Wednesday Movie Night: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

One of the most talked about movies from 2013 was Dallas Buyers Club. I think I even heard more about it than Best Picture winner, 12 Years a Slave. Perhaps it was because of the dedication of the lead actors though who took their roles to extreme levels by physically preparing themselves for the people they were portraying. Jean – Marc Vallee directs this movie that shows why it was a strong contender in this year awards ceremonies.

Summary: Ron Woodruff is told he has AIDS, and from there his world is changed. With being given only 30 days left to live, Ron isn’t just going to die though. The only drugs on the market aren’t available for the public yet through doctors, so he begins looking across the globe on a way to obtain drugs to help his health. It isn’t so easy though when nothing else is FDA approved, and the only doctor who will help has been banished to work in Mexico. Ron not only will get drugs to help himself though, but other patients who have lost hope finding help as well.

Acting:   There will be two actors you’ll notice, and maybe because they also got the most attention for their acting in the movie. One will be Matthew McConaughey who is giving his career new life with roles like this one. In this he plays the lead, Ron, and he makes the guy oddly likable despite his flaws. He changes your perception of the rough guy to one that seems to have a new perspective of everyone by the end. Plus, you can’t deny he went through a dramatic change for this role. There is also Jared Leto who gives the movie some humor and heart as well as he portrays the transvetite, Rayon. Leto shows he is an actor you want to see more of, yet only gives something to talk about every few years acting wise. Jennifer Garner is one I think deserved a little more attention yet didn’t get get as much as Eve. There are many in this movie to dislike though as doctors, government agencies, and friends set out to hurt Ron and his notion to help those with AIDS.

Filming: The movie isn’t anything special, or at least I think, in the way it’s shot. It brings the character to life, and it does tell the story well, and that is about what I would hope from a movie myself. You get attached to many of these characters. The movie gives us flashbacks and insight, and moments as well that help you feel closer to the characters involved in the movie.

Plot: Well if you’re aware of any of the details of the story of Ron, then you know a good bit has been changed as can be expected. Ron though never wrote a book or anything about himself outside of any interviews he conducted. The main elimination will be his daughter, ex-wife, and sister who are absent fom the movie. There is even a line in the movie where Ron mentions mentions the sadness of never having children to Eve when they have a heart to heart. His sister though did voice her opinion on the approval of McConaughey who was cast as her brother. Besides the changes I believe the director does what he aims for in making a movie that is more directed on a character story, and if it had included more characters well there would have been the need for a bigger movie.

Dallas Buyers Club is an offering from last year that has a lot more heart than many of the other movies available for 2013 at least in the Oscar circuit. There is some sadness but for some reason I found this movie to try to be reaching to the brighter side of humanity if it could. What makes this movie special though are the performances that were rightly recognized.

Rating 8 of 10.

Wednesday Movie Night: About Time (2013)

I oddly saw the preview for this movie at The World’s End last year, and took an interest in seeing it. The good news is that even if you’re a fan of a movie that seems so the opposite this will be appealing too. I was a bit hesitant about how I might like the movie though considering I haven’t seen Richard Curtis’ other movies, and I had only seen Love Actually, which I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought. The good news is that About Time was way better, and a really sweet story. It’s one of the better written and more touching stories I’ve seen in a while. And thank goodness, there is no Hugh Grant cameo.

Summary: Tim finds out from his father at the age of 21 that the men in his family are capable of time travel. Tim instantly puts his new discovery to the test to find that it’s true, and his world is instantly complicated. After the loss of what he thought was his true love he meets Mary, but he wants to perfect so many moments with her that he risks losing her. As his life grows more complicated though Tim finds his losses becoming huger, and it puts him in a tough spot knowing he can change time.

