Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book and Movie Reviews

Lana and I watched Inglorious Basterds and both thought it was way too long. I know Tarantino often includes two separate story lines in his movies and this was the same. Unfortunately, I didn’t think they meshed well in this case. I later watched Jennifer’s Body myself, a horror movie. It wasn’t the greatest story ever told but far better than Inglorious Basterds. I enjoyed it enough to watch some scenes over.

I read When Gods Die by C. S. Harris (Candice Proctor) and enjoyed it much. This is the second in the Sebastian St. Cyr regency mystery series. The first in the series was What Angels Fear and it wowed me with great atmosphere. The second one really got me caught up in the characters. I also read Brom’s The Devil’s Rose, referred to as an illustrated novel. It’s a short novel, about some souls escaped from Hell and another doomed soul who is hunting them. I enjoyed it pretty well and liked the art a lot. I’ll probably try another by him.

I read Red Moon and Black Mountain by Joy Chant and found it beautifully written, although I wasn’t caught up in the plot as much as I wanted to be. I’m also still reading King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes, a short story collection. There are some good ones in it, but quite a few tales seem a bit overly long and slow to me. Not sure why I’m finding a lot of King’s stuff to be slow these days. Maybe my attention span is really starting to go.

As for writing, I could have been doing more. I’m afraid I’ve been a bit lazy. My writing got a nice mention on The Cimmerian Blog, though. Much appreciation to Miguel Martins.


Randy Johnson said...

Been following the talk of your anthology. I'm looking forward to Bitter Steel.

sage said...

It’s always interesting to see what other people are reading… I was intrigued by the book, The Devil's Rose. I once wrote a satirical short story titled, “Don Giovanni’s Baptism (or what if the Mormons are right)” I submitted it once, but it wasn’t accepted. I was playing around with the Mormon concept of baptism of the dead and sealing marriages in the temple and figured that baptizing Don Giovanni and sealing him to Donna Elvira had the potential to destroy heaven as she knew it.

Lisa said...

When you read many books so close to each other or more than one book at a time, do you get them mixed up?

Bernita said...

"Not sure why I’m finding a lot of King’s stuff to be slow these days."

Perhaps because you are perhaps overly familiar with his style and techniques?
I doubt it's the result of any lapse of attention span.

Unknown said...

Hey, congrats on your mention!

Personally, I loved Inglorious Basterds, but then, I'm a great fan of Pulp Fiction!

Charles Gramlich said...

Randy, thanks. I apprecisate it.

Sage, the idea of the souls escaping from hell and being hunted is a pretty common trope in horror but it can work, especially if the world is well conceived. Your Mormon story sounds interesting. Weird but interesting.

Ocean girl, nope. But I don't tend to read two of the same genre. Not two westerns or two historical mysteries for example.

Bernita, maybe so. I don't feel like my attention is going but I'm not in a King mode these days it seems

Gaston, I liked Pulp fiction a lot more than Inglorious Basterds. I thought the double story line worked very well there and I was constantly surprised by twists.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I was about to watch the Tarrantino film on demand until I saw this--maybe not.

ivan said...

Nice review in the Cimmarian blog.

I just had to click on it.

I believe real Cimmarians may have been the ancestors of my people.

Hm. Maybe that's where the wild side comes from. But their forbears (I think), the Scythians, a cousin ethnic group, invented trousers and I am only now dimly aware of just why.:)

j said...

"What Angels Fear" was an intriguing title. I am drawn in and curious about the story already.

I'm reading "The Other Boleyne Girl" by Philippa Gregory. I prefer a book that hold my attention to the point that I cannot put it down (sounds a little compulsive I guess). This book has been a slow read and yet quite interesting.

Thanks for the nice thoughts for my daughter - it has been a long road emotionally in band this year but she is on cloud nine right now!

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I liked elements of Inglorious Basterds.

And I saw the mention on the Cimmerian a few days ago-excellent to help spread word about your work a bit. I wanna get ahold of Bitter Steel soon as I can.

David Cranmer said...

This is one of the few times we disagree. I thought Inglorious Basterds (including length) was spot on. Jennifer's Body was trying to hard to be a hip Heathers and failing. I couldn't even finish it.

I ditto Randy J's comment.

Harry Markov said...

Mhm, I loved Inglorious Basterds, even if it was longer than usual and yes I agree that the two story lines did not mesh well.

Jennifer's Body would have been better with a different cast, because the concept is worthwhile.

And as far as books go... I have read entirely different things.

Voidwalker said...

Ah, I remember the days when I got to watch movies at home... Haven't had the opportunity to in a while. It's tough to do with 5 little rugrats runnin around.

I'm overdue

Charles Gramlich said...

pattinase, I spoke to someone else today who really liked it so don't let me overly influence you. Lana and I both thought it was pretty slow, though.

ivan, invented trousers? How horrid. So they are to blame.

jennifer, I like the depth of texture in the Sebastian series. Very good so far. You have a daughter to be proud of.

David J. West, I hope it will be out relatively soon although I have no way of knowing for sure. I did like elements of Basterds as well. There were some really good scenes.

David Cranmer, I thought the 'hip Heathers" element of Jennifer's body was well done but we all have different tastes. Even the fact of seeing them one right after the other may have affected how I judged them.

