Friday, April 23, 2010

The Tommyknocker's by Stephen King

The Tommyknockers, by Stephen King, was released in 1987 and is a thick tome that keeps you enthralled throughout the whole novel.  It follows Bobbi, a western genre novel writer, who trips upon a metallic object in the woods that she inherited.  As Bobbi uncovers more of this mysterious object, the reader is directed to meet Gard, Bobbi's alcoholic former lover and poet.  Gard travels a long and dark road to help Bobbi and they start to discover the truth about what was hidden in the ground.  Sinister things start to occur as more is revealed and changes take place to the little town of Haven where Bobbi lives.

Stephen King is the master of character development; he draws the reader into his stories whether they like it or not.  His characters are fully formed in this book, but I have to admit that I wasn't all that empathetic with them.  I feel like I should have cared about them more in this book and I would have enjoyed the book more for it.  As it was, I was rooting for the good guy in the end, but didn't really care what happened to most of the characters.  Given that statement, I think that an emotional separation from these characters was fitting for this book.  In essence, I, as the reader, was mirroring Gard's relationship with Bobbi by the end of the book.  An emotional detachment from a person he's attempting to help.  The Tommyknockers is about evolution and regression at the same time and maybe the reader shouldn't be empathetic to a character that becomes something new.

The Tommyknockers is a product of its time with a heavy hand on the topic of nuclear power and what Gard refers to as the "dallas police".  I liked this book, but I won't read it 10 times like It.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

84 Charing Cross Road (1987)

84 Charing Cross Road is based on a play/book written by Helen Hanff about her correspondence with Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co, antiquarian booksellers which was located at 84 Charing Cross Road.  Helen write to Marks & co. to purchase old, classical books that she was unable to purchase in New York and maintained this contact with Frank and other members of the book selling staff.  This correspondence evolved into friendship as she exchanged gifts and real discussions about a variety of topics.

I enjoyed this quiet and unassuming movie.  However, it was hard for me to stop comparing it to The Shadowlands as both star Anthony Hopkins as a quiet English man who enjoys literature.  This comparison did tinge my views of the film.

Anne Bancroft stars as Helen and Hopkins stars as Frank.  The movie plays with perceptions of American versus English interactions and stereotypes.  Frank is a reserved man to Helen's very vocal woman, but the viewer sees a real connection made.  Hopkins excels at subtle acting and it's amazing to see how he can make such a quiet character so empathetic to the viewer.

This film is not groundbreaking, but enjoyable in a subdued and thoughtful manner.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sex and the Single Girl (1964)

Sex and the Single Girl is a fictionalized version of the novel with the same name and follows the the author, Helen Gurley Brown played by Natalie Wood, after she has published the novel and is enticed by a tabloid magazine executive, played by Tony Curtis.

This is a typical 1960's movie that attempts to shock you with sex and craziness.  I was mildly amused by the plot until about halfway through and then I was just bored.  A long and drawn out car chase occurs near the end of the movie and it turned the movie into pure silly dribble.  I enjoyed looking at a few of the sets, decor, and wardrobe as there were some inspiring pieces, but I don't think it's worth watching the movie just to see that.

I watched this movie on TCM and Ben Mankiewicz's introduction to the movie was funnier and more entertaining than the movie itself.

Ponyo (2008)

This 2008 movie by Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle) was directed and written by Hayao Miyazaki and is loosely based on The Little Mermaid.  The story follows a little fish-girl, Ponyo, that runs away from her father and wants to turn into a human and be with a little 5-year old boy, Sōsuke, that she meets.  The story ensues as Ponyo attempts to become human and threatens the environmental balance of the world.

I had high expectations for this movie as I fell in love with Spirited Away and Miyazaki did not disappoint me.  I have never seen 2d animation that can compare to the quality in Miyazaki's movies.  Ponyo takes it to a completely new level with the style and scope of animation.  The detail of the water, colors, and fish is artistic and majestic to say the least.  Animation aside, the story and plot of this movie keep you enthralled and excited to see waht happens next.  I think it's a good recommendation for an animated movie that draws you into the the plot and characters so much that you forget it's animated.  Ponyo and he friend seem so alive that it was easy to become immersed in the story.

The only portion to disappoint me in this movie was the last song during the ending credits.  I thought the music throughout the story was lilting and pretty like what I was watching and then this last "theme" song comes on at the end of the credits like a childish and obnoxious TV show.
That being said, I loved this movie and highly suggest you see it.