American Sniper – The Movie

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Just this weekend I had the opportunity to go and see American Sniper with my husband.  You may think that he picked the movie, but it was actually my pick.  I am not a fan of war movies, however this is a true story and an incredible one at that.  I want those of you who think like me that a war movie is a guy thing… let me just say not always.  Do not write this movie off.

The basic synopsis is that Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) has always been an overachiever.  When he sets his mind to do something he fully plans to do it right and go all the way.  When he joins the Navy Seals he does it because he wants to protect his country.

Before he leaves to be part of the war efforts on Iraq after 911, he meets his future wife Taya,(played by Sienna Miller).  They fall in love, get married and start a family.  While Taya is pregnant, Chris is fighting for his life and his country.

Chris in all does, 4 tours.  While this is the source of many arguments with his wife who feels he has given enough to his country and it was time for him to give to his family, Chris finds he can not let go.  As in his obsessive nature, he knows that he can save lives.  And he knows he can not do that form the comfort of his couch and home.

 

 

You may know the rest of the story.  In fact it is in the news right now.  It is a powerful story about love and loss and truly giving it all.  It honestly broke my heart.  The movie is about the war yes, but it is also about one man’s desire to save every life he can.  Chris Kyle becomes known as the deadliest sniper in America with 255 kills.

Yes you do see some graphic details of the war, yet coming from someone who is sensitive to things like that, the movie as a whole far out weighs that.

I highly recommend seeing this movie.  I recently purchased the audiobook and plan to listen to that soon.

 

 

 

 

Petals On The Wind – Movie Thoughts

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I grew up on VC Andrews books…. in fact last year, my first book of the year was the first book in this series, Flowers In The Attic.  I reread it because the movie was coming out and I wanted to have the story line fresh in my head.  Recently, I discovered that Petals On The Wind (the second book) was now a movie as well.  I rented it and …

~Sheila

To bring you up to speed… Flowers in the attic is about four children that are placed in the attic of their very rich grandparents home and kept there for two years due to their mother marrying a man who was practically her brother and the grandmother saying the children were the devil’s spawn. When the children’s father is killed in a car accident, the mother has no choice but to return to her childhood home which she hated, looking for help to survive.  The grandmother allows her to stay with stipulations, in order for the mother to get her inheritance, the now sickly grandfather was never to know that children were born of this union. The children must be kept hidden until the grandfather’s passing. Thus… the attic.

In the attic, are the two older siblings, Chris and Cathy (who are in their upper teenage years), and the twins Cory and Carrie, who are 5 when they enter the attic.  Basically, the over closeness of the children causes the two older siblings to become a little too close, and in the mother’s twisted obsession with her inheritance, she tries, and succeeds in poisoning one of her children, Cory dies at the age of 6.

Flash forward to the Grandfather dying, and the mother has now met a man who also has money and she has told him that she was unable to have children.  While the children are now to be set free of the attic, their mother has instead abandoned them to the care (ha ha) of their cruel grandmother.  The children finally escape out an attic window…

Ok…

In Petals On The Wind, now Chris and Cathy are adults living with their younger sibling Carrie (who is in her mid teens).  Chris is learning to be a doctor, and Cathy is performing in the ballet.  In the movie we are missing how they got from point A to point B, which is that they were discovered while on the run by a maid who took them to where she was employed and after the children shared their true story with her employer, he took them all in. He was a doctor, and put Chris in medical school, Cathy in ballet school, and Carrie in a private school. At the opening of this movie, the man who took them in has passed away.  There is much straying from the book at this point so from here I will go with the movie version…

Chris and Cathy are still very fond of each other, and while Chris does not want any other woman, Cathy knows she needs to move on from her improper love of her brother.  She meets a man in the ballet who promises her advancement, and she moves in with him.  Hurt, Chris meets a girl at the hospital he in interning at (his bosses daughter), and begins to date her.

Oh if only things could have remained that way…. Cathy finds herself in an abusive relationship as her new man in jealous and a drinker.  When her younger sister Carrie asks to move in with them, things get worse.  Chris meanwhile feeling pressured, has asked his girlfriend to marry him, although he knows he is still in love with his sister.

Think all that is twisted?  You haven’t heard nothin’ yet…

SO the movie.  I was impressed.  I have not reread this book so had little recollection of all the details of the book to go on.  (I read a synopsis today to remind me of the book, and then I picked up on all the differences between book and movie).  While it is not accurate to the book, it has the same bones.  I found myself totally engaged with the story line.  The acting was wonderful,  I actually found this movie to be better than Flowers In The Attic (although you really do need to watch both to get the full story).

I have to say I loved these books as a teenager but do not remember them being so uhhh…. graphic.  It is funny now to think that I read these books all those years ago when even by today’s standards they would be considered… risky.

