Showing posts with label Pretty Little Killers (Book Review). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pretty Little Killers (Book Review). Show all posts

Friday, August 29, 2014

My New Job and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "If I Stay," the DVDs "The Company You Keep" and "Love Punch" and a book about the infamous murder of Skylar Neese).

But First

"New job," you ask?  "I thought you were retired." 

Well I am, but I definitely have a new job.  I will get to that later.

Meanwhile, remember that blog post called "Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Life," where I set goals for myself for each month for the next year in order to shake myself out of retirement complacency?  Well, it's the end of month number two, and I am checking in with those of you who care.

As you may remember, I eased into this whole shaking up my life thing slowly.  I didn't want it to shake too much!

For July, I pledged to not order a Skinny Vanilla Latte, my usual caffeine of choice, but instead order anything else.  Check.  I did not order a Skinny Vanilla Latte once in July, though I must admit I am back to doing that again.  But to my credit, I did branch out and try some new flavors.  What's wrong with doing a little experimenting and then deciding you were right all along?

For August, I vowed to moisturize every day. 

I know, I I said, I was easing into this changing my life thing slowly.  My motivation was the fact that I had a facial and thought I ought to keep up the good work, so to speak, not to mention I'm old and the face ain't what it used to be.  But the person giving me my facial was shocked that I rarely moisturized.  I told her that I had read about Katherine Hepburn's facial regimen.  She scrubbed the crap out of her face with a rough cloth and that was it.  I haven't gone that far but in fact, my beauty routine was merely a warm wash cloth on the face.

So did I moisturize in August?  I didn't rise to this challenge, I'm afraid.  I only did it a couple of times.  I guess I have a thing against putting crap on my face (except eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, blush and lipstick.  Does that count?).

Despite my "bad" habits, I don't have many wrinkles. I think good genes have something to do with it.

So I failed that challenge but onwards and upwards. 

For September, I vowed to ride my new bike every day that the sun shines and the way this summer has been going, I will be riding my bike a lot!  I am thinking of my Mom.  Riding her bike and walking were her main forms of exercise and she lived to be 91 so I am in good company.  Those good genes again.

So that little update leads me to this new job I was talking about.

My new job is.....ME!

That is the main thing I have learned about retirement in the last year+ since I have been retired.

When I first retired, I thought I needed to have all of these plans.

I joined a book club, signed up for Zumba, volunteered for regular hours at the senior center where I had been on the Board, signed up for some horse back riding lessons, started to meditate, applied to be on our local Council on Aging and worked on my blogging skills.  I made lists of household projects, daily routine lists, and made sure I went to the gym.

Since then, I realized I didn't want to go to the book club, which was several miles away, nor did I want to read a book dictated by that.  Likewise Zumba was too early in the morning for me and I am a crappy dancer.  Volunteering at the Senior Center required me to sign up for specific hours, and I didn't want to be locked into that kind of routine anymore.  As for the horseback riding, I will probably still do that, but for the horse's sake, I want to lose some weight first. 

I do meditate, which has helped me learn about myself.

I am a member of the Council on Aging, where I feel I am making a difference advocating for the rights and services of older people (like me), so that people can "age in place," something my mother was not able to do. 

I am on the Advisory Board of my local library, I blog, I go to the gym, I read, I cook, I go to concerts and the theatre and have accomplished many household tasks such as inventorying all of my cupboards and throwing out food where the sell by date had expired (I don't dare say how old some of that stuff was), have gone through all of my clothes and taken many to a consignment shop (a little extra cash never hurts), washed all of the curtains, and I am all caught up with my ironing.  Hubby is surprised that I actually choose to do household tasks and projects.

And that's the point.  I get to choose.

When I first retired, I thought it was essential that I replace my 40 years as a librarian with other purposeful activities.  I was terrified I would sit in front of the TV all day and not accomplish anything.  And here's the thing.  Sometimes I DO sit in front of the TV, because as you know, I love my television.  But what I learned was that it's OK, because my very existence is all the purpose I need.

Now that's not to say that I don't accomplish things.  I do. 

I am still that person who makes plans and lists.  I am still that responsible person who wants to do a good job.  But I get to choose the jobs I take on. 

And I am involved with some activities that are just as meaningful as the work I did for my community in the public library setting such as training to be a senior peer counselor. 

