Monday, January 23, 2012

No Second Chance

This is an okay book written by Harlan Coben. Marc Seidman awakens to find himself in an ICU, hooked up to an IV, his head swathed in bandages. Twelve days earlier, he had an enviable life as a successful surgeon, living in a peaceful suburban neighborhood with his beautiful wife and a baby he adored. Now he lies in a hospital bed, shot by an unseen assailant. His wife has been killed, and his six-month-old daughter, Tara, has vanished. But just when his world seems forever shattered, something arrives to give Marc new hope: a ransom note.

It was the first international Book of the Month Club pick in 2003 due to its global appeal.

The Hard Way

I liked this book written by Lee Child. Jack Reacher was alone, the way he liked it, soaking up the hot, electric New York City night, watching a man cross the street to a parked Mercedes and drive it away. The car contained one million dollars in ransom money. And Edward Lane, the man who paid it, will pay even more to get his family back. Lane runs a highly illegal soldiers-for-hire operation. He will use any amount of money and any tool to find his beautiful wife and child. And then he’ll turn Jack Reacher loose with a vengeance – because Reacher is the best man hunter in the world.

This is the tenth novel in the series.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

This is an okay movie. On Christmas Eve, a young boy calls into a radio talk show and tells a psychologist that his father Sam (Tom Hanks) has been unable to move on since his wife passed away. Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) is travelling from Baltimore, Maryland to Washington, D.C. after a dinner with her fiancée at her parent's house. She is flipping through radio stations and hears the boy's call. She immediately becomes fascinated with the widowed man. She writes a letter saying that she would like to meet him in New York City, but then tosses it away. Her friend Becky (Rosie O’Donnell) decides to mail it anyway and the boy convinces his father that they should go see her.

A musical version is expected to premiere in Pasadena, California on June 12. The film was inspired by An Affair to Remember (1957) and used both its theme song and footage. The Rainbow Room was an upscale restaurant and nightclub on the 65th floor of the GE Building in the Rockefeller Center. Ryan and Hanks appeared together in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) and then again in You've Got Mail (1998).

Dead Alive (1992)

This is a moderate New Zealand movie. The Sumatran Rat-Monkey is captured on Skull Island and shipped to the Wellington Zoo in New Zealand. In 1957, Lionel Cosgrove (Timothy Balme) lives with his domineering mother. He falls for a local shopkeeper's daughter named Paquita (Diana Peñalver) and they visit the zoo for their first date. Lionel's mother is spying on them when she is bitten by the monkey and then she crushes it to death. She gradually turns into a zombie, but her son is determined to care for her and acquires a dose of anesthetics. During a party held by his uncle Les, many townspeople are attacked and turned into zombies.

This was directed by Peter Jackson. The original title was Braindead, but the name was changed because a similar film starring Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton already had that title. Arthur C. Doyle referred to "the giant rat of Sumatra" in The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire published in 1924. The first scene was filmed at the Putangirua Pinnacles in New Zealand. The uncut version of the film is banned in Germany.

Red Mist

This is an okay book written by Patricia Cornwell. Chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta is driving through Savannah’s low country, on her way to the Georgia Prison for Women. She has agreed to meet with an inmate there, a convicted sex offender and the mother of a diabolically brilliant killer. Against the advice of her FBI criminal intelligence agent husband, Benton Wesley, Scarpetta is determined to hear this woman out, and to continue on her quest to find out exactly what happened to her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding, murdered six months before.

The author is a descendant of abolitionist Harriet B. Stowe, known for her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin written in 1852. Since childhood, Cornwell has been friends with the family of the Reverend Billy Graham and his wife Ruth Bell. This is the 19th novel in the series.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

This is a solid movie. In 1995, eleven years after Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) destroyed the original Terminator, a second killing machine (Arnold Schwarzenegger) arrives from the year 2029. This time his goal is stop an ever more advanced Terminator, made of shape-shifting liquid metal, and intent on preventing John from becoming leader of the human Resistance. The Terminator informs John and Sarah about Skynet, the artificial intelligence that will initiate a nuclear holocaust. After a horrific nightmare, Sarah decides to attack Miles Dyson, an engineer who develops a new microprocessor that eventually leads to Skynet. After being injured, Miles agrees to help them destroy his research.

Hamilton's twin sister Leslie Gearren also portrayed Sarah when it was required that there be two of the character in the same shot. Another set of twins were used to play the psychiatric hospital security guard and the T-1000 copy of him. Hamilton's then-twenty-month-old son Dalton plays her on-screen son in a dream sequence set in a playground. A river had to be redirected to allow filming on the otherwise wet flood control channels, for one of the chase scenes. It was the highest grossing film of 1991. And it holds the record for the largest box-office improvement for a sequel, earning over five times the original film. It won four Academy Awards: Make Up, Sound, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

This is a solid movie. Team leader Jane Carter and field agent Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) help Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and another man escape from a Moscow prison. Hunt is assigned to infiltrate the Kremlin and find documents about a terrorist who wants to buy a nuclear weapon. The mission fails, the Kremlin is blown up, and Hunt is blamed for the attack. The President decides to cancel the mission, but Hunt's team decides to go independent and they are joined by an intelligence analyst. The activation codes for the nuclear device are planned to be exchanged at a hotel in Dubai. The agents think they can get the codes back safely by using a disguise.

This is the fourth installment in the series and is director Brad Bird's first live-action film. Tom Cruise performed a sequence where Ethan Hunt scales the outside of the tower, without the use of a stunt double. He was securely attached to the building at all times by multiple cables, which were then digitally erased. The film's opening prison escape scenes were shot on location in a former prison near Prague, Czech Republic. The film features a BMW i8 concept car. It currently ranks as the 2nd highest-grossing film in the franchise behind Mission: Impossible II, and the 10th highest-grossing film of 2011.

Fade Away

This is an okay book written by Harlan Coben. After a ten-year hiatus from professional basketball, the owner of the New Jersey Dragons wants Myron Bolitar back on the team. But this time around, Bolitar isn’t being drafted for his jump shot. Instead, he must use his background in the FBI to find a mysterious missing player.

This is the third novel in the series.

My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

This is a solid movie. 27-year-old Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) has had a very close male friend for many years and at one time they even talked about getting married if neither of them found other partners. Now Michael O'Neal informs her that he is engaged to marry a student with a very wealthy family. Julianne travels to Chicago hoping she can stop the wedding. Kimberly (Cameron Diaz) has no idea how Julianne feels and asks her to be the maid of honor. Trying to make Michael become jealous, she pretends to also be engaged. One day Julianne confesses her feelings and then starts kissing him, but they are spotted by Kimberly who runs off. Seeing the problems she has caused, she decides to try and save the wedding.

It was the 8th highest grossing film of 1997.

Now You See Her

This is an okay book co-written by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. A successful lawyer and loving mother, Nina Bloom would do anything to protect the life she's built in New York - including lying to everyone, even her daughter, about her past. But when an innocent man is framed for murder, she knows that she can’t let him pay for the real killer’s crimes. Nina’s secret life began 19 years ago. She had looks to die for, a handsome police-officer husband, and a carefree life in Key West. When she learned she was pregnant with their first child, her happiness was almost overwhelming. But Nina’s world shattered when she unearthed a terrible secret that caused her to run for her life and change her identity.

This is Patterson's 7th book with collaboration from Michael Ledwidge.

Ransom (1996)

This is a solid movie. Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson) is a wealthy airline executive. While attending a science fair where his wife Kate (Rene Russo) is a judge, their son Sean is kidnapped. He is taken to the apartment of a woman who used to work for the family. The criminals send out an e-mail demanding a $2 million ransom. NYPD detective Jimmy Shaker is the mastermind of the plot. Tom tries to deliver the money, but it goes awry and he blames the FBI. On another attempt he asks to go alone, but while driving to the destination, he comes up with an alternative plan to use the cash as a bounty on the kidnappers.

This is a loose remake of the 1956 film starring Donna Reed and Leslie Nielsen. It was the 5th highest grossing film of 1996. During filming, Mel Gibson had appendicitis and had to have an operation.


This is an okay book written by Harlan Coben. A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems like Mickey’s train wreck of a life is finally improving – until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley’s trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn’t who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey’s father.

This is the first book in the series. A sequel is expected for release in September.

As Good As It Gets (1997)

This is a solid movie. Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is a sarcastic and successful writer who lives alone in an apartment in New York City. He eats at the same restaurant every day, but brings his own utensils because of his fear of germs. He is also very rude to other people. His neighbor Simon is a gay artist with a poorly behaved Brussells Griffon dog who constantly pees on the carpet and is despised by Melvin. Carol (Helen Hunt) is the waitress who always serves his breakfast even though he is so demanding. When robbers break into Simon's apartment and assault him, Melvin ends up caring for the dog. He is very reluctant at first, but then grows very close to the pet. He learns that Carol's son is very sick and offers to help her financially.

Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Actress. It is Jack Nicholson's second most lucrative film, behind Batman. Mysophobia is a pathological fear of contamination and germs.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

This is a solid movie. Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a financial reporter struggling to rebuild his reputation after being accused of libel. He is hired by wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger to come to his family's island and discover what happened to his beloved niece Harriet who disappeared one day and is believed to have been murdered by a member of the large family. Blomkvist requests a research assistant and is partnered with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an intelligent young woman whose hairstyle and clothing are very unusual for the job. They uncover a string of homicides in the region that appear to be related.

It is based on the 2005 novel Men Who Hate Women written by Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson and published after his death. The soundtrack was created by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The DVD will be released on March 19. A Swedish film version was released in 2009.

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

This is a solid movie. Nearly an entire wedding party is slaughtered during a dress rehearsal at a rural church. The pregnant bride (Uma Thurman) is the only survivor, but she is badly injured and enters a coma. When she awakens after four years, she assumes that her baby was killed and she decides to get revenge on the assassins who are responsible for the tragedy. Her first target is O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), the leader of the Japanese mafia. Next she visits Vernita Green at her house, but is initially hesitant to go through with the attack when the woman's young daughter arrives from school.

The story was adapted from Lady Snowblood, a 1973 Japanese film. Hattori Hanzō is modelled on legendary 16th century sword maker Muramasa. Volume 1 was the widest theatrical release of Tarantino's career to date, and it was also his highest-grossing opening weekend to date.

Toy Story (1995)

This is a noteworthy movie. Woody, a pull-string talking cowboy, is 6-year-old Andy's favorite toy. However, on Andy's next birthday he receives space action figure Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and starts to ignore his old toy. Woody (Tom Hanks) becomes jealous and accidentally knocks Buzz out of the window, which causes the other toys to think it was done on purpose. Woody and Buzz both end up at the house of Sid, a sadistic boy who likes to pull pieces off of toys and launch them away with rockets. Andy's family is ready to move to a new house. Woody must try to save Buzz and himself and convince the other toys that he has good intentions before they get left behind.

This is Pixar's first feature film, as well as the first ever feature film to be made entirely with CGI. The film was so successful it prompted two sequels; Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010). Toy Story was both Hanks and Allen's first animated film role. On October 2, 2009, the film was re-released in 3-D. Toy Story was the highest grossing domestic film in 1995. At the time of its release, it was the third highest grossing animated film. It won an Academy Award for Special Achievement. Over 21.5 million VHS copies were sold in the first year.

One False Move

This is an okay book written by Harlan Coben. Brenda Slaughter’s mother disappeared twenty years ago. Now, just as her pro basketball career takes off, she discovers that her father has also gone missing. Her new lover, sports agent, writer, and former pro-basketball player Myron Bolitar, finds himself desperate to solve these unsettling disappearances and protect Brenda.

This is the fifth book in the series.