I do recommend the movie to those of us who know the books.  I think they are a wonderful compliment to the original story and add a whole new twist of creepy when you see it played out on the screen.  If you have not read the book… I recommend them.  There are 5 books in the series and I do not recall if I went beyond the third, If There Be Thorns or not.  Perhaps someday I will need to look at this series again.

The Giver Movie Review (Tastes Like Divergent)

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Jonah lives in a society of contentment.  Emotions are a thing of the past and words like love, and emotions like tears do not exist.  Memories of the past do not exist.

When Jonah reaches the age of 16 he and his classmates now graduate and receive their positions in society – not like the sorting hat in Harry Potter (darn!) ( a little like what happens in Divergent except in The Giver they do not have a say as to where they will wind up).  Jonah is given the rare position of the Receiver, a highly regarded position only held by one person at a time and he becomes the holder of all the memories.

When Jonah experiences for the first time feelings and emotion and memories of what the past was like with happiness and love and dancing he is confused.  Why would this ever be blocked? As the Receiver, we is having the memories passed to him by (you guessed it…) The Giver.

The more Jonah sees what is missing from life the more dissatisfied he becomes with the ways things are.  He learns there is a boundary that surrounds the community that keeps everyone form their memories.  If Jonah can just get beyond the boundary with the memories he can release them back to everyone.  Of course, the powers that be do not want that to happen and will do everything they can to make sure it doesn’t.

 

I read the book, The Giver, for banned book week in 2012.  I enjoyed the book and I enjoyed the movie.  Its a scary scenario to think of a society that represses all memories and emotions for the sale of feeling well…

nothing.

Sorry but if pain is the price to pay to also feel happiness…

then I will take the pain.

 

Definitely worth seeing.

Maze Runner – Movie

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James Dashner’s book, The Maze Runner became a movie this year.  Way to go James!

 

All Thomas knows is that he wakes up in a world he is unfamiliar with.  He is surrounded by other male teens and is welcomed to the Glade.

The Glade?

The Glade, as he learns is a walled in community that protects the group from the Maze.  The Maze is a world of walls and changing routes and creatures that come after anyone who dares to go into the Maze.  Thomas learns that a box appears every 30 days with a male teen in it, Thomas is the latest arrival.  A few, called runners, go into the Maze during the daylight hours (safer than nightfall), looking for a way out of wherever they are.

As Thomas becomes familiar with the surroundings and engages with the other boys, things in the Maze start to change.  Some blame Thomas, saying he is not like them … and Thomas has no idea what that means, he knows as much as they do about The Glade and that is not much.

Then… another person arrives in The Glade.  The box is early… it has not been 30 days and this time it is not a male teen…

it is a girl.

And with her is a note, “This is the last one”.

 

 

I read The Maze Runner a couple of years ago after I met James Dashner in New York and found him to be delightfully funny.  I enjoyed the book very much, yet for some reason I never continued on with the series.  Now, after watching this movie, I will be pursuing the rest of the books… I am hungry to know more.

Author James Dashner and I - New York 2012
Author James Dashner and I – New York 2012

The Maze Runner movie is done very well.  I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed it.  Definitely recommend the book, the movie… and the author.  😉

Movie Review: Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Nighcrawler movie

My synopsis:  Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhall) is desperate for a job.  In a “rainman” style he becomes a bit overly obsessed with whatever he is pursuing.  ON his way home one evening he witnesses a car accident.  When he pulls over he is fascinated by the van that pulls up and takes footage of the accident.  When Lou inquires about what they do with the footage, the driver says that they sell it to the highest bidder.

Lou starts researching how to take great pictures, and as he has no conscience, he has no problem going a step further that the average crime photographers, stepping in a little closer and getting the shots that bring in the money. He starts a working relationship with a news station manager, Nina Romina (Rene Russo).  When she tells Lou that they pay for the shots described as “girl running down street screaming with throat cut”, Lou does his best to bring in the darkest video.

My thoughts:  Smoking good creepy movie!   Most frightening and fascinating is the fact that most of what these paparazzi type camera persons do is legal as long as they do not get in the way of the police and rescue crews.  Of course in the movie, Lou does go too far… WAY too far.  His obsession that leads to the perfect shots, as well as his obsessive interest in Rene Russo’s character, drives him to do the unthinkable…

or is it?

 

 

High action, major car crash scenes, a few gory close-ups…. adventure movie enthusiasts should find this movie both disturbing and good – and like a car crash…. hard to look away.  I personally would probably not pursue seeing it again, however I would rent it for my husband as he has not seen it yet and I think he would enjoy it as I did.