But my message here is not to freak out when you retire, because you are not working 40 hours per week at something else.  It's OK to just be.

Your new job when you retire is being alone with yourself, finding out who and what you are and acting accordingly.

When people ask for my advice about retirement or ask me what it's like, I tell them it could take a year or two to get used to being alone with yourself and figure it out.  You now have the time to be alone without the distractions of having to get to work on time, following directives from your boss, accomplishing tasks on time, etc.  I am not talking about necessarily being physically alone.  I am talking about having the time to listen to yourself and follow where it leads.

You now have the time to truly live your life.

When I do look back and see everything I am doing and am interested in, I am amazed I was able to do what I did when I was working and gone from the house 9-10 hours per day.  How I raised my children, kept the house clean and watched TV as much as I did, I will never know.  Well, yes I do, I was often bitchy and stressed.

So now my job is ME.  But I have my daily routines, and I even give myself days off.  Not from myself, but from the many activities that already occupy my time.

Hubby thinks that's hilarious since I don't have a regular job anymore, but I am busy so I need some days where I can go where the day takes me.  No gym, no appointments, no obligations.

But I like to think of Friday as "Fabulous Friday," and get out of the gym clothes and dress up - look fabulous! 

Since Hubby still works, Saturday usually includes some activity with Hubby that involves exercise - stair walking, bike riding, exploring - and then drinks and dinner.

So even in retirement, I have my routine because I am that kind of person, and I hate to repeat this cliche...Since I have retired, I'm busier than I ever was (when I first retired, I can't tell you how many times people said that to me and I thought, "Yeah, right...").

The point is this.  Whether it's taking Zumba classes or bicycling across the U.S. or being busier than you ever were or not busy at all, watching "Dating Naked" or "Masterpiece Theatre," retirement is a time to try things without fear of failure or being judged.  And it's a time to learn to be alone with yourself.  No matter what, you will always be you.

So the guilt I felt about retiring and the stress about what my purpose would be when I was not defined by my work have been replaced by a sense of freedom to be my true self knowing that my existence is my own purpose. 

And that's enough.  No matter what.
Now on to The Week In Reviews

***In Theatres Now***
Young Mia Hall's (Chloe Grace Moretz who starred in the remake of "Carrie") life changes in an instant when she is in a devastating car accident.  In a coma and near death, Mia has an out-of-body experience, and she must decide to stay or go.

Mia's mother and father are ex-punk rockers.  Mia couldn't be more different.  She is a conservative young lady with a passion for the cello.  She meets Adam (Jamie Blackley), a singer in a rock and roll band and they fall in love.  Mia has applied to Juilliard and everything is looking good for her until she is in a car accident with her family and falls into a coma.  She wakes up only to realize that her physical self is near death.  Through a series of flashbacks and lots of her ghostly self running around the hospital, we learn Mia's story.

Many of us wonder what it would be like if we could attend our own funeral.  This film is sort of like that.  As Mia lies in a coma, she gets to watch her family and friends visit her in the hospital.  I couldn't help but think how horrible it would be if we all get that opportunity and no one comes.

Based on the young adult novel of the same name by Gayle Forman published in 2009, this is supposed to be a tearjerker and teen girls will probably find it so.  But adults may be as annoyed with some of this as I was.

First of all, nothing is more obnoxious than precocious, wise-cracking children, unless it is too cool, wise-cracking parents.  Mia's mother played by Mireille Enos is particularly obnoxious.  Another annoyance is this continual use of Vancouver, B.C for other locations. It used to be a stand-in for Seattle, but now we are supposed to think we are in Portland.  If you know anything about Portland, you know it doesn't have a coastline, but the filmmakers didn't seem to think we would notice.  I did and it grated.  And I am not a big fan of movies with massive amounts of narration.  If you have to beat us over the head with the story instead of telling it visually, which is what movies are all about (remember, "A picture is worth a thousand words?"), then you are letting the film down.

But Moretz and Blackley make a handsome, appealing couple (I first noticed Blackley's handsomeness in "Snow White and the Huntsman" ), but all in all, this film doesn't pull the heart-strings it wanted to.  I was left unmoved, though the teen-aged girls in the audience swooned a bit.

