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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry CHRISTmas from author Trina Boice

Merry CHRISTmas! 

Thank you for reading my blog in 2016! 



Nocturnal Animals shows powerful writing

As an author, I always enjoy movies about other writers.  I would love to have my writing affect a reader so powerfully as Edward's did on Susan.  This is the book the film 
was based on:                                      

Below is my post from my movie review blog:

Movie Title:  Nocturnal Animals

Grade:  B+

Rating: R, 115 minutes

  • In a Nutshell: This disturbing, stylish drama is very cleverly written and unfolds perfectly.  

  •  Tom Ford wrote the screenplay and directed this movie.  He is a great storyteller and does an excellent job layering three stories over and under each other.  Did you know he got his start as a fashion designer?

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Do you ever feel like your life has turned into something you never intended?” – Susan Morrow (Amy Adams)
  • Regret, emotional scars.
  • Believing in someone.

Things I liked:
  • I love Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaall in anything.  They’re both super talented and deliver fantastic emotional performances.
  • You begin to understand the symbolism at the same time Susan does.
  • Michael Shannon does a great job as a crusty old cop who is dying physically and emotionally.
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Karl Glusman make you so angry as the sleazy scumbag criminals you want to see get what they deserve.
  • I thought the movie poster was really clever.
  • This film will stay with you. The more you think about it, the more you'll notice the connecting cues throughout the movie.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It annoyed me when Susan described her conservative, religious parents as racist, as if all of those things are naturally connected.
  • Some very talented actors had very small parts (Laura Linney, Michael Sheen, Armie Hammer, Jena Malone) and I would have loved to see more of them.
  • It’s emotionally very dark.

Interesting lines:
  • “Enjoy the absurdity of our world.  It’s a lot less painful.” – Carlos (Michael Sheen who has another movie out in theaters right now: Passengers)
  • Susan asks, “Why are you so driven to write?”  Edward answers, “I guess it’s a way of keeping things alive.  I’m saying things that will eventually die.  If I write it down, then it’ll last forever.”
  • “My husband used to call me a nocturnal animal.” – Susan
  • ‘I’m not scared.  I’m unhappy.” – Susan
  • “They say we all become our mother.” – Anne Sutton

Funny lines:
  • “Do you not trust your nanny?” – Susan
“No, I do.  I just hate her.” – (Jena Malone)

Tips for parents: 
  • This is not a family-friendly movie that children should watch.  It is a very dark Rated R film with mature themes.
  • Vulgar profanity.
  • Discussion and portrayal of a brutal rape attack.
  • You see a guy sitting on a toilet naked.
  • Abortion, marriage infidelity, illegal activities.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Arrival is a fascinating look at language and communication

This blog is reserved for my random ideas about writing.  As an author, I'm fascinated with communication, so I simply had to share this movie review I just posted on my movie blog!

Movie Title:  Arrival

Grade:  A

Rating:   PG-13, 116 minutes

In a Nutshell:  Earning 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, this intelligent sci-fi thriller features an outstanding performance from Amy Adams that already has garnered Oscar buzz.  This fascinating film will tickle your brain and warm your heart.

I didn’t want to post my review right after I saw it, because I wanted it to percolate in my head and process it for a while first.  The more I thought about it, the more I loved it.   It’s hard to write a review without giving too much away, so I apologize for the spoiler alerts below.  It’s better to see the movie “blind”, so to speak, so that you get to experience the unfolding of the story.  

"Arriving" at the end of the movie and understanding it is a satisfying journey when you have to work it out in your own mind.

You know a movie has done its job when the audience claps and then slowly walks out of the theater, as they try to contemplate what they have just experienced.  That’s what happened when I sat in a packed theater Friday night.  I can’t wait for you to see it and read your comments!

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Language is complicated and messy and sometimes it can be both.” – Dr. Louise Banks
  • This is less about aliens and science fiction, but instead, more about humanity and working together.
  • “If you could see your whole life start to finish, would you change things?” – Dr. Louise Banks    I loved the movie City of Angels and how, despite life being hard and even heart-breaking at times, it’s still worth living….every minute.

