Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Murder at the Academy Awards, Joan Rivers

Posted by lea at 11:50 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Author R for the Great Library Challenge.

I've been somewhat fascinated by Joan Rivers since reading all the profiles and reviews that came in the wake of the documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. What's most fascinating is that she's so candid about her desperation to be the centre of attention in Hollywood and her shameless antics for staying there.

With a career that literally spans decades in front of the camera, Ms Rivers has turned her hand to writing and along with Jerrilyn Farmer (the author of the Madeline Bean culinary mystery series) penned this novel, which I vaguely understand may be turned into a series.

In Murder at the Academy Awards, the protagonist Maxine Taylor is the extremely-thin veiled literary doppelganger of Rivers herself. She and her daughter Drew do what Rivers and her daughter Melissa do in real life: stalk celebrities on the red carpet for interviews as they head into the Academy Awards ceremony.

The mystery begins when one of Hollywood's brightest young starlets, who also happens to have been a close school friend of Drew's, drops dead on the red carpet mid-interview with Max Taylor. Very soon, Max is on the chase, using her wiles to enter rehab under false pretences and crash glamorous parties to find the murderer and clear her daughter's name.

It's an easy to read, light-hearted romp that basically expounds the cleverness of Max Taylor and her love for her daughter Drew. However, Rivers' sharp wit doesn't translate that well in written form, and many of the gags seem rather belaboured. It's all in the name of fun though, and if you can wade through the heavy name dropping and you don't mind the re-imagining of Hollywood with Rivers and her daughter as the nucleus, you may enjoy it.

Here's an interview with Rivers from Amazon editorial:

Q: What kinds of books do you enjoy?
A: At my age, anything in large print.

Q: Is it true when they say that you should “write what you know”?
A: Absolutely, which is why my next book is about having thighs that are visible from outer space.

Q: What is it like having a novel published at the age of 75?
A: I am so old, even the spine of my book has osteoporosis.

Q: Computer, typewriter or pen and paper. What tools did you use to write your first book? 
A: Chisel and stone.

Q: Are you one of those writers who work at home in a dirty old bathrobe without showering for days? 
A: Yes, except for the part about working at home.

Q: What’s the first step in getting a publisher interested in your book?
A: A check for fifty grand made out to “cash”.

Battle Los Angeles: 2 minute movie review

Posted by lea at 11:19 AM 2 comments Links to this post

I really didn't know what to expect with this movie as I hadn't seen any shorts, and we decided to watch it on a whim influenced by cheap tickets. Based on the poster I decided it was your typical disaster movie with usual bad script, ham acting and no plot, so imagine my surprise to see Aaron Eckhart front and centre.

As it turns out, Battle Los Angeles is actually an alien invasion movie. It's kind of like what you'd get if you crossed Men in Black with Black Hawk Down, because apart from the main storyline of aliens trying to take over Earth, there was a sub-plot involving battle-worn Marine Sargeant Michael Nantz (Eckhart) having to win the trust of a new crew, and a theme of heroes versus heroics.

All in all I thought it was a decent movie. Nothing spectacular apart from the effects, but still there was actually a plot, which is a step up from many of these big flicks.

Verdict: a great date movie for teenagers.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Posted by lea at 5:01 PM 1 comments Links to this post
I've decided to start a new Friday meme (because there aren't enough memes in the world) called 'in praise of', and every week I'm going to praise something new. I think we - generally, collectively - are more inclined to complain than praise, and it's time to turn the tables.

So my first praiseworthy subject: The Rock. I know right! Strange first choice. But listen.

The general and noteworthy stats are that his name is Dwayne Douglas Johnson, he was born in 1972 from a Samoan background, and he was a professional wrestler (hence the name) before becoming an actor. You might know him from such movies as The Scorpion King, Welcome to the Jungle and most recently, the ads for Fast Five, the latest instalment of the interminable Fast and the Furious series starring Vin Diesel, who I consider a kind of poor man's Rock.

I chose him mostly because I watched Welcome to the Jungle on TV the other night and was very highly entertained - it's a funny movie, and while most of the humour comes from Seann William Scott (another praiseworthy subject based on his roles in this and Role Models), it was really great to see The Rock quite happily make fun of himself.

It got me thinking how clever it is of him (and/or his agent) to do that, as it jumps the punchline of anyone who would dismiss him as simply a meathead by parodying that image of himself in movies like Get Smart and his cameo on The Other Guys.

His movie choices are usually quite safe - either major action or comedy, even dabbling in some Schwarzenegger-esque kids movies like The Tooth Fairy - but he seems to know his limitations and I like how he doesn't try to be someone he isn't, like a serious dramatic actor.

He's even released a New York Times bestseller called The Rock Says. Don't expect a review anytime soon, but hey, respect.

I love people who don't take themselves too seriously, and he certainly fits the bill. He's big enough to bash anyone who would be so stupid as to question his masculinity, so he can prance around in a tutu and people will laugh with him, not at him.

So Mr Rock, I praise you.

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