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Category Archives: 5 Stars

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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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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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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1Q84: A World of Two Moons

Rating: ★

“Tell me, Tengo, as a novelist, what is your definition of reality?”

Murakami’s novels have consistently explored the merging of the surreal and the mundane in a truly Kafkaesque manner. His latest work, 1Q84, is no exception.

It follows the stories of two protagonists, Aomame and Tengo, in two separate storylines, as they find themselves shifted to the alternate reality of 1Q84, a world where two moons hang in the sky, and strange forces are at work. When Tengo, a 30 year old cram school teacher and fiction writer, ghostwrites a novel titled Air Chrysalis, he throws into motion a series of events. This is 1Q84; anything can happen. Yet, the world does follow its own set of strange and inexplicable logic.

This novel is Murakami’s best work yet: with his matter-of-fact, softly unemotional tone, he manages to capture the essence of modern Japanese society perfectly yet again. And, despite this softly unemotional tone, the reader feels a distinct connection with each of the protagonists.

In the end, it is an exploration of the loneliness.  The two protagonists, having borne their loneliness for so long, do not realize how unconnected they have become, and perhaps this is what allows them to shift to 1Q84…

I won’t say too much, but it is a long book, filled with subtleties and nuance. Sometimes the pace can be slow. But for one who would enjoy a deeply introspective query into what it means to live our modern life, flavored by a touch of Kafkaesque surrealism, I can think of no better book to recommend.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in 5 Stars, Literature, Postmodern

 

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