Mars Attacks! (1996)

This is a solid movie. An armada of flying saucers is spotted hovering over the Earth. President James "Jimmy" Dale (Jack Nicholson) addresses the American public about the potential threat. His scientific advisor Donald Kessler (Pierce Brosnan) is convinced that any intelligent life must be peaceful. During first contact everything seems to be going well until a dove flies towards the Martians and they start firing rayguns at the crowds of people. This incident is assumed to be a cultural misunderstanding and so the aliens are invited back to meet with Congress. Once again they start attacking and kill many politicians. General Decker wants to use nuclear weapons against them, but there is strong resistance to his plan.

The film is based on the trading card series of the same name. The quirky alien laugh was created by reversing the quack of a duck. The film score was written and composed by Danny Elfman. The destruction of Art Land's hotel used footage of the real-life night-time demolition of The Landmark Hotel and Casino.

Promise Me

This is an okay book written by Harlan Coben. It has been six years since entertainment agent Myron Bolitar last played superhero. In six years he hasn’t thrown a punch. He hasn’t held, much less fired, a gun. He hasn’t called his friend Win, still the scariest man he knows, to back him up or get him out of trouble. All that is about to change because of a promise. Myron is determined to help keep his friends’ children safe, so he makes two neighborhood girls promise him: if they are ever in a bind but are afraid to call their parents, they must call him.

This is the 8th novel in the series.

The Innocent

I did not like this book written by Harlan Coben. The horror of one night is forever etched in Matt Hunter’s memory: the night he innocently tried to break up a fight – and ended up a killer. Now, nine years after his release from prison, his innocence long forgotten, he’s an ex-con who takes nothing for granted. With his wife, Olivia, pregnant and the two of them closing on a house in his hometown, things are looking up. Until the day Matt gets a shocking, inexplicable video call from Olivia’s phone. In an instant the unraveling begins.

Wall-E (2008)

This is an okay movie. In the year 2805, Earth is entirely covered in trash and humans have left the planet to live on space stations. Robots were built to clean and organize all of the garbage. The only one that still survives is a lonely robot known as a Waste Allocation Load Lifter. His only companion is a cockroach and he also spends time watching old movies. One day a highly advanced robot comes to Earth looking for signs of life and WALL-E shows her a plant. They travel into space to show the humans, who are waiting for evidence that they can go back home.

It is the first animated feature by Pixar to have segments featuring live-action characters. It had the fifth highest-grossing opening weekend for a Pixar film and was the ninth highest grossing film of 2008. The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. MacInTalk, the text-to-speech program for the Apple Macintosh, was used for the voice of Auto, the autopilot artificial intelligence built into the ship. Footage is shown from the 1969 musical Hello, Dolly! The robot EVE's name was taken from the bible. A 3D version of the film is expected to be released in 2014.

Back Spin

This is an okay book written by Harlan Coben. The U.S. Open is in full swing when superstar golfer Linda Coldren and her husband and aging golf pro, Jack, discover that their teenage son has been kidnapped. To uncover clues, sports writer Myron Bolitar looks back 23 years earlier when Jack Coldren should have won the Open but didn’t.

This is the fourth book in the series.

Bandits (2001)

This is an okay movie. Two bank robbers are serving time in an Oregon prison. Joe (Bruce Willis) decides to hijack a construction truck and smash through the prison gates and his hypochondriac partner Terry (Billy Bob Thornton) escapes with him. While driving in separate stolen vehicles, Terry's car runs out of gas and he gets help from Kate (Cate Blanchett) who is upset with her husband. They drive to a secluded location where Joe is waiting. At first the two criminals can't decide what to do with the woman, but they start falling in love with her and choose to let her join them.

Tell No One

This is an okay book written by Harlan Coben. For Dr. David Beck, the loss was shattering. And every day for the past 8 years, he has relived the horror of what happened. The gleaming lake. The pale moonlight. The piercing screams. The night his wife was taken. The last night he saw her alive. Everyone tells him it’s time to move on, to forget the past once and for all. But for David Beck, there can be no closure. A message has appeared on his computer, a phrase only he and his dead wife know. Suddenly Beck is taunted with the impossible – that somewhere, somehow, Elizabeth is alive. Beck has been warned to tell no one. And he doesn’t.

This was the author’s first novel to become a best seller. It was adapted into a 2006 French film.