

July 24, 2009 at 8:56 pm 2 comments

The Reader – A movie and book review

TheReadermovie

Here’s another movie that I have seen before reading the book. After watching the Academy Awards earlier this year, I started making a list of must-see movies this summer and The Reader made my list. It received several nominations and won quite a few awards. And the plot of a teen-aged boy having an affair with an older woman and then she mysteriously disappears intrigued me.

I rented the movie a few weeks ago. The story begins in the late 1950s in Berlin and 15-year old Michael Berg (David Kross) starts an affair with Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet), a woman in her mid-30s. Whenever Michael goes to her apartment, she will ask him to read to her his literary books before they make love. And yes, you must have guessed by now, she’s nude in the movie. Sometimes I wonder if it’s really necessary to have these nude scenes. I’m pretty sure it’s not. A good director and good actors (and Kate is one, she won awards for her portrayal of Hanna in the movie, didn’t she?) can tell a romantic story by forgoing the nude scenes. It has been done. And I’ve read somewhere that the movie has been criticized for including child pornography. Well, David Kross was still a teenager when he did the movie, but I also read somewhere that they waited for him to turn 18 before shooting the nude scenes. But what really bothers me in the movie is how the character of Hanna refused to reveal her secret and would rather serve a lifetime sentence in prison. But of course, I knew better that there is more to the story than what was portrayed in the movie.

thereaderbook

And that’s why I tried to get a copy of the book. I found one at another second-hand bookstore, The Book Fair, on Portage Avenue. And yes, I like the book better than the movie.

The book is an easy read even though the topic is quite heavy and emotional. This is another book that is beautifully written even in its simplicity. It was originally written in German by Bernhard Schlink and translated by Carol Brown Janeway. I think the translator did a very good job. So I wonder what made the book good, the author or the translator? Or maybe both. Anyway, it’s a very good novel.

After reading the first part of the book, I take back what I said earlier about the nude scenes. Yes, Michael talks about his physical relationship with Hanna, but I still think the nude scenes could have been limited and toned down a bit in the movie. Also, in the book, Michael explains to the reader how he is feeling at certain parts of the story. Yes, in the movie, I felt young Michael’s excitement as he starts his relationship with Hanna and later falls in love with her. And his pain when Hanna suddenly leaves and years later when he sees her again at the trial and he realizes that she committed a war crime. But I think the movie fails to let the audience understand (especially those who haven’t read the book) that Michael is in pain not just because Hanna, the woman he loved, committed a terrible crime, but that he’s also in pain because he feels guilty for falling in love with a woman who committed such crime even though she had committed the crime after their relationship was over.

Even in the later part of the movie, I didn’t feel the conflicts that Michael has within himself. I only understood them after reading the book. And Ralph Fiennes, who played the older Michael, is such a fine actor.

Could it be the director’s fault? Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just got distracted by the nude scenes and that nagging question after watching Hanna get sentenced for life. Is her secret really that shameful at that time that she would rather go to prison for life than reveal her secret? And unfortunately, the book didn’t answer that question either. But the title of the book is The Reader and it’s not really about Hanna, right?

My most favourite part of the book is when Michael talked to the prison warden in person. It almost brought me to tears when she explained to him how proud and happy Hanna was when she overcame ‘her secret’ and how Michael has helped her in doing that. Somehow that part of the movie didn’t have the same impact on me. But I’m going to stop here now before I reveal the secret and spill any more spoilers. 🙂

June 29, 2009 at 5:15 pm 9 comments

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