Monday, September 28, 2009

Clerks (1994)

This is an okay movie. Dante (Brian O'Halloran) is awoken by a phone call from his boss asking him to open the convenience store on his day off. When he arrives at the store, he can’t open the shutters because someone has stuck gum in the lock. His friend works for a small video store. Throughout the day they have long conversations on a variety of topics and point out what they don’t like about their customers. They close the stores to play hockey on the roof, visit a funeral home, and straighten out Dante’s love life.

This is the first full length feature film by director Kevin Smith and it led to several spin-offs. He appears as Silent Bob. The events of Julie Dwyer's wake were scripted, but not filmed because of the anticipated costs. The film is in black-and-white and was originally made with a budget of less than $28,000. Smith filmed the movie at the Quick Stop convenience store he worked at. The videotape became one of the most frequently stolen videos. A sequel was released in 2006.

The Mummy Case

I liked this book written by Elizabeth Peters. The famous couple head to Egypt to excavate pyramids and they bring along their precocious son Ramses for the first time. Amelia hears rumors about an ancient papyrus and tries to find it. They run into a group of missionaries that are behaving suspiciously. This is the third novel in the series. There is a Hardy Boys book with the same title.

The Hippopotamus Pool

This is an okay book written by Elizabeth Peters. Queen Tetisheri’s tomb is the first discovery of a royal woman’s burial from ancient Egypt. A masked stranger offers to tell the exact location to Amelia, but is murdered before he can reveal it. The family meets David who is an apprentice to an antiquities forger and is also the grandson of Abdullah. This is the 8th novel in the series. The title refers to an Egyptian tale about two warring princes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog

This is an okay book written by Elizabeth Peters. For the first time in many years Ramses stays in England so he can be with Nefret, while Amelia and Emerson head to Egypt. She is hopeful they will have enough alone time to rekindle old passions. While on a carriage ride they are attacked and Emerson is kidnapped. When Amelia is finally able to rescue him, he appears to have lost his memory of her and gradually she tries to help him remember. This is the 7th novel in the series.

Jackie Brown (1997)

This is a solid movie. Jackie (Pam Grier) earns a meager income of $16,000 working as a stewardess for a Mexican airline. She supplements her wages by smuggling cash into the U.S. for gunrunner Ordell (Samuel Jackson). However, she is busted one day at the airport when an ATF agent and a cop demand to look into her purse and find a stash of money. In order to avoid going to prison, she agrees to help them trap her boss. She decides to take advantage of the situation by playing both sides against each other.

I liked this better than Pulp Fiction. Based on calculations from the Consumer Price Index, $16,000 in 1997 is equivalent to $21,500 in 2009. The story was adapted from the 1992 novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard and was the third film directed by Quentin Tarantino. It is also in homage of blaxploitation films. The main character's race was changed.

The Last Camel Died at Noon

This is an okay book written by Elizabeth Peters. A young man bursts into the drawing room of the Emerson family home and collapses. When he is revived he tells about how his uncle disappeared into the Nubian desert 14 years ago and the missing man’s father has requested Amelia’s family to search for him. While in the desert their camels start to die off and they run out of water, but they are rescued before it is too late and taken to isolated village that still follows the customs of an ancient civilization. This is the 6th novel in the series.

Boiler Room (2000)

This is a solid movie. Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi) is a college dropout, eager to prove his worth to his demanding father. Secretly he operates an illegal gambling ring in his house. When a new customer comes to play, he convinces Seth to join a shady brokerage firm in Long Island, to get rich quick. He finds immediate success, but clashes with one of his supervisors. He starts to question some of the practices of the company and discovers they are taking money from clients through fraudulent stock trades.

The film shows how aggressively pushing sales can put clients into trouble and that there is usually a catch in get-reach-quick schemes. Although I am interested in knowing more about investing and working in the field, I wouldn’t want to be in a position where I had to convince others to buy a stock. It’s important to remember that individual stocks are unpredictable and diversification is the best option. There are references to the film Wall Street. Several jokes and stereotypes are made about Jews. The term boiler room refers to a business that uses dishonest methods to sell investments.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Deeds of the Disturber

This is an okay book written by Elizabeth Peters. Amelia and her husband plan to stay in England during the summer of 1896. Her brother asks her to watch over his children, Percy and Violet while he visits another country. When a night watchman mysteriously dies in front of a mummy at the British Museum, Amelia shows up wielding her parasol. Someone is posing as an ancient priest, but the family has trouble trying to catch the prankster.

