Monday, January 26, 2015

All Fall Down - Book Review

All Fall Down - Jennifer Weiner D+
Motherhood Interrupted

Published June 2014
Of the five Jennifer Weiner books I've read, All Fall Down has the most ambition and unfortunately is the most disappointing. I've never been the target audience for Weiner's novels, but I usually find something in her stories that speaks to me. In All Fall Down Allison Weiss is feeling the weight of the world- her marriage is flailing, her kid is annoying, her father has Alzheimer's, and the general stresses of being a middle-aged working mother and wife are piling up. She develops a dependency for prescription pain pills (initially prescribed for a legitimate back injury). The pills, and lots of them, become the only thing that alleviates her physical and mental pain. The pills get her through the hectic days and helps her cope (or not cope) with a deteriorating home life.

In real world, scenarios like these happen all the time... I get it. But here it feels like our protagonist spends the majority of the book whining that she doesn't have a problem. I understand her behavior was that of an addict in denial; yet, I still didn't care. Allison isn't an unlikeable character, but she's not particularly interesting or original. All Fall Down feels like a Lifetime Movie waiting to happen (not that there's anything wrong with that).

For more on All For Down, check out this video courtesy of HLN via youtube

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Year That Changed Everything (Book Review)

My Salinger Year - Joanna Rakoff B

Published June 2014
Truth be told, I didn't really know what My Salinger Year was about prior to  purchasing it. I loved the title,  liked the cover and noticed it was getting good reviews. I thought (or maybe hoped) it was about a tortured writer living a Salinger-like year in seclusion- reading, writing and maybe even shacking up with a young lover. After the first few pages I wasn't sure if I was feelin' it. I liked Rakoff right away, but I was afraid her story was going to be pedestrian and predictable- she gets a job at "The Agency," gets discovered, and meets J.D. Salinger from whom she would learn some big life/writing lesson. However, Rakoff's story proved to be more vital and more heartfelt than I first thought. My Salinger Year is quietly charming and poignant. It is a memoir about life, about books and how each influences the other. It is a slow burn with a lasting effect.

Want to know more? Check out this youtube video about My Salinger Year courtesy of Knopf Doubleday   

Monday, January 19, 2015

Whiplash - Movie Review

Whiplash (R) 107 mins A
Getting Greatness Right?

Starring: Miles Teller, J. K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang, Max Kasch and Damon Gupton

This film made me want to be great at something... anything. If you don't mind a little cursing, okay a lot of cursing, run don't walk to see this brilliant film directed by Damien Chazelle. Chazelle, who had done nothing I'd ever heard of prior to Whiplash, was apparently inspired by his own miserable band experience during high school. This is undoubtedly one of the best films of 2014.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Foxcatcher - Movie Review (Plus a bonus review of Skeleton Twins)

Foxcatcher (R) 129 mins B-
Dark, Intriguing, and Hard to Swallow

If you don't remember how this true crime story unfolded in the 1980s that's okay. I didn't remember and the ending took me by surprise... Not to mention everything that allegedly led up to the tragic end. You don't have to be a fan of wrestling to enjoy Foxcatcher,, but it might help. As intriguing and well-acted as this film is, it still feels a little slow and a little flat.

Skeleton Twins (R) 93 minutes B+
Life in the Suicide Ranks

Sad sack siblings reunite with liberating results. This is not a comedy, but it's funny mixed with sad mixed with harsh reality. Skeleton Twins is quietly one of the most understated films of the year.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Movie Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel (R) 100 mins B
Enchanted Hotel

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Murray.

It's interesting that this madcap Wes Anderson film is receiving so much acclaim when Rushmore, The Squid and the Whale (producer) and Moonrise Kingdom were all be better films. That being said, The Grand Budapest Hotel is highly original and entertaining, it's definitely worth seeing.