Tag Archives: reviews

Short Review of "300"

Catholicgauze, gnxp, The Metropolis Times, and ZenPundit have offered their views.

I could argue that it’s a near-perfect example of the Romantic genre, and that the screen play appears to have been written by Ayn Rand.

I could say that it’s brilliant embarrasses the emptiness of Hollywood, and it’s empty translations of Alexander and Troy.

I could say that the very best review I’ve read comes from ComicBookResources.com, and that this film comes from the world of comics, says a lot about the greatness of a medium I have rarely directly enjoyed.

But instead, I will say this: If before the battle the Spartans had seen this movie, had known how their tale would be sung, they would be delighted.

Review of "My Secret," edited by Frank Warren

Frank Warren’s PostSecret is an internet phenomynon, and I have been lucky to have followed it over the past few years. In November, 2005, I reviewed the website and the next month, following a gratis copy, I reviewed the PostSecret book. Now that Frank’s new book is out, the publisher kindly gave me a review copy.

My Secret: A PostSecret Book

I liked the book, but as My Secret seems focused on teenagers, I did not feel competent to write my own review. Fortunately, my friend Quiet Thoughts took a look at my copy and posted a review.

Frank Warren, a strong supporter of 1-800-SUICIDE has made a compelling composition of post cards from teenagers and young adults. Each page is an insight into a personality that is more compelling than mere letters. The appeal of a post card is indescribable. It is a mini work of art that shows a person’s personality and mood, and the snippets written on them are condensed letters that anyone can understand with one glance.

Some of the pages are more disturbing, though. I discovered the more macabre side of my personality through this book, because it was the darkest pages the riveted me the most. Confessions of self-destruction, painful longing for friendship, and even affirmations of being apathetic to others, were not in short supply.

Read the whole thing.

Books Biz Borrowed: The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, but to be honest, Dan’s homework is a tough act to follow. I am okay with following yet another amazingly cognizent rant by Aaron though.

My path to this book involved a review for “” that said, “Diablo Cody is to stripping what Sarah Vowell is to American History. As a lover of both strippers and the history of America I was intrigued. I rushed to the library with my eyes filled with visions of well-filled American flag bikinis. In fairness to Diablo Cody, she put in more work for her book than Sarah Vowell probably ever has.

The Partly Cloudy Patriot is a collection of essays that tie in current events with political history and travel. writes like a that focuses less on quirky one-liners and more on making larger connections full of irony. Calling Lincoln our “American Jesus” and contrasting Ted Nugent with Rosa Parks, Vowell remains intelligent yet accessible, and communicates her points very eloquently.
I do find a flaw in this book that brings it down an inch or two in my own opinion. Sarah Vowell is billed as an American History writer, and the library has this book wedged between books chock full of Pearl Harbor and Appomattox. However, only about half give history more than a passing glance.

The saving grace for this book and the main reason I recommend it is in the titular essay. Written in December of 2001, Vowell makes a powerful statement on being American.

“And while I could shake my fists for sure at the terrorists on page one, buried domestic items could still make my stomach hurt–school prayer partisans taking advantage of the guilt of children to circumvent the seperation of church and state; the White House press secretary condemning a late-night talk show host for making a questionable remark about the U.S. military: “The reminder is to all Americans, that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and now is not a time for remarks like that.” Those are the sort of never-ending qualms that have turned me into the partly cloudy patriot I long not to be.”

Rob Reviews ‘Hostel’

Rob here, to provide my first review for tdaxp. I regret the film I must review, but it’s the latest thing I’ve seen theatrically since ‘King Kong’. The film in question today (Friday the 13th, I might add) is ‘Hostel’ from Eli Roth, of ‘Cabin Fever’ fame. Quentin Tarantino put some money up for the film, but it’s Eli Roth’s piece. Disclaimer: I did not see ‘Cabin Fever’ and I have a general distaste for horror films in general. ‘Signs’ is probably my favorite horror/thriller style film. For me, it’s believable and sophisticated. Oh, and many people can’t figure out why ‘Hostel’ is spelled wrong. The audience that’s attracted to this film probably doesn’t know what a hostel is, so it’s an odd choice for the film’s title. Even though it’s a nice play on words.

I didn’t know anything about this film going into it other than it was supposed to be gory. One of my friends convinced me to go and actually paid my way, so I didn’t mind seeing it. The budget for this film was around $5 million, which is dirt-cheap. Opening weekend pulled just under $20 million. The biggest problem I have with films like this is that people actually want to see them. What about this film draws an audience? Why do people want to see it? A strong ‘R’ rating goes a long way today. The promise of over-the-top gore is becoming the strategy for a successful horror film. And this film has wall-to-wall tits and blood. I’m 24, with a beard, and got carded. That’s good to see because I don’t want anybody seeing this film, let alone underage kids. An example of the violence: a man takes a blow torch to a woman’s face, melting away the face so an eye dangles by it’s nerves. Our ‘hero’ clips the eye from the socket to help the woman escape. Puss ensues. So it goes.

I’m generally a pretty technical guy when it comes to reviewing films. I am able to pay attention to everything a normal person watches, but also the camerawork, lighting, and editing. All of that stuff was par for course in this film, it’s not interesting enough to mention when I have so many other things to say about it. Moving along.

The story is slow in building. I’m more than happy to give a few minor spoilers because I don’t want you to see this film. It follows a few college kids on a drug and sex induced trip across Europe. They stumble across a secret group of rich people that pays big bucks to torture/kill people. Different races cost different amounts to kill. Obviously Americans being the most expensive since, as we all know, everyone hates Americans (?). I am quite sure this film wasn’t written with a message in mind, but I took several disturbing things from it. They are as follows.

The characters are immediately shown getting high and looking for as much random sex as possible, even if they have to pay for it. There is mention of being able to ‘do whatever you want to these women.’ The red light district they enter is a tamer version of what they’ll be seeing later. They are paying for exploitation, just at a different level. The juxtaposition is interesting. Much of the film contains gratuitous nudity, which is disturbing. There are way too many ties between sexuality and brutal violence in this film, even though the two are never fully united. As for the characters, we immediately like them just because they are funny and fairly innocent, but they partake in ‘sin’ so later we are a little okay with them being tortured or killed. Had the writer made these people saints from the get-go, audiences wouldn’t tolerate them being punished.

The audience doesn’t want to see these characters tortured, but when the tables are turned on the villains, the audience loses innocence. We end up cheering on the hero as he chops fingers off. We have become the rich people paying to torture and kill. Is it okay because the people being killed are ‘bad?’ One of the villains punished even has some latent homosexuality. I won’t even go into how this seems to have been put in to make him seem more ‘evil.’ The ‘sexual deviants’ are the ones who need bloodshed to get off and so on. That would be an entirely different review. The movie ends up being about itself. Audiences are paying to see this movie for the same reasons these people are paying to maim. The men paying to torture/kill in the film are doing the same thing. And yes, it’s all men getting off at the prospect of this activity. Perhaps this film is more socially conscious than I give it credit for. Sadly, the people that really wanted to see this film probably aren’t going to come out feeling like they are bad people. And that’s the whole point of the film for me.