The Rage in Placid Lake

November 2nd, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0305999/

The Rage in Placid LakePlacid Lake's life has never been normal. From his early years when his mother sent him to school in a dress to challenge the other 5 year old children's 'preconceived notions of sexuality,' he should have guessed that fitting in was not going to be easy.

Fortunately for Placid, Gemma, the crayon gobbling scientific genius in awe of no one but her father is also having a few 'blending in' issues. They develop a firm friendship through the years during which their own peculiar parents attempt to drag them up and hurl them into adulthood, and they both discover the binding passion between them is a desperate bid for the elusive … 'Normal life'.

The Rage in Placid Lake is another gem to which my eyes were opened by the power of recommendation (thanks Scottie). It is that same recommendation that I now gladly distribute.

You may or may not have ever heard of Australian Indie Rocker Ben Lee. I cannot say that I am familiar with his catalog of music, but I can say that he was very entertaining as Placid Lake, our young protagonist who struggles to see how, or even if, his pure-bred individuality fits into today's conformist society.

Placid Lake is a rebel without a cause born of wildly outlandish parents who seem not to have their feet firmly planted anywhere near reality. His parents promote every activity for Placid to develop his own identity and to buck the system. After an accident, Placid wakes up in the hospital with a new-found drive to legitimize himself in the eyes of society; he wants to get a job selling insurance. The sharp contrast between his upbringing and his epiphany added cozy comic-relief to an intelligent story about the importance of "self."

The role models in Placid's life were polar extremes. He has his pacifist parents, who spend a little too much time disrobed around the home, and he has his manager at work, who is lost in middle management and has seemingly lost his ability to produce emotion.

The conversations that Placid has with his manager were my favorite aspect of the movie. Yes, his perspectives were narrow and extreme, but the points he made were poignant.

I also enjoyed Placid's best friend, Gemma. Gemma is a beautiful and intelligent young lady who is pushed urgently by her father to stay on track to someday make incredible breakthroughs in modern science. I like how she was written into the story in a way that Placid was able to do soul searching on behalf of them both. She was a first-hand witness to his journey into corporate monotony, from which they both learned valuable lessons about the direction of their lives.

Go ahead; see The Rage in Placid Lake. You won't be disappointed (well I hope not anyway!).

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Brick

November 1st, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0393109/

BrickThere are not really any "big names" in Brick. The closest would be Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who, if we ignore his hand in 10 Things I Hate About You, is not well known as a movie actor but rather as Tommy on TV's "3rd Rock from the Sun." Please do not let the absence of familiar names and faces deter you from seeing Brick. I thought it was a very clever and entertaining piece of work.

Reading the synopsis provided with the movie (I apologize for not having it available) would tell you to expect an elaborate drug-related plot involving a bunch of high school students. I was drawn to the movie by the trailer from which I had little knowledge of the movie, just an unexplained interest in seeing it. I was hesitant from the synopsis, but it must not have deterred me for too long! What type of ridiculous drug plot could a handful of 16-, 17- and 18-year-old kids actually get into? How far fetched is this story line going to be?

Forget all of that. What the creative team did was take a story that has essentially become cliché in modern cinema and breathed new life into it. A disinterested, scorned man receives a cry for help from his ex-girlfriend and avails himself of a few liberties not necessarily intended for private citizens under the law only to find the trail to her is long and ultimately leads to a drug king-pin. So far so normal. What was unique to Brick was the high-school setting. You have kids living with their parents trying to uncover conspiracies between classes. Sounds ridiculous, right? Exactly. It is ridiculous. So get over it and enjoy the movie.

The way the teenagers related the drug plot to their pre-adult existence was well done and ultimately made the movie fun to watch.

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Top 5 Movies: Starring Paul Newman

October 26th, 2006

October 26th, 2006
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief - 30When she finally came to write her story, she would wonder exactly when the books and the words started to mean not just something but everything.

Burger Bar - Las Vegas, NV

October 25th, 2006

I am sure you are all familiar with the traditional salad-bar concept. You walk up to a selection of ingredients and fix yourself a personalized salad. Burger Bar takes that idea and steals it on behalf of carnivores everywhere (but primarily in Las Vegas!). There is no need for a sneeze guard at Burger Bar since all of the available ingredients, or burger toppings if you will, are listed on the menu. They do offer pre-designed burgers that range from reasonable to not-so-reasonable price-wise, but the fun as far as I am concerned is in building my own burger.

For eaters more adventurous than I, which basically means everyone, Burger Bar is one of the few places in Las Vegas where I would suggest you go to frequently. With so many restaurants in Las Vegas it is hard to go someplace you have been before at the expense of trying somewhere new, but I try to apply that concept to dinner more than I do for lunch. Burger Bar, though a fantastic dinner spot, works well for lunch too. Each time you go, you can create a new burger blueprint like one you have never had before. There are enough options to keep you entertained visit after visit. And even though I basically get the same thing everytime, it hasn't gotten old yet.

Angus Beef + Sesame seed roll + Bacon + Cheddar cheese + Fried egg = Bliss. Add their Brown gravy and you'll wonder why anyone puts ketchup on a burger (and it's GREAT on their skinny fries).

