Saturday, February 28, 2009

Smokin’ Aces (2006)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. Buddy “Aces” Israel (Jeremy Piven) is a small time scammer turned magician who has managed to get his hands on evidence against big time mobster Sparazza. Upon discovering Buddy is about to deliver the goods to the FBI to have him thrown in prison, Sparazza sets up a $1 million bounty on his head. A variety of thugs are enticed by the reward and try to take out Buddy.

The film was primarily shot at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa. It is the feature film debut of both R&B artist Alicia Keys and rapper Common. A straight-to-DVD prequel has been announced with Carnahan executive producing. The gun used by the hitwoman is a 50 caliber M107 Long Range Sniper Rifle. The flashy cardwork seen during the movie was done by professional twin magicians Dan and Dave Buck.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Larry Horne Miller

The owner of the Utah Jazz basketball team passed away on February 20 at the age of 64, from a rare and deadly disease called calciphylaxis, a type of vascular calcification. He was born on April 26, 1944, as Lawrence Horne West, but his parents divorced in 1946 and he was adopted by his step-father Frank Soren Miller. Coach Jerry Sloan is two years older than Larry.

He owned many businesses including: a TV station, automobile dealerships, Miller Motorsports Park, a sports clothing store, restaurants, and movie theaters. He also used his wealth to donate to several charities. I think his greatest accomplishment was involved with his ownership of the Utah Jazz. He became co-owner in 1985 and one year later bought out the other partner. He built the arena the Jazz currently play in. The facility offers other activities throughout the year such as: concerts, comedians, the Monster Truck Jam, the circus, dinosaur displays, and Disney on Ice.

In 2006 he caused a controversy for refusing to allow the film Brokeback Mountain in his theaters. I wonder if he had to violate any contracts to do so, however it must have been a minor problem because his theaters continue to operate. Sometimes it is hard to stick to your beliefs, but I admire him for doing so knowing that it could cause him to lose revenue.

I enjoyed this statement from Salt Lake’s mayor:
I was saddened to hear the news of Larry Miller’s passing. On behalf of the residents of Salt Lake City, I extend my deepest sympathy to the Miller family during this difficult time. Salt Lake City has lost a dear friend and community leader. I have long admired Larry’s work ethic, charitable deeds and personal philosophy for doing good work in the community. His signature phrase, “Go about doing good until there is too much good in the world,” inspired us all. Larry was born and raised in Salt Lake City and truly helped shape the character of his home town."

I had a common ancestor with him through polygamist Joseph Horne (born 1812 in London), but I never met Larry.

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

This review appears on page 311 of my book, Serket's Movies. The rating shown is wrong and is supposed to be: okay. The editor told me to clarify my rating system, but I didn't realize at the time he was referring to this movie. When I noticed, it was too late to change it.

Shadow of the Giant

I loved this book written by Orson Scott Card. Bean was the smallest student at Battle School, but he became Ender Wiggin’s right hand. Since then he has grown to be a power on Earth. He served the Hegemon as strategist and general in the terrible wars that followed Ender’s defeat of the alien empire attacking Earth. Now Bean and his wife, Petra, yearn for a safe place to build a family – something he has never known – but there is nowhere on Earth that does not harbor his enemies.

The ending is sad. It is amazing how we can feel an emotional connection to fictional characters. Card is considering writing one more book in the Shadow series to resolve any issues left open.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shadow Puppets

I loved this book written by Orson Scott Card. The unity forced upon the warring nations by an alien enemy has shattered. Nations are rising again, seeking territory and influence, and most of all, seeking to control the skills and loyalty of the children from Battle School. Peter Wiggin, Ender’s older ruthless brother, sees that any hope for the future of Earth lies in restoring a sense of unity and purpose. With Bean as his side, the two will reshape the future.

This is the sequel to Shadow of the Hegemon and the third book in the Shadow series. It was originally to be called Shadow of Death.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. U.S. Army Major Bennett Marco (Denzel Washington) can’t sleep at night and he doesn’t want to. Marco spends his days giving inspiring speeches about his platoon’s ambush in the Kuwaiti desert and the heroics of Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Live Schreiber), who won the Medal of Honor for saving Marco’s crew. But at night, Marco’s dreamlike memories of the desert turn sinister and terrifying. And Marco privately wonders whether the two soldiers who died in the firefight might have met darker fates than officially recorded.

It is based on the 1959 novel by Richard Condon and is a remake of the 1962 film with Frank Sinatra. Operation Desert Shield was intended to protect Saudi Arabia from an invasion by Iraq. US troops were deployed on August 7, 1990 and the next day Iraq declared that it would take control of Kuwait.