Showing posts with label 10% Happier (Book review). Show all posts
Showing posts with label 10% Happier (Book review). Show all posts

Friday, June 20, 2014

Movies You Will Never See on an Airplane and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "The Fault in our Stars," steer you away from some less than entertaining DVDs - "Pompeii," "Adult World" and "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" and review a book that will make you at least 10% happier.  Trust me.]

But First

Summer is upon us.  And that is typically the time we make our airline reservations and head out on a wonderful  vacation.
Ah, airline travel.  What happened?
It used to be cause for dressing up and getting the celebrity treatment.
Not anymore.
Now you are lucky if you don't end up in the last row of the plane with your head resting on the restroom wall, a screaming toddler in the row ahead of you and a service dog peeing on your leg.
The days of using your frequent flyer miles to upgrade to business class are long gone and you can only hope to put your headphones on and watch a couple of movies and forget how cramped you are and that your seatmate has B.O.
Speaking of movies on airplanes. 
Did you ever notice that you never see movies about airplane accidents when you are traveling on a plane?
That is on purpose.

The airline industry may not be sensitive to your comfort needs anymore, but they certainly don't want to show you a movie that might make you stop flying for fear of an accident or worse, your running up and down the aisle yelling "We are going to  crash." 

They leave that to the pilots.
If they only knew that some of the movies dedicated to scaring you out of flying are really, really fun, thanks to the overacting of the stars and some really, really good quotes.
Let me take you back:
The title is literal.  There are literally snakes on this plane placed there to kill a witness being flown to testify against a mob boss.  Samuel L. Jackson is the FBI Agent who must take on these snakes having hissy fits.
See it for Jackson's immortal line: 

(If you are easily offended cover your eyes and ears and move to the sanitized version under the video - but you would be missing a classic movie moment)

"Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane! "

Too good!


If your sensibilities are offended by our hero's words here is the edited version as seen on TV, which is equally as funny, though it makes no sense whatsoever:
"Enough is enough! I have had it with these monkey fighting snakes on this Monday through Friday plane!"


Air Force One (1997)
Hijackers seize Air Force One carrying the President and his family and the President must come to the rescue.
Who can forget Harrison Ford, as the President, saying to the hijacker (Gary Oldman) in true Presidential fashion straight from the Harrison Ford Gritted Teeth School of Acting as he is beating the crap out of him:  "GET - OFF - MY - PLANE!" 


Con Air (1997)
The prisoners in a prisoner transport plane seize control of the plane.
 "Put the bunny back in the box."


 Classic Nicholas Cage.

Flight (2012)
If the pilot is going to be drunk, you want him to be a good driver.

"Now, an initial report shows you had alcohol in your system at a level of point-two-four. Now in the good ol' US of A, one of the most lenient drunk driving countries in the world, you go to jail for driving with anything above point oh-eight. And by driving, I mean a car. "

But if he can do this drunk and high, what can he do sober?


Airplane (1980)
The flight crew gets sick and a former pilot is asked to help fly the plane.  Unfortunately, the former pilot is afraid to fly.  The classic comedy film.
Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?
Ted Striker:  Surely you can't be serious.
Rumack: I am serious...and don't call me Shirley.


This is a comedy, but do you really want to watch this while actually flying in a plane?  Brings up too many "what ifs," don't you think?

What movies do you NOT want to see while flying?

Now on to 
 The Week in Reviews

***In Theatres Now***
 The Fault in Our Stars

Two teens suffering from cancer, Hazel (Shailene Woodley)  and Gus (Ansel Elgort), meet at a cancer support group and fall in love.

Hazel has thyroid cancer and has to take an oxygen tank with her everywhere while Gus has had a leg removed after his bout with cancer.  They bond over their mutual wit and Hazel's favorite book, "An Imperial Affliction," written by an author who has become a recluse in Amsterdam.  Hazel feels the book describes how she feels about her cancer but she wants closure as to the ending of the book - it's ends mid-sentence.  Gus tracks down the author, Peter Van Houten, (Willem Defoe) and arranges for them to travel to Amsterdam to meet him so that Hazel can finally get some answers about the book from the author himself.

