Friday, March 13, 2015

What I Read/Watched in February

I'm sorry this post is a bit late. The next post will explain why. 

Peace Like A River - By Leif Enger
This one came recommended to me from a few sources. Again I don't read a whole lot of modern stuff but I try to pick up a few. It was okay. Not my favorite. It is about a boy in Minnesota who lives with his father, older brother and little sister. His mother left them years ago and his father raises them himself working as the school janitor. The boy, Reuben, believes he was born to witness to his father's miracles, which most people never seem to notice. But things get bad when two local thugs hold a grudge against his father and the whole family after his father stopped them from violating a young girl in the school locker room. I won't say any more of the plot but it did hook me well in the beginning. It was the middle that lagged direction and began to bore me. By the end I was a bit frustrated. It wasn't a bad book by any means, but it wouldn't make it on my list of favorites.

Agent Carter - Hulu Plus
I admit I'm only so much of a comic book fan. I never owned any growing up and I don't mind them but I really need the depth and meaning to enjoy them. I was totally unfamiliar with Agent Carter as a Marvel character though I'd seen the films with Captain America, who has turned out to be one of my favorite superheroes. Now, you can't watch Agent Carter and compare it to NYPD Blue or LA Law. You have to remember it is a comic book character. It isn't meant to be 100% realistic drama. So if you allow for that license and keep it in mind, you might enjoy it. There are parts that are a bit silly and coincidental but I find it quite fun nonetheless. Chauvinism is heavily laid on many of the men but not all and the lead actress Hayley Atwell is stellar in the role and the storyline is well thought out. Though I admit I thought the season finale a bit anti-climactic, I'm still curious to see where the show goes.

Downton Abbey - PBS
I really enjoyed this season of Downton Abbey. I love how things wove together to build the relationships and, overall, enjoyed how they dealt with some difficult subjects. Not everything is resolved, but I do so much enjoy seeing such good characters have good moments. I'm looking forward to season 6. I won't include any spoilers here in case anyone isn't caught up yet but let me say that, after James bought me seasons 1-3 a couple of years ago, I hadn't asked for season 4 but now I'm thinking of adding seasons 4 and 5 to my wish list. 

Divergent - Netflix
I was pleasantly surprised by Divergent. When it began I thought, "here we go again." A castrated society like in The Hunger Games and segregated like in The Giver... even though I realize The Giver, as a book, came first. I was curious to see where this one went with the concept though and I rather enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing the sequel to see where it goes. The heroine is a strong character with self-doubt but strong instincts. And her relationship to the leading hero, I think, will prove to be a complicated but fun one. I was surprised how much tragedy occurred in just the first film but many of the best characters are drawn from great pain so, in a sense, I hope and expect great things from the characters. 

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness - Netflix
This documentary on Hayao Miyazaki was an interesting watch. On the one hand, he really is a very tragic figure. Without much of a religion, he seems to have little to no hope for humanity or the world. He can be quite the dismal figure. But watching him work is simply magic and it makes me sad that there will be no more Miyazaki films. It was also an interesting look at his most recent film "The Wind Rises" and how it is such a personal film for him. There are not many filmmakers the loss of whom I would feel very deeply, but he is one whom I will miss the day he goes. Despite his cynicism, he maintains a child-like wonder of nature and children rarely paralleled and always a joy to witness. 

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