Monday, November 21, 2011

Gone Tomorrow

This is an okay book written by Lee Child. Former military police major and notorious drifter Jack Reacher grows suspicious of a fellow subway passenger as their train approaches Grand Central Station in New York City. As a shady situation develops, Reacher debates between intervening to save surrounding lives or avoiding the predicament in order to save his own.

This is the 13th novel in the series.

Natural Born Killers (1994)

This is a moderate movie. Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) are an unofficially married couple who gain notoriety by driving from one town to another shooting as many people as they can. After being bitten by rattlesnakes, they are arrested while robbing a pharmacy. When they have been in prison for a year, a popular television host (Robert Downey, Jr.) is given the chance to interview Mickey about their crimes. During a live broadcast Mickey grabs a gun and starts shooting at everyone in the room. At the same time, a riot erupts in the recreation room giving the couple an opportunity to reunite.

Filming locations included the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in New Mexico and Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois. Coca-Cola approved the use of the polar bear ad, without knowing what the film was about. The film was banned in Ireland. In Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Bill mentions that the bride is a "natural born killer".

Lullaby Town

This is an okay book written by Robert Crais. Hollywood’s newest wunderkind is Peter Alan Nelson, the brilliant, erratic director known as the King of Adventure. His films make billions, but his manners make enemies. What the boy king wants, he gets, and what Nelson wants is for Elvin Cole to comb the country for the airhead wife and infant child the film-school flunkout dumped en route to becoming the third biggest filmmaker in America. It’s the kind of case Cole can handle in his sleep – until it turns out to be a nightmare. For when Cole finds Nelson’s wife in a small Connecticut town, she’s nothing like what he expects. The lady has some unwanted – and very nasty – mob connections.

This is the third novel in the series. The three most successful directors are: Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, and James Cameron.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

This is an okay movie. In London, Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) is the leader of a youth gang. One night while intoxicated they beat an elderly homeless man, cripple a writer and rape his wife. Another time he sneaks into a mansion and bludgeons a woman with a statue and then is arrested. Alex is sentenced to 14 years in prison, but after two years is given a chance with an experimental treatment intended to cure him of his violent tendencies. They strap him into a chair and force him to watch movies until he feels sick. After two weeks, he appears to be cured and is set free.

The movie is adapted from the 1962 novella written by Anthony Burgess. The 1965 film Vinyl directed by Andy Warhol is also based on that novel. During the aversion therapy scene, McDowell scratched a cornea and was temporarily blinded. The doctor standing next to him in the scene was a real physician. The film increased sales of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. In the United States, A Clockwork Orange was rated X in its original release. Roman Catholics were encouraged to not see the film. The M-505 Adams Brothers Probe 16 car is shown in the film as a Durango 95; only three of these cars were ever built.

The Affair

This is an okay book written by Lee Child. A young woman is found murdered by a railroad track in Carter Crossing, Mississippi. Top military cop Jack Reacher has plenty of evidence that indicates a soldier at a nearby base is the killer, but this soldier has some powerful friends at his disposal. Reacher is sent undercover for answers, but things quickly become complicated. He reluctantly teams up with local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux in an effort to find the truth, a truth that some will hide at any expense.

She's Out of My League (2010)

This is a solid movie. Molly McCleish (Alice Eve), a beautiful lawyer, leaves her cell phone behind during a TSA screening on her way to New York City. Agent Kirk Kettner (Jay Baruchel) finds it, and they set up a meeting time at The Andy Warhol Museum. She invites him to go to a hockey game the next night on a double date. Their following date is a fancy dinner at a French restaurant, where he is mistaken as an employee by several of the guests. The stark contrast between their two families causes some problems, and Kirk is forced to decide what he wants out of life and whether he can come overcome his lack of self-confidence.