Things I liked:
  • Director Denis Villeneuve usually makes violent, profanity-laced Rated R movies like Sicario and Prisoners, so I was happy to see him offer something else more family-friendly and cerebral. 
  • The cinematography is fantastic.  One of the best takes is when we first see the alien spacecraft in a field in Montana with fog drifting over the ridge.  Gorgeous. The camera rolls in almost a 360 degree span that is absolutely stunning.
  • It reminded me a little bit of the movie  Signs , which I loved, because of the lingering uneasiness that lasts throughout the entire movie.  The tension is handled very well.  It also reminded me of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Contact, because of the lessons we learn about humanity and our connection to the universe.
  • I loved the no-gravity chamber inside the spaceship, especially when the people inside could look far down below at the people walking around.  Super cool. 
  • I’m such a nerd that when Dr. Banks’ lecture on the Portuguese language was interrupted, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to hear it.   Ha ha 
  • We’ve never seen aliens like this before.  We’ve never seen a spaceship like this before.  We’ve never seen a written language like this before.  Three cheers for creative writers!
  • I was mesmerized with how the spaceships left the atmosphere….soooo cool. 
  • Did you catch Louise’s earrings at the fancy event when she was talking to General Shang of China (played by Tzi Ma)?  If you look closely, you’ll also see that same image repeated on her daughter’s notebook.  Pay attention to other places you see a bird in a cage too.
  • There is a little bit of humor, which audiences always appreciate.
  • SPOILER ALERT.  As a university professor who teaches English, I LOVE that the film revolved around language and trying to communicate with the aliens, yet was really about how we humans communicate with each other.  Amy Adams’ character (also a college professor) wrote, “Language is the cornerstone of civilization.”  The gift that the aliens brought was perfect. An intriguing idea in the movie is that language shapes the way we think more than the way we think shapes our language.
  • HUGE SPOILER ALERT!!!!   I LOVED the way that time was used in the movie.  Because we’re human, we view time as linear.  That simple fact makes us believe that what we’re seeing at the beginning of the movie is the beginning of the story.  The movie folds over on itself, just as the language of the aliens does.  Once Louise realizes that, we also realize what is happening in the story.  Very cool.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Some viewers have complained about the slow pace, but I didn’t mind, because it gave my brain a chance to consider all of the different story angles and messages.
  • Each encounter with the aliens cut off too soon.  I wanted them to last longer.
  • Jeremy Renner delivers a good performance.  Unfortunately, his character doesn’t contribute much and he admits that they wouldn’t be anywhere without Louise.  He figures out one thing without her and he makes a really strange decision in the end that I didn’t like. 
  • What was the deal with Forest Whitaker’s weird accent?
  • There is a lot of quiet mumbling, making it often difficult to understand what people are saying.
  • Sometimes things were out of focus, which was annoying.  I recognize that was an artistic choice, forcing us to focus on a specific thing, but sometimes it just annoyed me; I wanted to see everything!

Interesting lines:
  • “If all I ever gave you was a hammer…” – Louise
“Every answer is a nail.” – Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker)

  • Memory is a strange thing.  It doesn’t work like I used to think.  We are bound by time, by its order…” – Louise
  • “There are days that define your story beyond your life.” - Louise

Funny lines:
  • “You made quick work of those insurgent videos.” – Colonel Weber
“You made quick work of those insurgents.” – Louise
  • “When was the last time you did something stressful?” – Army doctor
“Does this count?  Just saying…” – Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner)
  • “Yeah.  That just happened.” – Ian Donnelly
  • “Trust me.  You can understand communication and still end up single.” - Louise

Tips for parents: 

  • Kids will think the aliens are cool, not too scary.
  • Yay for science and math!  
  • There are some subtitles your kids will need to read or have read to them.
  • The one and only person who dropped an F-bomb happened to be an Avenger…Jeremy Renner. 
The movie is based on a short story by Ted Chiang entitled 

Cool alien movies you must see:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

He Named Me Malala movie and book review

Here is an example from a powerful story and book turned into a less successful film.  The following is from my movie review web site.