The Great Gatsby Movie (Movie From A Banned Book)

Gatsby movie

The Great Gatsby:  is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion and obsession for the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan. Considered to be Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.

 

The Great Gatsby is on my TBR for Banned Book Week, but honestly I do not know if I will get to it this week… it is the last one on my list.  Last night I rented this movie for three reasons… 1) I had not seen it yet.  2) If I can not get to the banned book, I can watch the movie based off the banned book, 3)I needed a good look at the parties… there is a little something up my sleeve I am thinking about.

 

The movie is powerful.  Having never read the book, I was looking up information on the story online while the movie was on.  It is an incredible love story, which is normally not my thing but I was caught up in this one.

I found it sad to learn that the original printing of this book the book sold only 20,000 copies.  Published in 1925, Author Fitzgerald did in 1940 feeling the book was a failure… sadly, he never knew what it would become…

During WWII the book had new life breathed into it.  It became high school curriculum and went on to stage and film adaption.

My take away is that this is a beautiful telling and I personally am anxious to read the book.  I recommend you take the time to experience this movie made from a remarkable classic.

 

So why the banning? 

1aAccording to the American Library Association, The Great Gatsby was: “Challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, SC (1987) because of ‘language and sexual references in the book.'”

The elements that have been cited for reasons for challenging or banning the book in the past are also essential to Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age setting. (Apparently some feel the 20’s best be forgotten…)  Jay Gatsby is a bootlegger, bad boy.

Her – The Movie (my thoughts on loving your phone ;) )

Her, Joaquin Phoenix, Book Journey, movie

Futuristic 2025:

Theodore Twombly is a relationships nightmare.  He spends his days at his job where he write letters for those who have the inability to write beautiful things to give to their loved ones – ie… anniversary, birthday, romance, break ups, etc…   As Theodore is going through a divorce, his evenings are then spent with fast food and a virtual game that he is fully engaged in.  Everywhere he goes, everyone is engrossed in themselves through their own conversations with their phones.  Talking to other people seems to be a thing of the past.

One day he sees an ad for an artificial intelligence “assistant” who will manage your appointments through your phone and basically make your life easier.  Theodore signs up and then goes through a series on prompts including choosing the voice of his new assistant….

Meet Samantha (voice by Scarlett Johansson).  Theodore is impressed that Samantha will become more intelligent as she learns what he is like… she picks up on his habits, reads his emails to him and responds to them if he asks, she cleans up old computer files in a snap, reminds him of appointments, and becomes a companion when he is alone or just wants to talk.  The more they talk… the more Samantha’s intelligence grows.

As Samantha starts to take over Theodore’s world, they seem to fall in love.  Samantha is always there for him, engaging him, prompting him to be better…. what more could Theodore want?  As their fondness for each other continues, Samantha finds it harder to accept that she can not be a physical presence in Theodore’s life, wishing she had a body that he could physically touch and that of course, she would be able to touch him as well.

Of course – a relationship with a piece of software is…

complicated.

Theodore’s soon to be ex-wife finds out about Samantha and accuses Theodore of being someone who can not handle real human emotion so of course he would date his computer.  Theodore is left conflicted, wanting a physical relationship, yet wanting it to be with Samantha.

 

My thoughts….

I was never really interested in the movie Her.  The previews seemed weird…. yet I have to admit a bit of intrigue mainly because I could actually imagine this really happening.  In today’s world of electronic assistants, on-line calendars, and reminders, talking to our phones for information on restaurants, directions, what a word means, etc… really – how far off from this “companionship” could we be?

It was friends telling me the movie was actually good, that brought to renting this movie on a cool evening where I did not want to sit on my deck with my coffee and a book… and so, I watched it.

So….

first up…

what is with the men’s pants?

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Seriously?  They all had these high wasted “comfy pants” like stretch material.  And none of the guys in 2025 are good-looking…NOPE.   in fact it looks as though the style has gone backwards and it almost has a seventies feel to it.  If this was the choice of men in 2025 my relationship status would be SINGLE.

I am off topic.

The movie held my attention but I by no means loved it.  I never “bought” the romance between Theodore and Samantha, and even through what was considered the emotional parts… I never connected with the love for ones phone.

In fact, as the movie ended… I felt that I had more emotions when Tom Hanks lost Wilson in the movie Castaway…

 

 

 

Wilson!!!!  Yup…still makes me tear up.

 

So overall… I am glad I rented this one from Redbox and paid a buck and change to see it rather that an $8.50 movie ticket plus soda and popcorn.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Did you see Her?  What did you think? 

Is it freaky crazy to think that this could really be in our future? 

Is it freakier still to think that this could happen in present time? 

Don’t we already connect to artificial intelligence through video games, and our computers and phones now? 

How far off are we from thinking these created voices and people are real to us?