Wednesday, December 05, 2007

November's Reading and Watching List

I am in the middle of some serious knitting for Christmas, filling orders for other people, and figuring out what I need to do for myself as well. No time for slacking and blog reading, sadly.

On to November's reading and watching list.

Books

I started reading Norman Mailer's latest book about Hitler, but after about 100 pages I gave it up (at least for now) because I was hating it. I can see me going back to it at some point, though, so hopefully, all is not lost.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – 370 pages – I had read this a few years back but found the TV series at Netflix and wanted to read the book again before watching the miniseries. Until Neil Gaiman I wouldn't have said that I enjoyed the fantasy genre, but I can no longer say that, or maybe I just like Neil Gaiman. The story focuses around Richard Mayhew who stumbles across a bleeding girl, named Door, one night on his way to dinner with his snotty fiancée. He insists on helping the girl which pisses off the fiancée. The girl turns out to be from London's underworld – literally, not criminal underworld – and he helps her get back to where she belongs, but somehow that makes him invisible in London Above. Door is investigating the deaths of her family and Richard ends up helping with that task. I quite liked this story.

Silence by Thomas Perry – 439 pages – If you have not yet discovered Thomas Perry (although why that would be when I know I recommended him quite strongly last year), you are doing yourself a disservice. Why John Grisham has the following he does makes no sense to me when there are writers like Thomas Perry and John Sandford out there who write (grammatically and thematically) so much better than he does? Mr. Perry's plots are well thought out and flow effortlessly, even while he's keeping you in the dark about certain things. I can't say the same for Mr. Grisham's although perhaps he has gotten better since The Firm and The Pelican Brief. Silence is about a husband-wife assassin team who are trying to silence somebody who can turn their initially behind the scenes employer into a jailbird. If you enjoy murder type thrillers, pick this one up!

Nightlife by Thomas Perry – 404 pages – I missed this one when it came out last year, much to my chagrin, but it just meant that I got to read TWO Thomas Perry books in a row and that's all good to me. Nightlife starts with somebody getting killed, then abruptly shifts to Los Angeles where the reader follows Hugo Poole to a meeting about which he is leery. Turns out that Hugo is a bit of a criminal type, although how much of one is never really explained. There's a psychotic serial killer, a female detective, a male private investigator and sundry other murder victims and they all make up a very intriguing story.

Dark of the Moon by John Sandford – 373 pages – John Sandford's very latest novel in which he makes someone, Virgil Flowers aka "that fuckin' Flowers," introduced in his last Preynovel into the primary character, giving Lucas Davenport a break, I guess. I love John Sandford and have read every single one of his novels. I even got engineers at work who haven't read more than two books in their lives reading him, and let me tell you, that's saying something! The man can write! The man can create kick-ass plots! In this book, Virgil is investigating the murders of a retired doctor and his wife in the back of beyond Minnesota. The night he shows up in Bluestem, MN, another elderly person turns up dead (obviously murder, too). Virgil has his work cut out for him as in this small town everybody knows everybody and everybody's business. He, of course, solves the murders. Sorry to give away the ending.

It's tough picking a Book of the Month as I loved all three, but I have to go with Nightlife by Thomas Perry.


Movies

I'm back to knitting for Christmas and not going to the gym which means LOTS of movies were watched.

11/2 - Pride and Prejudice - This was actually a high school in which my friends' daughter had the lead role of Elizabeth. I am a sucker for high school plays and I loved this. I might even try to read the book at some point (I tried reading Wuthering Heights back in high school and couldn't get past three pages, so I've had a tendency to avoid this Victorian type literature).

11/4 - Control - 2007 - (Theatre) – 89% - This was my third and final time seeing Control in the theatre. If you want to know how I felt about it, go read last month's listing. ;-)

11/6 & 8 & 10 - Neverwhere 1996 - (N) – Episodes 1-6. I found out while watching the Neil Gaiman commentary that the miniseries came before the book, so obviously I was happy in that it followed the book. DUH. He also explained away the few discrepancies as money or directorial differences made while he was off doing something in another country.