Movie Title:    He Named Me Malala
Grade:   B-

Rating:  PG-13, 87 minutes

In a Nutshell:   This true story is one that needs to be told.  

Unfortunately, the film is underwhelming considering the importance of the subject material.  It is informative, but not engrossing enough to create raving fans or high box office sales.

The film is a powerful educational tool for teenagers and even comes with free discussion guides for teachers to use in a classroom setting.  #WithMalala   Hopefully, teens, especially girls, will be inspired and motivated to make a positive difference in the world.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Stand up for what is right.  Stand up for rights.
  • Countless unsung heroes have paid the price for freedom.
  • “It’s better to live like a lion for one day than to live like a slave for a hundred years.” – Malala
  • “It is so hard to get things done in this world.  You try and too often it doesn’t work, but you have to continue and you never give up.” – Malala
  • “Change matters.” – Malala’s father
  • Education is power.  Malala’s father stated, “When you educate a girl, it transforms her.  It transforms our world.”  So true.
  • “There’s a moment when you have to choose whether to be silent or to stand up.” - Malala

Things I liked:
  • It was smart to use animation sequences to separate the past from the present, as the film jumps back and forth in time.  
  • Malala’s father is truly remarkable. The film explains that his family pedigree only included the names of men for 300 years, until he was the first to add his daughter’s name to it. He has such a better way of seeing the world than is common in his culture.  He has done a lot for women’s rights and forward thinking.
  • It’s impressive to hear the profound things Malala says and then remember that she is still a teenager.  She received the Nobel Peace Prize and was listed in the Top 100 Most Influential People by Time magazine.
  • I thought it was interesting that, although Malala would be killed if she returned to Pakistan, she still wanted to go back.  She said, “I miss the dirty streets.”
  • There are so many positive lessons to be gleaned from Malala’s story and life.  Her father stammers sometimes and she said that she was impressed with his persistence and never let his speech impediment slow him down.  She suggested to him that he simply choose another word when he stumbles on a particular word, but instead, he persists until he finally gets it right.  Impressive man.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Sometimes it’s hard to understand Malala’s accent. 
  • It took me awhile to get into the movie, but by the end, I was glad I spent the time to learn more about Malala and her story. 
  • The beautiful home in England where Malala’s family now lives and all of the media coverage make you wonder who it was  who pushed for all of the attention and how much money was made from her story.  Some people have been critical of Malala’s father, saying that he orchestrated all of the coverage in order to gain money and notoriety.  When confronted with that criticism, Malala stated, “My father gave me the name Malala.  He did not make me Malala.  I chose this life.”  Good answer.
  • It feels more like a documentary than a feature film.
  • Malala’s little brother talks about how she slaps him every day.  She explains it’s a loving gesture.  I understand the filmmakers were trying to show her playful relationship with her siblings, but considering the film is about violence, I wouldn’t have highlighted that interaction. 
  • A clip shows Malala saying, “I believe there is no difference between a man and woman,” but then immediately says, “A woman is more powerful than a man.”  Huh?  While Malala says some very insightful things in the film, that inconsistent logic shouldn’t have been included.
  • There isn't very much humor, so the movie can feel very heavy after awhile.

Interesting and inspiring lines:
  • “Dear sisters, don’t be fooled by superstitions.” – radio host who inspired Malala as a young girl
  • “School was my home.” – Malala   (Her father was a school teacher, so she spent many hours playing and studying in the school where he taught.)
  • “I think she’s not independent and free because she’s not educated.” – Malala said this about her mother
  • “I think she’s addicted to books.” – Malala’s brother said this about her.  Later, she explains “One book can change the world.”
  • “I saw her completion in me and I saw my completion in her.” – Malala’s father said this about when he first met his wife.
  • “God is not that tiny.” – Malala
  • An interviewer asked Malala’s father who shot her.  He answered, “It was not a person.  It was an ideology.”
  • In speaking about the Taliban, Malala stated, “They were not about faith.  They were about power.”
  • “If my rights are violated, and I keep silent, I should better die than live.” – Malala’s father
  • “Let us pick up our books and our pens.  They are our most powerful weapons.” – Malala
  • “A conscience exists in the world that extends beyond all boundaries.” – Malala’s father