Based on the young adult bestselling book of the same name by John Green (The title is inspired from Act 1, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, in which Cassius says to Brutus: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings"), it's an unsentimental story of teens and their families dealing with cancer.  Green wanted to show cancer patients as people with all of the same desires and foibles as the rest of us, not some strange species. We see the anguish the parents suffer (Laura Dern and Sam Trammell  - he's from "True Blood" fame - as the most perfect parents I have ever seen), and how Hazel feels responsible for their anguish, something cancer patients, especially young ones, must struggle with.  Young people don't want to upset their parents and dying would be the ultimate pain.

But it's also a story of first love between two exceptional young people and that is the strength of this film.  Woodley and Elgort make an appealing couple and you are rooting for them.

The film is mostly true to the book and captures the relationship between Hazel and Gus, but stumbles with the side story of meeting author Van Houten, who turns out to be a loutish drunk with no interest in answering Hazel's questions about his book.  He plays a key role at the end of both the film and the book, but the film is not able to capture his significance which watered down what should have been a more dramatic end piece.

The Amsterdam locations were fantastic and as an added bonus for me personally, they actually stayed in the same hotel we stayed in the last time we were in Amsterdam (Amsterdam American Hotel, which I highly recommend, by the way).

And I am a sucker for films that glorify reading, especially teens being influenced by books.

We already know that Shailene Woodley is an acting wunderkind, but the wonder here is Ansel Elgort, who played Woodley's brother in "Divergent."  He glows on screen, and I predict is going to be the next big thing. Every time the camera hovered over him the teenage girls in the audience swooned.  So did I. Move over, Chris Hemsworth.  My loyalty to you as my favorite young, hunky actor might be shifting.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I judge comedies on whether or not I laugh, and I judge tearjerkers on whether or not I cry.  I was moved, but I didn't cry, but from the sniffling I heard from the teenage girls who filled the theatre, it's a hit.

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)

Pompeii (2014)
A slave turned gladiator finds himself fighting for his life not only against other gladiators but a volcano.
Kit Harington (who you may recognize from "Game of Thrones") as Milo and Emily Browning as Cassia are the only good things about this movie.  They are lovely to look at, their acting is fine and they make engaging characters, but the script and production values here are terrible and let them down.  And Kiefer Sutherland as the bad guy, Corvus.  Oy vey.  I haven't seen one dimensional acting like that since Captain Hook in the Disney version of "Peter Pan."
This movie was available in 3-D, so I wonder if that would have saved it, but not sure 3D can save bad special effects, such as exploding fire pots standing in for a volcano erupting.  It looked like a bad magic act on "America's Got Talent." It was cheesy and not scary at all.
Are we supposed to believe a person can outrun a tsunami?  Are we supposed to believe that our hero beat up 10 other gladiators without breaking a sweat, but almost gets killed in a slap down with an aging Keifer Sutherland?  It was that kind of movie.  I can suspend disbelief, but not all brain function entirely.
And whatever happened to the whole thing with Pompei where the volcanic ash came down so quickly everyone was stopped in their tracks - whole families were found frozen around their dinner tables, etc?  Well, not here.
Rosy the Reviewer says... I can't really compare this to anything, because I haven't seen a movie this bad in quite some time.  But if forced to, think of it as a really bad "Towering Inferno."  It's bloody awful and has earned a place on my "Worst Films of 2014" list.

Adult World (2013)

Amy (Emma Roberts) fancies herself a great poet and is obsessed with poet Rat Billings (John Cusack), but just out of college, she can't find a job except in a sex shop called "Adult World."

"Adult World" is pretty obviously a metaphor for the adulthood that Amy needs to grow into. She lives at home, can't find a job and doesn't really want one.  She just wants to be a great poet like her idol, Rat Billings.  Through disappointments and the unmasking of her hero, she is able to do that but it is slow going. 

This is the second movie I have seen this week where a young woman glorifies a writer and is disillusioned by the reality.  See "The Fault in Our Stars" for a similar story line (see my review above). 

Emma Roberts, Eric's daughter and Julia's niece, who also stars in "American Horror Story,"  is an appealing actress but her character in this film is not.  Amy is annoying so it's difficult to get into her journey to adulthood.

Evan Peters, who plays Alex, Amy's co-worker, also stars with Roberts in "American Horror Story" and is an appealing young actor we will  be seeing more of.

