Geography Club

By Brent Hartinger
ISBN-13: 9780060012236

Publication Year: 2003

Tags: Gay, Gay Youth, Coming Out, Avoid-At-All-Cost

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

From the back cover of the book: Russel Middlebrook is convinced he’s the only gay kid at Goodkind High School. Then his online gay chat buddy turns out to be none other than Kevin, the popular but closeted star of the school’s baseball team. Soon Russel meets other gay students, too. There’s his best friend Min, who reveals that she is bisexual, and her soccer–playing girlfriend Terese. Then there’s Terese’s politically active friend, Ike. But how can kids this diverse get together without drawing attention to themselves? “We just choose a club that’s so boring, nobody in their right mind would ever in a million years join it. We could call it Geography Club!” Continue reading “Geography Club”

Vantage Point

(2008, PG-13) Dennis Quaid (Agent Thomas Barnes), William Hurt (Pres. Harry Ashton), Matthew Fox (Agent Kent Taylor), Forest Whitaker (Howard Lewis), Saïd Taghmaoui (Sam), Sigourney Weaver (Rex Brooks). Music: Roy Budd. Screenplay: Barry L. Levi. Director: Pete Travis. 90 minutes.

Tags: Mystery, Suspense, Political Thriller

Notable: Plot twists that are both relevant and well-resolved — unusual in modern thrillers.

Rating: ★★★★★

American President Harry Ashton is in Spain to promote an historic anti-terrorism summit when he himself is struck by an assassin’s bullet. Eight different people were direct witnesses to what happened, but the question that Secret Service Agent Tom Barnes — himself a witness — has to answer is what, exactly, did they see… and what does it mean? Continue reading “Vantage Point”

Stand Up For Your Life

By Cheryl Richardson
ISBN 0-7432-2650-X

Publication Year: 2002

Tags: Self-Help

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Subtitled Develop the Courage, Confidence, and Character to Fulfill Your Greatest Potential, this book by “New York Times best-selling” life coach Cheryl Richardson is a workbook-style volume that builds upon her Take Time For Your Life and Life Makeovers books and workshops. Continue reading “Stand Up For Your Life”

Mr. North

(1988, Rated PG) Anthony Edwards (Theophilus North), Robert Mitchum (James McHenry Bosworth), Harry Dean Stanton (Henry Simmons), Anjelica Huston (Persis Bosworth Tennyson), Mary Stuart Masterson (Elspeth Skeel), Virginia Madson (Sally (Sarah) Boffin), Tammy Grimes (Sarah Bailey Lewis), David Warner (Dr. Angus McPherson), Hunter Carson (Galloper Skeel), Lauren Bacall (Amelia Cranston), Cleveland Amory (Mr. Danforth). Music: David McHugh. Screenplay: Janet Roach, John Huston, and James Costigan (based on the novel Theophilus North by Thornton Wilder). Director: Danny Huston. 92 minutes.

Tags: Farce, Comedy, Period Piece, Slice-of-Life

Notable: Anthony Edwards gives up the Nerd franchise for a great starring lead; all-star cast happily lured in by Huston family involvement.

Rating: ★★★★★

Newport, Rhode Island — 1926. To this quiet, exclusive resort town, a young Yale graduate arrives, hoping to earn his way as a tutor. His unusual ability to generate electrical shocks is taken by some school children to be magical. When rumors abound that he’s actually a faith healer in disguise, the otherwise sensible residents of Newport find themselves in a madhouse farce of “shocking” proportions.

This film is such a complete delight that it almost needs no comment… but hey, it’s me. Continue reading “Mr. North”

Hypnotizing Maria

By Richard Bach
ISBN 13: 978-1-61664-366-9

Publication Year: 2009

Tags: New Age, Philosophical, Metaphor

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Jamie Forbes, flying his own small plane, hears a cry for help over the private pilots’ com channel — a woman in another small plane whose pilot husband has collapsed. Jamie talks her down to a safe landing, where she tells reporters that he “hypnotized” her into believing that she could land the plane on her own. Considering this idea later, Jamie recalls a time when he was hypnotized by a stage performer, and he begins to discover that hypnotism is a form of believing that what is suggested to you as real… and that perhaps all of life is the same. Are we, he wonders, “hypnotized” into accepting this world as real… and is it, in fact, as real as we believe it to be? Continue reading “Hypnotizing Maria”

Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21

Arnold Schoenberg (composer)

Tracks: 1—Mondestrunken; 2—Columbine; 3—Der Dandy; 4—Eine Blasse Wäscherin; 5—Valse de Chopin; 6—Madonna; 7—Der Tranke Mond; 8—Nacht; 9—Gebtet an Pierrot; 10—Raub; 11—Rote Messe; 12—Galgenleid; 13—Enthauptung; 14—Die Kruze; 15—Heimweh; 16—Gemeinehiet; 17—Parodie; 18—Der Mondfleck; 19—Serenade; 20—Heimfahrt; 21—O Alter Duft.