Harry Markov, well I always take, and give, movie criticisms with a grain of salt. People are so different in what they like and can tolerate. I actually was surprised to find that Megan Fox did a good job, in my opinion at least. The acting in Basterds was certainly not the problem. I thought almost everyone did a good job there.

Voidwalker, five! Five! I feel your pain, man!

Sam said...

I was bored by Inglorious Bastards - it just didn't hold my attention. And I bought the first three of the St Cyr mysteries, but I have an awful confession - I can't stand Sebastian's girlfriend. She ruins the books for me and I didn't really care for the first two, although I do agree there is great atmosphere and the writing is terrific, but I can hardly wade through the last one. I keep putting it down and forgetting to pick it up. I've just got such an aversion to that character, lol.

Leigh Russell said...

Can't write all the time, Charles. You've been reading and watching interesting movies - call it resarch and ditch the guilt. You're doing what you can. Your problem is, like mine, that there just aren't enough hours in the day.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I think that's always the way...we're either heavy on our own writing or busy filling the well reading. I rarely strike a balance of the two.

jodi said...

Charles, don't you think all the movie and reading stimulation will later help your writing? Let me know..

Travis Cody said...

I gotta keep migrating to new writers. I have a tendency to run back to what I know.

ivan said...

Nice, very nice review in the Cimmarian blog.

The very word Cimmarian kind of turns my crank, as Cimmarions were sort of Scyths, my ancestors who...well, who knew it!... invented trousers.It's cold out there in the Russian steppes. Yet even today the Greek Army prefers pouffe skirts with elaborate leggings.
(I swear I must be changing polarity and have become a frustrated fashion writer!)

Charles Gramlich said...

Sam, we were bored too by Basterds. As for the St. Cyr series, I kind of like Kat, but she seems like she could be a polarizing character. She must just hit a bad nail for you. Later, Sebastian develops a relationship with Hero, although I haven't gotten that far in the series yet.

Leigh Russell, there sure aren't. time doesn't slow down when I need it to.

L.A. Mitchell, I'm also just trying to keep my head above water at work and that is draining me pretty good.

jodi, I hope so. I need some kickstart.

Travis, I try quite a few new writers each year but I think we all have a tendency to reach for a known quantity when we are looking for a comfort read.

ivan, thanks. I guess I can see that trousers have their advantages. Certainly over poofy skirts. ;)

Barrie said...

Both my critique partners are hooked on The Big Bang Theory. So, I just put the first season at the top of my Netflix queue. Always interesting to read your reviews!

Merisi said...

I am always delighted to read about the movies you have seen and the books you have read, especially since I have been reading mostly non-fiction ever since I moved from the States. Thank you for taking the time and care!

As far as your own writing output is concerned, a beautiful German expression for a period of reflection or seeming inactivity comes to mind, "schöpferische Pause " - pause for inspiration, creative break (I'd love to know how you would translate that).

Vesper said...

Very interesting to see what you're watching and what you're reading. Thank you for the reviews.
The last King I read, The Cell, seemed kind of slow to me.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barrie, I haven't watched that although it actually looks interesting. The only current sitcom I'm watching is Modern Family.

Merisi, My wife reads almost all nonfiction these days, but I have to have my fiction fix. I like that pause for inpsiration. I'm gonna have to remember that.

Vesper, I actually liked teh Cell better than most other King I've read lately, but almost all of King's stuff actually starts slowly. That one started fairly fast but did have its slow moments.

BernardL said...

Your reviews come just in time.

Cloudia said...

Yes, there is so much to read and do, that it makes me wonder at all the books-entire I have read in the past...pre-web days I suppose..

Aloha, Friend

Comfort Spiral

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernardl, glad to be of assistance.

Cloudia, yes, I definitely got more read in those 'olden' days.

Erik Donald France said...

Excellent takes. For some reason, I've got no interest in I.Bs. and this reinforces why. The Devil's Rose sounds fun, though.

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

I've been lazy writing as well, but then I'm trying to graduate.

Charles, Tarrantino is a strange one. I loved Pulp Fiction, was indifferent to his contribuition of Grind House, loved Kill Bill, and am nervous about Inglorius Basterds, which apparently won an Academy award. I think the thing that I love about the man is his ability to twist the real into the surreal and to push it an extra step.

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, Lana actually wanted to see IBs more than I did but I had expected it to be better.

Stewart Sternberg, Tarrantino is almost always interesting, although I don't always like his stuff. I certainly liked Pulp Fiction a lot.

Michelle's Spell said...

So glad that you and L thought IB was too long!!!!!!! I watched it, bored out of my mind. I couldn't believe how bad it was. And I loved Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Looking forward to Bitter Steel!

L.A. Mitchell said...

That Fuller book does have a great cover. Good luck to your Saints. I'll be pulling for them :)

Lana Gramlich said...

You haven't been lazy, hon! You've been busy, which is the antithesis of lazy, so stop flogging on my husband or I'll come over there & make you!

Paul R. McNamee said...

I am also working through 'Nightmares & Dreamscapes' between other books.

You've hit it on the head what's been bothering me - overly long and slow stories. Good stuff in there, still. But yeah - not as quick hitting as his earlier collections, 'Night Shift' and 'Skeleton Crew'.