Tag Archives: dan brown

In Theaters This Week (10/28/2016) – Inferno, Before the Flood

 

Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio

Each Thursday we look at what is going to be coming out in theaters this weekend, show you the trailers for the big releases, predict the box office winner and just generally give you enough of a carrot to pull you through the rest of the work week.  October 28th closes out the most mediocre October that I can ever remember with a weekend Tom Hanks can’t even save. Continue reading In Theaters This Week (10/28/2016) – Inferno, Before the Flood

Trailer Time: Inferno Trailer #2 (2016) *Least Exciting Franchise…Ever*

I am not Dan Brown’s biggest fan.  His books are getting increasingly harder to slog through, but they all follow the same formula.  Something is hidden in something ancient, only Robert Langdon can find it, someone doesn’t want him to find it, cue the albino.  His  books before The Da Vinci Code were actually much better, but the success of DVC has kept him on an obvious track.  I tried to read Inferno, but after 200 pages of descriptions of frescos and palazzos, I couldn’t take it any more.  This trailer makes it sound much more interesting.  Things must have picked up around page 400 (there were 600 or so to play with).

Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Inferno

This is the third film in the Robert Langdon film series with Tom Hanks returning as the symbologist and he’s joined by Felicity Jones.  Bluntly, I think both of these people should be out making better movies than this will end up being, but everybody’s gotta have a franchise these days and this is Hanks’.  Ron Howard used to be among my favorite directors, but he seems to have lost his way.  We’ll see if they turn things around when Inferno opens on October 28, 2016.

Trailer Time: Inferno Teaser #1 (2016) *Tom Hanks is Robert Langdon Yet Again*

I am not Dan Brown’s biggest fan.  His books are getting increasingly harder to slog through, but they all follow the same formula.  Something is hidden in something ancient, only Robert Langdon can find it, someone doesn’t want him to find it, cue the albino.  His  books before The Da Vinci Code were actually much better, but the success of DVC has kept him on an obvious track.  I tried to read Inferno, but after 200 pages of descriptions of frescos and palazzos, I couldn’t take it any more.  This trailer makes it sound much more interesting.  Things must have picked up around page 400 (there were 600 or so to play with).

Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Inferno

This is the third film in the Robert Langdon film series with Tom Hanks returning as the symbologist and he’s joined by Felicity Jones.  Bluntly, I think both of these people should be out making better movies than this will end up being, but everybody’s gotta have a franchise these days and this is Hanks’.  Ron Howard used to be among my favorite directors, but he seems to have lost his way.  Last year’s In the Heart of the Sea was odd when it wasn’t boring, and the Dan Brown films have been average at best.  We’ll see if they turn things around when Inferno opens on October 28, 2016.

Khaled Hosseini’s Third Book Out Today (Advance Review)

Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini

 There aren’t too many legitimate literary superstars left.  Dan Brown, by the way, is NOT a literary superstar.  I’ll sometimes read a Dan Brown book for the same reason I watch Plan 9 From Outer Space.  It’s hysterically bad.  It’s so bad it’s compelling.  And I won’t knock that.  It’s kind of it’s own genre.  But it’s not literture.

This month is a wealth of riches for me as my two of my favorite active authors: Neil Gaiman (next week) and Khaled Hosseini release new novels for the first time in years.  Most are familiar with Hosseini (if not by name) than through his debut novel, The Kite Runner, and it’s movie adaptation.  The movie was fine, but it can’t hold a candle to Hosseini’s beautiful prose in the midst of stark brutality; something he continued in his equally masterful second book: A Thousand Splendid Suns.  If you like to read, I cannot recommend an author more highly.  Period.  My copy just downloaded to my Kindle, so I’m including this morning’s advance review from The Washington Post by Marcela Valdes.  I’ll try to get my own up when I finish it.  I’m ripping through The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson now, but this is next. 

Washington Post Book Review by Marcela Valdes

Nuance is rare on the bestseller list. In most cases, ambiguity is stripped away to appeal to the greatest number and lowest common denominator. So it always renews my faith when a popular novelist shows a decided preference for moral complexity. It suggests that readers crave more than simplistic escape. Or perhaps it just means that some writers, like Khaled Hosseini, know how to whisk rough moral fiber into something exquisite.

Hosseini’s first two novels, “The Kite Runner” (2003) and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” (2007), spent a combined total of 171 weeks on the bestseller list. He knows how to please a crowd. In his case, the secret ingredient might be intense emotion. I’m not an easy touch when it comes to novels, but Hosseini’s new book, “And the Mountains Echoed,” had tears dropping from my eyes by Page 45.

