Sunday, April 24, 2011

David the Movie Snob takes on HANNA (slight spoilers)

Last Thursday, David and I went to see the new film, Hanna.  It's no secret that I have no qualms about watching murderous preteens; in fact I kind of dig that stuff.  So, as you might expect, I was very excited to see this movie.

Joe Wright's camera work and Saoirse Ronan's performance were no disappointment.  The visuals are absolutely incredible, from the opening scene where Hanna takes down a reindeer (I think?) to the ending in an overgrown, whimsical children's theme park.  The initial scenes, aided by Ronan's amazing acting, provide what is needed to get the audience on the side of the underage killer--even after watching her commit brutal acts of (possibly unnecessary?) violence.

However--and it pains me to find myself nearly as snobby as the movie snob himself--the film begins to lose steam about halfway through.  The plot becomes relatively predictable, with the only questions being how exactly it plays out.  Meaning, who lives and who dies.  But all the how's and why's are pretty well inferred.

Another issue, as the Snob himself pointed out, is that there are a few...let's say "ability" inconsistencies. Early action scenes are very Bourne-esque, with Hanna and her father taking down 2-8 armed and trained federal agents with minimal difficulty.  However, when Hanna and her father's nemesis enlists the help of a German fetishist and his two scrawny skinhead goons, well, that's when the super-teen and her dad meet their match.  While 8 agents don't pose a threat, man it's really hard and stressful to take down these German brawlers on motorbikes.

So, in sum, it was an amazing and visually exciting movie to watch, and I'd still recommend it to anyone who digs that sort of thing.  I mean, I'd probably even watch it again.  But, there are plot issues, and I can tell you David the Movie Snob will not be taking in a second viewing.

The breakdown:
DMS rating: 4/10, to which I responded, "REALLY!?"  Jeez, it wasn't that bad!
my rating: 7/10  Seriously, give it a watch! :)

Anyone else seen this flick?  What did you think?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Silver - just some writing

My mind has been brimming with little stories, character sketches, and other things lately.  It's like the start of summer sent a creative surge through my brain.  Which is awesome, but I'm trying to focus on my current WIP right now, and all these great ideas can be VERY distracting.  So I had an idea.  Just as listening to that song in your head makes it quiet down (at least for a little while), I thought if I did a bit of writing on just one of these ideas, maybe they'd all shut up for awhile and I can focus on my space opera. :)

As I was falling asleep last night, some lines were flickering in my head - less story than character sketch, but I thought I'd put them down.  And, since I'm trying to write more in the blog, I figured why not put them down for all to see? :)


Silver -

I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't know about death.  No one had to teach me; it was just something that wove itself through my childhood like the silver thread woven through the quilt my dead grandma made me.

I was born exactly one year after the death of my uncle, the one I never met.  In some ways, I knew him, Paul, better than I knew my living aunts and uncles.  His photograph stared at me from every room in the house we shared with my grandparents.  His name lingered always just behind the last word of every conversation, as if the walls themselves whispered it.  I still remember the way the air around us would turn thick like syrup if anyone slipped up and actually did mention his name out loud.  If someone said it, "Paul," time stopped for a few seconds, freezing us in that moment until we could push it away again and go on with life.

There is a lot of responsibility being the first born after a death.  Though no one said it, even before kindergarten I knew that I was more than just the first grandchild.  The more religious of the family believed I was sent to them.  The spiritual thought I was Paul reincarnated.  And even to those whose views were less articulated, I was the Silver Lining, the light shining behind the dark cloud of death.

If anything, I was a constant reminder of him.  I learned to tell the difference between someone looking at me, the new baby born into this family, versus someone looking at his memory.  When they looked through me, a sad smile on their lips and softly glazed eyes, I knew they weren't seeing me at all.  But that was alright; at least they had a smile, even if sad.  At least I made them smile at all.


And that's all we have today, folks. :)  Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Paragraph Review of Ship Breaker

I picked this book up at the SCBWI Western Washington conference this past weekend...and then I didn't put it down again until I finished it. :)

Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker takes place in a future where the oil has run out and the wealth distribution is even more uneven than it is now.  On a beach off the Gulf of Mexico, we follow the protagonist, Nailer, as he risks his life scavenging old wrecked oil tankers for enough copper wire to maybe buy his next meal - that is if his addict father doesn't take most of it first.  When Nailer finds the scavenge of all scavenges, a huge wealthy clipper ship left behind by a recent hurricane, he must decide whether to save the clipper's lone survivor and possibly escape his life of poverty, or to remain loyal to his crew and family and strip the ship for all it's worth.  Bacigalupi's frank language and amazing sense of setting combine to keep the pace up while making you feel you're right alongside Nailer in his adventures.  The characters of this book leapt off the page for me, so much so that when I finished, I felt I'd lost friends.  Perhaps it's because I'm so used to trilogies these days, but I haven't felt like that at the end of a book in ages.  And it's not just Nailer, either; the supporting characters are even more well-rounded and lifelike.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes good adventure, an exciting plot, and strong characters.

Front to back time: Two days

Favourite character: This was tough.  I think the most interesting character in the book was Nailer's father, but I wouldn't want to meet him!  As for one I'd like to meet, I thought Sadna was wonderful.

Most exciting scene: I had to add this new category just for the amazing nautical battle scene.  I won't give anything away; I'll just say one word gripping.

Musical Accompaniment: Metronomy, Massive Attack

Overall Rating: 8/10  ...I'm beginning to think my rating system is flawed.  I'm always rating them 8!  But maybe that's because I only read good books! ;)

Have any of you guys read this book?  Let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's No Zombie, It's My Blog

*cue eerie B-movie music*

From the depths of the Blog Graveyard, a bloodcurdling chest rattle drifts through the binary fog.  Your hair stands on end.  You know what's coming, the walking dead.  You should run, but you're curious.  What will emerge from the fog? blog!  And it's ALIVE!!!

So, thanks for sticking around! :)

Things have been flowing along here in Amanda-land.  In the essence of time, I'll give you a bulleted list:

  • I've finished my first novel, DROWNING.  It's a story of two twins, Elly and Samantha, who are separated when Sam finds a gate into another world - a world on the brink of civil war.  Elly embarks on a quest to find her sister, but to do so she needs to decide which side of the conflict to trust.
  • I've also begun my second novel, THE TIME BETWEEN.  That premise is secret for now. ;)
  • Stay tuned in the coming weeks for some awesome giveaways!  Okay, at least one awesome giveaway.  I have some super awesome swag from the SCBWI Western Washington conference that I'd love to share with you all!
  • Which brings me to my next point - I spent last weekend at the Western Washington conference and learned a great deal!  Some highlights: Holly Black says the best way to plot is to talk about it out loud!  Is she crazy?  I don't think so!  Liz Waniewski says strong characters make a story.  To build strong characters, don't just ask about their flaws and virtues/ likes and dislikes, but remember to ask WHY.  Writer/Illustrator Dave Santat had a really moving keynote speech to kick off the second day, in which he said, "Life is a series of baby steps" and the more you do it, the better you get.  Justin Chanda said now is a great time to be a debut YA novelist.  And Joe Monti, Tina Wexler, and Justin Chanda all gave great insight into the "back end" of publishing.  What happens after that query is sent out into the world?  Too much to discuss here in my bulleted list! :)
  • Finally, the other big news I've had since my last entry (WAYYY back in January), is that I am engaged and will be getting married in August!
On that note, I'm off to read some more Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.  Halfway through, I can't recommend this book enough!

*stretches zombie-blog arms* "Ah, it's good to be back!"