Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Review in Review

A smattering of sorts, really.

Dan in Real Life: We saw this this weekend at a sneak preview, and I have to say, it's one of those that became one of my instant favorites, up there with movies like Garden State, Children of Men, and Crash. Steve Carrell is, I think, perhaps the most gifted actor of the present day. He has an ability to convey extreme depth of character and emotion through facial expressions, and to make you forget you're watching Steve Carrell and get lost in the character he plays. Which is something rare, I think, among actors, and only present in those most talented. The story also is genuine, painful, and ultimately beautiful, and the family is the most real and positive portrayal of extended family relationships that I think I've ever seen. I highly recommend it. giving Four Seals of Approval, a couple of Enthusiastic Plaudits, with a healthy dose of Unabashed Praise.

A side note: I've heard it said that it's far easier to find negative things to say about something than positive, and it makes one sound smarter to do so. I read movie reviews with this in mind, and I think I'm becoming more and more adept at those reviewers who take the critic's easy road by trashing a movie with cheap shots. It's the critics who praise movies that should more often be listened to (although oftentimes only certain movies with the right political agendas are praised as "daring" or "cutting edge", when in fact it's quite the opposite) than those who pick apart a movie's weaknesses instead of acknowledging its strengths. As such, I endeavor to enter movies with a positive outlook. Which is something my wife might scoff at to hear, since I'm far pickier in my movie taste than she, but it's nonetheless true.

The Abortionist's Daughter: a book by Elizabeth Hyde, brief in length but rich in character. It's a murder mystery of sorts - a prominent abortion doctor is murdered, and there are multiple suspects for detectives to sort through. The book is less about the mystery, however, and more about the interactions of the characters in the wake of this woman's murder. It's an interesting book in that I think it fairly represents both sides of the abortion issue, creating characters on either side whose motivations are understandable and consistent. That's unique, I think it's fair to say. It's not often one comes across someone who even-handedly talks about such a volatile, emotional issue.

The Road: a book by Cormac McCarthy. It's a novel, but it reads like poetry. I picked this up in anticipation of the upcoming movie directed by the Coen Bros. based McCarthy's book No Country for Old Men. I am a little leery of reading books right before watching the movie version of them, simply because I usually end up disliking the movie because of the inadequacy of the adaptation. So I chose another book by the same author, and I was instantly hooked by his amazing sensory descriptions, unique word choice, and rich vocabulary. Blown away. It's a heart-rending story, too, about a man and his son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where the human race has turned to consuming itself for lack of other food. Hard to believe that with such subject material this book can be as beautiful as it is.

That's all I got.


  1. You enter movies positively?? I do scoff - a bit. Although I know you do try and you are much more willing to watch just about anything with me than the average man typically is, I think.
    You're good at writing reviews. You should write reviews. Maybe you should write something and send it into Relevant to see if you can get it published. :-D (not reviews but something else instead)

  2. I concur with your spouse on the writing observation. You are quite good at review writing, among other things. I also concur with your take on Dan In Real Life...I too consider it an instant favorite - similar to my reaction to Stranger Than Fiction. I must admit I have never seen Crash...perhaps I should rectify this...Don Cheadle is another very gifted actor who is also completely capable of immersing himself in a character. He can handle a powerful role such as in Hotel Rwanda, but with such subtlety that you don't even notice it's him. You should see Reign Over Me if you have not yet. I'm not sure I would call Carrell THE most gifted actor of the present day, but his facial expressions are beyond match. Wow, that was quite a ramble.