When, not if, you go looking for Burger Bar, you'll find it in Mandalay Bay in the Mandalay Place.

October 23rd, 2006
LabyrinthJareth: I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

October 23rd, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0363771/

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The WardrobePrepare to enter another world when Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media present C.S. Lewis's timeless and beloved adventure. With the stunningly realistic special effects, you'll experience the exploits of Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter, four siblings who find the world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe while playing a game of "hide-and-seek" at the country estate of a mysterious professor. Once there, the children discover a charming, once peaceful land inhabited by talking beasts, dwarfs, fauns, centaurs and giants that has been turned into a world of eternal winter by the evil White Witch, Jadis. Aided by the wise and magnificent lion Aslan, the children lead Narnia into a spectacular, climactic battle to be free of the Witch's glacial powers forever!

I honestly cannot remember if I ever read these books as a kid. I, like many, have felt a slight itch to read them now, since the movie release was somewhat of a reminder that the books even existed. I wanted to see the movie first, though. I wanted watch with attention devoid of geeky "this-is-nothing-like-the-book" bias.

As I lay in bed on my lazy Saturday afternoon watching The Chronicles of Narnia, I definitely had the longing to be sitting in a dark movie theater, losing myself in the action on the giant silver-screen. Seeing it on DVD was not a bad thing, but I think if I had taken the time to see it in the theater it would have definitely been a good thing.

In the "books we read as children turned movies" category, The Chronicles of Narnia was geared more towards children than Tolkien/Jackson Lord of the Rings movies.

In the "books my children may or may not have read turned movies" category, The Chronicles of Narnia may have even been a little less sophsiticated than Harry Potter. Forgive me for saying that in The Chronicles of Narnia it seemed that a few more things were a little far-fetched. I know it seems ridiculous that I say that a young boy, his brother and sisters leading a war against an evil witch is far fetched, though the fauns and centaurs they lead into battle and a completely different story about an entire school of young wizards were completely acceptable.

Some of the effects were flawless. The CG lion was masterfully done, as were most of the panoramic views. There were so many beatiful scenery shots, but some appeared lazily done. Maybe the design team had to cut a few corners, but the kids looked too blatantly super-imposed at times. This is a petty complaint, and my only one really.

I had fun watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it to anyone with young kids who are yet to go through the phase where they repress their imagination or anyone who has already come out of it.

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Book of the Month - November, 2006

October 23rd, 2006

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. FriedmanThe World is Flat is Thomas L. Friedman's account of the great changes taking place in our time, as lightening-swift advances in technology and communication put people all over the globe in touch as never before -- creating an explosion of wealth in India and China, and challenging the rest of us to run even faster just to stay in place. This updated and expanded edition features more than a hundred pages of fresh reporting and commentary, drawn from Friedman's travels around the world and across the American heartland -- from anyplace where the flattening of the world is being felt.

In The World is Flat, Friedman at once shows "how and why globalization has now shifted into warp drive" (Robert Wright, Slate) and brilliantly demystifies the new flat world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, he explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; how governments and societies can, and must, adapt; and why terrorists want to stand in the way. More than ever, The World is Flat is an essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists.

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Movie of the Month - November, 2006

October 20th, 2006

The Rage in Placid Lake

The Rage in Placid LakePlacid Lake's life has never been normal. From his early years when his mother sent him to school in a dress to challenge the other 5 year old children's 'preconceived notions of sexuality,' he should have guessed that fitting in was not going to be easy.

Fortunately for Placid, Gemma, the crayon gobbling scientific genius in awe of no one but her father is also having a few 'blending in' issues. They develop a firm friendship through the years during which their own peculiar parents attempt to drag them up and hurl them into adulthood, and they both discover the binding passion between them is a desperate bid for the elusive … 'Normal life'.

| Buy it from Amazon | Discuss it | My review |

Lucky # Slevin

October 16th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0425210/

Lucky Number SlevinSet in the New York underworld where nothing is as it seems, Lucky # Slevin is an action-packed, "fun-as-hell roller coaster ride" (Venice Magazine). When down-on-his-luck Slevin (Josh Hartnett) stumbles into a running feud between the city's most feared crime bosses (Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley), he ignites an all-out war. Tracked by a mysterious assassin (Bruce Willis) and distracted by his flirtatious neighbor (Lucy Liu), Slevin must try to cheat death by turning the tables on the gangsters. "If you take the best parts of Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects and The Professional, what you get is Lucky # Slevin" (Shawn Edwards, Fox-TV Kansas City).

This is the movie that put Josh Hartnett on the acting map for me. His earlier works have been easy enough to avoid and consider yourself lucky if you've been able to do so. I do hope this is a transition on his part into better roles; he was entertaining. His quick-witted quips keep you laughing and help you avoid the need to wonder what on earth is going on in the movie. They fill you in due time, even though I wouldn't be surprised if you figure out the ending before it unfolds; you wouldn't be the first.

It seemed a little silly to have Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley in roles such as these since they were relatively small roles. But they definitely added big names to draw attention to a movie more people should see.

I feel like I should have more to say about this movie, but I can really sum it up by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed Lucky # Slevin.

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