Tag Archives: review

5*; Baby Driver (2017)

This was on the verge of being the “Black Panther” of chase-scene movies. Panther (link to my review) was a genre-buster this year as contemporary sci-fi/fantasy I actually liked. “Baby” begins with a typical Hollywood out-of-control chase. I could have dropped it at the curb after ten minutes — especially with five of those minutes showing film credits. Yet the music and the vibe seemed promising so I stayed long enough for a story and characters to develop, which they did.

Inevitably, the story’s plausibility plummets like a car off a cliff (and before we’re done, the car does indeed cascade off the proverbial urban cliff). Of all the coffee houses in Atlanta, they descend upon that particular diner in a Casablanca gin-joint way. Shotgun blasts delivered at close range are only temporary in a cartoonish Road Runner harkening. Then comes the Fatal Attraction element, and I am checking how much time remains; thankfully it’s a show well under two hours. Alas, a film with creativity and intrigue becomes a mash-up of stolen scenes.

I was still in tune with this effort past the midway point. The soundtrack is a curated collection of classic and contemporary selections that carry scenes forward. A keen highlight was demonstrating that songs are both very personal and also connect people. I couldn’t always tell the good guys from the bad in advance of their actions. So it has positives but, oh, Baby drove me to distraction.

*(star) ratings are my own … 5*=Five stars (maximum 10 stars)

8*; The Women on the 6th Floor (2010)

An insightful French film (with subtitles). Those grand Parisian buildings project consistency on the outside. There are many different stories on the inside.

The family of Mr. Jean-Louis lives on a lower floor. Maids, his and others, live on the top floor. The two groups are far removed from each other’s lives in living conditions as well as language, culture, habits, backgrounds, and more.

Like the building, Jean-Louis has a predictable exterior drawn from his grandfather, father, work, family, and even the edifice itself. Inside him is something different. The women on the attic floor are a window to another world. The door leading to them is a passage.

Make a weekend watching “Wakefield” as well as “The Women on the 6th Floor” to escape the typical Hollywood shoot-ups and chase scenes for insight to people, portals, and personalities.

*(star) ratings are my own … 8*=Eight stars (maximum 10 stars)

7*; Wakefield (2016)

Bryan Cranston is actor, narrator, protagonist and antagonist. He dares to focus on a fleeting thought, the kind we all hear asking, “What if I …?” He double-dares to act on that thought, and then sustains the idea percolating in his head.

“What if” we acted on each impulse? Madness could ensue, perhaps resembling the image of Howard Wakefield, castaway in his garage attic. When we “come to our senses,” would the madness stop or would reentry to reality create even more insanity?

Make a weekend watching “The Women on the 6th Floor” as well as “Wakefield” to escape the typical Hollywood shoot-ups and chase scenes for insight to people, portals, and personalities.

*(star) ratings are my own; … 7*=Seven stars (maximum 10 stars)

Book Report: “Closing the Ring”

Winston Churchill’s Closing the Ring

  • DougInNC book report
  • “More than a Review”

Epic with a capital ‘E.’ You are there, in the moments that changed the world, peering out from inside the head of the peerless leader of Great Britain, Winston Churchill. Any review of this book should begin with the author’s name, not the title, because the source makes the material matter more.

“Closing the Ring” is a masterpiece for which my (lengthy) explanation is no substitute for the experience of reading the actual words by the actual man who lead the actual effort against Germany in World War II. If the size of the book is daunting, know that each chapter has its own table of contents so each topic can receive the focus the reader wishes to give it. Continue reading Book Report: “Closing the Ring”

Book Review: “The Murder of Sonny Liston …”

The Murder of Sonny Liston-by Shaun Assael

  • DougInNC book review

Author Assael delivers on two counts. The title suggests this is an investigative work, plus the pages pack a rich story as a complement. Pick your pleasure or appreciate both.

Most readers will pursue this work for the tale’s murder-mystery aspect. The depth and commitment to digging for facts are admirable. There is plenty of meat to chew, served in courses easily digested.

Will you be satiated, comprehending that Charles “Sonny” Liston might have met his fate at the hand of another, just as the writer suspects? The adventure ride to uncover his discoveries is worth the price of this ticket to the roller-coaster life of a legendary sports figure. Continue reading Book Review: “The Murder of Sonny Liston …”

Book Review: “a Smile in One Eye…”

a Smile in One Eye, a Tear in the Other -by Ralph Webster

  • DougInNC book review

This work contains life. Author Ralph Webster puts the reader in the conversation of his father sharing day to day existence in Germany during the rise of Hitler. It is about making-do and the makings of history, about minutiae as well as major moments.

  • (a day in the life) “Certain events are remembered for a lifetime. … Father’s fiftieth birthday in 1931 was one of those times.”
  • (a historical turning point) “… the events of 1933 sowed the seeds that fundamentally changed our future.”

Hear the history and learn from it. By the 1930s one’s world was not contained by borders, perhaps something World War I delivered in an unkind way. Germany was not just connected to Europe, but now to America, Palestine, and even China. Fleeing did not mean simply crossing one border, making one excursion, or finishing one move. Continue reading Book Review: “a Smile in One Eye…”

Waitress -Musical by Sara Bareilles

Why see it:

  • Tender story
  • More engaging live than on film

Waitress delivers a wonderful story. It is dramatic, touching, clever, original, and surprising. It transitions well from film to live action. But why, oh why, is this a musical? Nothing is enhanced by mixing tunes into this good drama.

Dare I be critical? What would the creative team say? Perhaps one would answer via song, or Sara-nade me:

  • “Say what you wanna say
  • And let the words fall out
  • Honestly I wanna see you be brave.”

Continue reading Waitress -Musical by Sara Bareilles