The film was co-produced by Jimmy Miller, the brother of comedian Dennis Miller. It was also the first feature film for director Jim Field Smith. Webbed toes is the common name for syndactyly and occurs is approximately one in 2,000 to 2,500 live births. A few famous examples of this condition include: Dan Aykroyd, Ashton Kutcher, and Joseph Stalin.

Puss in Boots (2011)

This is a solid movie. While visiting a town, Puss (Antonio Banderas) learns that Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill are in possession of the magic beans he has been seeking. They are the only way to reach the land of the giants in the clouds and the goose that lays golden eggs. Puss tries to retrieve the beans from the outlaws' room, but is interrupted by masked burglar Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). He follows her to a lair and runs into Humpty Dumpty. The three of them decide to work together to snatch the beans.

The film is a spinoff prequel to Shrek 2. The feature film was partly made in India to save on labor costs. It set a new record for the highest Halloween weekend opening. During the second week of play, revenues only fell 3%, which is the smallest non-Holiday decline for a film available in over 2,500 theaters.

The Amazing Panda Adventure (1995)

This is a solid movie. 10-year-old Ryan Tyler (Ryan Slater) loves to play Nintendo and watch American Gladiators with his best friend Johnny. His parents have been divorced two years and his father works on a panda preserve in China. Ryan is given airplane tickets to visit but is reluctant to go, afraid that his dad doesn’t want to see him. When he arrives he learns about a panda caught in a trap and her baby cub that was stolen by poachers. Ryan and a bilingual Chinese girl named Ling (Yi Ding) fall through an old bridge into a fast moving river and must find a way back to the safety of their camp.

The film was shot in Chengdu, China and Vancouver, Canada. There are estimated to be between 1,800 to 3,000 living pandas.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

This is a solid movie. In 1962, college freshmen, Larry Kroger (Thomas Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst), want to join a fraternity. They first try the prestigious Omega Theta Pi, but decide it's the wrong group. Next, they visit Delta Tau Chi and are immediately welcomed. The dean of the college wants to ban the Deltas because of their repeated code violations and low grade point averages. The Deltas decide to throw a toga party as one last official event before being expelled. Larry invites the teller (Sarah Holcomb) from the supermarket, but later learns she is both underage and the mayor's daughter. The dean holds a final meeting to revoke their charter and the Delta members decide to take revenge.

National Lampoon was a humor magazine started in 1970, as a spinoff of the Harvard Lampoon. Filmed for $2.7 million, it is one of the most profitable movies of all time. The film was shot at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Spike TV's sitcom Blue Mountain State uses this film as an inspiration. The popular song "Shout" was originally recorded by The Isley Brothers in 1959.


This is an okay book written by Lee Child. An elite ex-military cop who left the service years ago, Jack Reacher has moved from place to place, without family, without possessions, and without commitments. But some unfinished business has now found Reacher. Ten years ago, a key investigation went sour and someone got away with murder. Now a chance encounter brings it all back and Reacher sees his one last shot.

This is the seventh novel in the series.

The Sting (1973)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. In 1936, con artist Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) steals $11,000 from a man who happens to be a courier for crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). Lonnegan's men murder Hooker's partner, so he flees to Chicago. A con-man (Paul Newman) hiding out from the FBI, wins $15,000 from Lonnegan in a poker game. Hooker convinces the mob boss that he is going to take control of a horse betting post. The boss, thinking he has inside information, places a $500,000 bet on an unlikely horse expecting to bankrupt the betting parlor.

Newman and Redford had previously worked together in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The story was inspired by real-life con games documented in David Maurer's book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man. Doyle Lonnegan's limp in the film, was in fact completely authentic as Shaw had slipped on a wet handball court at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The film won seven Academy Awards: Best Picture, Directing, Writing Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Film Editing and Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation. "The Entertainer" is a 1902 classic piano rag written by Scott Joplin and used as the film’s theme music.

