Random Film Reviews

Over the past few days I’ve viewed four films that I thought were all worthy of a mention. I think all of them are from a few years back, which shows how current I am on the latest films.

The first from 2009 was Precious, about an extremely uneducated and overweight black woman and her struggles to overcome her life’s situation. It won some academy awards, at least for the actress in the title role as I recall. It was a much better film and story than I expected. A sad and moving story, well worth the time to watch.

The second from 2015 was TRUMBO about the blacklisted screenwriter, and communist sympathizer Dalton Trumbo. A well written, well-acted story illustrating the true events and characters at that time in politics and old Hollywood. As usual, Bryan Cranston is superb in the title role.  The only film that I’m aware of him writing was SPARTACUS, from 1960 also one of my favorites. I'm sure their were many other credits to Dalton Trumbo under many other names.

The third film, also from 2009 is one simply called MOON with actor Sam Rockwell in the lead role. This is an interesting story with a very small cast and some intriguing ideas.  I missed the opening scenes so it had me guessing from the beginning, and trying to figure out what was going on.  I don’t know if there were any set-ups in the beginning that gave away any of the surprises. It’s kind of like The Martian from 2015. Similar in a way but different in that the story revolves around one guy based alone on the moon. In this story, the main character is working for the big corporation, maintaining a vital mining operation, and learning over time that things were not exactly what they seemed.  I liked the film MOON a lot and will probably watch it again.

The fourth film I watched early this morning called Cinema Verite, with Tim Robbins, Diane Lane, and the late James Gandolfini among others. This is an HBO-produced film and is a retelling of a real documentary about the Loud Family, which was one of the earliest examples of reality television. The original documentary, a production of An American Family, a 1973 PBS television series was controversial in its day, due to the effects of the filming on the subjects, namely the lives of the Loud Family members, and the manipulation pushed upon them by the director and the networks to create some conflicts to exploit. One of the reasons I like this is because of the 1970’s setting, they captured the vibe of the time very well. I give this one a thumbs up too.

Review: "The Tao of Writing" by Ralph L. Wahlstrom

The Tao of Writing: Imagine. Create. FlowThe Tao of Writing: Imagine. Create. Flow by Ralph L. Wahlstrom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some interesting ideas here, and some good exercises at the end of the book, but over all I found the book kind of dull and bland. This is one where you can take what you like and leave the rest. Your mileage may very. I'm sure some readers will gain much more insight from this than I did. Much of the book covered old ground with an eastern Taoist slant. Great if your in tune with that kind of thing.

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Review: "The Art of Fiction" by John Gardner

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young WritersThe Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can't recall the exact date I bought this book but it had to be some time around 1989. It was during that time than I began to think more seriously about writing fiction. Much of my reading before that time was directed more at the area of non-fiction. Life being what it is, it wasn't until I finished writing my first novel that I finally found the time to finish this delightful book. Now that I've released my first novel as an e-book, I can look back at John Gardner's "The Art of Fiction" and I can understand it through a whole new lens. I went back to the beginning of the book and began reading it again, and now I get more of what he was talking about than I first began reading it so many years ago. Now I can see the great sense of humor John Gardner brings to his writing. It's the kind of laugh out loud, dry humor that I enjoy. I plan to read this book again. I highly recommend it.

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