This is the fifth novel in the series. This is the only story which takes place entirely in England. The title refers to the ancient Egyptian Hymn to Osiris.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Run Lola Run (1998)

This is a solid German movie. Time is running out for Lola (Franka Potente). She’s just received a frantic phone call from her boyfriend Manni, who’s lost a bag with 100,000 marks that he owes to his mobster boss. Lola hopes her father, who works for a bank, can help her, but she only has twenty minutes to get the money to her boyfriend before he faces serious consequences.

The film includes a mixture of animation and live action. The story is played out three times, with each leading to a different outcome. The actress also appeared in The Bourne Supremacy. When the Euro was accepted as the official currency in Germany, the exchange rate was fixed at roughly 1.95 marks per euro. Polish film director Kieslowski often used the similar methods of a time limit and alternative scenarios. The film includes allusions to Vertigo (1958): the Spirale Cafe, the spiral stairway, and the painting of Kim Novak in the casino.

500 Days of Summer (2009)

This is a noteworthy movie. Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an architectural graduate who had to settle with writing greeting cards when it was the only job he could find. Summer (Zooey Deschanel) was recently hired as the new secretary and Tom is immediately spellbound by her. They end up going out on several dates including a karaoke bar and a visit to an Ikea store. The relationship becomes intimate, but Summer claims they are just friends, upsetting Tom. He believes in once in a lifetime soul mates, but she doesn’t.

I enjoyed the split screen, the narrator, and the numbers flipping through the days. 500 days is about 16 ½ months. There are currently 37 Ikea furniture stores in the United States, including one in Draper, Utah. Gordon-Levitt gained fame from the television sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. He also had a supporting role in 10 Things I Hate About You. Deschanel appeared in Almost Famous, The New Guy, and Elf. The Smiths were an English rock band active in the 1980s that never gained much of a following outside of the UK.

Lion in the Valley

This is an okay book written by Elizabeth Peters. The Emersons return to Egypt during the 1895-96 season to excavate at Dahshoor. Ramses is constantly getting into trouble and his parents find a man who tries to protect him. The Master Criminal is back and this time he is targeting Amelia. This is the fourth novel in the series. The title is taken from the Battle of Kadesh Inscriptions of King Ramses II.

American Psycho (2000)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. Young Harvard graduate, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), has all the accessories of a well-to-do man, from designer wardrobe to a fancy apartment, just like everyone else in his crowd. He desperately wants to fit in, yet, the terrible irony is the more he tries to be like other wealthy men on Wall Street, the less he is noticed. This lack of control causes him to vent his frustrations, but things aren’t as they appear.

It is based on the 1991 novel by Bret Ellis. Christian Bale's father David was married to feminist Gloria Steinem for three years. Screenwriter Mary Harron claimed it was a coincidence that the character Paul Allen has the same name as the co-founder of Microsoft. As a promotion for the movie, you could register to receive e-mails sent from the main character to his therapist. A direct-to-video spin-off, American Psycho 2: All American Girl was released in 2002 and directed by Morgan Freeman.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tomb of the Golden Bird

This is an okay book written by Elizabeth Peters. Amelia and her husband Emerson are on the brink of one of the greatest archaeological finds in history – the tomb of King Tut. But the path to discovery is strewn with dangers. Lured into a perilous trap, Emerson and his son Ramses manage to escape unharmed. But Emerson begins to suspect his charming half-brother Sethos might be more involved than he admits.

This is the 18th novel in the series. The title refers to a pet canary owned by Howard Carter. The tomb was discovered in 1922 and was the most complete Ancient Egyptian royal tomb ever found. The boy ruled for about 10 years and was treated as godlike.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Serpent on the Crown

This is an okay book written by Elizabeth Peters. In 1922, Amelia and her family return to the Valley of the Kings. A woman comes to their house and offers a golden statue that she claims is cursed. The family must find out more about the object and where it came from. A Russian man is hired on their crew, but he starts to exhibit strange behavior. This is the 17th novel in the series. The title refers to Pharaoh Thutmose III.