  • Young children may be bored.  The topics are serious, political, and often dark.
  • There is a scene that describes when Malala and some of her classmates were shot on a school bus.  You see some blood on the bus, which could be frightening for young children.
  • There is some live footage of past events, but most of the violent history is shown in animation.
  • No profanity.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Disney turns Roald Dahl's book The BFG into a fun family flick

Here's another book that has been turned into a summer blockbuster on the Big Screen!  This one is fun family entertainment for most all ages.  This movie review is from my movie review blog.

Movie Title:   
Grade:  B+

Rating:  PG, 115 minutes

In a Nutshell:     In an interview with Regal Theaters, Steven Spielberg said “This is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.” It was a reunion of sorts with some of his old team from the E.T. movie days. 

Director Steven Spielberg and musical composer John Williams are both film legends, so it’s awesome to see a new film that uses both of their talents again.  They introduce us to a magical world based on the 1982 novel by Roald Dahl.

Uplifting theme: 
  • The world is more giant than you can imagine.
  • The healing power of friendship.
  • "Dreams are quick on the outside, but last long on the inside." - The BFG

Things I liked:
  • Mark Rylance truly shines as the Big Friendly Giant.
  • John Williams’ musical score conjures a magical spell that rests lovingly on this old-fashioned tale.
  • I love all the fun words the BFG makes up.  He says, “I cannot be helping it if I saying things a little squiggly.”   English teachers will be delighted and frustrated.
  • Ruby Barnhill is fantastic and one of Spielberg’s best child talents ever. She is extremely entertaining with a bright future ahead of her.
  • Technically, this movie is stellar, mixing CG and motion-capture images as one.  Of that impressive blend, Steven Spielberg said, “Motion capture makes you believe a little girl and a big giant can exist in the same shot.”   The animation itself was incredibly detailed and realistic-looking.
  • I have never read The BFG by Roald Dahl, but I hear that there are some darker elements in the book that Spielberg and writer Melissa Mathison decided to leave out in lieu of a more family-friendly, feel-good flick.  You don't have to read the book to enjoy or understand the movie.
  • Some of the conversations are pretty funny.

Things I didn’t like:
  • The movie definitely takes its time to develop, but the second half of the movie got bogged down a little bit.  The breakfast scene with the queen was fun, but definitely slowed down the pacing of the movie even more.
  • Exactly what The BFG does for a living is a little fuzzy.  I mean, was he self-appointed to his job and who is he going to pass his trade on to?
  • No women giants.  The BFG explains that giants don't have parents, so apparently, female giants aren't needed.
  • Am I monster to admit I was a little bit bored a few times?

Funny lines:
  •  You is an insult to giant people.” – Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement)
  • “Well, what I says and what I means is sometimes two different things.” – The BFG

Tips for parents:

  • This is a sweet family film for most all ages.
  • Very young children might be frightened by the bad giants or the thought that a giant gives them dreams by sneaking into their room at night.  They might worry that, like Sophie, they could be snatched out of their beds at night.
  • No profanity.
  • The BFG calls farts “wiz poppers.”   There are several discussions and BIG displays of farts.  Kids will think it's hilarious.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan dusts off Burrough's book and turns it into a summer blockbuster

This blog is where I write about writing.  When I was a little girl, I always knew I'd be an author.  I just didn't know what I was going to write about!  As it turns out, all of my books are non-fiction on a variety of topics.

Fiction writers have my utmost respect and admiration, because I think conjuring up new worlds that don't really exist is hard!  I'm especially impressed with timeless stories that see success for generations.