11/7 - The Matador - 2005 - (Encore) – 75% - I saw this was playing on one of my many digital cable free movie channels and DVRd it. I enjoyed this movie. I liked that Pierce Brosnan played the seedy assassin, because I like it when actors/actresses don't rely on their looks, but on their acting ability (see Johnny Depp vs. Richard Grieco) when taking a film role. It's not complete fluff as moral decisions are made and discussed. If you have a chance to see this, I'd give it a chance (although I found the sex scenes a tad uncomfortable, so I wouldn't watch it with your children or your mother). I still remember the discomfort of watching Pretty Woman with my mother and the piano scene. Oy vey.

11/10 - Divorce: Italian Style - 1962 (TCM) – 100% - I had this in my Netflix queue, but then found it on TCM, so once again I made judicious use of my DVR. I realise this movie is a comedy, but I guess I don't find murder as an answer to an unhappy marriage as a good alternative. I realise it's all related to era and Italy and the Catholic Church, etc., but I guess there are too many people (mostly women, it seems) being murdered these days by their husbands as an answer to their marital problems for this premise to amuse me. And it was a bit creepy Mastroianni having an affair with his young niece/cousin (I remembered it as niece, but IMDB says cousin).

11/10 - Bogie - 1980 (DVR) – This was a made for TV movie and dear God, did it scream "I'm a 1980s Made for TV Movie." It was horrendous. The music reminded me of the Love Boat as did the lettering used for the title sequence. The guy who played Bogart seemed to make his living playing Bogart, simply because he signed like him. I could fool myself that it was Bogie as long as I only listened to this. Do yourself a massive favor and don't waste your time on this waste of celluloid.

11/11 - Finding Nemo - 2003 (K) – 98% - I babysat for my friends' 11-month-old baby and took this along. He seemed fascinated with the colors which is all that's really important. I had a lovely time babysitting him (what a sweet baby).

11/14 - The Jazz Singer - 1927 (TCM) 78% - I knew the gist of the story as I had seen Neil Diamond's version a thousand or so years ago. I know that there's all sorts of controversy because Al Jolson appeared in black face in this movie, but my question is WHY??? Why did he appear in black face? It made no sense to me, and I didn't catch any kind of explanation. I'm not being overly sensitive, just wondering what thought process went on behind the scene. It's known as the film that introduced the idea of talkies which isn't completely true (two previous movies had had sound), but it's credited with making the conversion inevitable. For that reason alone, it's worth seeing. And the opportunity to hear a great singer from a much earlier era.

11/18 - Bob le Flambeur - 1955 (N) 96% - This was the movie that inspired the original (Frank Sinatra's) Ocean's 11. Bob the high roller decides to try robbing a casino and gets various and sundry people involved, etc., etc., etc. You know the premise. The fun part is that this movie is as different from Frank's Ocean's 11 as that one is from the modern Ocean's 11. I recommend them all most enthusiastically.

11/18 - Outing Riley - 2007 (N) - I rented this movie because Nathan Fillion was in it. It's the story a gay man who is Irish Catholic but hasn't come out to his family (save his sister) yet. The movie begins at his father's wake and is told in a kind of 1st person style with thought balloons, per se. It wasn't the best "telling the family I'm gay" story as I thought it had some fairly stereotypical (brother is a Catholic priest) and trite scenes, but as a whole it was a good movie.

11/23 - Shrek the Third - 2007 (rental) 42% - I remember the critics not liking the latest installment of the Shrek movies, but I have to say that I laughed and generally thought it enjoyable. I sometimes think it helps to go into a movie expecting it to suck because then it doesn't take a lot to make you happy. The ogre babies were pretty damn cute, too.

11/27 - Slither - 2006 (N) 84% - Another movie I rented solely because Nathan Fillion was in it. I was wondering what the hell I was thinking of, since I hate horror movies, but I watched the entire thing. It's a zombie movie with a twist in that they aren't created from the dead, but by some organism that fell to earth from a distance planet/galaxy/universe. I enjoyed it much more than I had expected.