Acting:  So the only thing I could clearly remember Domhnall Gleeson from was the Weasley sibling in Harry Potter that didn’t get enough attention. The guy though is a really good actor, and hopefully finally having a lead part in a movie that is directed by a notable director will give him some more attention. He had a lot of chemistry with Rachel McAdams as well, who you would think at this point had overstayed her world in the romantic movie world. McAdams proves though she is still right at home there though. She uses her usual techniques of being cute, but she has chemistry with a great lead so it works. I do like how while the movie does revolve around romance it doesn’t ever feel forced to be the primary driving reason of every moment of the movie. There is also the relationship that Tim has with his father, who is portrayed by Bill Nighy. Nighy brings his usual humor and charming persona to the character, and makes him just as interesting to watch as anyone else. The only other face that really appears and is memorable is Lydia Wilson as Kit Kat. Her character provides some interesting plot twists as well.

Filming: There is something magical about Curtis’ film. They revolve around romance, but they seem more accessible to a wide range of people than just women. Even my husband was enjoying this movie a lot, and talking about it for a couple days after we had watched it. The colors are warm, but not too bold, and Curtis proves you don’t need a bunch of CGI to still make the exploration of time travel something to have to compete in a CGI driven world. The act of Tim just getting in the closest to travel time was more magical than anything.

Plot: I like how the plot grows as Tim finds further complications with the huge decisions that come with changing time. Such as when you have to choose the death of a loved one to be timed now versus perhaps the birth of your child. I felt the quotes were witty, and the actions of the characters seemed real as well. It flows effortlessly for a two hour span, which is really difficult to do. By the end the movie does achieve moving you emotionally, but being real enough to not ever get too cheesy.

If you’re looking for a movie that isn’t just for romantic couples then I do suggest this. Curtis has gotten me interested in his other movies that aren’t Love Actually. At some point I even plan on going back to by this movie to have it sitting on my shelf as it is definitely getting a rewatch. The message ultimately is a beautiful thing.

Rating 9.5 of 10.

Saturday Movies: The Way Way Back (2013)

Since this studio bought Little Miss Sunshine and Juno I guess I should watch The Way Way Back as well! I thought it would depend on what the directors and writers worked on instead of what the studio brought me. Anyways, thankfully for this movie it lives up to the expectations you might garner from seeing those two movies put on it’s movie poster. It’s sweet, it’s quirky, and by the end it doesn’t get too unrealistic but somehow makes you feel better. If there is anything I can appreciate it’s that it’s an original story that shows characters we care about.

Summary: Duncan is 14 and shy. He also has no real parental unit or even friends to help guide him through the highs and lows of your teen years. His mom is now serious with her boyfriend, Trent, who also has a daughter, and they decide to vacation at the beach for the summer. Trent though seems to be forcing being his father just to appease his mom, and whenever he tries to be someone in his life he just insults him. Duncan feels like a huge burden to his mom as well who seems to only want to sneak off with her boyfriend and his friends. When Duncan discovers a nearby water park he becomes friends with the employees particularly, Owen, who helps his summer get a lot better.

Acting: Liam James is the one the movie centers around, but yet he doesn’t appear to be the top billed in the movie, which is a pity.Anyways, I think James does great as Duncan because he has that awkward way of acting that makes it work for his character, and by the end you hope the best for him. Steve Carell veers a bit away from the nice guy we’ve become acquainted with that he plays in the movie and this time he plays quite a jerk, but he does well as Trent, and even throws in a bit of the humor we know him for. Sam Rockwell is the guy who befriends Duncan, Owen. I haven’t seen Rockwell in much, but he actually is the funniest bit of this movie. Toni Collete is the mother of Duncan, Pam. I think Collete works great, but for some reason I could never like her character. I found her more unlikable than even Trent. She is just dragging this kid into an awful situation to fight her own insecurities and loneliness. Allison Janey is also in the movie as one of the friends, Betty. She is really funny, and makes the movie worth watching alone. AnnaSophie Robb plays the girl that Duncan has a crush on, Susanna. She works and fits the role. Maya Rudolph is also in the movie as Caitlin. She has chemistry that works for Owen, and there little relationship taking place in the movie works good. Lastly, there is Amanda Peet as Joan. I think she is supposed to be unlikable and she is. Not much really going on there.