Phantoms (1998)

This is a solid movie. Jennifer Paige (Joanna Going) feels that her younger sister Lisa needs a vacation, so she brings her to the small resort town of Snowfield, Colorado. Upon arrival, the town seems to be more deserted than usual and they find two dead bodies. Sheriff Bryce Hammond (Affleck) and his deputies come to investigate and it seems like the town is haunted. Professor Flyte, a conspiracy theory writer, is brought it when his name is found inside of a hotel room. The real culprit is an ancient creature with the ability to acquire the memories of anything it consumes.

The story comes from the 1983 novel written by Dean Koontz. The film has similarities to The Thing (1982) and The Blob (1988).

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

This is an okay movie based on true events. In 1905, Tevye (Chaim Topol) the Dairyman lives in Russia with his poor Jewish family. In the tradition of their village, a matchmaker is charged with finding husbands for the local women. His oldest daughter Tzeitel is in love with Motel Kamzoil, a tailor without a sewing machine, but Tevye is unaware of this and arranges for her to marry the wealthy butcher. His second oldest daughter Hodel falls for a student named Perchick (Paul Michael Glaser) and she leaves the village to be with him. Then his third daughter confesses that she wants to marry outside of the Jewish faith to a Russian man, so he disowns her.

The film is adapted from the 1964 Broadway musical. It won Academy Awards for Best Song Score Adaptation, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound. The score was composed by John Williams. Isaac Stern provided the violin solos. When the film was re-released in 1979, thirty-two minutes were omitted.


This is an okay book written by Lee Child. Jack Reacher is settling into lazy Key West when his life is interrupted by a stranger who comes looking for him. When the stranger turns up beaten to death in Old Town cemetery – fingertips removed – Reacher knows whomever the man was working for is not a friend. Reacher follows the trail to New York, where he confronts the people who dispatched the dead man: an elderly couple still mourning an all-American son lost in Vietnam; an alluring and intelligent woman from Reacher’s own haunted past; and at the center of the web, an opponent more vicious than any he’s ever faced.

This is the third novel in the series.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

This is a solid movie. Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) and his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman) are attending a fancy Christmas party where a Hungarian man flirts with her and two young models chat with the doctor. When they get home, Alice asks her husband if he ever fantasizes about other women and she confesses that once she almost had an affair with a military man. Bill is very surprised by this revelation and starts to question the stability of their marriage. The next night he meets an old friend at a bar and gets invited to a costume party, which turns out to be some type of sexual cult. He keeps the experience a secret from his wife, but then admits the truth when she finds his mask.

The film is based on the 1926 novella Rhapsody: A Dream Novel written by Arthur Schnitzler. This was director Stanley Kubrick's last film; he passed away during a heart attack before the release date. It holds the Guinness World Record for longest continuous movie shoot, at 400 days. The password to the cult meeting is 'Fidelio', the Latin word for 'faithful.'

Sneakers (1992)

This is a solid movie. Martin Bishop (Robert Redford) manages a team of four other ex-criminals whose computer skills are used to discover vulnerabilities in security systems. They are hired by two NSA agents to spy on a Russian professor and find out what he is building. The team plans to sneak into an office building and steal the black box. Martin convinces his ex-girlfriend Liz (Mary McDonnell) to go on a date with an employee so she can record his voice and use it to gain access into the building. The man becomes suspicious of her actions on the date and drives back to his office to find out what is happening.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The 10th Kingdom (2000)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable miniseries. Prince Wendell (Daniel Lapaine) is on his way to a prison to inform the Evil Queen (Dianne Wiest) that her request for parole has been denied. With the help of the Troll King, she escapes and turns the prince into a dog. The dog jumps through a magical mirror and lands in New York City. Virginia Lewis (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), a 21-year-old Central Park waitress, is riding her bicycle to work when she hits the dog. Her father joins her and they travel into the fairy tale lands on a quest to restore the prince to his throne.

The miniseries was initially broadcast over five nights on NBC, beginning February 27, 2000. It won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design.

