Sunday, April 29, 2012

Movie Review: Bully

Ok, ok, I know this is suppose to be a BOOK REVIEW blog but I am still working my way through 50 Shades of Grey and I am not ready to
review it. However, I did see another film today, Bully, and wanted to post my thoughts.

Bully follows several different kids who have all been affected by bullying. Some are still battling bullying in their daily lives and others have killed themselves due to the effects bullying had on them. The themes of this film are powerful - we have all been affected by bullying on some capacity. Either we were bullies or we were bullied. Most likely we have played both roles at some point in our lives.

I found the film hard to watch. We hear the principal of one of the schools create excuse after excuse for her students. She suggests that one of the victims "try to be friends" with his bully. If only it were that easy. It appears as though she is apathetic to the bullying situation and is more concerned with the daily operations of her school. I have worked in the public school system and unfortunately these types of individuals are common. As a teacher, it is hard to take up the issue of bullying without administrative support.

One of the things that struck me the most about this film was the kids who decided (or their parents decided) to allow them to be apart of this film. We see a handful of relentlessly mean kids. These kids are both physically and emotionally abusive to their peers. While I do not condone bullying of ANY kind nor do I seek to justify these kids actions it is important to remember that they are kids. It is easy for me to say in my mid twenties that bullying is wrong. I can see the effects it has from a distance but as a child, who has had far less worldly experiences, it is more difficult to look at the situation with perspective. This film has branded them "bullies" and one day they will be adults who will, hopefully, better understand the consequences of bullying. However, they now have a recorded time capsule that illustrates their malicious behaviour. I just wonder about the consequences of this...

I do think this is a powerful film and one that should be shown to everyone. The recent string of adolescent suicides has certainly brought bullying into a more mainstream light but this film helps to flesh the issue out. It is not a perfect documentary by any means. I question the ethics of the filmmakers and the authenticity of some of the scenes but Bully isn't trying to be a "GOOD FILM", it's trying to start discussion about a really hard topic and I think it did that well.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Movie Review: The Lucky One

This evening I went to see The Lucky One. Let me begin by saying that I was REALLY looking forward to this movie. I may have a MILD crush on Zac Efron but really, who doesn't? I also want to begin my saying that I have not read the book by Nicholas Sparks. I'm not a big Nicholas Sparks fan. I have read The Notebook and A Walk to Remember and I thought in both cases the movie far surpassed the book in terms of enjoyment.

The Lucky One follows Logan Thibault, a young marine, who finds a picture of a girl while serving in Iraq. Finding the picture causes Logan to narrowly escape a bomb that hits his camp. He then travels to North Carolina to find the girl that caused this good fortune in his life. There he meets Beth, the girl from the photo. Due to a series of poor communication, Logan is unable to tell Beth why he is there and ends up working for her at her kennel. Logan ends up entangled in Beth's life which consists of her seven-year-old son and her abusive ex-husband.

The movie itself is picturesque. It portrays a gorgeous North Carolina setting with endless streams and romantic fields. There are a lot of shots of the sun streaming across the camera (I'm sure there is a very technical movie term for this but I can't think of it now). Google tells me it's a "lens flare". We'll go with that. Director Scott Hicks likes them a lot. Almost too much. We get it, it's a beautiful place that they live. The movie is so filled with gorgeous things to look at: gorgeous actors and a beautiful setting. That's pretty much where the good stuff ends. I found the story itself to be totally predictable. The "villain" of the movie is Beth's ex-husband played by Jay R. Ferguson. His character is so built on stereotypes that it is almost laughable.

If you like romantic comedies and you enjoy Nicholas Sparks movies you'll probably enjoy this one. It was pretty much what I anticipated going into it and I would never complain about getting to see this face for an hour and a half.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Movie Review: Hunger Games

Hunger Games follows the story of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl who lives in a fictional post-apocalyptic world called Panem. This fictional world is divided into 12 districts. Each year the districts must send two of their children (age 12-18) to the Hunger Games. During the Hunger Games, all the children will die except one winner. This event is meant to remind the districts that they are controlled by the Capitol. This book is part of a trilogy and has been immensely popular in book sales. I read all three books last summer and I had been looking forward to the movie for quite some time. The trailer gave me the chills every time I saw it.

If you haven't seen it yet:

Now, onto my review. The first thought I had when I left the theatre was, "wow, that was fantastic acting!" It's unfortunate that this series is being compared to Twilight because it is so different from that set of books. The themes, messages, characters, etc. are all so unique. However, I see the similarities in terms of the target audience and sudden mass appeal of the franchise. Both books seemed to sky rocket out of no where and suddenly everyone was reading it. So, with that said, I will try not to compare The Hunger Games to The Twilight series in this review but I will begin by saying that compare the Twilight, the acting in The Hunger Games is far superior. Actors like Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland and Wes Bentley complete the older group of characters. These actors provide a real depth to the film and new comers like Jennifer Lawrence (who, at only 21, has already been nominated for her fantastic role in Winter's Bone where she plays a very Katniss-like character), Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson can easily play against these highly developed actors.

The film is gorgeous. Director Gary Ross does a fabulous job of depicting three very distinct world, District 12, The Capitol and the arena. The world he has created is all encompassing. I am so thankful that the film opted to remain 2D as opposed to 3D. Ross was adamant that the franchise would remain 2D but with Ross now out and a new director on the horizon who knows if this will remain to be true.

The only possible downside of this film is that it is not a stand alone film. It really works in conjunction with the books. There are a lot of innuendos that would be lost of viewers who have not read the book (this is also a widely criticized fault of the Harry Potter series). However, as an avid reader I would say that this is a positive for the book community because it will (hopefully) push viewers who would not otherwise read the book to pick it up.

Overall, I would say that this film is a fantastic depiction of The Hunger Games. It speaks to the audience of the books and, while not overly violent, it stays true to the violent themes in the book.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In the beginning...

Welcome! If you are reading this it means that you have stumbled upon my blog (lucky you!). I will be using this space to write about books I am reading, current news in the land of books, films I have seen, or just general comments about the world of librarianship.

I have developed some goals (because if there is one thing I have learned so far in library school it's that we have to work towards a set of carefully constructed goals).
1. I want to blog at least twice a week and read at least 50 NEW books by the end of the year.
2. I want to use this blog to stay up to date with news in the world of librarianship.
3. I want to interact with some of my favourite authors through this outlet.

This list is flexible and will change as this blog evolves into different things.

Currently Reading: 50 Shades of Grey

This book has been very buzzed about recently. It looks as though Universal just bought the rights to turn the trilogy into a film and it may very well be the next Twilight. I'm flying to California on Saturday and this is my official "airplane book". I'll be blogging about it when I get back.

Happy reading everyone :). Hit the comments and let me know what you are reading right now.