Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Importance of Being Earnest Movie

I watched this with a group of people a couple months ago. I read the play last year, but I forgot a lot of it although I know I laughed aloud while reading it.

Algie is my favorite (I think he was my favorite in the play too or I liked him more than I thought I would; I am one of those main character loyalty people); oh, my I just loved his goofy facial expressions. I just do not think that Colin Firth acts at all well. This is the third film in which I have seen him act, and he just does not seem totally different in any of his roles, but maybe I am being too picky. He is just not very animated.

Cicely was funny and her clothes were pretty; her simplicity and naivety were hilarious and nice. Gwendolyn had a pretty outfit or two, but I did not like her character (I do not think I liked her much in the book either); she was a bit of diva.

The kissing was uncomfortably close to making-out, and the filmmakers added a weird tattooing issue into the plot which was totally bizarre especially regarding the social class and time period involved (I think that sailors still monopolized that market at that point in history).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Daisy Chain Review

I feel like this novel is Victorian in the conventional and derogatory understanding. I found the story interesting, but the author wrote in an extremely moralistic and sanctimonious (and unorthodox) style. Anglicanism consists of morals and works and not faith and grace, and the author wrote under the influence of the Oxford movement in Anglicanism which made the practices even more Catholic.

I found the worship of academic knowledge (it is KNOWLEDGE not INTELLIGENCE although that and/or DILIGENCE can speed the accession of knowledge) obnoxious.* The novel displayed such inconsistency and in trying to provide meaning the author made so much futile. How can you speak of intelligence, Classical and diligent study, and spiritual things when you rely on the Church of England rather than the ancient Bible and do not read and study that carefully?! Try for school honors, but oh, be humble and do not point out Richard's stupidity (?!). Ethel studies Latin and Greek (why?!). They (Norman especially) are haughty about the poor and yet talk so much about spiritual and moral concepts. Dr. May's parenting is awful. Edith is a lazy slob; her falsely spiritual "spirit-above-matter" attitude was prideful and absurd.

Also, the disparity in intelligence I found ludicrous. I am sorry, but unless a child is mentally handicapped, there is no great disparity in overall intelligence among children of the same family such as displayed in this novel. Richard was labelled dull so many times that I want to strangle the author, his father, Ethel, and Norman all together.

Oh, and when an author destroys a match . . . !!!!!! I do not care if Ethel was annoying, I still wanted her to marry Norman Ogilvie. Main character loyalty strikes again. Oh, I could foresee it, but I was so infuriated.

I know that no novel is perfect and England had (has?) an insincere morality and false honor code, but the author did not weave these assumptions in the book in a subconscious manner, they rather punched me in the face. Think much better written Elsie Dinsmore.

I could not enjoy the story for the style.

*More on this topic in future.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Othello Mini-Review

Again, a required read for class. My professor pointed out that Iago was the most interesting and developed character and this notification and the fact that we watched clips of the film version in which Kenneth Branagh plays Iago, caused me to really think that he alone was a interesting character. Okay not quite, Cassio caught my interest and someone very interesting played him in his younger days; I hope there is a video recording available somehow. Cassio at first appears a good character, but I think that he was rake. (What was the whole point of the mistress scene? He is immoral and cruel). Othello and Desdemona are flat and boring (as the professor taught us to see), and Iago, Cassio, and even Desdemona's thwarted suitor and father seem to have more interest. Of course what I saw of the movie aided/formed those impressions.

Rather heavy sexual crudity.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mary Barton Review

I tried to read this novel years ago and ended up just skimming it. I read it for my British history class, and our professor said that this was Gaskell's first novel. That might help explain why I found it harder to enjoy than her other "great" novels. I did like it better this time around though. I think the first time I thought Mary was going to capitulate if Harry Carson had not been killed.

Mary was an irritating little snob . . . and the way she treated poor Jim! She was a fool in the beginning, but she ended up being quite heroic (which is annoying because this was painted on rather heavily). Jim still deserved soooo much better though.

The action and plot were interesting, more so than the characters who were rather flat and stock. The description of the charaters and overall tone made the book seem rather sanctimonious in tone (which the author intended as my professor indicated, in a more positive way, remember this was a HISTORY class; we have to have preaching about social issues). I think that when novels (and movies) are action focused to the point of style and characterization degradation, the quality is quite low. Also, please show rather than preach.*

The whole factory/mill master and workers situation seems to intrigue me in novels. My professor stated (after I brought up the better, in my opinion, North and South) that Gaskell received quite a bit of criticism for Mary Barton and probably toned down North and South for that reason  . . . because of course any balance and positive light to the upper and/or master classes is wrong!  In North and South the story displays so many sides of the question and the author's bias is less obvious (or, if possible nonexistent) which makes the story so very fascinating.


*I say do not preach because no one ever seems to preach truth in novels.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Carry On Jeeves Mini-Review

This book is the best of the Jeeves and Wooster books so far. I thought this mixed the best of both worlds. Bertie was more human and Jeeves more Jeeves (although I missed some of the descriptiveness of the first book). The stories had more variety in type. I skipped a few stories because they were the same as some in My Man Jeeves except in this one Wodehouse changed the names to Jeeves and Wooster where applicable.

The last story . . . I could die. And it is written in Jeeves's perspective. He was quite calculating and cruel. I need to see these shows.

I only listed the first three Jeeves and Wooster novels for which I am thankful because although I will continue to read them, I do not find them deep enough to review easily.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Inimitable Jeeves Mini-Review

Jeeves remained in the background in this book, and this book contained fewer hilarious descriptions of him which I found disappointing. A few of the stories focused on Bertie exclusively, but they mostly seemed to revolve around his friend Bingo Little who constantly dragged Bertie into his scrapes. Bertie seemed more of a person than a caricature in this book which I appreciated. I did not find this book uproariously funny, but I did enjoy it.

Oh, and you will meet the ancestors of the best twins, Gred and Forge of course, in the world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ormond Review

I did not like this novel. A weak, unworthy character and circumstantial salvation/restoration/development of moral character.

A lady with a nice son and daughter tries reforming a wild young man, Ormond, after someone is nearly killed. Ormond takes a tiny step and then slides into philandering.

He then is fascinated by a empty-headed doll. He sees through her. He does not. Does he ever? He is saved from marrying her when she marries another, but since he did not break with her . . . not pleasing. (Unfortunately he is not actually saved from her and what is worse he does not save himself which would have prevented all future problems).

Now a polished but morally weak young man (whitewashed tomb anyone?), he is reacquainted with the honorable family (and much more slowly than before) falls in love with the daughter. The son dies (what was his point in the story . . . aiding the romance?). Ormond sees another man making a proposal, jumps to the wrong conclusion (although his lady should have chosen that more worthier man . . . yet I had that main-character-loyalty for him that made me want them to marry), and runs away (wow, way to really pursue with perseverance) . . . to France and the married empty-headed doll.

He is at the point of becoming the lover of the horrible doll when he is called away on business affairs (like I said, circumstantial salvation and morality). Eventually after confusion is sorted out he marries the lady.

The match does not feel like a love match because of the intensity of Ormond's emotions with the horrid doll and the fact that more emphasis is given to Ormond and the horrid doll's connection, actions, reactions, conversations, etc than to those between him and his future wife. The style of writing devoted to any of the real couple scenes is cursory in contrast the style of writing involving Ormond and the horrid girl which evokes a feeling of intensity. (Are there any conversations between him and his future wife?! Or is it just descriptions, and brief,  for-information rather than for-illustration descriptions at that). Ugh.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

King Lear Mini-Review

I read this for my Shakespeare class. This is one of my least favorite of Shakespeare's plays; one of the worst Shakespeare plays, I think. I "had" to read it for a class and dissect it,  and that certainly did not invite me to enjoy the play, but I still do not think I would have enjoyed it much anyway.

I felt like this play had so many characters, but I am not sure that it contained any more than other plays, but the impression probably came from the fact that no characters really stood far and above any others in development and importance. The play has one and only one truly likable character and that is, Edgar, the legitimate son of Gloucester, and he does not dominate any more than does anyone else. Any other tolerable characters rarely appear.

The play is mainly coarseness, vileness, and death, and Lear, the one wronged, is an egotistical old fool, so it is rather difficult to feel sorry for him. Shakespeare set this play in pre-Christian Britain, and the play is more brutal, senseless, and hopeless (which was a point in our class, and I think something of the point for our last essay) than Shakespeare's other plays. Edgar  and some good and "better" characters survive amid the wreck and ruin, but I did not really know those characters; they just existed. The play is rather blah overall.

Sexual crudity included of course.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Clouds of Witness Review

Ah, yet again I could have published somewhat closer to when I read this novel, but as you can see from past published reviews I am working on this.

Well, I do like variety. This mystery was quite different from the first one. The story felt more human and personal . . . as it certainly had to be for Lord Peter, and later Parker, given the nature of the story. I feel like the first novel is the formal introduction while the second novel pitches you headlong into friendship with Lord Peter. I like that mimicry of life in style, but I think that the acquaintance should have been slower especially since it is British.

Anyway, the mystery was greater in this novel than the mystery in the first. And the explanation less intellectually satisfying to the same degree. Instead of the "how" as in the first book, the focus is on the "who," "why," and etc. More the traditional mystery story approach.

I strongly dislike the false honor and delicacy stance (as ascertained from literature, oh what trustworthy source, this is the traditional British honor code). The duke committed adultery and it is not honor to hide the other person, it is deceit. (He who covers his sin will not prosper . . . Proverbs 28:13). If he really wanted to protect her honor, he would not have had the affair in the first place. Duh. This ugly immorality and false morality darkened the whole story, and the final scene of drunkenness which could have been humorous (cringe-worthy humor to some, but still humor*) merely dragged everything down more with that behavior and flippancy.