Filming: The movie does have that indie vibe to it. The coloring, the shots and the music all make it something that is more of the indie movie. I think it does well about not forcing it to the point where it’s shoved down your throat. I like the color though, and I like how everything pops. Most of all though the story allows for the characters to shine, which is what I really enjoyed.

Plot: I did get into this movie, and I would lose track of time watching it, which is a great thing that rarely happens with movies. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash direct and wrote this movie, and I think they did a great job about conveying their story. I guess for me outside of Duncan there wasn’t too much to relate to, but I think most teens will be able to relate to Duncan, and understand how he feels, and parents may even feel the disconnect that sometimes can happen between kids and themselves.

The Way Way Back isn’t something that exactly seemed to be overly memorable, but I did enjoy watching it, and I even went out and recommended it after I finished watching, which doesn’t always happen. It’s clean enough to be a good parent and teen movie to watch, but also not so family friendly it loses touch with being realistic either.

Rating 8 of 10.

Saturday Movies: Empire State (2013)

My first thoughts aftr watching this movie was why is Emma Roberts name on the movie poster, and why is her face on there? She played a very small part in the movie, and if I was Michael Angarano I would be mad, as he played even a bigger role than Dwayne Johnson did. Anyways, I get it. It’s about who’s face we recognize most? Well to be honest I didn’t think this was a bad action movie though, and I don’t even know if it’s a typical action movie. Where it fails is bringing out the characters in only an hour and a half. They had a whole true story to work with here, and it gets shambled into a very short, quick story.

Summary: Based on a true story. Chris and Eddie are childhood friends who are struggling to make it. After Chris’s father loses his job, and he witnesses the armored car company he works for giving less than they should to one of the widow’s of their employees he feels tempted to rob from them. With Detective Ransome beginning to suspect Chris’ involvement after an up in the attempted robberies at the company, Eddie and Chris get tangled up in some dangerous crime rings.

Acting: I think the acting is good enough to be believable enough from the leads. It’s a little obvious though that Liam Hemsworth doesn’t fit into this community of dark headed, New York sounding, group though. Especially since he is very tall and almost blonde, and everyone else sounds and looks Italian. Hemsworth does a good job at least at taking a shot of the accent, but it would have been a lot better to just go with a guy who suited the role better, especially if you see what the real life guy looks like. Angarana suits his role a lot better. He’s not supposed to be, or at least I didn’t think, a likable guy. Maybe that is a problem though? The guy seems to be looking for a lot of pity, but you can’t help but feel he dug his own hole. Dwayne Johnson is good in the few scenes he has as the detective, but honestly the guy is advertised way too much for the small part he plays. Another featured is Emma Roberts, who makes the movie a lot weaker. Her accent is the weakest, and even the Australian is better about faking it. She also adds no dynamic, but maybe that is because her character was so undeveloped anyways.

Filming: The movie tries to capture the vibe of the 80’s. There are plenty of costumes, but some of the costuming, most notably Dwayne Johnson, doesn’t look as if they are dressed up as much as everyone else. Other bits are threw in though like the movie Poltergeist playing at a theater, and the mention of the music of the time. Without the setting though the movie doesn’t have anything particularly luring you into the technical aspects of it though, and with the brevity the story is told in it doesn’t allow for you to grow that much attachment to it.

Plot: The plot is based on a true story, and while the story they’ve brought to the screen is just entertaining, it’s also just yet. With a real story, and the people to speak to you would hope for a lot more, especially when you compare it to other heist movies. Other crime movies, particularly like Goodfellas, really go all the way to not only entertain but get us involved with the characters. Now since these guys, Chris and Eddie, weren’t as big time impressive criminals, I would say they are more like the guys that Michael Bay brought to life from real life in Pain and Gain. They are goofy, and just getting greedy, even though Chris seems to be fueled by some good. Instead this movie never finds one direction to go in. It mixes a bit of drama, and then pulls some action. In the end it just gives an entertaining movie that you will leave behind, but what is disappointing for the viewer that you feel there is much more they could have given the movie.