11/27 - Millions - 2005 (IFC) 88% - I saw the preview for this back in 2005 and made a note that I wanted to see it. I don't think it ever made it to the Netflix queue, but when I saw it was playing on IFC, I DVRd it. I loved this movie. The little boys were so cute (the younger one fascinated by the saints and helping the poor and the older one fascinated by money and exchange rates), but not so cute as to be saccharine. It was a little bit classic Disney in that the mother had died and the father is raising the two boys. They move into a new house and the younger boy has a cardboard fort where he is visited by saints near some railroad tracks. A bag of money falls from the sky and he makes it his duty to feed the poor and give the money away while the older boy wants to invest it. It's British so it's not overly cutesy. I definitely recommended this movie.

11/28 - The French Connection - 1971 (Enc) 97% - Another movie people are always shocked to find out I hadn't seen. It was another one in my Netflix queue that I found playing on digital cable, and therefore, DVRd it. I had no clue that Fernando Rey was in it or I might not have taken so long to see it. A fabulous Spanish actor who did lots of French films, mainly due to Franco, I think. It's a tad violent, but what do you expect from a movie set in NYC in the early 70s and based around drugs. I have yet to see The French Connection II.

11/29 - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - 1941 (TCM) 72% - I'm a little surprised at the rating. I thought Spencer Tracy was fabulous as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was CREEPY as Hyde. I trust we all know the story and I don't have to give a synopsis. Besides Spencer Tracy, it had Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman.

11/30 - Chicken Little - 2005 (Enc) 37% - While I wasn't overly impressed with this, I didn't think it deserved such a low rating. I thought Chicken Little himself was cute, but the study of cliques in schools to be a tad heavy-handed, especially when shown as sanctioned and encouraged by teachers. Still, it's better than watching a Dubya press conference, right? ;-)

Whew! Finally got through this! Right now I'm reading an absolutely excellent book. I'll tell you all about it next month, but I'm going to tell you right now that you all must read Three Cups of Tea. I am so in love with this book, I want to give it to everybody for Christmas. And I'm only halfway through it.

Oops, Movie of the Month was Millions!

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18 Comments:

At Thursday, 06 December, 2007, Blogger fermicat said...

I read Neverwhere last year and really liked it. PDM liked it, too.

Any movie with Nathan Fillion in it is worth watching (and no, LL, he is NOT old). I had a great time watching Slither. Good, campy fun. Plus, you know, NATHAN FILLION! As Josh Whedon once said, "He's a pretty, pretty man." Or something like that.

 
At Thursday, 06 December, 2007, Blogger Jason said...

"Millions" is great. I love and own it if you ever want to borrow it. Some great movies on that list. I put my Netflix account on hold for a while as I really don't get a chance to watch movies during retail Christmas season.

 
At Friday, 07 December, 2007, Blogger Kathleen said...

Fermi - The miniseries is worth watching. And yes, I completely agree...can't go wrong with Nathan Fillion. ;-)

Jason - I need to make better use of my Netflix account. My DVR has been taking over, but I like the idea of having the ability to rent anything I want, not just what Encore, Flix, etc. decide to show.

 
At Friday, 07 December, 2007, Blogger Sal said...

Millions was a fantastic movie, I just loved it. I've been wondering about moving Outing Riley further up in my queue, thanks for helping me decide against it.

 
At Friday, 07 December, 2007, Blogger LL said...

:rolleyes: All this old guy lust is seriously going to hurt your viewership around here...

;)

 
At Saturday, 08 December, 2007, Anonymous younameit said...

I read Pride and Prejudice in the fall of 1985 for "Early British Fiction" class in college. Besides Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, it was the easiest and most enjoyable of the six or seven novels I had to read for that class. Would I like it as much now, 22 (sob!) years later? I don't know; but I think I feel safe in recommending it to you. It's certainly the easiest of Jane Austen's novels that I have read (or, rather, tried to read after college). I believe my professor rated it as his favorite Austen novel.

Coincidentally, I just watched Slither three days ago. Your description of the film took the words right out of my mouth. I totally despise horror films (99.999% of the time). I only gave this one a chance because the on-screen TV Guide gave it decent ratings and said that it has some humorous scenes. Indeed, I laughed heartily in several spots, which made up for having to suffer through the gratuitous fake gore. Like you, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would (relatively speaking). Note: For some reason, I predicted that the young girl in the bathtub (played by Tania Saulnier) would do exactly what she does (which I appreciated ;-). She played her part very well.

