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Category Archives: Ratings

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson Review

Rating: ★★★★★

As a general rule, I don’t like nonfiction.  Which is strange if you know me, because I’ve always been a history lover, a facts seeker.  But somehow nonfiction books manage to be incredibly boring to me.  It’s dry, it’s filled with facts, which is 100% the point of the book, but where’s the story?  I firmly believe that everybody’s life, any event has a story that needs to be told.  And every story doesn’t only have facts — it has people’s motivations and feelings.  You can tell me how many millions of people died in WWII and the numbers of death camps and Hitler’s words, but what were his motivations?  What where the motivations of the soldiers who ran the camps?

But I digress.  I should also add that I was given an iPad a year ago and bought the iPhone primarily because of its camera capabilities.  Other than that, I have always been strongly against the Apple brand because of its lack of consumer customizability and closed system.  While the biography isn’t a commentary on Apple, Steve Jobs did make all the primary decisions in the path of the company while he was alive, so I believe it’s important to know where I came from when starting the book.

Walter Isaacson does an incredible job with portraying Steve Jobs the tech giant, Steve Jobs the family man, and Steve Jobs the friends.  He spoke to Jobs’ allies and enemies in order to get a more rounded and unbiased view of the mistakes and successes of Jobs’ life.  Isaacson gave the general public a truly great insight into the life and mind of a man that those not directly in contact with him didn’t have.  He provided the motivation and psychology behind Jobs’ actions as well, painting the story of Jobs’ life.  There were times in the book you hated the person that you were getting to know, and times you admired him.  But by the end of the book, I didn’t dislike the Apple brand as much as I did, and I came to understand and respect Steve Jobs for what he tried to accomplish in his life.  I have not enjoyed a biography as much as I did this one in many many years.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in 5 Stars, Nonfiction

 

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Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Review

Rating: ★

It’s an unfortunate truth, but many romantic comedy anime are harem series.  I recently gave Mayo Chiki! a rather unfavorable review, and in general… yes I strongly disapprove of this subset of anime.  That being said, Tomodachi ga Sukunai did slightly better in my opinion.  Maybe it’s because the anime’s focal point is half romance half slice of life.  Slice of life isn’t quite the right way to describe it, but the premise and most of the show consists of seven mostly high schoolers’ attempts to stop being an outcast and find friends.  As a result, hijinks occur between their clashing personalities, and the evil main female protagonist provides the audience with many laughs due to her love of putting the other members through torture.  It’s a pretty straightforward series so I won’t say much, but there is fan service galore, tastefully done for the most part, hilarious comedic moments, and a few touching dialogues here and there.  Every episode was entertaining, and for some relatively light humor done decently well, I’d recommend this show.

 

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Kamisama Dolls Review

Rating: ★

The premise for this show seemed like it could be really interesting.  I’m a huge fan of mecha/god animes, so I was ready for this anime to grab me.  This post truly encompasses how I feel about this anime, then add a little ire, and you have my review for this anime.

My main gripe with this anime is that it spent 10 episodes or so potentially building up a showdown between two characters, one good and one bad.  The pacing was horrible, there were cute moments at the most awkward times, but it was building up to it slowly.  Then around episode 10, a completely random bad guy is suddenly introduced and the previous one is suddenly all but forgotten.  The only way the first antagonist is ever mentioned is in the protagonist’s back story.  Then suddenly at the very end of the last episode, he suddenly reappears!  … only to leave an unfinished storyline.  I can only say I was sick of this anime five episodes before the end, but my insane need to finish what I start pushed me through it.  Writing about this series makes me tired so I’m going to stop now.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in 1 Star, Anime, Series Overview

 

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The Science of Sleep Review

Rating: ★★★★★

Today I rewatched The Science of Sleep or La Science des rêves.  I had seen it in 2006 when it was first released but not since then.  It is a Michael Gondry’s third film, other notable ones include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Green Hornet.  The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg.  Gael Garcia Bernal has consistently been one of my favorite actors.  He is an incredibly versatile and daring actor (his role in La Mala Educacion or Bad Education really stands out in my mind).  He plays a somewhat neurotic and creative man who is unable to distinguish dreams from reality and does it with an incredible subtlety that makes you believe such a person could possibly exist.  While I have not seen Charlotte Gainsbourg enough to have formed an opinion about her, she does a great job in this movie as the girl next door to Gael Garcia Bernal who he falls in love with.  You never know quite what she thinks or feels until the end really, and I can only imagine the amount of acting skill it took to pull off such a neutral yet interesting character as hers.