Empire State isn’t quite as bad, at least I thought, as critics had made it out to be. I did think Liam Hemsworth gave his character his all, and he is the lead. Hopefully some better roles start coming Hemsworth way though, because the guy seems like he is entertaining actor. With movies like this though he is just a pretty face with not much depth.

Rating 6 of 10.

Wednesday Movie Night: Redemption (2013)

I’ll admit I haven’t enjoyed many Jason Statham movies. I’ve only seen a few though including Parker. Redemption was another one of his movies from last year, and it seems that many people missed out on it, perhaps because by this point Statham only sales to a certain crowd. Redemption was a whole lot different than I expected though. While Statham still kicks butt, he also takes his role a lot more seriously in this one, making for a powerful character, but sadly the plot doesn’t do him or anyone else justice.

Summary: Joseph Smith is a special forces veteran who has went AWOL. Now he is homeless and a drunk who is tortured about the horrific things he has witnessed. After running from thugs him and his girlfriend are separated, and now he is out to find her. He begins living a life as another man and working for Mr. Choy who has Joseph as an enforcer, and he also befriends a nun who is trying to help him find his girlfriend, Isabelle, but when a girl’s body turns up his search now turns into a search for her murderer to extract vengeance.

Acting: Jason Statham really puts his all into this role. He even went out to interview people who had served in the military and how it affected them to better grasp the mental ways that his character was affected. His acting is a whole step up from other roles I’d seen him in in this movie. Agata Buzek is Sister Cristina, the nun. Buzek also does a wonderful job with her role, and making the role of someone in her position very easy to relate to. Plus, her and Statham had the right amount of chemistry to give this movie a touch of romance. Now after these two all the other characters seem underdeveloped. I almost felt the whole plot of Jospeh trying to avenge his girlfriend was a waste as well. So much is going on with the characters that the murder is just a face who appears here and there, and the role as enforcer for a crime boss is just a passing story line.

Filming: This movie was primarily filmed at night. So being filmed at night it captures the wonderful night lights of London. It does make the movie very visually appealing. Outside of that I can’t say there was anything too special about how the movie was captured. The filming looks sleek and cool with colors that pop, but otherwise not too stylized. Steven Knight does have a great eye for color though.

Plot: I do like aspects of the plot a lot. Really though the parts that are most compelling for me is anytime that Cristina and Joseph are on screen together. They have a lot of chemistry, but I like how gracefully the relationship is handled. Unlike a lot other movies that Statham has been in this one doesn’t rely on showing women unclothed or sex scenes to give us chemistry between the characters. Instead the experiences they share and their needs to feel redeemed from their past is driving their future. A lot of the plot though seems so thrown in, and the run time doesn’t allow for everything to have the depth that those two do. The aspects like the revenge of Isabelle, the killer, and the crime boss, Mr. Choy seem like passing moments for a more compelling story.

Redemption is one to check out, and at least Statham is finding roles still that show him as a better actor than just the fast paced actions that showcase his martial art skills. This was a lot less action and a lot more story than I was expecting, and it’s handled with a lot of heart felt performances, that is only created by good acting, and not good writing development.

Rating 6.5 of 10.

Saturday Movies: Escape Plan (2013)

It doesn’t seem like there is much to expect from Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but last year they made a movie entertaining enough for fans and not fans alike. They actually get some characters that are well written enough to help us forget their popular identities. The movie though is very long for the content though, and somehow in the middle I did feel my interest begin to waver. The movie gets off to a strong enough start to keep you curious about the income though.

Summary: Ray Breslin is so good at figuring out how to break out of prisons that he started a business where prisons pay him to test out their prisons, and see if they are easy to break out of. He is hired to try to break out of a state of the art, and secret facility that even his crew isn’t allowed to know about. Once arriving there though he feels he has been tricked and teams up with someone on the inside, Rottmayer, to try to escape. What he will discover is that it may be impossible to leave.