In Time (2011)

This is an okay movie. In the year 2161, genetic manipulation allows people to stop aging. In order to prevent overpopulation a device is implanted so that once you reach age 25, you only have one year left to live. Time has also replaced money as the means of trade, so people can lower or extend their life by how they use their time. Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is a 28-year-old factory worker who lives with his 50-year old mother. One night in a bar he helps a rich man escape a brawl. The stranger transfers 100 years to Will and then jumps off a bridge. The Timekeepers are responsible for keeping people in the proper Time Zones and they become suspicious when they see that Will has a lot more time than he should.

Science fiction writer Harlan Ellison claimed in a lawsuit that the film was based on his 1965 short story 'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman.

Free Fall

This is an okay book written by Robert Crais. Elvis Cole is just a detective who can’t say no, especially to a girl in a terrible fix. And Jennifer Sheridan qualifies: her fiancé, Mark Thurman, is a decorated LA cop with an elite plainclothes unit, but Jennifer is sure he’s in trouble – the kind of serious trouble that only Elvis Cole can help him out of. Five minutes after his new client leaves his office, Elvis and his partner, the enigmatic Joe Pike, are hip-deep in a deadly situation as they plummet into a world of South Central gangs, corrupt cops, and conspiracies of silence. And before the case is through, every cop in the LAPD will be gunning for a pair of escaped armed-and-dangerous killers – Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.

This is the fourth novel in the series.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

This is an okay movie. On the night of May 15 Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) hears a clock ticking. She discovers a secret chamber inside of her mansion and finds a carriage clock with an odd object inside of it. She shares pictures of the device with another tomb raider and he pretends to not understand what it is, but then sends commandos to steal it from her. The next day she receives a letter from her deceased father (Jon Voight) explaining that she needs to travel to Cambodia and Siberia to locate and destroy the missing pieces of the Triangle of Light, which allows the possessor to have control over space and time.

The film is based on a video game series and was the highest grossing film adaptation of a video game until 2010. This was the debut film for Chris Barrie, a British actor best known for his role on the television series Red Dwarf. In 2002, an attraction was opened at Paramount's Kings Island (then owned by Paramount Pictures), but it was sold in 2008 and references to the film had to be removed.

Sunset Express

This is an okay book written by Robert Crais. Elvis Cole, wisecracking private eye, finds himself embroiled in a controversial LA murder case. A wealthy entrepreneur appears to have murdered his wife. A hot-shot defense attorney takes the case and hires Elvis to find proof that the L.A. detective – rumored to be dirty – fooled around with the evidence. But as Elvis investigates, he becomes more suspicious of the media loving lawyer than the cops.

This is the sixth novel in the series.

Queen of the Damned (2002)

This is a solid movie. Vampire Lestat (Stuart Townsend) awakens after decades of sleep to the sound of a rock band, and instead of getting upset he decides to become their lead singer. The new band quickly becomes popular and Lestat arranges for a large concert in Death Valley. He challenges all of the other vampires to come out of hiding. Queen Akasha (Aaliyah) wants to partner with him so they can rule together. During a confrontation with the Ancient Vampires, Lestat pretends to obey her commands, but then joins in the attack against her.

The film is based on the third novel in Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles. Aaliyah Haughton was killed in an airplane crash six months before the release date.

The Rum Diary (2011)

This is a solid movie. Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is tired of working as a journalist in New York City, so he takes a job in Puerto Rico writing horoscopes and interviewing tourists about the local bowling alley. When the editor of the newspaper learns how much Kemp spends on rum, he forces the writer to find a new place to live. The San Juan Star is struggling financially and Kemp wants to write about local political issues but is discouraged from doing so. Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), a businessman, alerts him about a deal to bring casinos to a nearby island and he wants the writer to publish articles to promote the project.

It is based on the 1998 novel by Hunter S. Thompson. The author moved to Puerto Rico in 1960 to write for a sports newspaper. This was director Bruce Robinson's first film in 19 years.

