Posts Tagged best of. by Amy Steele
1. Slumdog Millionaire
A magical film and so, so, so brilliant. It’s about dreams and love and never giving up hope. The film, directed by Danny Boyle, is absolutely original, special and imaginative from beginning to end. It is thrilling and lovely and romantic, all wrapped up with a spectacular Bollywood ending.
This reminds me a lot of Voltaire’s Candide except that Poppy is [Sally Hawkins] less naive–she knows about the world and its darkness, she just chooses to ignore the evils most of the time– and ends up with less scrapes. She is the ultimate optimist and regardless of the situation she finds herself in she sees it positively.
A moving, inspirational film. Sean Penn [The Interpreter, Mystic River] portrays Harvey Milk in a powerful, profound, commanding performance. He is ebullient and convicted to the end result and wins you over from the first frame. He makes you love Milk right off. He also makes you feel like you are watching a documentary at times. He has the mannerisms and affectations down. And when he’s with his lover, played by the talented James Franco [Pineapple Express, Spider-Man 3], the sex appeal oozes. The duo has smoldering and intense chemistry.
4. Rachel Getting Married
The screenplay, by Sidney Lumet’s daughter Jenny, combined with direction by Jonathan Demme makes this a strong, insightful glimpse into a flawed weekend of one family. Anne Hathaway’s layered performance is dark, moving, unapologetic and brilliant.
5. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Loved it! Just fantastic. The neuroses, the craziness, and the cast of Scarlet Johansson, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Rebecca Hall is divine.
The messages of caring, compassion, and environmental awareness do not overwhelm the viewer but are clear throughout this heartfelt, inspirational film about a futuristic recycling robot with a penchant for old song and dance films and collecting odd objects like Rubik’s cubes and light bulbs.
Very, very well made film with wonderful cinematography, fanastic fight scenes and an intense love story. It’s all about the rise to power of Genghis Khan in Mongolia. He overcomes tremendous adversity including losing his father as a young boy, enduring slavery, torment by those in his father’s trust, being betrayed by someone he considered to be a “blood brother,” and numerous prolonged separations from his wife.
8. The Secret Life of Bees
Lovely film with wonderful cast: Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Dakota Fanning, Alicia Keys and Sophie Odeneko. It’s the 60s and a young girl escapes her abusive father to live with a group of independent minded women in South Carolina who support themselves by making honey.
9. Be Kind Rewind
Be Kind Rewind is a love story to film. It’s also a commentary on the state of big business. We all know how hard in can be to find a copy of a particular, somewhat obscure film and wonder why there are 25 copies oLif something really banal on the shelves. Be Kind Rewind is a gem amidst a lot of mediocrity.
Shades of gray. Did he or didn’t he? Guilt, right and wrong, convictions, circumstances, hunches, and the hierarchy or the Church all come into play in this powerful, brilliant film based on the Broadway play. In 1964, Sister Aloysius Beauvier [Meryl Streep] and young, naive Sister James [Amy Adams] are rather dutiful sisters in the congregation, while Father Flynn [Phillip Seymour Hoffman] is the priest running the show. Things seen and heard can be easily misinterpreted and who knows who to trust or to believe?
Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg
A group of sisters write to guys during WWII (either boyfriends or just guys who need letters). I cried at the end of this book and promptly got online and adopted a U.S. soldier in Iraq. I wrote to SGT Michael Spaeth for the bulk of this year [and sent quite a few care packages] and his tour recently ended. I just requested a new soldier.
The Great Man by Kate Christensen
Fabulous read about an artist as told, after his death, from the viewpoint of four women: his wife, his lover, the lover’s best friend and his sister, also an artist. The women are all in their late 60s and early 70s and they have vastly different memories and relationships with this man and with each other. When two biographers come around to interview the women it forces them to speak to each other and for a long-standing secret to be revealed. Masterful writing by Christensen.
Told in a series of letters this is a charmer. Well-researched and planned, the book covers the period of German occupation of the British Island of Guernsey during WWII and the group of residents who created a book club to thrive and remain active.
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
A remarkable, fluid, enthralling book about WWII written by a French Jew (who ended up being shipped off and killed in a concentration camp). It was published some 50 years posthumously. She paints a detailed portrait of the villagers when the Germans invade as well as the mass exodus from Paris. It is funny, sad and quite sympathetic at times toward some of the German soldiers. She seemed to be able to see the situation from all angles and get it down in exquisite prose.
The Cure for the Modern World by Lisa Tucker
Clinical trials, medical research, Big Pharma, medical ethics, children’s rights and much more are explored in this easy-to-read book. It’s a real joy to read it. Perfect weekend read.
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Brooks puts you in Sarajevo and London and Venice at all times as she describes the exciting discovery of an ancient Hebrew manuscript with clues as to its travels and its use over time. While based on real events, Brooks creates fantastic characteristics and writes this love story to books and reading and history. I love her style, her research and journalism skills and want to write books just like her when I finally do.
The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus II
Once I got into this book, I just could not stop reading. It is about the fictional final days of one of the 9/11 hijackers as he spent them in Florida at a stripclub. It also involves the stripper and some other clubgoers and how their paths cross that evening.
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
A haunting, majestic book of epic proportions. Its about the occupation of Sarajevo in the 90s. A cellist decides to play for 22 days honor those who died from a mortar attack. A man travels to collect water. A woman works as a sniper. Another man walks across town to get bread. All risk their lives. Galloway tells their stories with truth, beauty and honesty. One of the best books I’ve read, ever.
The Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller
Fantastic read. Miller is quite the storyteller and wordsmith. She creates this characters that you can imagine knowing, that are so vibrant and complex and real. Her chosen topic fits the times and our nation’s landscape. It’s not what you expect either.
The Condition by Jennifer Haigh
This is a page turner about a family from Concord, Mass. who summer on the Cape like so many other well-to-do Massachusetts people. The author weaves together secrets involving Turners syndrome, apoptosis, homosexuality, MIT, the scientific community and families in general. It is so well done.
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Who would think that a fictionalized book about Laura Bush would be this good and this hard to put down? I really sunk into this book and didn’t want it to end. Sittenfeld did her research and fleshed out her character and made it an enjoyable, wonderful book. I then saw the film W a few weeks later and it made it all that much better for me.
Dewey by Vicky Myron
Delightful and memorable story about a cat and a little library in Middle-America. The cat touches many people in the libary and the community but the book will also enlighten you about Iowa and its people as well as libraries in general.