Acting: Sylvester Stallone is Ray Breslin, the guy who is good at breaking out of prison. I think I’ve seen very few roles where Stallone interested me, and I haven’t seen Rocky yet, but I did find him very suiting as Ray, and the back story they provide for the character helps. Arnold Schwarzenegger is also in a role that is suited for him, and for a guy it’s hard not to imagine as Arnold I felt that he was working well in this one, and he becomes a likable guy. The film also stars Jim Caviezel as a guy who is running the private and high security prison, and he plays a bad guy. For Caviezel this seems like a departure from his usual roles, and while he isn’t bad in it, his parts do feel less interesting than anyone else’s. Amy Ryan is Abigail, a person who partly runs it with Ray, and while we don’t see much of her in the movie, she is a good character. Sam Neill also plays a doctor at the prison, and gives one of the better debates of “what will he do?” of the movie. You’ll recognize other faces like Vinnie Jones, and 50 Cent as well, who doesn’t go by another stage name.

Filming: I like how the movie looks. Even for the dreary vibe of the prison the movie drops the bleak vibe, and gives lots of color and sharpness. The CGI isn’t too bad done either, but definitely not astounding. Michael Hafstrom directs this movie, and takes this action movie above many of the past releases in the past year, and makes this one more entertaining, and even gives the characters some development.

Plot: I know the plot sounds completely silly, but this movie just feels like a classic action movie from beginning to end. For some reason action movies really aren’t as good nowadays, and this just feels like pure entertainment, which works. There is even a nice little twist thrown in at the end of the movie for laughs and for interest. The movie is really long for the story though, and about midway in I could feel a lull start to hit especially as I’m not someone who enjoys a lot of technical detail.

Escape Plan is a good action movie to check out if you’re into action movies, and even if you’re just looking from some quick entertainment. I like the maze vibe of a guy trying to figure out how to get out of top max security prison, and felt it was entertaining straight from the beginning even if the story tires a little. It’s also a better movie of recent from these two lead actors. Not anything new, but entertaining enough.

Rating 6.5 of 10.

Saturday Movies: Ender’s Game (2013)

So to be honest I was expecting a lot more before watching Ender’s Game. I was expecting to at least be interested, and honestly throughout I was just really bored. Maybe it was that everyone was too robotic or just that the story didn’t entertain? Either way I felt like I wanted to zone out throughout the entire duration of the movie. It’s not that the story is bad, or even that the acting is lacking, but it certainly isn’t entertaining or compelling.

Summary: Formics are an alien species that have already almost destroyed humans’ existence, but not humans have banded together to continue to fight back from their take over. Ender Wiggin almost believes he is no good to join the fight, until he is recruited to battle school where he will learn to fight from a computer. Fighting from a computer though is nothing like the video games he is practicing on though, and when it comes to the real thing Wiggin might not have the capacity to take the destruction with his quiet demeanor.

Acting: The acting is pretty good, even from the child actors who aren’t always that strong. Harrison Ford will be a recognizable face from the movie as Colonel Graff, who puts a lot of pressure on Ender to be a lot for such a young kid. Asa Butterfield portrays Ender, and does a good job, but sometimes I felt he was going for more of a robot or alien vibe than remembering the kid was human though, but otherwise his portrayal is suiting. Hailee Steinfield, from True Grit fame, is also in the movie as another child in battle school. Abigail Breslin shines for the few scenes she has as Ender’s sister, Valentine. Viola Davis also appears in the movie as the woman who appears alongside Colonel Graff, Majo Gwen Anderson, and there is Ben Kingsley as Mazer Beckham. Overall no one was really bad in their roles, but something kept me from ever really connecting with them as well.

Filming: Ender’s Game is a visually stunning movie. The graphics highlight the dark effect of space, but also lights it up at time with color as well. I guess unless you’re a strong sci-fi fan though, it doesn’t matter how amazing the visuals are because it isn’t interesting to really get into the fight scenes or anything else when you’re struggling with grasping how to get into the story itself.

Plot: In a way the story is admirable of how it shows a young boy transitioning into the harsh realities of adult hood. Many who will watch this movie will be fans of the novel, and the movie has to go way out of it’s way to make some changes to get the flow of the story more natural for movie storytelling. Instead of Ender finding out he wasn’t just playing a video game, but fighting a real war, it’s instead revealed from the beginning of the movie that he is fighting a war. I think this does ruin some aspects of thriller and build up of the story, and it becomes more of a kid frightened by what he finds he is capable of apart of battle.

Ender’s Game will appeal to some, but it’s not the best of the genre, and you might need to already be a fan of the genre to enjoy. Then again the main watcher of book’s translated to movies will be the readers, and you might be disappointed with the play out of the story. The actors are good as well, but there is something lacking emotionally that gives it a more robotic feel.

Rating 5 of 10.

Wednesday Movie Night: Riddick (2013)

I haven’t saw the other Riddick movies, but I was told I didn’t need to see the other ones to potentially follow this one, so I jumped in to watch. Now it may be true you can keep up with the basic story just by tuning in with this one, but you maybe lacking some ties to the characters, and how the world or Riddick works if you aren’t familiar with the past ones. Obviously it isn’t earth, and it’s on a foreign planet with different creatures and other threats.

Summary: Riddick is left for dead, and pursued by predators as he tries to survives. His only hope to alert a beacon that brings some trouble with it. Two ships arrive, one that is of mercenaries, and the other that contains the enemy of Riddick. Though he doesn’t want to be caught with either teaming up with each other may be their only way of survival as a storm of demons is on the horizon, and looking to prove a threat to anyone no matter who they are. Bad blood though may stand in their way of uniting.

Acting: Vin Diesel is the lead as Riddick, and for the most part it seems to be a typical Diesel part. If you’re a fan of him then you might enjoy him in this role, and I did felt he brought some mystery and intrigue to it. I felt perhaps it was other characters that harmed the overall vibe of the movie. Jordi Molla is the first of what continues to be an unlikable cast of side characters as Santana. Molla stays in the movie way too long for someone you just don’t like from the get go. Matt Nable is one of the old enemies as Boss Johns. Katee Sackhoff might be one of the most unlikable characters as Dahl. She is trying to be some sort of hot, stereotypical, lesbian. It’s just something trying to portray a strong woman, but ends up being more sexist with how she is placed in a man movie. There are many other faces in the movie but you will also recognize the wrestler, Bautista. He doesn’t do much, just stands there, be tough, ad kicks some butt. Whatever.

Filming: The movie has a very sleek, cool, and well comic like appearance. It’s definitely intended to appeal to the fan boys. I think the look is very cool though, and memorable, and the CGI is usually well blended i the movie as well. It captures the action once it picks up well and helps at least maintain some interest in the movie.

Plot: Well as far as the plot for the first hour the movie is just really slow. It’s Riddick roaming, and teasing the new arrivals. It feels like the movie is trying to waste time till it decides to go somewhere. When the action kicks in though it does get good, especially as you debate whether these people will finally team up or continue to be torn apart by their past. For the most part I always felt I was ready for the movie to go off. My interest just never picked up.

Riddick will be for those following the previous movies, but even if you have see the others. It sounds like this one is missing whatever made the past ones strong as well. It does have entertainment value though, and if you can get past some annoying characters you’ll make it through the whole movie. It’s a visually strong movie though.

Rating 5.5 of 10.

Book Review: Andrew L. Hoy’s Eat Like Jesus

So the argument that Hoy presents in this book I don’t really disagree with, but there is a lot to talk about that the book doesn’t. Most of us have heard of a Kosher diet. It’s most popular dietary restriction is no pork, which makes sense when you look at the basis for why it was banned from eating. It has a lot of unhealthy attributes that are garnered from what a pig eats. That basically is the basis of why animals are kosher or not. It depends on what they consume, which negates the health of eating that animal. Now here is where my problem is. How meat is prepared and even raised is a whole lot different than in Biblical times. We have mass factories that feed animals that are cows, chickens, pigs, and more hormones in order to speed up their growth, which has proven to be unhealthy for the consumer. Also if you have watched Food Inc., then you also know that cows are fed corn instead of grass, and corn actually has caused much beef to now be contaminated with E.Coli, since a cow’s stomach can’t digest anything but grass properly, that has left consumers dead. So if the basis of the Biblical commandment to be kosher is because of the unhealthy things those animals have consumed and the health risk of eating their meat because of that then aren’t a whole lot more meats unsafe and perhaps considered banned by a kosher diet?

Summary: Wow! I had a rant there. Anyways, basically the book can be summarized as a Biblical focus on what was the law Moses was given to avoid certain meats. It also is true that Jesus left no accounts where he was eating anything not considered kosher as well. Everything that was accounted for that he ate was kosher. Hoy also explains Peter’s vision in Acts that is much of the basis of a non-kosher diet, how the species on the ark weren’t always in pairs, and how multiple Bible translations have used certain texts that are the same but in different ways that lean toward non-kosher diets.

Characters: Well everything in this book draws from two accounts. Hoy’s and the Biblical texts that he draws from in the book. I think that Hoy does a great job at organizing his argument and presenting it with Biblical passages. I just recommend to have out your own Bible to read the entire text from. I also don’t believe Hoy intended to, but I also felt that I was being lashed out at if I ate pork. Now I will admit this book has gotten me to think a lot more differently about eating things like pork, but I also think a person needs to draw deeper into why certain diets were banned then. Did people cook or prepare their food the same? Did their cows have the improper diet of being fed corn, which causes a block in a cow’s stomach leading to E.Coli? Were the animals injected with medicine and hormones that weren’t natural to the animals’ growth process? There is a lot more to consider nowadays in the food world we live in. We even have to think about Kosher hot dogs are prepared nowadays. Unless you are raising and killing an animal for food on your own you have no idea where it came from to get to your plate.

Writing: Well this isn’t for the casual reader, or even quick reader. There are lots of charts and graphs that make this more like textbook reading. It could be a textbook had it not had such improper citations.  I’ll discuss that in a bit though. While I also think that Hoy makes some great points the tone was just very in my face. I can role with the logic of it, but people want to feel a conversation is happening and questions asked even if they are only reading.

Plot: The book develops to each point great. By the time you read the end of a chapter you’re ready to see what Hoy will explore in the next. He does a great job at presenting the aspects of the Bible to back what he believes in, and that gives it credibility. Now there are some things that I personally wouldn’t have done. One being I wouldn’t use Google Translate to navigate through passages of a Bible in it’s original language. I’ve used Google Translate before, and I’ve gotten some funky wording. It is usually on path to where I’m trying to get at, but if I was to speak in some of the sentence structures that Google Translate gave me to people who spoke that language, they would be very confused. I would hope someone presenting the Bible in another language to me would know that actual language because while Google Translate might be spot on in what you were aiming to convey in that sentence, it’s not 100% unless you can also back it up without the machine. Now Hoy may know the language of course, he does translate other aspects of scripture very thoroughly and well, but that was taken from one snippet when he was presenting different comparisons of how Bible translations appear. Also, I found in the back that Hoy used several Wikipedia pages to credit some of the things he said about pork, and other things. Now while Wikipedia honestly isn’t bad, and most likely you can get some good information there I was not allowed to ever turn in a paper in college even using the site. I wouldn’t even nowadays use Wikipedia in an argument. It’s just not a good source to sway people, especially when there are legitimate sites, and well even encyclopedias, that will discuss some of these things and will get people to listen to you better.

