Monday, July 30, 2012

A Poet's Life (A Book Review)

Hot Teen Slut: Poems by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz B-

Publication: April 2011
Hot Teen Slut is the second collection of poems by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz. The book was originally published in 2001 and re-released in April of 2011 by Write Bloody Publishing. HTS is memoir-in-verse, a style that seemed a little awkward and dry initially. But, as the biographical story unfolded the poems grew increasingly engaging. At its core, HTS is more than a successful fusion of poetry and porn. It is an intriguing account of a young woman trying to make ends meet while trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy in the adult entertainment industry.

Fresh out of college, Aptowicz took a job writing and editing copy for a business. That business turned out to be pornography.  That experience spawned this collection. Her story is unique; more unique than the poems themselves. Nevertheless, here are a few of my favorites moments: Keeping It In Neutral, Signs Of A Daughter, The Box, The Christmas Party, Morning Date and On Getting An Email From A High School Girl Telling Me She Loves My Writing.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed - Movie Review

Safety Not Guaranteed (R) 86 minutes B+
The little indie that could

Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere and Kristen Bell

In this clever and funny independent film, a jaded magazine writer and two interns go in search of the person who placed a classified ad seeking a partner for time traveling.   What ensues is a story about growing up, growing old and becoming who you are.

The film won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award (Director: Colin Trevorrow, Screenwriter: Derek Connolly) at Sundance earlier this year.  I recommend catching this little gem if you can. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Rising Star at the Walnut ( A Concert Review)

Sarah Jarosz w/ Patrick Dethlefs @ The Walnut Room, July 25th 2012  B

A couple of friends, whose musical taste I trust, turned me on to Sarah Jarosz.  After seeing her live, I didn't have that overwhelming urge to rush out and buy her CD.  However, I was highly impressed and thoroughly entertained by her musical prowess.  The Grammy nominated 21 year-old plays a variety of instruments that include; banjo, guitar, octave mandolin and mandolin.  I expect to hear her name a lot in the coming years.  

As for her opener, Patrick Dethlef, he had a solid set.  With just his witty stage presence and an acoustic guitar, Dethlef sang pretty songs that the crowd loved, but were too safe for my liking.  Nevertheless, he too put on a good show, and is worth checking out if you get a chance.      

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ruby Sparks - Movie Review

Ruby Sparks (R) 104 minutes B+
Letting the Sparks Fly

Starring Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas and Chris Messina

Once I got past the whimsical premise of a writer falling in love with his own fictional creation, and that fictional creation coming to life in his apartment, I really liked this film.  It felt original and creative.  I usually like films about struggling writers who find their muse, but this film provides a whole new spin on that theme.  By the end, I found myself completely immersed in Ruby Sparks.  It is amazing how love can be so magical (in the beginning), yet derail so easily. 

I can see this becoming a minor sensation at the box office.  It reminded me of two other films, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich.  I actually liked this film more than the former, but less than the latter.  Ruby Sparks is an impressive script written by 28 year-old Zoe Kazan, who plays Ruby opposite her real life beau, Paul Dano.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

To Rome With Love - Movie Review

To Rome With Love (R) 112 minutes B-
Postcards From the Edge

Starring Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Ornella Muti, Alison Pill, Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig and Woody Allen

Last year's Midnight in Paris may have excited Woody Allen fans, and brought new ones into the fold.  But with To Rome with Love, Allen is back to his old tricks.  This is one will be easily forgotten a few years from now, yet it does have a certain charm and light-hearted appeal that makes it a wonderful summer excursion.

The film follows four stories with Rome acting as the centerpiece. The best of the bunch involves Sally (Gerwig), Jack (Eisenberg), Monica (Page) and John (Baldwin), in a familiar tale of "the heart wants what the heart wants," or so we think.  Sally and Jack have a solid relationship until Sally's friend Monica comes to Rome for a visit.  Monica is irresistible to Jack, while John tries to be the voice of reason.  

The other three stories include a sexy Penélope Cruz as a hooker.  Roberto Benigni famous for being famous, and Woody Allen, as Jerry, a retired opera director who discovers the the next big opera sensation.  Without giving too much else away, let's just say that ridiculous fun ensues.  To Rome with Love is a nicer film than some of his lesser appreciated current films- You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Whatever Works, and Melinda and Melinda, but it also lacks the edger moments of said films.  In his latest, I miss that little twinge of darkness lurking under the surface.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Wanting More From Marriage (A Book Review)

Publication Date: April 2012
An Amateur Marriage by Jessie Carty C

I really liked The Wait of Atom, Carty's 2009 poetry chapbook.  I love the cover of An Amateur Marriage, and I am intrigued by domestic poetry and fiction. But many of these poems just didn't evoke the level of emotion I was hoping for. That being said, my favorites were; "To the Boy in the Lobster Sweater," "Ars Poetica" and "First House, First Summer."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - Movie Review

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (R) 101 minutes C+
The end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Gillian Jacobs, Melanie Lynskey, Connie Britton, T.J. Miller, Rob Corddry and Derek Luke

Keira Knightley is a nice actress, but she just doesn't do it for me.  By this I mean, I have never seen her in a film in which she resonates above the material (your recommendations are welcomed).  She stars in one of my favorite films, 2003's Love Actually, but even there I tend to forget about her among all of the talented actors and actresses.  However, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World does boost her up a notch on the likability scale.  Here she is terminally cute and whimsical, the perfect remedy for a depressed Steve Carell, whose wife has recently left him. 

This film was a little different than I expected, the first quarter of it felt a little hokey.  But it got better, and the ending was strong.  Carell is very high on my likability scale.  This is not his best work, but he is good enough.  Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, this romantic dramedy is worth seeing.  Though, I recommend renting it, or catching it at your local second-run (discount) movie theater.