Sunday, October 14, 2012

Biblio Babble: Shades of a YA Lisbeth Salander

The Book: Don't Turn Around

The Writer: Michelle Gagnon

The Dealio: Sixteen year old Noa wakes up strapped to an operating table, IVs running, and a powerful pain in her chest. Looking around, she discovers she is not in a hospital, clinic or doctor's office. She appears to be in a warehouse. She can remember nothing after leaving the metro in Boston, and is suddenly seized by a feeling that she is in very grave peril. Tearing loose from the table and sprinting for an exit, she is immediately surrounded by guys in black. With guns. A spectacular chase ensues, and, realising she can not head to her place, Noa heads for the hills, toting her faithful laptop, setting  out to reconstruct the time that was erased from her memory, figure out what has happened to her and locate a safe bolthole. Obviously, the first thing she is going to do- when she finds a spare minute- is to check things out on the internet where, as a hacker supreme, she aims  to get to the bottom of this hair-raising adventure. Along the way, she will meet Peter, the  young   proprietor of a hacking alliance dedicated to 'bringing down the mighty bad guys.' Well, Noa has a few who could use just such an intervention.

The Grading Session: 4.78 pengies out of 5. OK, this is a YA novel, but I found it immediately absorbing, intricately plotted and filled with that dystopian dread which has no real name or identity. Which makes it all the more threatening. The supporting cast is eclectic, but interesting (Peter's girlfriend is a bit of a drip, however), and the thought that this is the first in a series intrigues me. Your mileage may differ, natch.

Lessons Learned: When someone emails you 'Get out. Now.' and doesn't use slammers (!!!) what the message says. Also this: has the comment, 'Who's going to make me?' ever had a good answer? Or even one that didn't involve the letting of blood? So, drop it. Now. Lastly this: if someone is trying to get into a dorm and is using crutches and making frustrated noises, remember Ted Bundy, and call security to help the poor, locked-out person. If s/he is truly innocent, security can help. If s/he is a perp, this will give you the chance to get away clean, while the security guard dukes it out. Which is what security is paid to do, no?

Cinema Babble: Aca-pretty okay movie

The Flick: Pitch Perfect

The Peeps: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, etc, etc.

The Dealio: Meet the Barden College Bellas, an all-female a cappella group poised on the brink of either resounding greatness or total flopatude. Beca (Kendrick) is the daughter of a Barden prof.  She dreams of being a DJ, and is only going through the motions at school as part of a deal with Dad. If she gives an honest effort, he will bankroll her LA dreams. Wilson's self-titled 'Fat Amy' is a Tasmanian wonder who is fearless, funny and really not at all into cardio. A motley group of misfits and wannabes make up this oddball group, trying, straining, paining for the big time..but, ultimately, not at all convinced that they are ever going to make it.The Bellas face some stiff competition with the Barden  all-male acappella group, headed by the self-absorbed and cruel-humored Bumper. It is only once the Bellas accept the idea of moving away from the traditional routines and numbers they have retooled and refined until they have absolutely no flavor or texture whatsoever, that they begin to make waves, better music - and gain some fame in the pursuit.

The Grading Session: 4.35 pengies out of 5. You know they're gonna get dinged for one too many barf scenes dwelled upon in glorious detail. But this is a fun, bouncy, engaging- if flyweight late summer flick. The new twist on the music is terrific, the singing, likewise and, of course, there is a lovely moral at the end of the story. Your mileage may differ.

Lessons Learned:  There truly is nothing like an old-fashioned father-daughter chat to warm the cockles of the heart...unless it is a nice, old father-son chat.  Too, you truly can not judge a book by its cover. (Yep, Lilly, I am looking right at you). Lastly this: always check the gas gauge, even after a 'fill up'.

Notable Quotables: Anything from Lilly. Examples: 'I have lungs like fish gills' and 'I ate my twin in utero' and ' I just spent three months in county for arson.' All pronounced with a voice slightly, but only slightly, louder than a  star-fish's  voice. What?  You never heard a star fish? What'd I tell ya?

CinemaBabble: Just like fiction. But it's not. Mostly.

The Flick: Argo

The Peeps: Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber, Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan, etc, etc.

The Dealio: Behind the scenes of the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, something is afoot: a plan to spirit six American embassy workers, who are seeking refuge in the Canadian Embassy, out. Based-with embroidery, I am sure- upon the story of one EXFIL (exfiltration expert), Tony Mendez, this story tells how it really went down. Mostly. An unusual blend of humor, snarkiness, almost unbearable tension and high drama, Argo is a nearly perfect concoction that just will not let you remain uninvolved. Even though the events unspooled over 30 years ago, there is a timeliness, a depressing familiarity,  about the entire tale. You know how you want it to turn out, you know how it did turn out and yet, all still seems brand new and immediate, with everything   hinging  on a nuance or chance event. This is what makes it such good film-making. That, and, of course,  Alan Arkin.

The Grading Session: 4.998 pengies out of 5. A scintilla of a pengie off for a needlessly draggy mid-section. The casting, however, was spot-on and clearly, a great deal of effort was made to keep the portrayals as close to the originals as possible. Also, that creeping sense of fear, contagious panic, tension and horror was as real as if watching a news report. As always, your mileage may differ.

Lessons Learned: There is literally no such thing as a bad idea in intelligence. Or, apparently, an unintelligent one (Bikes? In winter? Across the mountains? Really.). Then this: no matter what people tell you, you can get a movie package together in less than a week. You just need to have it  underwritten by the CIA. Or the State Department. Or, well, you get the picture. l
Lastly this:There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

Notable Quotables:  A toast, a reply, a theme: 'Argo Eff Yourself!'