Archive for January, 2009

Basically, this is what I do when I’m not in the mood to work. Why not do a movie list since I just did a book list? By the way, neither of these lists are of books or movies that came out in 2008. It’s just what I saw or read in 2008.

First, I saw 26 moviesin the theater last year (not bad, but I think 52 would be a better number.) These were my six favorites. Notice that two on the list just came out a week or so ago. What that means is that if I were to write this a year from now, they might not be on this list, due to that brain-addled, only remember what I most recently saw feature of my intellect. However, I really did think both were excellent movies.

There Will be Blood – We saw this last year in preparation for the Oscars. Violent as it was, I really loved this movie, as I also loved Eastern Promises in late 2007. I found Daniel Day Lewis and the whole story riveting. And I loved the milkshake scene at the end. (also really enjoyed Saturday Night Live’s parody of it.)

Young At Heart – I wasn’t dying to see this movie but it was playing at the Academy Theater where there are 2 for 1 movies on Tuesday night. Both Mary and I loved it. It was so uplifting, but not in a schmaltzy way. Sadly, I think that even when I am 80 years old, no one will want me in their choir.

Tell No One – I read great reviews of this and rushed out to see it months ago before it would be gone. Of course because of that it’s still around, while other movies I wanted to see are gone. Anyway, I really enjoyed it. It’s a good thriller, and I didn’t guess the ending. Also it’s in French, which somehow makes it more interesting. Also Kristin Scott Thomas is in it, playing a lesbian, and we all know what a babe she is.

Ghost Town – Mary and I went to see this during our Staycation in September when we practically saw a movie a day. We’d seen the previews for this and it looked funny. And it was funny, especially Kristen Wiig as Ricky Gervais’s surgeon. This movie came and went but it’s definitely worth a rental.

Marley and Me – This is what we saw when we were finally able to get out from under the snow. It was to make up for not being able to see a movie on Christmas Day. We actually wanted to see a possible Oscar flick, but this had the best timing. Ironically, earlier this year, when we were at a theater to see a different movie, I allowed myself to get roped in to watching some previews on a little machine and giving my feedback. The preview was for Marley and Me and it looked really stupid and annoying, which I told the guy interviewing me. Later when the previews showed up in the theaters, I was sure that they had incorporated some of my feedback because it looked all right. In fact, I think it was a well-made movie, a good movie about a marriage and a HUGE tear-jerker. Mary said the worst part about this movie was the little kids in front of us who turned around to stare at the middle-aged sobbing ladies in the back row. I agree. Stupid kids. Plus, I already had a stomach ache from trying NOT to cry. I was holding it in!

Frost/Nixon. – This was riveting and interesting. Frank Langella is amazing as Nixon. He made me actually like the man a little bit. The movie made both Mary and I want to see the real Frost-Nixon interviews.

And as for the worst movie I saw in 2008? Hands down it was Happy Go Lucky. The main character was incredibly irritating, and, I felt, extremely rude and inconsiderate in her “relentess optimism.” I can’t even stand to see her face! Fortunately I’m not entirely alone in my hating of this movie as my sweetheart suffered through it with me. We both squirmed in our seats, and I checked the time more than once. Afterwards we were in complete agreement about what a huge waste of time and possibly even an assault that movie was. I think it was free popcorn night at Regal Cinemas so maybe that made up for it a little bit.

The Multnomah Public Libarary (which I love very much) has an online feature which will automatically save to a list everything you have checked out. This is optional, to prevent the government from spying on us, and you can also remove books from your list if you’d like. I love lists so I chose to have my history saved to a list, and I can see that I checked out 38 books from the library last year. Some are computer books and travel books so they don’t really count as “reading”, and some I didn’t’ like and didn’t finish reading them. In all, I read 24 library books last year. I thought I’d put together a list of my 10 favorite, but I find that there are plenty that I liked okay, but only a few that I REALLY loved. And here they are. I am handicapped by the fact that as soon as I read one book, I mostly forget the last one I read, so it’s obvious from my descriptions that no one’s going to hire me as a book reviewer. Anyway, here are my 6 most favorite of 2008. They’re not in any sort of order except for The Ridiculous Race which was my most very favorite.

  1. The Ridiculous Race – Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran – Non-fiction – These two guys decided to race each other around the world, using no airplanes. This is what first drew me to this book – I was just interested to see how they would get around the world. I love this book because it is very interesting – I learned a lot – but it is also very, very funny. I was laughing out loud almost every page.
  2. Rome 1960 – The Olympics that Changed the World – David Maraniss – Non-fiction – I read this during the Summer Olympics which led to a little confusion in my addled brain as I kept thinking that the Olympics I was watching on tv were in Rome and the ones I was reading about were in Beijing. It’s a fascinating book, full of interesting information about what was going on during the Olympics and in the world during 1960.
  3. When Will There Be Good News – Kate Atkinson – Fiction – Kate Atkinson is Scottish and writes literary mysteries. They’re good mysteries and even better characterization. She is one of my favorite writers (though I checked out her short stories from the library last year and found them too “clever”. I got through one and a half of them before returning the book.)
  4. The Genius – Jesse Kellerman – Fiction – This is characterized as a thriller by Publisher’s Weekly. I’d call it a mystery. It concerns an art dealer in New York and a 40-year-old unsolved murder. There is definitely a mystery here, but this was to me a book about family, and a very good one.
  5. The Reluctant Communist : My Desertion,Court-Martial and 40-year Imprisonment in North Korea – Charles Robert Jenkins with Jim Frederick – non-fiction. The subtitle says what the book is about, and I found it to be really interesting.
  6. The Old Silent – Martha Grimes – Fiction – Martha Grimes is an American mystery writer who writes novels set in England. Martha Grimes is my easy pleasure reading, and most excellent airplane reading. I bought two Martha Grimes novels for our recent Caribbean cruise – one for the flight to Florida and one for the flight back. (Very sadly, I packed the one for the flight back in my suitcase and then checked the suitcase.) My plan was to donate the first book to the ship’s library or something after I finished it, but I found I liked this one so much that I had to hold on to it (unfortunate since it’s a fat book.) All of Grimes’s novels involve some sort of precocious child and all are very humorous in places. This one had all that, but went deeper. It moved me, so I couldn’t just get rid of the book. Fair warning: I also found it fairly disturbing.