I commend Hoy for bringing up a conversation starter on a very touch topic. It is not easy to talk about food with people, because most people feel very protective over what they enjoy eating, especially bacon! He navigates his own argument for it well, and presents a case that would be hard for any Southern Christian BBQ lover to argue with. (I’m sorry, it’s just a really popular thing in the south for churches to have food fundraisers that involve barbecue). The issues though with the Wikipedia sources, and the part where Google Translate pops up though leaves me feeling there needs to be more credibility in that knowledge. The Bible parts are strong, but the outside sources are a little lacking. To be honest though if nothing else comes from this book for a reader than at least being more conscious about what you’re eating then Andrew Hoy has done a great thing for someone.

Rating 7 of 10.

This book was provided by the author in exchange for a review.

Saturday Movies: Last Vegas (2013)

There has been a lot of old men action movies, but there have been some old men comedies missing from the scene! Last Vegas definitely will make most of us think The Hangover, but flash forwarded to when everyone is in their 60’s. The thing is this movie really is nothing like The Hangover, so you can scratch that. The comedy definitely is as I expected, but not quite like advertised either. Maybe I would have to be older to have heavier laughs? I thought the general premise, and some of the story lines though were sweet, and sometimes quite romantic. It’s original, which I did appreciate.

Summary: Billy is in his sixties, and he has decided to finally marry, and it’s to a woman who is half his age, she’s only 32. In order to celebrate his union he is inviting his old friends to join him to have a bachelor’s weekend in Vegas. He enlists Archie and Sam, but lets them invite Paddy as they haven’t been on good terms. Hopefully whatever has been stewing between them can be put aside to celebrate. Once arriving there they meet Diana, who might mix up more between the men as they try to explore their identities as older men who still want to live life.

Acting: I feel like everyone from the cast does really well, even if you aren’t even a fan of Michael Douglas, even the guy brings heart to the role he is portraying as Billy. There is also Morgan Freeman as Archie who honestly brings the best comic relief of the whole cast. Freeman just shows a fun side that he doesn’t get to often in movies. There is also Robert De Niro as Paddy, and while I enjoy De Niro in his movies, and even did in this movie, I felt his character went right back to where De Niro feels safest. Somehow, even if vaguely he becomes the same personality he always is. Then there is Kevin Kline, who honestly I’m not familiar with like the rest of the cast, but I really enjoyed his scenes, and I have to say his story was surprisingly the best moments of the whole movie as Sam. I thought the love for his wife was just a great relief to see in a Hollywood movie. Sam’s search to have an affair and discovering the connection he had with his own wife was just really surprisingly sweet.

Filming: The movie feels really long at times. I’m not sure if that is because they stay on one too many scenes for way beyond the time they should or what. The movie does have this very warm tone to it that I did enjoy, and I believe that certain scenes were captured very well like when Diane and Billy ride the thrill ride that is attached to the side of the building. The whole movie has this very fun vibe, but nothing very significant stood out to me as far as any trademarks regarding the movie.

Plot: Since you have four different characters you have four different things they are exploring. One being Paddy who is widowed, and hasn’t moved on from his grieving. He’s still trapped by his loss, and hasn’t learn to embrace that he has a future he needs to live. There is Billy who seems to be latching on to a much younger romance instead of the true one that might better suit who he has grown to be. Archie is a man who is trapped in his son’s home because his son is scared that his health will kill him, but Archie needs to assert that he is still a grown man despite his age. There is also Sam who has been married a very long time, and he’s grown bored of the routine of his life. His wife gives him permission to have an affair, and Sam seems all more than excited to do it, until it comes time to do it.

Last Vegas strings together intertwining plots very well. For some reason some parts of the movie hit a lull for me though that left me feeling like I didn’t want to watch, but by the end the characters grow enough to become compelling without having to force being interesting on you. The laughs are a little underwhelming, but there a few times the comedy hits good, and it’s a sweet movie.

Rating 7 of 10.