But what is with John Cusack these days?  Here he is chewing the scenery as the poet Amy is obsessed with and acting like he would want to be anywhere  but in this movie.  Likewise, what was he doing in "Grand Piano," which I reviewed last week?  Can't he headline a film anymore?  What happened to the guy we loved in "High Fidelity" and "Being John Malcovich?"  I am glad he is working, but he seems to have lost the ability to choose good movies and roles.

 Rosy the Reviewer says...I love films with books and writers as the storyline, but I can't recommend this one.  "The Fault in our Stars" did it better.
Jack Ryan is back as a young covert CIA analyst who uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

I am starting to get a complex about spy and espionage movies.  I never seem to know what's going on.  Am I not smart enough to follow these intricate plots?  Well, maybe not, but something else to consider is maybe the script and the movie just aren't very good.  And that is the problem here.

Chris Pine plays a young version of Jack Ryan, a Tom Clancy character who has been played in the past by Alec Baldwin ("The Hunt for Red October"), Harrison Ford ("Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger") and Ben Affleck ("Sum of all Fears"), and he is handsome and convincing.  I have no problem with him or my always and forever crush Kevin Costner as William Harper, a CIA guy who pulls our hero from his job as as CIA financial analyst into a full-blown CIA operative. 

Keira Knightly is also OK acting wise, but I find her pretty only when she keeps her mouth closed.  When she opens her mouth, there is something about her teeth that makes her look like a Simpsons character (I don't think I have ever gotten over her version of hysteria in "A Dangerous Method (2011)" where she played it almost entirely with her mouth open in a silent scream.  Speaking of which, she did actually look like Edvard Munch's "The Scream.")

In addition to the meandering plot, there are also some other issues such as the scene where Jack takes out a huge bodyguard.  I had to ask myself:  Jack was a financial analyst for the CIA before being pulled into this caper.  When did he get the basic training to be a bad ass killer of someone three times his size? 

But all minor details if the film was any good and it wasn't. 

Kenneth Branagh, who directed and also starred as the villain is indeed a baddy.  But it would be nice if some of these villains would be more than one dimensional cartoon characters.  Think Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List."  Now there was a villain.  He was three dimensional, had feelings, but still did evil.  And as for Branagh, did you ever notice he has no lips?

Rosy the Reviewer says...Love Chris Pine and Kevin Costner.  The film not so much.  See it if it's a slow night and you absolutely have a craving for Jack Ryan.  Otherwise, you haven't missed anything.

***Book of the Week***
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works - A True Story by Dan Harris (2014)

Dan Harris is the co-anchor of Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America and regularly reports for 20/20.  After a massive panic attack on air, he decided his high powered career and lifestyle choices needed a tune-up, so he started investigating meditation.
I posted a blog recently on how meditation has helped me and now everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.  Just kidding.  But it's fun to see how even the highly successful need to tune in to their true selves and practice mindfulness to appreciate what it means to be truly alive.
He says, "Mindfulness is an inborn trait, a birthright.  It is...what makes us human...We can do more than just think; we also have the power simply to be aware of things--without judgment, without ego...You can be mindful of the pressure in your bladder telling you it's time to pee, but [then] you think about whether the frequency of your urination means you're getting old and need a prostate exam.  There's a difference between the raw sensations we experience and the mental spinning we do in reaction to said stimuli."
He goes on to talk about his stint in a meditation retreat and shares an acronym for practicing mindfulness:  RAIN. Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Non-Identification.  Basically you acknowledge or recognize a feeling or thought, you allow it or just let it be.  Then you check out how it's making your body feel and then you see that, for example, you are experiencing anger but your anger does not make you an angry person.  It is a fleeting state of mind (similar to the Siberian North Railroad mnemonic I talked about in my meditation blog: Stop, Breathe, Notice, Reflect, Respond - good steps for dealing with stress and triggers).
Rosy the Reviewer says...This is a funny memoir as well as an aha moment for Harris, and if you are interested in meditation and mindfulness, it is an easy start and might just be an aha moment for you.

That's it for this week.
See you Tuesday

where I admit I was wrong about something.


Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, 
email it to your friends and
LIKE me on Facebook at

Check your local library for DVDs and book mentioned.

Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database).
If I reviewed a movie, you can now find my reviews there too.
Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."