Jungle 2 Jungle (1997)

This is a solid movie. Michael Cromwell (Tim Allen) is a successful commodities broker living in New York City and engaged to marry Charlotte (Lolita Davidovich), a fashion designer. He flies out to Venezuela so his estranged wife can sign the divorce papers. While there he learns that he has a 13-year-old son Mimi-Siku (Sam Huntington), who has been raised by a native tribe. Michael reluctantly brings his son back to New York City which is a huge culture shock to the boy who is unfamiliar with life in a large city.

This is a remake of the 1994 French film Un indien dans la ville (literally, An Indian in the city). Tim Allen and Martin Short were paired up once more by Disney in the 2006 film, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. A bite from a tarantula is not deadly to humans.

Dolphin Tale (2011)

This is a solid movie based on a true story. Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) is a depressed and lonely boy who spends his free time in the garage tinkering with his remote controlled helicopter. His favorite cousin Kyle Connellan (Austin Stowell) serves in the military and is sent to Iraq. One day while Sawyer is riding his bicycle near the beach, a fisherman calls out to him to find help because a dolphin is trapped on the sand. Rescue workers from the Clearwater Marine Hospital arrive to pick up the animal. The dolphin's tale has to be amputated which severely hinders her ability to swim. A prosthetics specialist (Morgan Freeman) decides that he will make an artificial tale for the mammal.

Winter is a bottlenose dolphin held at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida who was found in December 2005. She was spotted and caught by a small fishing boat. It took a team of experts a year and half to design and test the prosthetic tail. There is a live webcam showing the pool where the dolphin lives.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Devil’s Own (1997)

This is an okay movie. In 1993, IRA gunman Frankie McGuire (Brad Pitt) travels to New York using an alias, with the goal of buying missiles and using a fishing boat to take them to Ireland. He stays with the family of New York police sergeant Tom O'Meara (Harrison Ford), who are unaware of his true purpose for visiting. When some masked gunman break into the house, O'Meara becomes suspicious of the stranger. He finds a stash of money hidden in the basement bathroom and confronts McGuire and demands to know the details of his mission.

This was the last film for director Alan Pakula who he died almost two years after its release in a car accident. The British and Irish governments decided under the 1998 Belfast Agreement that the status of Northern Ireland will remain unchanged as long as the majority of the population is supportive.

L.A. Requiem

This is an okay book written by Robert Crais. Elvis Cole and former cop Joe Pike have been partners in a detective agency for 12 years. After an ex-girlfriend of Pike’s disappears, the girl’s father asks them to help the police with the search. When the missing persons case turns into a hunt for a killer who has been stalking victims in Los Angeles, Cole and Pike find themselves battling both a hostile police department and a madman.

This is the eighth novel in the series.

Twister (1996)

This is a solid movie. Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) and his fiancée Dr. Melissa Reeves drive to Oklahoma in order to get the divorce papers signed by his estranged wife Dr. Jo Harding (Helen Hunt). When Jo was only five years old her father was killed in a tornado, and ever since she has been obsessed with them. When Bill hears about an upcoming storm he decides to stick around with the old team. Their goal is to send up an electronic research device into the tornado so they can learn how it forms and moves. A rival team with corporate sponsors is hoping to achieve the same outcome.

The script was co-written by Michael Crichton and his wife Anne-Marie Martin. Steven Spielberg was one of the executive producers. Twister was the second-highest grossing film of 1996 (only behind Independence Day). It was also the first film to be released on DVD. An inspiration for the machine in the film was a barrel-shaped device nicknamed TOTO, which was invented in 1979, but was never much of a success because it would fall down during high winds. On May 24, 1996, a tornado destroyed a drive-in theater in Niagara Falls, Ontario which was scheduled to show the movie. On May 10, 2010, a tornado struck Fairfax, Oklahoma, destroying the farmhouse where numerous scenes were shot.