There was a sequel to the book so there probably will be a sequel to the film. Since the story has a sequel and the ending of this film is so predictable, I don't think I am spoiling anything if I ask, will it be called "She Stayed?" 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are not a teen-aged girl, save your money.

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)
A wanted former Weather Underground radical with a new identity is discovered by a journalist and goes on the run to prove his innocence.

A star-powered cast joins Robert Redford in this exploration of aging radicals and the consequences of choices made in one's youth.

Based on the novel by Neil Gordon which in turn seems to be based on the true-life story of Sara Jane Olson, who like Susan Sarandan's character built a straight life for herself for 23 years while on the run from her role in a bombing by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Redford plays Jim Grant, a widowed lawyer with a young daughter (too young for someone Redford's age, if you ask me), played by Jackie Evancho (who wowed viewers with her operatic voice and who finished second on the 5th season of "America's Got Talent").  Jim has created a new life for himself after a youth enmeshed in the Weather Underground.  He is wanted for his participation with that group in a Michigan bank robbery in 1980.  After the arrest of another figure in that robbery who had also created a new life for herself (Susan Sarandon), an ambitious reporter (Shia LeBeouf) starts looking more closely into the case which leads him to Grant.  Grant heads to Michigan to prove his innocence.

Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci, Brit Marling, Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Terrence Howard, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins, and Brendan Gleeson round out the all-star cast and give this film acting gravitas.

No matter what you think of Redford's politics or the vehicles he chooses to direct and star in, you can count on him for serious films with integrity that will make you think.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a smart, engrossing adult story that brings back those revolutionary, idealistic Baby Boomer years.


A divorced couple band together to get back retirement money stolen from their company by an unscrupulous French businessman.
Richard (Pierce Brosnan) and Kate (Emma Thompson) are divorced but that doesn't stop Richard from enlisting Kate's help in recovering stolen funds looted from Richard's company by a French businessman (Laurent Lafitte).  Aided by their friends Jerry (Timothy Spall) and Pen (Celia Imrie), faces you will recognize from many a British film, they all travel to Paris to recover the money.
There is a jewel heist plot, lots of making fun of the French (which British comedies like to do) and all kinds of tired jokes. It was nice to see Marisa Berensen in a cameo.  She hasn't been seen much.
Unlike the serious treatment senior citizens got in Redford's "The Company You Keep (see review above)," there is a certain kind of movie that gets a kick out of itself showing senior citizens having sex, participating in car chases and planning heists.  This is one of those movies. It wants to be a screwball comedy from the early 70's like "A Touch of Class" that starred Glenda Jackson and George Segal (one of my favorite movies of all time) or the Pink Panther films (there is even a reference to those), but instead it's a predictable, tired mess.  Brosnan and Thompson are as charming as ever, but this film lets them down.
I never understand films where divorced people team up especially when they got divorced because of cheating.  If my divorce for that very reason is any indication, I am not only unlikely to help my ex, but he is unlikely to ask me to.  But such is the stuff of these middle-aged comedies.
Rosy the Reviewer Pierce Brosnan, love Emma Thompson, love British movies, hated this one.

***Book of the Week***
Pretty Little Killers: the Truth Behind the Savage Murder of Skylar Neese by Daleen Berry (2014)
True life account of the murder of a fifteen-year-old girl by her two "best friends."

Skylar Neese and Shelia Eddy had been friends since the second grade.  However, when Shelia befriended new girl Rachel Shoaf, the two became three and the dynamic changed and Shelia and Rachel began plotting Skylar's murder.

When the girls were finally accused and tried, their only explanation for the brutal stabbing of their friend was that they didn't want to be friends with her anymore.

This book attempts to explain what happened.
Many people think that reading true crime books is like reading the tabloids or pulp fiction.  But there are some wonderful true crime books out there.

What makes a really good true crime book?  Good writing.  Think Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," a chilling account of the murder of the Clutter Family in Kansas in 1959 or Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven," that weaves the history of Mormonism into an account of a modern day murder or "The Executioner's Song" by Norman Mailer, which tells the tale of Gary Gilmore's execution and for which Mailer won a Pulitzer.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Unfortunately, this book doesn't rank up there with the best.  The writing lets it down. 

If this case interests you, watch the Dateline version (below) and if you like true crime books, check out the ones I mentioned above. 

That's it for this week!

Thanks for reading!

See you Tuesday


"Remembering Princess Diana"

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