I revisited the film with a friend of mine, and his first words after the film were: “I don’t know what to think!”  It is a truly difficult movie to describe.  Eternal and Green Hornet were Gondry’s more linear and sensical movies.  The Science of Sleep takes the viewer through a trip of the subconscious, and because we are viewing things from Bernal’s eyes, we are often confused ourselves of what is reality and what is dream.  On top of that, an unusual love story is woven in that is made further complicated by the increasingly thin line between dreams and reality.  As a result, it really takes a few minutes, or maybe a few hours, perhaps a few days to formulate a thought about the movie after seeing it the first time.  But one thing is undeniable about the movie: if you manage to stick with it and roll with its punches, it’s hard to not come out loving and sympathizing with the unhinged Bernal.

That being said, this is not a movie for everyone.  If you are looking for a psychological thriller, this is not for you.  A straight romance story, not for you.  A comedy, not for you.  A tragedy, not for you.  If you are willing to go on a journey, keep your mind open, and be teased and prompted and shifted into a position where you think about your own life, life’s disappointments, and life’s dreams, then this movie is for you.  I cannot say that this movie is really a story.  It is, in my mind, a work of art.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in 5 Stars, Films, Psychological

 

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Incontinent on the Continent Review

Rating: ★★★☆☆

In her book, Incontinent on the Continent, Jane Christmas tells the story of her first time ever to Italy – a country that she had dreamed of often throughout her life as a place of large families, matriarchs, good food, and love of life – in short, a movie.  In an attempt to fix a broken relationship with her aging mother, she brings her mother along on the trip.

I have to admit, up until the last chapter of the book, I would’ve given the book two stars.  For a majority of it, Jane Christmas complains about how Italy doesn’t live up to her expectations and the difficulties of managing a disabled mother in accessible-unfriendly Italy.  Her constant allusions of mother-daughter pairs she sees on the road or town attitudes or statues to her own relationship with her mother were at best awkwardly paced and reflected upon.  But the last chapter makes much of the whining worth it.  The book also touches upon the soul and history of many of Italy’s touristic gems, so if you want a rough and tumble look at what it is like to travel in Italy, plus a little bit of familial reflection on the side, this is the book for you.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in 3 Stars, Literature, Nonfiction

 

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Brilliant Legacy (찬란한 유산) Review

Rating: ★

At first glance, Brilliant Legacy seems like a typical romance series, with promos featuring two females and two males.  A-ha, the viewer will say, another story of boy meets girl, boy and girl probably don’t get along, peripheral boy and peripheral girl somehow complicate things and misunderstandings ensue, then in the end, boy and girl get together.

The first episode though, was probably the hardest thing for me to ever watch.  It took me three days to get through it, because I kept having to pause it and calm my anger down.   Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2011 in 5 Stars, Brilliant Legacy, Series Overview

 

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Prime Suspect Review

Prime Suspect

Rating: ★

Yesterday we said goodbye with a great last episode of Prime Suspect.  Well, it’s not technically dead, they’ll continue shooting, but the airing slot will be taken over by The Firm, in a move by NBC that is totally overhauling many of their shows.  NBC insists that none of them are being cancelled, merely benched.  Hilarious.

I am a huge fan of crime shows – on my list of to-watch shows are Castle, Bones, Dexter, Criminal Minds, etc etc etc.  Part of why Criminal Minds is top on my list of favorite crime shows is because there is a certain degree of Hollywood shimmer that isn’t there.  Yes, most of the people are attractive, yes there isn’t really much mention of paperwork and whatnot, but Criminal Minds does deal with the mental impact of the crimes, which is something that I find lacking from many other shows.

Prime Suspect takes the grit of crime a step further and throws it into the police office.  One reason why I hated CSI was because of how… pretty it was.  Look at the pretty offices, the pretty ME room, the pretty crime scene.  Look at how dashing the detectives all look and how they all get along and work together for the sake of good!  Prime Suspect has imperfect heroes.  They smoke, joke at inappropriate times, fight, and insult each other.  They have problems in their personal lives and insecurities.  They are not perfect heroes.  Of course, there still is a bit of Hollywood polish, it’s a little unavoidable, but it’s kept to a minimum.  The show also deals with the emotional impact that the deaths of the victims have on their family and friends.

I really like the writing in this show, which is pretty rare for me in the current day and age.  I often lament the decrease in quality, but this show redeems a little of my fear that the entertainment industry is declining into a state of caring only about special effects and explosions.  On top of that, the acting is great.  Maria Bello is a less often seen actress, but she is great in everything she does.  She popped onto my radar with The Cooler, and if anyone hasn’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  Other notable actors you may recognize are Kirk Acevedo and Peter Gerety.

Please NBC, stop futzing around and being greedy and give us back Prime Suspect.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2011 in 4 Stars, Prime Suspects, Series Overview

 

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