Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's a Girl!

Please join us in welcoming ....

Cecilia Eve Gullo

Born: September 9, 2007 at 9:30 pm (est).
Weight: 7 pounds, 1 ounce
Length: 20 and a quarter inches

We are overjoyed.

Frank and Cecily

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Summer Movie Roundup

I didn't see that many movies over the summer, mostly due to the time sink of extensive home remodeling. But I did watch a few (mostly DVD rentals) and wanted to provide some capsule opinions. The titles are listed in the order in which I saw the films.

Blood Diamond

This was very good, much better than I thought it would be. A fast-paced thriller set amidst the gruesome Sierra Leone Civil War, Blood Diamond deftly managed to combine a traditional action plot within the moving context of a broader historical arc, in this case, unsavory diamond-mining in Sierra Leone.

Djimon Hounsou was superb as a fisherman captured by Revolutionary United Front rebels who eventually finds a huge, rare pink diamond. Leonardo DiCaprio was effective (despite the accent) as a Rhodesian merecenary who trades arms for diamonds but eventually makes the moral choice.

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Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

I group Spider-Man 3 and Pirates 3 together because both films were letdowns: not horrible but mostly flat and not nearly as good as the previous films in their respective series.

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Children of Men

Children of Men
is an achingly grim dystopian vision of a future where humanity can no longer have children. Brilliant visuals play off the film's slow pacing to lend it a calibrated realism. Very well done. For a more detailed take on Children of Men, check our Ranting Nerd's post about it and other movies here.

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Catch and Release

I rented Catch and Release thinking Kevin Smith wrote and directed the film. As it turned out, he did neither and was only a supporting actor in the film. Not surprisingly, my reaction of the movie was about the same as when you order your favorite Chinese take out dish (shrimp and broccoli) only to discover at home that they gave you something else (steamed vegetables). Ultimately, the movie was okay and it was nice to see Jennifer Garner in something new, but it wasn't shrimp and broccoli.

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Knocked Up

I found Knocked Up very funny -- with humor reminiscent of The 40 Year Old Virgin -- and the perfect midsummer movie for me and my wife, a couple expecting our first child.

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Zodiac was about the Zodiac murders that occurred in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 60s. Though compelling, while watching the film I kept thinking it was a lesser version of Spike Lee's Summer of Sam, which I thought did a better job of showing the pervasiveness of serial killer murders and how they can spread almost virally throughout the psyches and surrounding communities.

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The Ex

I liked The Ex and was pleased to see Zach Braff do a big screen comedy similar to what he's done in Scrubs. Jason Batemen was also very good as the nefarious paraplegic out to steal Braff's wife.

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The Perfect Stranger

The Perfect Stranger
was a pedestrian thriller that never came together for me despite the star power of Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. Perhaps this is because the film seemed forced and way too intent on redirecting for a surprise payoff that wasn't believable.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Barrel Fever by David Sedaris

I finally got around to reading some (David) Sedaris. I had heard good things about his prose and essays, and had been meaning to pick up one of his books. Fortunately, a friendly neighbor recently loaned me two of his books as a housewarming present.

I started with Barrel Fever, which was the author's first book, and consists of essays and short fiction. I enjoyed the book and the author's mordant humor, but thought the writing was definitely characteristic of a young writer trying to find his voice. For the most part, the essays were better than the fiction. Of all the pieces, I probably enjoyed "SantaLand Diaries" the most, which humorously recounts the author's experiences working as an elf at Macy's.

Overall, I'm glad I read Barrel Fever and look forward to reading later, more polished writings by Sedaris.