City of God (2002)

This is a solid Brazilian movie based on a true story. Cidade de Deus is a neighborhood in Brazil that was built by the government in 1960 to move poor blacks into the suburbs. Three teenagers known as the Tender Trio decide to rob a motel. A young boy nicknamed Li'l Dice comes along but is told to wait outside. After the other boys leave, he massacres the occupants. Rocket belongs to a group of hippies and he loves photography. He knows a lot of the boys in the gangs and is given an assignment by a local newspaper to photograph the battles between them.

The film is based on the 1997 semi-autobiographical novel by Paulo Lins. Most of the actors were residents of favelas, a type of shanty town. The real gang Caixa Baixa (Low Gang) is rumored to have compiled a list of everyone who participated. In Brazil, the nickname ‘chicken’ denotes popularity among women.

Killing Floor

I liked this book written by Lee Child. The sleepy, forgotten town hasn’t seen a crime in decades, but within the span of three days it witnesses events that leave everyone stunned. An unidentified man is found beaten and shot to death on a lonely country road. The police chief and his wife are butchered on a quiet Sunday morning. Then a bank executive disappears from his home, leaving his keys on the table and his wife frozen with fear. The easiest suspect is Jack Reacher – an outsider, a man just passing through. But Reacher is not just any drifter. He is a tough ex-military policeman, trained to think fast and act faster.

This was the debut novel of the author.

Desperado (1995)

This is an okay movie. A man (Steve Buscemi) comes into a bar and tells the bartender a story about a mysterious and dangerous man who is traveling in search of Bucho. El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) enters the same bar carrying a guitar case. At first he seems to be harmless, but the patrons discover that he is hiding several guns and start shooting at him. Bucho is worried by the rumors about the man who wants to kill him and he sends out several men to find him. The two legendary men eventually meet and realize that they’ve known each other all along.

This is the sequel to the Spanish language independent film El Mariachi (1992). The film's score is written and performed by Los Lobos. There is also a song performed by Carlos Santana.

Mulholland Drive (2001)

This is an okay movie. A woman (Laura Harring) survives a car wreck intended to kill her on Mulholland Drive, but she can't remember much about her life including her own name. She walks a few blocks away and hides inside of a vacated apartment. Aspiring actress Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) comes to stay in the same residence that actually belongs to her aunt. The two women develop a close relationship as they try to find out about the wreck and the true identity of the victim.

Director David Lynch originally wanted the story to become a television series. Composer Angelo Badalamenti has a cameo as an espresso aficionado and mobster.

The Watchman

This is an okay book written by Robert Crais. Larkin Conner Barkley lives like the City of Angels is hers for the taking. Young and staggeringly rich, she speeds through the city during its loneliest hours, blowing through red light after red in her Aston Martin as if running for her life. Until out of nowhere a car appears, and with it the metal-on-metal explosion of a terrible accident. Dazed, Larkin attempts to help the other victims. And finds herself the sole witness in a secret federal investigation. By agreeing to cooperate with the authorities, she becomes the target for a relentless team of killers.

This is the eleventh novel in the series.

The Son of Neptune

This is an okay book written by Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson cannot remember who is he or where he came from. He meets a goddess posing as an old lady who makes him pick between two hard options. He decides to enter a Roman half-blood camp and is assigned to go on a quest with fellow demigods Frank and Hazel.

This is the second book in the Heroes of Olympus series.

The Big Year (2011)

This is an okay movie. Birdwatchers will occasionally participate in an informal competition, hoping to see more varieties of birds than anyone else in a single year. Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) set the world record last year and is determined to maintain his prominence, but his wife Jessica really wants to get pregnant and is upset that her husband is never around. Businessman Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) is ready for retirement and wants to fulfill a life dream. Brad Harris (Jack Black) is a computer programmer who still lives with his parents. The three men meet while traveling the country and try to outdo each other in seeing the most birds.

The film was based on the 2004 book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession which was written by Mark Obmascik. Most of the film was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia.