Saturday, August 18, 2007

updated ratings and chapter 3 of the grandpa interview

after a great deal of thought (several months, in fact), i've finally rated some more books and films.

14.gilead.marilynne robinson ! - as the links (i.e., this link and the link within the next page which sends readers outside the blog) suggest,
gilead may initially require an effort--it may seem slow at first--but the narrator is so likeable and so authentic that after a few pages you'll want to know what this thoughtful, well-meaning old codger says next. it's a great book for reading around the fire.

11.the great divorce.cs lewis - only the first third of this link is relevant, but it describes my sense of the book:
the great divorce is an interesting allegory, but for a novel it ends rather poorly. to quote from the back page: "crazy goose. an interesting vision of heaven and hell and the lessons we may learn there."

11.harry potter & the 1/2-blood prince.jk rowling - yes, i read the final two harry potter books. as the creative writing editor for a culture and faith magazine (the other journal), i thought i should at least be familiar with the books behind the harry potter hysteria. the roommate and his family love harry potter, so i borrowed his books. i found them entertaining yet formulaic. the link is to a wikipedia article that briefly summarizes some of the critical responses to potter. the wikipedia article also suggests that potter is increasing literacy, but this article in the washington post offers an interesting counterpoint.

10.harry potter & the deathly hallows.jk rowling - see hp & the 1/2 bp.

10.cities of the plain.cormac mccarthy - i found this, the third novel in mccarthy's
border trilogy, to be predictable and considerably less engaging than its predecessors. the link is to a german site, and i'd direct you more particularly to the review "Don't like it? Have it your own ignorant way," which takes my ambivalence for the third novel and tosses it to the heavens, building a strong case that cities of the plains is a fitting end for this magnificent trilogy. thus, despite rating this book a 10, i think that i'd still give the series a 15 or 16.

09.flags of our fathers - too many characters - director clint eastwood had a chance to make this story great, but i found myself lost in a sea of characters, and (with the exception of one scene) i had trouble buying into their onscreen camaraderie. thus, the movie seemed to drag on at times. i've heard that
letters from iwo jima is the better of eastwood's two WWII films.

08.fearless - martial arts movie - there's nothing blatantly wrong with
fearless, so i could probably be convinced to increase my rating of the film. in the meantime, i found that the relationships, emotion, and drama of the film were unconvincing (and thus an 8). however, they were markedly better than the jackie chan films i've seen. the fighting choreography seemed cool, but i have absolutely no sense of how cool. the link is to jet li's wikipedia page, primarily because although fearless is set nearly 100 years ago, it appears to be somewhat autobiographical.

and now a longer segment from my interview with grandpa where he describes his father as responsible and discusses the relationship between farming, logging, and the great depression:
iii. livin' on farms, workin' on wood