Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 2009 Books and Movies

French Women Don't Get Fat
Mireille Guiliano

This book was a good read. More of a lifestyle recommendation than a diet book, it does contain some very interesting recipes and a lot of solid advice. Guiliano is a mite condescending at times, but because she speaks the truth, it didn't bother me so much. Give the Leek Soup a miss, it's really not that great, more like leek flavoured water. I don't think one could live on it and the leeks themselves for a weekend without going completely nuts. Not to mention the only weight you would lose would be water weight. Her website is pretty good, I would be interested in reading her follow up book.

The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger

This was an amazing book. Well written, incredibly interesting plot, excellently drawn characters, just amazing. It's five hundred pages plus, and I read it in under a week. I would have been done sooner if work hadn't gotten in the way! :) Clare was really lovely, as was Gomez. I wasn't the hugest fan of Henry, but he was definitely interesting. It was very sad, made even more so by the readers fore-knowledge. Thoroughly enjoyable, if you haven't already, go out and read it at once!

Runaway Bride

Cute, but not spectacular. Had all the same people from Pretty Woman in it, so the actor chemistry was spot on, if not a bit repetitive. It was funnier than I thought it would be, and I was surprised to see what a great job Christopher Meloni did with his role. I'm so used to seeing him as Eliott Stabler on SVU, it took a moment to adjust. As I've said before, I'm not the world's greatest Julia Roberts fan, but I liked her in this. Definitely wouldn't have gone to see it in a theatre all those years ago, but on TV, it was a good distraction.

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year
Esme Raji Codell

This was an incredible account of a first year teacher working in a Chicago inner city school. So many of the things she wrote were exactly how I felt in my first year. This book was filled with so many positive moments yet so many negative ones as well. It clearly outlines the joys and frustrations of teaching. I would recommend it to non-teachers, if only to understand that this job is more than the sum of its parts, a fact few people truly appreciate.

The Last Summer (Of You And Me)
Ann Brashares

This book was hard to get into, but ultimately, a good one. It's the story of two sisters and their dear friend Paul during their last summer on Fire Island, near New York City. Brashares is the famed author of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants books, so I was intrigued to see what she would do with a young adult novel. It was a touch self indulgent, at times, but the story was quite touching and took a sad turn near the end. This is a good millieu for Brashares, she should try another novel in this vein.

There's Something About Mary

I'd never been inclined to see this movie, given the number of people who told me how funny it was, but it was on TV so I thought what the hay. Turns out, I'm missing the gene that finds physical comedies full of toilet humour amusing. With some exceptions (American Pie being notable) I generally find these types of movies extremely off putting. There were a few genuine bits in this one that were watchable, and I did laugh a few times, but, for me, it's nowhere near the classic everyone raves about.

Becoming Jane

Proof that just because something is historical fiction, doesn't mean that I'm necessarily going to love it. It'll keep me watching, if it's well done from a costume and setting perspective (which this film definitely has in spades) but the plot still has to be there. All the pieces were there, great cast (Anne Hathaway, James MacEvoy, James Cromwell and many more), a great subject, an interesting time period, but just didn't seem to pull out a great film. Hathaway's Jane was far too bold for the period. Even if they were trying to suggest that Austen was different for her time, there was no way a woman of her standing would kiss a man the way she did in her first kiss with Mr. LaFroy. It's good, but not the best, see it if you really love historical fiction, like me!

French Kiss

Ummm, not totally horrible, but pretty terrible. Meg Ryan plays the same character in every movie! What's up with that? I usually love Kevin Kline, but his fake French accent and the presumption that his French is good enough to act alongside amazing French actors like Jean Reno, is laughable. Not to mention they didn't even translate the subtitles correctly. The premise was cute, and the French cinematography (especially in the South) was beautiful. If there's something better on, watch that.


Everything is de-lovely about this film! Of course, I'm biased due to my predilection for historical anything, fact, fiction, biography etc. :) This is the story of Cole Porter, one of the greatest American songwriters of the 20th century. My favorite Cole Porter tune is "Night and Day", and it's conveniently sung in the movie by one of my favorite modern song and dance men, John Barrowman! The period is dead on, with glorious costumes and sets. Kevin Kline is fantastic, and Ashely Judd is amazing as Linda Porter. You pretty much have to like musicals to enjoy this film, but it's really worth a look. Enjoy!

Mona Lisa Smile

Another wonderful period piece. Throw in the subtle feminist movement grassroots plot and I was hooked! I'm not usually a huge fan of Julia Roberts, but thought she did an excellent job here as the influential art history professor who tries to circumvent tradition. The depiction of 1953 Wellesley College was amazing, so well done. Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles and Maggie Gyllenhaal were all brilliant. Moving and thought provoking, a definite must see.

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