The killer scene is set in Kabul in 1952, in a home so heavy with fruit trees and privilege that when 10-year-old Abdullah crosses its threshold, he feels as if he has entered a palace. Abdullah is the son of a broke day laborer; his mother died giving birth to his sister, Pari. The previous winter, the cold seeped into his family’s shack and froze his 2-week-old stepbrother to death. Now his father has walked Abdullah and Pari across miles of desert, from their tiny village to the great city of Kabul, in hopes that one brutal act — a bargain with two rich devils — will save their family from the next ruthless winter. Later, Abdullah will think back on that terrible afternoon and remember a line from one of his father’s bedtime stories: “A finger had to be cut, to save the hand.”

Fingers are sliced off in almost every chapter of Hosseini’s novel. Again and again, his characters face a test of love: Will they sacrifice their dearest for a better life, or will they remain loyal at the cost of their own happiness? In every case, someone’s getting damaged. “When you have lived as long as I have,” one character says, “you find that cruelty and benevolence are but shades of the same color.”

Like Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” Hosseini’s novel is built as a series of tales, each told in a different style from a different point of view. Chapter 3, for example, takes place in 1949, when Abdullah’s plain stepmother falls in love with the same man as does her gorgeous twin sister. Chapter 7 happens in 2009, when the son of a former mujahideen realizes that his father’s mansion is his mother’s prison.

In less skillful hands, this structure might seem more like a compilation of short stories than a novel. But Hosseini carefully divvies up details about the circumstances preceding and following Abdullah and Pari’s fateful afternoon, giving the book a satisfying sense of momentum and consequence.

One of my favorite chapters revolves around a doctor who, like Hosseini, is born in Afghanistan and educated in California. In 2003, the doctor visits Kabul with his cousin, a sexy used-car salesman. Soon after he arrives, he sees a young girl who was mutilated by a relative during a land dispute. Uneasy with his cousin and uncomfortable in war-ravaged Kabul (his money makes him the target of beggars), the doctor begins visiting the girl in the hospital. Soon, she’s calling him “Uncle” and he’s promising to bring her to America. The day before he leaves Kabul, he tells her nurse, “The operation she needs? I want to make it happen.”

Then Hosseini twists the screw. On the first day home, he’s disgusted by his profligacy: “For the price of that home theater we could have built a school in Afghanistan.” But the doctor’s humanitarian infatuation wears off. A month later, he’s snug in his wealth again: “Everything he owns he has earned. . . . Why should he feel badly?” By the end of the chapter, not only has Hosseini complicated our ideas about generosity, he’s also poured acid over the doctor’s cozy justifications and revealed the fierce intelligence inside the wounded girl.

It’s those kinds of twists that made me lie to friends and family to spend more time devouring Hosseini’s book. Over and over again, he takes complicated characters and roasts them slowly, forcing us to revise our judgments about them and to recognize the good in the bad and vice versa.

Take, for example, the glamorous Afghan named Nila Wahdati. In Chapter 2, she’s one of the greedy devils who break Abdullah’s happiness. In Chapter 4, we learn she’s also a tragic, avant-garde poet and a devoted mother. In Chapter 6, she appears as an aging, alcoholic narcissist. Is Nila a good person? She’s a real woman, made of anger, hope, vanity, tenderness, ambition and sorrow. You can love her and hate her at the same time.

It’s hard to do justice to a novel this rich in a short review. There are a dozen things I still want to say — about the rhyming pairs of characters, the echoing situations, the varied takes on honesty, loneliness, beauty and poverty, the transformation of emotions into physical ailments. Instead, I’ll just add this: Send Hosseini up the bestseller list again.

Killing Time – April 25, 2013

Killing Time

I may have, in passing, mentioned last week that I started watching The Good Wife.  I did NOTHING all weekend but watch The Good Wife.  I watched 30 episodes in three days.  That, even by my standards, is a massive entertainment bender.  The problem is, I had no clue what the show was about.  The title gives you no clue it’s about a law firm.  It’s a legal show.  The title makes it sound like it’s Desperate Housewives.  It’s the most unfortunately named show since Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I can’t tell you how many people I tried to sell on that show that dismissed it because the name sounded silly.  Well, at least you knew what Buffy was doing.  I should have just watched it anyway since Josh Charles is on it and as part of my coping strategy to get over SportsNight only lasting two seasons (yes I know it’s been thirteen years, I don’t forget things), I said I’d follow Josh Charles and Peter Krause around to future projects.  So apparently I’m going to Parenthood after this….must watch more Good Wife….so addicting…

Books:         The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (I don’t know why, either)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Volume 2: Characters

Blu Ray:     Looper

TV/HULU:  The Daily Show with John Stewart
The Colbert Report
Parks & Recreation Season Five
The Good Wife Season Two
Community Season Four
Song of the Week:  “Broken” by Lifehouse

Video Game: Borderlands 2 (Level 18 Gunzerker)
Star Trek: The Game
The Witcher II: Assassin of Kings
* XBOX Live, gamertag: sleeplessdave; feel free to friend me!

Comics:   The Shade by James Robinson
Flash Omnibus Vol. 3 by Geoff Johns