MatthewSean Reviews

Book reviews, movie reviews, and other writing

Movie Review – Dream for an Insomniac (1996) — March 7, 2014

Movie Review – Dream for an Insomniac (1996)

Movie Synopsis: Your typical romantic-comedy with some interesting throwbacks to the era of Frank Sinatra.  An “almost-Italian” family with ties to the legendary Sinatra runs a coffee shop, and insomniac Frankie is a moody young woman who is down about romance, love, and life in general – that is, until she meets s new employee who is the guy of her dreams.  The only problem is that he has a girlfriend already.

Movie Review: This was a very enjoyable romantic-comedy at the end of the day.  Although it was somewhat predictable and had some of the typical trademarks of the genre, it also had some unique eccentricities in the characters and themes, which made the movie more enjoyable.  The focus on Frank Sinatra themes and references, and the usage of throwback elements to classic film, such as the use of black and white, was clever and interesting.  The diverse characters and relationships present were well-acted and thought out.  The sub-plots, such as Frankie’s gay cousin who is scared to come out to his father, created additional material and complexity to the story.  And finally, the characters of Frankie and David were refreshing and very unique.  At times Frankie was almost unbelievable, but overall she was funny, quirky, and her ability to generate chemistry off David’s character showed the strong acting abilities of lead Ione Skye.  Overall, this was a fun romantic-comedy, which also had one of the best quotes of the genre, stated by Frankie: “Unless it’s mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it’s a waste of your time. There are too many mediocre things in life. Love shouldn’t be one of them.”  Smart words.

Overall Review: 4 stars out of 5

Book Review – I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai — March 6, 2014

Book Review – I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai

Facts:

▪   Book: I Am Malala

▪   Author: Malala Yousafzai

▪   Genre: Non-Fiction

▪   Year of Release: 2013

▪   Read 327-page hardcover edition in March 2014.

Book Description: This incredible non-fiction book tells the story of Malala, the young girl who follows her father’s example and becomes a spokesperson for education rights in Pakistan, and specifically the rights of girls to an education.  However, in a country where there is extremist viewpoints and corruption in the army and government, Malala and her family find themselves in precarious situations many times, which eventually leads to the incident where terrorists board Malala’s school bus and shoot her in the head.  This book gives Malala the opportunity to share her story, her lessons learned, and what happened to her before, during, and after that near-death experience.

Book Review: Reading this, book written by 16 year-old Malala, was truly an amazing and powerful experience.  Malala does such a wonderful job demonstrating so many key lessons that we probably think about but don’t necessarily believe.  Malala proves to us with wisdom beyond her years that the pen is mightier than the sword, and that one person can make a huge difference.  Malala, in her writings, also has an innocence about her, which is very refreshing.  At the same time, her observations of life in Pakistan surrounded by corruption, sadness, strife, and religious extremism, offer a stark reality to how difficult life can be for so many people in our world today.  We also learn lots about Pakistani history, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and current events seen through the lens of a young girl growing up in Pakistan.  Malala also does a nice job illustrating the fact that religious extremism is not the only interpretation of the Quran, and there are many Muslims with much more peaceful viewpoints that are quite different from the Taliban.  Malala’s courage in standing up against various challenges is inspiring and emotional.  The book also had many humourous moments, where Malala spoke about situations or family life that really humanized things and showed the reader that wherever we are from, some things are truly global understandings, such as the bonds of family and friendship, and sibling squabbles over minor matters.  Overall, this book is a fascinating portrait of one of the young people of this planet who has already made a huge difference, and will continue to do so in the future.

Overall: 5 stars out of 5.

Movie Review – The Monuments Men (2014) — March 1, 2014

Movie Review – The Monuments Men (2014)

Movie Synopsis: An interesting assortment of former soldiers, architects, and art experts are assembled into a WWII platoon and are tasked with recovering stolen art from the Nazis as the war winds down.

Movie Review: This film, based on a true story, was an interesting one in that it had the ingredients of a possibly great movie, but it just fell flat.  A strong assortment of acting talent was present in George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, and Bill Murray.  A very intriguing story based on true events was present.  However, for some reason, the tale just fell into a somewhat long and drawn out movie that documented and reported on events and activities.  Very little in the way of strong action, strong character development beyond minor treatment, and a screenplay that felt like a bunch of mini news stories all woven together one after another.  It was unfortunate because there were some great elements here, but when it was all brought together, it just didn’t have the punch that this should have had.

Overall Review: 2.5 stars out of 5