 
At Saturday, 08 December, 2007, Blogger dr sardonicus said...

As I get ever closer to becoming an old guy, I appreciate a little lust every now and then...

 
At Saturday, 08 December, 2007, Blogger Kathleen said...

Sal - It wasn't horrible...and you'd appreciate the Catholic aspect...I wouldn't diss it completely.

LL - ;-)

MW - Maybe I'll try it at some point. I have PILES of books awaiting my attention in which I'm more interested, but it's good to know that it's doable.

Dr. - Exactly!

 
At Saturday, 08 December, 2007, Blogger fermicat said...

Nathan Fillion is FIVE YEARS younger than me, and therefore is not old. But he is fine. Just sayin'.

 
At Sunday, 09 December, 2007, Blogger LL said...

"Five years younger than" is hardly a valid reference point to judge from. The correct measurement point is, how much older he is than I am. He's older, hence the old guy.

 
At Sunday, 09 December, 2007, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

I hated Finding Nemo. Absolutely hated it. I never saw why it was so big with adults.

As for Neil Gaiman, one of these days I'll have to get around reading him. I know him and Tori Amos used to be really good friends. Don't know if they still are or not.

Your Detroit Lions almost beat the Cowboys. Yeah, I know you don't follow football, but it came down to the last 28 seconds. It's a shame, I was really pulling for the Lions.

 
At Monday, 10 December, 2007, Blogger Kathleen said...

Fermi & LL - He's my younger sister's age and I sincerely doubt my younger sister would cotton to being called old. She'll come to your distant western state, LL, just to kick your butt. ;-)

ZombieSlayer - I'm thinking Finding Nemo isn't really your cup of tea.

I definitely recommend Neil Gaiman. I think they're still friends, but who knows. It's been a while since I followed Tori to that extent.

Oh, I was at a friend's house and she had the debacle on. I swore profusely when they managed to lose it with 18 or so seconds left in the game. I so wanted the Lions to beat the hated Cowboys.

 
At Monday, 10 December, 2007, Blogger LL said...

I never said that women were old at that age, they're HOT! Nope... just the old guys. ;P

 
At Tuesday, 11 December, 2007, Blogger Scott said...

I have to give the Lions credit for almost beating the Cowboys. Can't say I'm sorry though. Sure was a sweet comeback, even though it took a few mess-ups--missed field goal, botched fumble recovery--to make it happen. Before I get too depressed at the luck of it all, I have to remember that the fumble on the one yard line was a bit of luck for the Lions too.

I'm reading Thomas Perry right now. What a coincidence. I'll let you know what I think.

Gaimon is really good. I listened to the Anansi Boys, and read a really great short story by him as well. I don't remember the title, but an old lady had bought the Holy Grail at a thrift shop, and one of the Knights of the Round Table showed up at her door step requesting that she give it to him. It was really funny. Gaiman likes to feature elderly women in a funny light.

 
At Tuesday, 11 December, 2007, Blogger Beth said...

I've read Neverwhere also and thought it was all right. Love these lists. Gives me something to see, something to read! I'm a knitting fool too, Kat, so I get ya!

 
At Thursday, 13 December, 2007, Blogger Kathleen said...

LL - Nice recovery.

Scott - At least the lowly Lions made you sweat.

Beth - I got a new fabulous scarf pattern off the internet last week and I'm completely in love with it. If you want it, let me know. I'll e-mail it to you.

 
At Friday, 14 December, 2007, Blogger Heather said...

I love Neil Gaiman! He's always a fun read! We started watching Neverwhere but for some reason never finished it.

Did you watch the extra stuff on Slither? That's where Nathan is at his cutest! :)

I love Spencer Tracy. LOVE him!

 
At Thursday, 20 December, 2007, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Just so you know, I swore profusely when the Lions lost it too. I hate the Cowboys, and always had a soft spot for the Lions. I know you're supposed to hate division rivals, but I only hate da Bears and actually like the Lions and the Vikings.

 

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