Thursday, April 17, 2014

Weekend Entertainment Recs for Seniors & Others

Novel: World War Z by Max Brooks
prepared to hate this but loved it!

I was enthralled by this book and mainly because i have always been a huge fan of WWII fiction. This too is a world war book and handles its subject matter exactly as if the third world war is against zombies. I kept telling myself the whole thing was preposterous but the author does such an excellent job of relating an oral history from everyone who fought it and survived it that I couldn't put it down. The tactics the allies had to develop against WWZ were absolutely ingenious. I loved the canine corp used with the soldiers. I loved the scenes where they had to deal with zombies in the oceans, lakes and rivers plus in the snow. They actually clung to the lid of a nuclear submarine as it surfaced! If like me you love historical war fiction, you will love this book. If you have seen the movie, the two are substantially different. The movie is good. The book is a work of art.


The author, Max Brooks, is the only child of Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks. Although Max won awards and acclaim as a writer for Saturday Night Live, that work was wholly eclipsed by this novel. He is now a cult campus figure and his talks on college campuses are jam packed. He wrote the novel while two life and death events were taking place in his life. His newly born son was just clinging to life in the hospital after a difficult birth while his mother was dying of cancer in another hospital, also in New York City. His father Mel Brooks remained at her bedside. Max Brooks wrote the entire book at his son's bedside. His son lived but his mother died. The book's theme of fighting for your life against a world wide attack of crazed Zombies couldn't have been more apropos.



This book is available at iTunes, Amazon's Kindle Store or Audible for immediate downloading, reading and listening. This is my review as an Amazon top reviewer. My other reviews are here.
Film: Two Lovers

Joaquin Phoenix is one hell of an actor.  He steals the thunder from everyone in this film. He dominates it from the first scene and never lets go. 
Gwyneth Paltrow is one of his two female costars. If you dislike Paltrow as a person, and many do, have no fear, her role here casts her as someone you will hate! Win-win!

He plays the Jewish son of a mom and pop business operation which has another mom and pop as a partner. His parents and the partner start pushing this young woman for him as a highly desirable wife. She comes across as a very good match for him since he plays his guy as no charismatic ball of fire. He plays him as an ok guy but no one you'd be dying to date much less marry. (Phoenix has played the opposite with equal effectiveness, exuding charisma and sexuality, again showing how good his acting chops really are).

Now here come the wrench. Gwyneth Paltrow appears and she is clearly above his touch. She is involved with an older, married professor. She is also a complete flake. You just know, if you aren't someone who is smitten with her, that she is nothing but trouble. She vacillates constantly over what she wants and flits around from interest to interest. I doubt you'd want her as a friend. So, of course, Phoenix falls for her like the proverbial ton of bricks.

To say anymore would ruin the plot. I thought it was a terrific film with an unusual plot line. It was focused, tight, well scripted and brilliantly acted.

This film is available at iTunes or Amazon Instant Video for immediate viewing. This is my review as an Amazon top reviewer. My other reviews are here.


  



TV: Endeavour
Morse returns!

I watched all of the Inspector Morse episodes and also read the novels. Little was I expecting that he would be resurrected for UK tv as a much younger man, at the start of his career. And I certainly wasn't expecting to like it as much or more than the original series! But indeed i do. This is absolutely first rate in every single episode. Shaun Evans is wonderful as young Morse. The series is called Endeavour because that is Morse's first name.  He hates it so signs everything E. Morse.


A smart decision they made was to make his mentor, detective Thursday, every bit as fascinating as Morse. This part is played by one of my very favorite actors from The Thick Of It, Roger Allam. Allam played Peter on that show and his deadpan humor was priceless. I can't imagine any better actor to play Morse's mentor. I enjoy Thursday much more than I ever enjoyed Lewis as Morse's partner.

Much like the UK show George Gently, this show also benefits by being set back in time, the sixties.

Each mystery is very complex and Morse brings to it all of his erudite abilities, which are wholly lacking by the rest of the force. No one lacks this ability more than the chief of the station, a man solely interested in the tried and true of old time police work.

If you have not watched this show yet and you are a fan of UK mysteries, you really need to start watching it now. 

This tv series is available at Netflix, iTunes or Amazon Instant Video for immediate viewing. This is my review as an Amazon top reviewer. My other reviews are here.




Music: Breakaway
Art Garfunkel 

Art Garfunkel was not the composing talent that Paul Simon was and is. However, he was and is the far superior singer. I loved this album back in 1975 and started listening to it again in this new century and loved it all over again. It is Garfunkel at his most romantic, lush best and he hits every song, every note, beautifully. "Lookin' For the Right One," and "I Believe When I Fall In Love" have always been exquisite favorites of mine but truly, every track is superb. I personally liked this album much better than the work done in the decade prior by the duo of Simon & Garfunkel. I don't listen to any of those songs by the duo now nor do I listen to Simon as a solo act.


This album is available at iTunes or the Amazon MP3 Store for immediate listening. This is my review as an Amazon top reviewer. My other reviews are here.


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