Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cinema Babble: Would That That Were True

The Flick: A Good Day To Die Hard

The Peeps: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Radivoje Bukvic, etc, etc.

The Dealio: Ol' bull-in-the-china-shop, John McClane is in Russia to rescue his son, Jack, from  going to a Russian jail- or worse. Turns out, Jack is not just a troublemaker gone wild, but a highly trained (um, yeah), CIA operative on a sensitive mission to prevent nuclear terrorism. Let me make this brief: in less than one day- a day, moreover, without sleep, eats or potty breaks- the two McClanes are involved in three separate rollovers, shot at, fall through about 25 ceilings, get a chunk of rebar stuck through the side, are beaten ferociously on the melon with the butt of a rifle, are kicked in the head and chest repeatedly, then exposed to radiation at Chernoble. And, by the end of that particular day, come out of it with one small bandage on the arm for Papa and one scratch and a wince-y walk for Junior.  I don't know about you, but for me, any one of the above would have been enough to put me out of action for the forseeable future. And that includes the 'no potty breaks' part. Really.

The Grading Session: 1.42 pengies out of 5. I think the world of John McClane, but, next time, can we ease up on the  ordinance expenditures and plow back a taddy bit of that into plot and character development. As my mom would say, 'Really, I am so disappointed in you.'

Lessons Learned: Not all Die Hards are created equal. And finally,  when the source material has so much in the way of zippy, zingy smarty pants repartee, the lack of same  in a retread is just. too. painful. by comparison.

Biblio Babble: If Flowers Could Speak, What Would They Say

The Read: The Language of Flowers

The Writer: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Dealio: In tightly laced Victorian times, lovers conveyed sentiments to each other through the secret language of flowers. In this book, orphaned Victoria Jones, who really could not possibly care less about, well, anything, learns that there is much to learn, to enjoy, to love and to celebrate using the language of flowers to express herself. As Victoria grows from a bristly 10 year old into a fully grown, cynical, but very naive adult, she finally finds her voice, and her way, through flowers. If this sounds a little sappy to you, keep in mind that all is not sugared violets for Victoria, and along the way to understanding what her life is all about, she makes enough missteps to lose her way completely. But, oh, the lovely language of flowers.

The Grading Session: 4.91 pengies out of 5. This book really made a connection for me between the work I was doing with aromatherapy, and the hidden, secret and highly debatable language of flowers. I loved watching Victoria learn how to say what was on her mind...but, more, I loved the way she used her gift to reach out to others. Even when she is asking her foster mom, 'What is the flower for hate?!' she comes across as a tough little cookie with a very soft and delicate heart. This book launched me onto a total immersion course about flowers and their meanings. Such fun! I still chuckle when people make a revealing flower choice. But, indulgently, not meanly.

Lessons Learned: So easy, really: Make sure of what your desired message is before you try to bring it off with a floral offering. Lastly this: I am always amazed by how reading one very involving book can lead me into a veritable forest of similar reading, research and revelation. Yum.
The Flick: Django Unchained

The Peeps: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, etc.

The Dealio: Foxx's Django, literally in a chain gang, is liberated, then recruited, by German dentist-turned-bounty-hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) to help him ID, then kill, two miscreant overseers. Along the way, a deal is struck  whereby Django wins Schultz's training, expertise and entree into sophisticated plantation society, in order to rescue the ex-slave's wife (Washington). Much blood-splatter, excruciating 'slave-violence' and rewriting of history occurs. This is how you know you are seated in a Tarantino movie. At almost 3 hours, this is far too long an indulgence, but the story is a good one, well worth the telling and heavy on the attention-grabbing characters (DiCaprio's rotten-toothed and even more rotten moralled Calvin Candie and the always-watchable Jackson's creepy Stephen among the standouts). Still can't help but feel that everyone is afraid to tell Tarantino to edit down a smidge. Saw at least 3 places where we could have ended without any significant loss of payoff and ah-HAA! moments.

The Grading Session: 4.891 pengies out of 5. It's the editing, primarily which lost the smidgen of a pengie. Soundtrack was typically eclectic, semi-inspired Tarantino. Always picture him browsing through his music folio, and behaving like a French chef in the marketplace, selecting whatever is fresh, promising and just a little...twisty to pique the palate...and the ear.

Lessons Learned: Stop me if you have heard this before: do not bring your 2 year old to a Tarantino movie. You may think they don't get would be wrong. Next this: is there ever a role which Waltz does not savor like  fine wine or outstanding culinary masterpiece? It is amazing to watch him work: the tiny nuance, the small expressions changing, the timing! Lastly this: why are the rotters in a film worse shots than the Imperial Storm Troopers? Answer: because it is their lot in films to be so.