Tags: Atonal, Unlistenable

Composed: October 16, 1912

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Arnold Schoenberg selected and set to music 21 of the 50 poems in the lyric cycle of the same name, written and published in 1884 by Belgian poet Albert Giraud. The work comes from Schoenberg’s “atonal” period and features a vocal part accompanied by a five-person ensemble — flute (doubling on piccolo), clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. The work is generally hailed as a masterwork of musical expressionism; Schoenberg stated that the greatest goal of the artist is “to express himself.” In the cycles, Pierrot — the archetypical white-faced clown known as “Punchinello” in Italian and “Punch” in English — is represented (in some fashion) by a seven-note motive most easily heard at the very beginning of the first selection, “Moondrunk.” The work is effectively subdivided into three seven-poem segments. In the first, Pierrot sings of love, sex, and religion; in the second, of violence, crime, and blasphemy; and in the third, of his return home, haunted by his past.

None of this explanation saves this work from sounding like crap. Continue reading “Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21”

Prometheus

(2012, R) Noomi Rapace (Elizabeth Shaw), Michael Fassbender (David), Charlize Theron (Meredith Vickers), Idris Elba (Janek), Guy Pearce (Peter Weyland), Logan Marshall-Green (Charlie Holloway), Sean Harris (Fifield), Rafe Spall (Milburn), Emun Elliott (Chance). Music: Mark Streuitenfeld. Screenplay: Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Director: Ridley Scott. 123 minutes.

Tags: Sci-Fi, Prequel, Big-Budget Waste

Notable: Someone spent a small country’s GNP to make this horrifyingly bad pile of poo

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Adapted from the Wikipedia description: In the late 21st century, the crew of the spaceship Prometheus follows a star map discovered among the artifacts of several ancient Earth cultures. Seeking the origins of humanity, the crew arrives on a distant world and discovers a threat that could cause the extinction of the human species. Continue reading “Prometheus”

The Lighthouse

By P. D. James
ISBN 0-7393-2558-2
(Large Print edition)

Publication Year: 2005

Tags: Mystery, Suspense, Procedural

Rating: ★★★★☆

This thirteenth in the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series find the poet-detective on Combe Island, an isolated and exclusive place of rest and respite limited to certain governmental VIPs and those whose island trust have deemed to have rights of residence (occasional or permanent) due to their ancestral relationship to the island. When the somewhat infamous writer Nathan Oliver tries to throw about his self-perceived weight with islanders and guests alike, he becomes quite soundly disliked by one and all. Then, when he is found hanging by the neck from the gallery railing of the island’s famous lighthouse, the age-old question rears its head: Suicide or murder? Continue reading “The Lighthouse”

The Horror at 37,000 Feet

(1973, not rated) Chuck Connors (Cpt. Ernie Slade), Buddy Ebsen (Glen Farley), Tammy Grimes (Mrs. Pinder), Lyn Loring (Manya), Jane Merrow (Sheila O’Neill), France Nuyen (Annalique), William Shatner (Paul Kovalik), Roy Thinnes (Alan O’Neill), Paul Winfield (Dr. Enkala), Russell Johnson (Jim Hawley, flight engineer), Will Hutchins (Steve Holcomb), Darleen Carr (Margot), Brende Benet (Sally), H. M. Wynant (Frank Driscoll, co-pilot). Music: Morton Stevens. Screenplay: Ron Austin & James Bucchanan (story by V. X. Appleton). Director: David Lowell Rich. 76 minutes.

Tags: Horror, Made-For-TV, Druids

Notable: Music by The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and  Hawaii Five-O’s Morton Stevens

Rating: ★★★★☆

A chartered 747 jet departs Heathrow airport bearing ten passengers, a crew of five, and 11,000 pounds of “architectural features” — part of an English abbey being transported back to the U.S. Small mysteries grow larger as the plane appears to be facing a 600mph headwind, stuck in mid-air as if held there, and the passengers and crew are struck by invisible tormentors. It is the night of the summer solstice, the altar stone of the abbey was once part of a site where Drudic ritual sacrifices were held… and the ancient spirits are demanding their due. Continue reading “The Horror at 37,000 Feet”

Leave Myself Behind

By Bart Yates
ISBN 0-758-203497

Publication Year: 2004

Tags: Gay, Coming-of-Age

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

From the Goodreads synopsis: Noah York is a closeted gay teenager with a foul mouth, a critical disposition, and plenty of material for his tirades. After his father dies, Noah’s mother, a temperamental poet, takes a teaching job in a small New Hampshire town, far from Chicago and the only world Noah has known. While Noah gets along reasonably with his mother, the crumbling house they try to renovate quickly reveals dark secrets, via dusty Mason jars they discover interred between walls. The jars contain scraps of letters, poems, and journal entries, and eventually reconstructs a history of pain and violence that drives a sudden wedge between Noah and his mother. Fortunately, Noah finds an unexpected ally in J.D., a teenager down the street who has family troubles of his own. Continue reading “Leave Myself Behind”