Tarzan is one of those books.  AGAIN it has been remade into a movie.  Here is my movie review of the newest interpretation of Edgar Rice Burrough's story:

Movie Title:     The Legend of Tarzan
Grade:   B

Rating:   PG-13, 109 minutes

In a Nutshell:  Director David Yates is most known for his work with the last four Harry Potter films.  This time he brings us a new take on Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan. 

One of Hollywood’s first silent films was the Tarzan story, shortly after the original book came out.  While the story is flawed, and many feel like there was no need for a remake, the lush, romantic images in this movie will make you feel like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bocall could float down the river at any minute.

Did you ever see the 1984 movie “Greystoke”?  I loved it and highly recommend it.  This story...sort of....begins where that movie left off.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “A normal man can do the impossible to save the woman he loves.  My husband is no normal man.” - Jane Clayton
  • Honor, friendship, loyalty, revenge, respect.
  • The value of human an animal life.

Things I liked:
  • The musical score sounded very exotic and mysterious from the very beginning.
  • Christoph Waltz is fantastic in anything.
  • Alexander Skarsgard makes for a perfectly believable Tarzan.  I loved it when he greeted the lions he had known since they were cubs.  So sweet.  Great CGI moment!  As a 6'4" hunk of muscle and abs, Alexander convincingly plays a kind Tarzan who can easily kick butt when needed.
  • Margot Robbie makes a lovely, spunky Jane Porter.  She's a British actress playing an American, while Alexander Skarsgard is an American playing a Brit.  
  • Samuel Jackson.  Ha ha  He looks like he's having fun.  His character is actually based on a real person.
  • Beautiful scenery and settings.
  • Tarzan thinks those pincer ants taste like bacon.  Ha ha
  • There is a lot of action and movement from start to finish. 
  • There are some emotional moments akin to Bambi losing his mother.

Things I didn’t like:
  • The movie jumps back and forth in time and could become confusing for some people.
  • Sometimes the apes and animals looked real; other times the CGI looked too fake.
  • There is a LOT of narration so that the audience can understand what’s going on.  The problem is that the movie almost talks down to the audience.  Show us; don't just tell us.
  • Samuel L. Jackson’s existence in the movie is merely for comic relief.  He represents an American emissary, which doesn’t make a lot of sense in the story line.
  •  You hear Tarzan's famous yell, but you never actually see Alexander Skarsgard do it.  You also hear him growl like lions and other animals, but again, it's a soundtrack behind him and you never see his face while he's making those sounds.

  Funny lines:
  • “I’ve already been to Africa.  And it’s hot.” – John Clayton (Tarzan)
  • “I never take the stairs.  I usually take the curtains.” – John Clayton
  • “You DO know that the right side of your mustache is just a little bit lower than the left?” – Jane
  • “How are we supposed to catch a train going 40 miles an hour?” – Samuel L. Jackson    “Gravity.” - Tarzan

Interesting lines:
  • “He’s Tarzan.  You’re Jane.  He’ll come for you.” – Captain Rom (Christoph Waltz)
  • “They say an elephant’s eye speaks the greatest language.  Who else can say so much without speaking a word?”  - Tarzan
  • “These are what you came for?  What will you do for them? – Chief Mbonga (Djmon Hounsou)
“Whatever is necessary.” – Leon Ron (Christoph Waltz)
* No man ever started with less.” – Jane
  • “Your husband’s wildness easily disturbs me more than I can easily express, whereas your spirit…” Captain Rom
  • “That woman!”  - Captain Rom
  • “What was that?” – Captain Rom’s assistant
“Tarzan, although it sounded different than I thought.  Better.” – Captain Rom

Tips for parents:   

  • There is a LOT of violence.  Man vs. man.  Man vs. animal. 
  • Some profanity, usually out of the mouth of Samuel L. Jackson.
  • The issues of African slavery, mistreatment of the American Indians, and “blood diamonds” are addressed.
  • There is a before and after sex scene, but the audience doesn’t see what happens in between.