*I realize drunkenness is a sin, but I do not consider it harmful here and although in real life it is disgusting at best and murder at worse, it is rather funny in fiction. Judge me, and do not laugh at Otis :/

P.S. Despite the sanctimonious tone of my review, I did enjoy the novel. Um, it is Lord Peter we are talking about people!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Deerslayer (Leatherstocking Tales #1) Review

I know that a talented author can produce brilliant works with varying numbers of words, but 600+ pages devoted to a time span of less than a week seems rather excessive even for an author of the highest genius, and James Fenimore Cooper hardly fits that description. He gives unnecessary descriptions of the most mundane activities, describes the land in unnecessary and verbose detail, and throws in an extremely talkative character. Deerslayer is a loquacious character despite Cooper's description of him as modest (and in certain situations as able to hold his tongue a feat which is never once demonstrated in the book, and the Indians unfortunately do not gag him), and his soliloquizing is more truly described as sermonizing and is repetitive, racist (not odd for the time but odd for one of Deerslayer's upbringing), and quite annoying.

With less conversations (or soliloquies) nearer the end of the novel, the story becomes much more interesting. I quite enjoyed Deerslayer/Hawkeye's escape from the clutches of Judith and the fact that his heart remains quite untouched by her. I am not familiar enough with The Last of the Mohicans, so I was surprised by this. I found it rather humorous that after 600+ pages the whole episode leaves no discernable impact on history besides the rescue of Hist (which would have occurred anyway) and Deerslayer's earning of the sobriquet of Hawkeye. The story was rather bizarre because of the style and termination.

I am quite ready to read The Last of the Mohicans and to delve a little further into Native American inspired literature. I need to pursue my American roots and culture a bit better (I do not think I have to like it as well as British; it is too personal for that, but I have been faaaaaar too narrow).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Adam Bede Mini-Review

I came to this novel in almost perfect ignorance of the story. I highly recommend this method. I learned a little from the chapter titles (I love chapter titles although these could have been improved in the creative aspect) and through fill-in-the-sequence logic, but I still found myself totally unprepared for certain events and aspects.

This is the author's first published novel and although sometimes sections of the story seem "artificial" or disjointed, the incongruity is slight and probably heightened by my sensitivity about said sections. I think the story read well despite these wrinkles.

Be careful with this. There is ill-placed/sorted blame, excusing, and dehumanizing elements. Great sin is lessened. The topic has been taken further today, and this story in the hands of a modernist or post-modernist would be depraved, and the conduct misconstrued (lessened) further.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Whose Body Review

Despite writing notes during/soon after reading Whose Body and typing them up weeks ago, I am just now editing and publishing them. I need to publish current reviews and procrastinated reviews (if that is not an adjective yet it should be) at the same time. I will improve, I will, I will! (Said like "I do believe in fairies!" of course!)

Lord Peter is the Sir Percy of mysteries and Bunter is his Jeeves. I am guessing Lord Peter was in WWI with Parker (who is more of the Sherlock Lestrade than the original Lestrade is; Sugg is like or worse than the original Lestrade), whom Lord Peter calls by his first name after his (Lord Peter's) relapse, thus revealing that they are good friends and not just friendly business associates (I love that artistic detail and what it reveals). What a spoiled boy Lord Peter is (kind of like Shawn in Psych).

I suspected Freke but still found the story interesting. I do not like that Lord Peter gave Freke the chance to kill himself. (This is the most sickening murder imaginable and you warn the criminal, because of your own ego? "I found you out."? "He is a great man so warn him"? "I feel bad so warn him"? And all of Lord Peter's qualms about suspecting Milligan . . . rules rather than morals, I suppose). I am in love with Lord Peter although this received quite a chill thanks to the above. This was such a cold-blooded, long premeditated murder. And the confession plus details (dissection especially) made it quite freaky.

The switch to 2nd person was intriguing, especially because of the depth and different outlooks these switches added:
        ~The poor young man and his blunders; most authors do not allow inferior people feelings or such a sense of their own blunders.
        ~Lord Peter and the freaky scene, reverting back to WWI, AWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The name switch is in this scene too which intensifies the sense of Lord Peter's fear.

The mystery is not outrageously convoluted and unbelievable. The method and  manner of the crime are what provided the shock to the senses. The absolute callous depravity of the sociopathic and psychopathic murdererhe intended to have his "work" published (!). Unlike a Christie novel, the characters in this novel are developed, each is a person and not primarily a tool in a mystery plot.

I hope there is more mystery (I have since discovered that there is) in other novels of the series, but I think that constant drama (especially of the overwrought Christie variety) is too much, and I find it refreshing that a more realistic murder story can be presented. This story rested more on finding evidence and learning how the murderer committed the crime than on finding the murderer.